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.
HOW TO CONTROL IT
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!