- Squat, thick-stemmed shrub 2.5-4m tall.
- Develops from a short, single-stemmed plant with 3 or 4 young leaves sprouting from the top.
- Young leaves deeply divided into 3 rounded lobes and are purple and sticky.
- Older leaves bright green, about 10cm in diameter, having up to 5 lobes, the edges covered in coarse, dark brown. hairs.
- Flowers small, red with yellow centres, in small clusters throughout the upper part of the plant.
- Seed pods are smooth and oval, about the size of a cherry.
- Seed pods 12mm across, containing 3 to 4 seeds about 8mm long.
- Sometimes grown as a garden plant.
- Common along riverbanks and roadways.
- Grass lands & open woodlands
- Native to tropical America.
- Widespread across northern Australia
- Naturalised in various areas of North Queensland.
- Smaller infestations occur throughout Queensland.
- Seeds germinate October to December.
- Flowers throughout the year where adequate moisture is available.
- Out-competes native vegetation.
- Takes over extensive sections of river frontage reducing biodiversity.
- Poisonous to native animals.
- Increases mustering costs.
- Reduces pasture growth.
- Poisonous to stock.
- All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans.
The best form of weed control is prevention. Treat weed infestations when they are small - do not allow weeds to establish.
Steps for weed prevention:
- Check your property regularly for suspect plants.
- Control new infestations before they spread and become a major problem.
- Don't dump weeds and garden waste in bush or parkland.
- Know the weed status of any products or materials you are receiving. This includes fodder, grain, gravel, machinery, mulch, packing material, sand, soil, stock, vehicles and water.
- Clean your equipment, clothing, shoes, vehicles and machinery when leaving natural habitats and camping areas.
- Use a cleandown facility to blow, vacuum or wash dirt and seeds from vehicles, machinery and tools.
- Request a weed hygiene declaration from your suppliers.
- Ensure vehicles and machinery are clean before entering your property.
- Hand-pull entire plant, including the roots. Appropriately dispose of plants and other reproductive materials and wash hands thoroughly.
- High kill rates using fire have been achieved in the field if there is a sufficient fuel load to carry a fire through a bellyache bush infestation.
- Herbicides currently registered for bellyache bush are listed in the fact sheet below.
- Testing by staff at the Tropical Weeds Research Centre has shown several others to be effective against this plant; they have been submitted for registration.
- See the bellyache bush fact sheet (PDF, 196 kB) for herbicide control and application rates.
- One biological control agent, the jewel bug Agonosoma trilineatum, was released for bellyache bush but it probably has not established. Investigations for new agents are being made.
- A declared Class 2 species under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.
- Taking for commercial use, introduction, keeping, releasing and supplying (including supplying things containing reproductive material of this pest) is prohibited without a permit issued by Biosecurity Queensland.
- Landholders are required to control declared pests on their properties.