Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Europe and Asia, Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is a annual to biennial herb up to 50 cm high with pink to purple flowers.
  • The flowers open at night and produce a strong perfume.
  • It is an escaped garden plant that has become a weed in farmland in South Australia and Victoria.
  • Seeds are often dispersed in contaminated agricultural produce.
  • Night-scented Stock has a high potential rate of increase in cereal crops, largely through its ability to produce high numbers of seed.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is an annual or biennial herb that grows to about 500 mm tall. The stems and leaves are covered in minute, star-shaped hairs, giving the plant a slightly woolly appearance. The lower stalked leaves 90-100 mm long have toothed to pinnately lobed (have irregular lobes ) at base. The upper leaves  towards inflorescence (flower-head) have fewer to no lobes (entire).

The flowers consist of four pink to purple petals that may be paler at the centre of the flower. Each petal is 15 to 25 mm long with the outer whorl of 4 sepals 8–11 mm long.

The stalked fruits are erect to spreading, long and narrow (linear) to 35-150 mm long, and 1-2.5 mm wide, having two, pronounced horn-like projections (2-10 mm long) at the tip. fruit stalk is 1 – 3 mm long.  Each fruit contains numerous seeds which are small,1.8 to 2.7 mm long , oblong and brownish in colour when ripe. Night-scented Stock flowers at night time and is widely cultivated for its strong perfume (Hewson 1982; Entwisle 1996).

For further information and assistance with identification of Night-scented Stock, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple, Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In cultivation, Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) prefers full sun, in fertile, well-drained, neutral or slightly alkaline soil (Huxley 1999). In Australia, Night-scented Stock has been recorded growing in farmland (pasture and crops) and as a weed of roadsides (National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

Are there similar species?

Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis)may be confused with Common Stock, also known as Gilliflower (Matthiola incana).

Both species have fruits that bear distinctive horn-like projections at the apex.

Common Stock has shorter horns that are up to 3 mm long, as opposed to those of Night-scented Stock which reach up to 10 mm in length.

Common Stock is also a longer lived perennial species with un-lobed leaves and flowers that open during the day, whereas Night-scented Stock is an annual species that has variously lobed lower leaves and flowers that open in the evening (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

In Australia, Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is occasionally found as an agricultural weed or a garden escape (Spencer 1997).

Agriculture: It has the potential to become a significant weed in cereal crops, largely due to its high seed production (Virtue & Thomas 1999). Night-scented Stock competes strongly with cereals, reducing yields. It is also a contaminant reducing value and marketability of seed and hay (Government of South Australia 2021)

Native ecosystems: Not known as a weed of native ecosystems outside disturbed native areas.

Urban areas: An occasional garden escapee in urban areas and disturbed sites.

How does it spread?

Night-scented Stock is an annual to biennial species, hence reproduction occurs by seed production. Seeds are often dispersed in contaminated agricultural, in soil spread on vehicles, machinery, and tools, or via produce or from garden ornamentals (Spencer 1997; Navie 2004).

What is its history in Australia?

Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) was most likely introduced into Australia intentionally as a garden plant. It was first recorded in South Australia in 1906 but it is unknown if these are true wild occurrences. It was first recorded from Victoria in 1939 as a garden escape. In 1989 a substantial population heavily infesting some 150 hectares of farmland was recorded from the Yorke Peninsula region in South Australia (AVH 2021).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

There is limited  information available on the control of Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) in Australia. As it is an annual to biennial spread by seed, preventing seed set would help limit spread. Practice good plant hygiene to limit seed spread in soil, that can be transported by machinery, vehicles, and tools to uninfested areas.

Chemical control:  Treat as most other crucifer (Brassicaceae) weeds with herbicides, however, Night-scented Stock may not be effectively controlled by the herbicides routinely used on cereal crops, requiring the use of an additional herbicide treatment to ensure its control or suppression (Government of South Australia 2021).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Non-chemical control: Physical control: Isolated plants can be manually removed but if unripe pods (fruits) are present plants should be removed from the sites as these fruits and seed within mature even if the plant has been uprooted. Manual removal of plants can be effective but must be done at least every 8-10 weeks. If plant have set seed then follow up will be required to control further germinations. 

Mechanical control: Not widely known or reported to be used. May be effective in cropping to kill young plants.

Competition and management: Soil disturbance often leads to a flush of seedlings.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is an annual or biennial species that generally flowers in spring, but also flowers erratically throughout the year (Spencer 1997; Navie 2004; Richardson et al. 2006). It has a high seed production and germination occurs during the autumn-winter period (Moerkerk & Barnett 1998; Virtue & Thomas 1999), but can occasionally germinate at other times of year given favourable conditions. It does not exhibit high levels of staggered germination like other common crucifer crop weeds, such as Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) (Virtue 2007).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

In Australia Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is naturalised in South Australia and Victoria.

In Victoria, it has been recorded from the Murray Mallee, Wimmera and Midlands regions (Entwisle 1996; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

In South Australia, it is naturalised in the Northern Lofty, Yorke Peninsula and Southern Lofty regions (Barker et al. 2005).

Where does it originate?

Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) is native to south-eastern Europe, western Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus and northern Africa (GRIN 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Cheiranthus bicornis Sibth. & Sm.
  • Matthiola bicornis (L.) DC.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Night Scented Stock, Nightstock, Night Stock, Night-flowering Stock, Evening Stock, Evening Scented Stock, Two-horn Stock, Two-horn Night Stock, Two-horned Stock, Two-horned Nightstock

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