This is a clump forming, perennial, wiry shrub that grows up to 1.5 metres high.
Leaves are 10 centimetres long and are arranged in pairs along the stem. They are oval and tapering at the base, turning into a winged stalk 1 to 3 centimetres long. The leaf blade is prominently veined and shallow toothed.
Flower colours vary from white to pale blue, dark blue to purple and pink to red. Each flower is a 5 millimetre wide tube opening into five petals. The lower part is sunk into a depression in the stalk. A pointed bract protects where the flower joins the spike. It flowers all year round. The snake skin appearance of the flower spike develops as the flowers dry and fall when the seeds develop beneath the ‘scale’.
Habitat It prefers roadsides, neglected areas, pastures and sugarcane.
Weed characteristics it can be invasive to pastures in wetter areas and where pasture is overstocked and grazed down to ground level. Even moderate grazing by horses can lead to significant increases in snake weed.
Dispersal soil disturbance such as tree clearing can allow snake weed to invade.
This species is not a declared plant under Queensland legislation although its control is recommended.
How to act
Foliar spraying with a broad-leaved selective herbicide is effective on this weed preferably prior to seed set. Snake weed can be out-competed by maintaining good grazing practises. Small isolated infestations can be physically removed.
Refer to Weed Control Methods.
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