Wild Mignonette

Reseda luteola L.

Family: Resedaceae.

Names:

Reseda is from the Latin resedare meaning to calm and refers to its herbal properties as a sedative.
Luteola is from the Latin luteus meaning yellow and ola meaning lesser and refers to the flower colour and perhaps its lesser intensity or dye content.
Wild Mignonette is from the French mignon meaning small and delicate and probably refers to the flowers.

Other names:

Dyer's Rocket (UK, USA)
Dyer's Weed (UK)
Weld (UK)
Yellow Weed (UK).

Summary:

An erect, hairless, wavy-leaved annual to perennial plant to 2 metres tall with leafy stems and many, long, yellow-green flowering spikes from September to January or in May.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two. Oval. Hairless. Round tips.

First Leaves:

Oval. Tip round. Hairless.

Leaves:

Alternate. Forms a rosette.
Petiole - Lower ones often with a petiole (leaf stalk).
Blade - Narrowly oval to oblong, 40-200 mm long, 3-12 mm wide, shiny, pointed tip, edges often wavy. Hairless.
Stem leaves - To 100 mm long, becoming smaller towards the top, smooth, wavy edged or with a few teeth at the base. Usually without a petiole. Sometimes with 1 or 2 glands at the base

Stems:

Erect, hard, stiff, stout, to 2000 mm tall, lengthwise ribbed. Branched from base and along their length or unbranched. Scattered hairs or hairless.

Flower head:

On end of main stem and upper branches in spike like racemes, be up to 1000 mm long. Flowers in closely packed clusters on short stalks less than 1 mm long.

Flowers:

Pale yellow, irregular, bisexual.
Bracts - Oval, toothed, persistent, 2.5-4 mm long, sheathing at the base.
Ovary - Superior. Attached on a fleshy disk. 3 single celled carpels.
Sepals - 4 rarely 5, oval to oblong, obtuse tipped, 2 mm long.
Petals - 3 or 4, yellow-green to cream. Top one is large with 3-7 lobes and is 3-4 mm long with pouch at base. Other 2 or 3 are small and may be forked.
Stamens - 10-32 attached to a fleshy disk. Filament persistent.
Anthers - 0.6 mm long.

Fruit:

Swollen, oval to spherical, 3-5 mm long capsule with 3, incurved, pointed teeth(beaks) and 3 openings on top. Cross-wise wrinkles. Many seeds per capsule.

Seeds:

Small, brown to black, smooth, shiny, kidney shaped to globular, 1 mm diameter, no seed coat(albumen). Embryo curved.

Roots:

Short, thick taproot with many laterals.

Key Characters:

Leaves simple, entire.
Stems with longitudinal ribs.
Sepals 4 rarely 5.
Yellow-green to cream, 3 or 4 petalled flowers.
Adapted from J.M Black, B.L. Rye and John Moore.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual, biennial or perennial herb. Germinates in autumn to winter and forms a rosette of leaves that grow through the winter. The flowering stem(s) emerge in spring and it flowers from September to January. The plant normally dies with the drought and high temperatures of summer. Some may survive and flower in autumn and continue growth into a second season and form new flowering stems in the next spring.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring to mid summer and mainly in late spring in western NSW.
Summer in SA.
September to January and May in Perth.
Mainly spring to early summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seeds germinate over several months in the field.
Cultivation encourages germination.

Vegetative Propagules:

None but it will re shoot from the base if damaged.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed mainly by water, road making, as a contaminant of agricultural produce, on vehicles and by animals.
Cultivation appears to assist its spread.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean. Europe. Asia minor. Afghanistan.
Probably introduced in the early 1800's.
Naturalised in Victoria by 1907.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Exposed, disturbed areas.

Climate:

Warm temperate.

Soil:

More abundant on the drier calcareous soils.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Formerly cultivated to produce yellow and green dyes for cotton, silk, linen, wool and 'Dutch Pink' paint. Blue green and yellow dyes were extracted.
Oil used in perfumes.
Seeds and roots used in herbal medicine for chest complaints, bites and other ailments.

Detrimental:

Weed of crops, cereals, lucerne, potatoes, pastures, fire breaks, roadsides, river banks and disturbed land.
Considered to be of little forage value in Australia, but viewed as a moderately valued fodder in New Zealand.

Toxicity:

Suspected of poisoning stock and tainting milk.

Legislation:

Noxious weed of TAS and VIC.

Management and Control:

Cultivation, herbicides and competitive pasture species generally give good levels of control.
Slashing and mowing are not very effective because the plant re-shoots from the base.
Heavy grazing kills seedlings but may cause toxicity problems in dense infestations.
Hormone herbicides are effective on young plants.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Manually remove isolated plants.
Cultivate larger areas regularly.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Cutleaf Mignonette (Reseda lutea) has finely divided leaves.
Scented Mignonette (Reseda odorata) is an ornamental plant.
White Mignonette (Reseda alba) has white flowers.

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P212-213. Photos.

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P389.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P188. Diagram.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P339. Photo.

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). P206-207. 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). #1047.3.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P171.

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (1992). Noxious weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P561-563. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

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