Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Europe and Asia,  Wild Mignonette (Reseda luteola) is an hairless annual to perennial herb to 1.5 m tall with flower spikes to 60-80 cm long reproducing via seed.
  • a minor annual or biennial weed of crops, roadsides and natural areas, particularly those prone to inundation.
  • It is of historic interest as a source of important fabric dye.
  • The principal concern is probably contamination and degradation of value of cereal grain.
  • It has two distinct growth phases – the initial rosette phase and an erect, branched, flowering phase.
  • There is some concern that plants may be toxic to stock.
  • Controlled by cultivation and herbicides.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Wild Mignonette (Reseda luteola) is an erect annual to perennial plant, growing to 1.5 (rarely to 2) m high, and is hairless on all parts. The first leaves grow in a prostrate (growing flat on the ground) basal rosette, and their margins are toothless but are usually somewhat crinkled. These basal leaves are oblong or slightly wider above midway, and are up to 15 cm long and  0.2–1.2 cm wide, with a shiny upper surface. The upper or stem leaves, which grow on the upright stem, are oblong, mostly smaller than the basal rosette leaves the basal rosette latter soon withering as stem grows.

The numerous flowers are elongating narrow, cylindrical spikes up the stem to 60–80 cm long, above the leafy parts. The individual flowers occur on stalks 1–3 mm long, with an outer row of 4 or 5 greenish-elliptic sepals 1–3 mm long, and an inner row of 3 (rarely 4) pale yellow or cream petals 4–5 mm long divided into several finger-like lobes. Stamens mostly number 12–30 per flower.

The fruits are nearly globular capsules, 3–5 mm long, lumpy and laterally ridged, 3-angled and 3-toothed at the tip. Seeds mostly number 20–36 per fruit, are brown and shining, and c. 1 mm long (Entwisle 1996; Pearce 1992).

For further information and assistance with identification of Wild Mignonette contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In Australia, Wild Mignonette is mainly a weed of roadsides, disturbed sites and crops, but is also capable of persisting in native vegetation, particularly along watercourses, margins of swamps, and other areas prone to occasional inundation (National Herbarium of Victoria 2007; Walsh 2007, pers. comm.). Preferred soils appear to be clays, clay-loams and alluvium, but also on a wide range of soils in crops and pastures of reasonable fertility and is more abundant on the drier calcareous soils. Wild Mignonette survives up to at least 800 m altitude near Cooma, New South Wales (National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

Are there similar species?

Wild Mignonette is most likely confused with other Reseda species in Australia (R. lutea, R. phyteuma, R. odorata) but differing from all of these in that the leaves are undivided throughout the plant (Entwisle 1996). The upper leaves of R. odorata and R. phyteuma may have one or 2 lobes while the upper leaves of R. lutea are deeply divided into several narrow lobes. Reseda lutea and R. phyteuma are both naturalised in southern Australia (the former a serious weed), while R. odorata is sometimes grown as a cottage garden plant for its scented flowers and may occasionally escape. Wild Mignonette is further distinguished from the other species by its 4 (rarely 5) sepals, and its smaller (about 1 mm long) and shining seeds (Entwisle 1996).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Wild Mignonette was included in the list of 71 species that were nominated by state and territory governments for assessment as Weeds of National Significance (WONS). Following assessment of the nominated weeds, Wild Mignonette was not included as one of the 20 WONS. However, given that it was nominated for assessment, Wild Mignonette has the potential to be of national concern. While moderately common in areas, Wild Mignonette is not regarded as having high impact in agriculture or as an environmental weed, being generally confined to scattered plants and small patches (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). A weed of crops, cereals, lucerne, potatoes, pastures, fire breaks, roadsides, river banks and disturbed land. 

Agriculture: Plants growing in crops will compete for light and nutrients and presumably lower the productivity to some extent. It is reported as a serious weed in Spain, Morocco and the British Isles (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). There is some evidence that it is toxic to stock and is considered to be of little forage value in Australia, however it is regarded as reasonable sheep fodder in parts of New Zealand (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Native ecosystems: As an environmental weed, it favours riparian sites or margins of swamps and areas prone to inundation, but is most successful where the vegetation is naturally sparse and is rarely reported in high numbers (National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

How does it spread?

Wild Mignonette propagates by seed and is most likely distributed through sowing of contaminated pasture or crop seed, but also probably by agricultural and road machinery and road vehicles, by stock and fodder (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

What is its history in Australia?

Wild Mignonette has been long used in Europe for dyeing fabrics and may have been deliberately introduced into Australia for that purpose. It is known to have been offered for sale in a Tasmanian nursery catalogue as early as 1845. It was grown at Adelaide Botanic Gardens in 1858, and there are collections from near Perth of apparently naturalised plants from 1877, and from a wide range of localities in southern states by the early 1900s (specimen records at Melbourne and Perth herbaria). Spread within Australia has probably principally been through contaminated grain (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Small infestations of Wild Mignonette may be hand-pulled, but larger infestations may be controlled by cultivation at the rosette stage, with follow-up treatments as new seedlings establish so that the soil seed-bank is exhausted. Repeated slashing and mowing of plants before flowering to beyond the flowering period should provide effective control, and may be preferable as there is less ground-disturbance which promotes seedling germination. Grazing of young plants by sheep affords some control, but the possibility of poisoning should be considered (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Chemical control: Rosette-stage plants are susceptible to herbicides including 2,4-D and MCPA, but mature plants are to some degree resistant to these chemicals (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

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

Biological control: Wild Mignonette has also been recognised as a target for biological control through a cross-jurisdictional government process. This allows activities to be undertaken to develop effective biological controls. However, no effective biological control exists in Australia.

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Seeds of Wild Mignonette germinate mainly in autumn and seedlings develop to, and overwinter in, the rosette stage. In spring, vertical shoots develop and flowers are produced from November to March, with the first fruits developing a few weeks after flowering (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Wild Mignonette has a scattered occurrence in Western Australia, mostly from near Geraldton to near Katanning and west of this line (FloraBase 1998 – ). 

In South Australia it is moderately common from the coastal plain from the Port Augusta area to the Victorian border, and along the Murray River (AVH 2007). 

It did at least once occur uncommonly in the Darling Downs area of Queensland (Stanley & Ross 1983), but it may be possibly now eradicated in that state (APC 2007). 

It is scattered through New South Wales from near the Queensland border to the Murray River, mostly inland of the Dividing Range but rare in the far western plains (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; PlantNET 2007). 

It is moderately common in north-eastern to south-central Victoria, with scattered occurrences in the east and west (Entwisle 1996). 

In Tasmania, it is scattered in the eastern half of the state, between Burnie and Hobart (AVH 2007).

Wild Mignonette is also naturalised in parts of Europe, the United States and New Zealand (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Where does it originate?

Wild Mignonette is native to central and southern Europe and eastward to Afghanistan (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

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

Reseda luteola

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Dyer's Rocket, Dyer's Weed, Weld, Yellow Weed

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