"The fool learns by experience. The wise man learns by the fool’s experience".
A Chinese proverb.

Nimbin Plant Selection Guide


David McMinn

Listings are presented of weeds in the Northern Rivers area. Gardeners should avoid planting these species and save themselves much work having to eradicate them from their gardens at a later stage. Even worse, the species can become an invasive weed in the surrounding countryside. This is particularly a problem in rural areas. There are so many beautiful native and non-weedy exotic  species to choose from. It is very unfortunate that gardeners plant weeds, usually out of complete ignorance of the problem they are creating.

Gardeners should learn to identify potential weeds in their area. Early recognition is essential for quick removal of the weed species in the early stages. A few plants are easy to get rid of. Once it becomes firmly established, it will be impossible to eradicate and you will just have to learn to live with the problem.  

If you must plant potential weeds, there may be ways around the problem.

*      Plant seedless varieties of weed species if they are available. The best example is a seedless form of Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata). People can plant this variety and still enjoy the perfumed flowers without creating a weed problem. (Birds eat the fruit of this species and disperse the species widely into the local rainforest.)

*      Use the equivalent native species where ever possible. For example, instead of planting Orange Jessamine, use the Native Murraya (Murraya ovatifoliolata). This way the birds can still eat the fruit and you can still appreciate the scented flowers.

*      Each year, strip the unripe seeds from any potential small weedy tree/shrub, thereby preventing the species from spreading. Curry Leaf (Murraya koenigi) is weed candidate, as it suckers profusely and birds relish the fruit. However, it can be placed in a large container and the green, unripe fruit stripped from the tree. Make sure you do this every year.

*      For species with male and female flowers on separate plants, only use male specimens in the garden, so seeds are never produced to create problems. One palm enthusiast planted Chamaedorea palms in the rainforest near his house. They were soon becoming an obvious weed with a potentially severe environmental impact. He pulled out all the seedlings and poisoned all the female plants. Now he can still enjoy his Chamaedoreas without any adverse problems for his rainforest.

NB: Weedy vine species have been covered separately in Exotic Vines: An Environmental Hazard.

The main references used in these listings were:

BFNS Environmental Weeds & Native Alternatives. A Guide to the identification, Control & Replacement.
Pamphlet by Bushland Friendly Nursery Scheme. 2004

Noxious Weeds Guide For the North & Mid North Coast
. Pamphlet by the NSW North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee & the Mid North Coast Advisory Committee. 2004.

The listings are primarily of those weed species that gardeners are most likely to consider planting in their gardens. For more comprehensive listings with photos, you may wish to visit the following sites.

North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee

Association For Growing Australian Native Plants

Flora For Fauna

Australian Association of Bush Regenerators

Weeds Australia


There are several species of native vines that may be grown as a substitute to exotic weedy species.

Native Vine Species

Size Growth
Richmond Birdwing Vine Aristolochia praevenosa Large

Fast once

This is a strong growing vine, which is the only food source for the magnificent, endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. Planting this vine will attract these beautiful insects to your garden or rain forest planting. NEVER PLANT the alien Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia elegans). The Birdwing Butterfly will lay its eggs on this exotic vine, but the young caterpillars cannot eat the leaves and die. 
Water Vine
Cissus antartica


This vine is too large and rampant for house gardens. In rainforest regeneration plots, they will scramble up small trees and smother them. Even so, they should be grown where possible as they are an important food source for various birds. Thus, they are best used for climbing over large, established  rainforest trees or Camphor Laurels.

Guinea Flower
Hibbertia scandens                Hibbertia dentata 

Med Fast

Adaptable vines able to cope with harsh conditions. Attractive trumpet-shaped, yellow flowers. In the garden, it can be used as a ground cover, scrambling shrub or vine, depending on support given.

Bower of Beauty          
Pandorea jasminoides
Large Fast The attractive flowers bloom over several months. Common garden plant. Must be pruned to keep under control. Needs well drained, moist soils.
Wonga Vine
Pandorea pandorana
Large Fast The attractive flowers bloom over several months. Common garden plant. May need pruning to keep under control. Drought resistant. 
Zig-Zag Vine
Melodorum leihhardtii
Med Slow A desirable vine to grow as it attracts various butterfly species. It has a bushy habit and may be grown as a vine or pruned as a shrub.
Native Wisteria
Millettia megasperma
Large Fast Rampant growing vine, with attractive blue flowers in  summer. Needs to be pruned regularly in garden situations.
Red Passion Flower
Passiflora aurantia
Med Fast Attractive flowers are produced profusely, but each one only lasts only a day.  Likes plenty of water in well drained soils.  Must have full sun for flowering and fruiting. Not a rampant climber, making it suitable for house gardens. 
Tecomanthe hillii
Med Med Very attractive native vine, requiring moist, well drained soils. Should be more widely planted.
Tetrastigma nitens
Large Fast This is another rampant vine that can be used for screening in large gardens. It will need pruning to keep under control.

Some weed species are so common that gardeners simply have to live with them and they will not be commented upon: Crofton Weed (Ageratina adenophora), Mist Flower (Ageratina riparia), Tropical Chickweed (Drymaria cordata), & Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albiflora). The main emphasis is given to those species that gardeners may obtain cuttings from friends or unwittingly buy from unscrupulous nursery people.

Mother of Millions (Bryophyllum species) is a succulent spreading herb. Flowers are quite distinctive with various colourings - orange, yellow or red. The flower spikes are held above the foliage. It is poisonous to livestock and should be avoided in country situations.

Apple mint (Mentha rotundifolia) can quickly invade your garden and should not be planted. Other Mentha species are far more useful in cooking and are not so invasive.

Freckle Face (Protasparagus aethiopicus) is a pretty herb with purplish leaves with distinctive pink spots. The flowers are also pinkish. Early elimination will save you the anguish of years of weeding.

Singapore Daisy (Wedelia trilobata) is a spreading groundcover, with distinctive bright yellow flowers.

And the list goes on.......

Copyright. ©  2004. David McMinn. All rights reserved.