Doveweed

Eremocarpus setiger (Hook.) Benth.

Synonyms - Croton setigerus, Piscaria setigera.

Family: Euphorbiaceae.

Names:

Eremocarpus is from the Greek eremos for solitary and karpos for fruit and refers to the single seeded fruit.
Setigerus is from the Latin seta for bristle and gero for bearing, referring to the bristly hairs that cover this plant.
Doveweed refers to the greyish colour and texture similar to a dove and the seeds are a favoured food of the Mourning Dove.

Other names:

Turkey Mullein (USA)
Woolly White Drought Weed.

Summary:

A sweet but unpleasant smelling, low clumpy, grey, velvet but bristly leaved annual. 30-200 mm high x 50-800 mm wide.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Alternate near base opposite near the ends of stems.
Stipules -
Petiole - 10-50 mm long.
Blade - Light grey, 10-50 mm long, thick, egg to diamond shaped. Appears velvety but is harsh to touch. 3 veined from the base.

Stems:

Light grey, thick, fleshy, velvety, harsh to touch, bristly, 50-400 mm long. Fork branched. Low lying to upward bending, spreading. Hairy with star type hairs. Strong unpleasant smell when crushed. Forms dense mats or clumps.

Flower head:

Male flowers in flat topped clusters at the ends of branches. Female flowers in groups of 1-3, without stalks, in the axils of upper branches.

Flowers:

Male and female flowers on the same plant. Small and inconspicuous.
Ovary - 1 celled with 1 ovule. Hairy. 1 thread like, hairy style.
Perianth - Female flowers have none. Males have sepals.
Sepals - Male. 5-6, slightly overlapping, 2 mm long.
Petals - none.
Stamens - 5-6. Filaments bent inward when in bud and straighten as the flower opens.
Anthers -

Fruit:

Small, egg shaped, single seeded, 4 mm long capsule. Hairy with star type hairs.

Seeds:

Smooth. Several types - Mottled, light to dark brown or black or striped or plain grey, all produced on the same plant.

Roots:

Fibrous.

Key Characters:

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual. Seeds germinate in several waves in spring to early summer after rain. They grow quickly and flower in mid to late summer. Plants die by autumn.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

Summer in SA.
Summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

There are three types of seed. Grey seed is not eaten by doves and germinates in drier soil than mottled seed. Grey seed is produced by dying plants.

Vegetative Propagules:

None.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

It is mainly spread by seed in flood waters, in mud on machinery and animals and in produce. It is not spread by wind and does not survive passage through the gut of birds.

Origin and History:

North America (California).
First recorded in WA in 1925 and has spread to other parts of the state.
Recorded in SA in 1921, 1924 and 1937, NSW in 1929 and VIC in 1934. It has disappeared from these sites. One area in NE Victoria has persisted since 1969.

Distribution:

NSW, SA, VIC, WA.

Eremocarpus setigerus


Eremocarpus setiger
Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Open areas. Banks of watercourses.

Climate:

Dry, arid to semi-arid areas, often bordering deserts.

Soil:

Sandy and clay soils. Alluvial plains.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Detrimental:

Weed of roadsides, fallows, disturbed areas and poor pastures.
Tends to be troublesome in years with high summer rainfall or after failed crops and pastures.
Stock avoid grazing it because of its smell.
Chokes cultivation equipment in autumn crop preparation.
Interferes with harvest.

Toxicity:

Toxic but not generally a problem.
May cause hair balls in the gut when eaten.
Leaf extracts used to poison Indian arrow tips.
Irritates skin when handled.

Legislation:

Noxious weed of WA.

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Mechanically remove single plants quickly before seeding. Cultivation is effective on young plants but increases the erosion risk. Difficult to control with herbicides because of the dense hair covering. Hormone herbicides are effective on young plants provided they are adequately wetted. They are usually applied by high volume equipment with wetting agents. November to December, when the plants are young, is usually the best time to spray with a repeat application in January to February.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

None.

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

A.P.B. Infonote 26/92 (1992)

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P514.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P142. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #508.1.

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (1992). Noxious weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P418-420. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.