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Cape Weed

Capeweed Biology

Arctotheca calendula
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family).

Common names: Capeweed, African marigold, Cape dandelion.

Description: Seedlings – cotyledon leaves are long with a rounded end. Leaf width increases from the base to the end. The first true leaves have a wavy outline which becomes lobed in later leaves.

Leaves – 5 – 25 cm long and 2 – 6 cm wide, becoming increasingly lobed with age. Leaves are green, but their undersides are paler to white and covered in fine down. Leaves have a prominent lighter coloured rib.

Plants – a succulent annual with a strong rosette up to 50 cm in diameter. The stems are soft and juicy, covered with fine white hairs. They can stand 30 cm tall.

Flowers – occur on the ends of the stems. Flowers have a black centre 15 mm in idameter, surrounded by 15 – 20 prominent yellow petals 12 – 25 mm in length that may become paler away from the centre.

Seeds – are enveloped in a brown cotton like mass and are difficult to extract from this envelope. Seeds are dark brown, 2.7 mm long and 1 mm wide.

Lifecycle/Biology: Seedlings germinate after rain in autumn and winter and flower in spring. Whole paddocks can be covered in yellow capeweed flowers in spring. Plants die off as temperatures increase.

Ecology: Occurs throughout the farming area of Australia. It is adapted to most soil types, although it is better suited to the lighter soil types and grows most aggressively on highly fertile soils.

The problem: Capeweed develops a strong, highly competitive rosette, choking out most other crop and pasture plants. It is well adapted to the climate of the tablelands, slopes and plains and can occur at very high densities. It may come to dominate degraded pastures and cropping areas, limiting the reestablishment of other more desirable annual and perennial species.
Distribution: Found throughout Australia. Capeweed is a very common pest of pastures and winter crops in the farming belt of Australia.

A native of South Africa.

Plants of Western New South Wales, p. 680 - 681.

Compiled by:
Graham Charles 
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