Due to this year’s interesting weather patterns many people have reported a spike in the amount of broomrape in paddocks and nature reserves. What you may not know is that there are different types of this weed with vastly different consequences for agricultural productivity and export markets.
Branched broomrape is currently targeted under DAFWA’s weed surveillance project due to its potential to adversely impact the agricultural industry. The branched version could easily be confused with common broomrape but to date, it has only been found in South Australia in the Murray Bridge area.
Common broomrape is a parasitic plant which has no chlorophyll and relies on its host for nutrients. The lack of chlorophyll is why the plant is brown. It has a translucent pinky brown stem which is sticky to touch. It is common among capeweed and other broad leaf weeds on roadsides and in agricultural areas. If you have the common variety, dig out the plant making sure you get the bulb-like base of the plant before it can set seed. Bag the plants and dispose in the rubbish bin. Quick disposal after pulling is advised as those left heaped on the ground can still go to seed.
The stem of branched broomrape is erect, thin and richly branched. These branches terminate in flowering spikes. Brown or straw-coloured, it grows 10-30cm high.
Impacts of branched broomrape-
Branched broomrape can be parasitic to a wide range of crops and pastures from several plant families, including canola, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, pulse crops, pasture legumes, cucurbits, hemp, lettuce, sunflower, linseed, beans, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Annoyingly this weed will be parasitic to a range of weeds, enabling it to reproduce even when crops are not present.
The weed’s presence could result in partial or total crop losses and the possible loss of potential to produce some crops in heavily affected areas. Branched broomrape can also cause the loss of export markets interstate and overseas, and increases in management and control costs.
Prevention of branched broomrape-
- Practice good biosecurity and avoid bringing any contaminated seed, machinery or livestock onto your property.
- Be vigilant and learn to identify the weeds on and around your property. Report unfamiliar weeds using the MyWeedWatcher on-line reporting tool or the app (see agric.wa.gov.au/myweedwatcher) or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about branched broomrape identification, search our website: agric.wa.gov.au. If you think you have branched broomrape or find any other parasitic plant attacking crop or pasture species, please do not attempt to control it, report it as soon as possible.