NZ Lifestyle Block - - Pasture Weed Watch - Why is it a weed? Where is it found? Is it toxic? Al­ter­na­tive uses?


This month’s ar­ti­cle finds me work­ing from home. It’s cold, wet and mis­er­able out­side – a great day to do some of­fice work in front of the heat pump. Un­for­tu­nately it’s also school hol­i­days so I have three small agron­o­mists cur­rently danc­ing around me ex­hibit­ing var­i­ous stages of what ap­pears to be cabin fever. It is only day one of the hol­i­days and I may not sur­vive, so I have come up with a bril­liant idea to get the work done and en­ter­tain my de­light­ful three – they can write my ar­ti­cle! While I’m nap­ping on the couch, I will leave you lovely folks in their small but com­pe­tent hands. Meet Alex (10), Ma­son (8) and Ruby (7).

To­day’s weed is pars­ley piert. Pars­ley piert is a small an­nual weed found all over New Zealand. It is na­tive to Europe, Asia and Aus­tralia, and be­longs to the Rosaceae fam­ily of plants (the Rose fam­ily). Pars­ley piert is also re­lated to ap­ples, pears, quinces, apri­cots, peaches and cher­ries (some of my favourite fruits! – Ma­son).

There are sev­eral species of pars­ley piert found through­out New Zealand, and the most com­mon one is Aphanes in­exspec­tata (not one of us can pro­nounce that!).

Pars­ley piert is a pretty in­ter­est­ing name. Firstly, it looks like pars­ley (it sure does – Ruby). Se­condly, its name comes

MILTON MUNRO is a soil and plant sci­en­tist for ru­ral sup­ply com­pany PGG Wright­son. He looks at com­mon pas­ture weeds you’ll find on your block and how to deal with them. from its use as a herbal medicine to help with blad­der­stones. It was orig­i­nally called ‘pars­ley break­stone’ or ‘pars­ley pierce­s­tone’, but over time this has been short­ened to pars­ley piert.

It’s easy to iden­tify in the field (it looks like pars­ley! - Alex). It ger­mi­nates in au­tumn and pro­duces a se­ries of small stems that hug the ground. At the end of these stems you find the leaves. Each leaf is made up of three leaflets and each of these leaflets is split into wee seg­ments. They look sort of like a lit­tle but­ter­cup leaf (ac­cord­ing to Dad). They tend to flower late in the sum­mer or early in the au­tumn.

Plants pro­duce their lit­tle green flow­ers at the base of the leaves and these are very hard to spot. They pro­duce a lot of seed and can colonise a lawn very quickly. Pars­ley piert prefers dry hun­gry soils that are mown very short.


Pars­ley piert can be quite dif­fi­cult to con­trol. It can be hand-weeded out of turf but this can be a very time-con­sum­ing job and isn’t prac­ti­cal on a large lawn.

What makes it so hard to con­trol is that it is re­sis­tant to most com­monly used her­bi­cides. The only prod­ucts that have proved ef­fec­tive in New Zealand are Im­age (a mix­ture of Ioxynil, Bro­moxynil and Me­co­prop) or Vic­tory Gold (a mix­ture of Pi­clo­ram and Tri­clopyr), but you need to be care­ful when us­ing these as they can sup­press or dam­age young turf plants.

Preven­tion is the best cure. Avoid cre­at­ing bare patches in the sum­mer or au­tumn as pars­ley piert loves to ger­mi­nate in these, and avoid mow­ing your lawn too short as a bit of cover will pre­vent pars­ley piert from ger­mi­nat­ing.

Dad is wak­ing up so we’d bet­ter go and bug him for the rest of the af­ter­noon. That’s all from Alex, Ma­son and Ruby. Bye!

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