Bathurst Burr

​(Xanthium spinosum)

Bathurst burr - flowering

Status of Bathurst burr in Tasmania

  • Bathurst burr is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Bathurst burr are prohibited in Tasmania.
  • The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with Bathurst burr are laid out in the Burrs Statutory Weed Management Plan.

How to identify Bathurst burr

  • Bathurst burr is a branching, perennial (long-lived) plant growing to a height of about 80 cm.
  • The stems and lower surface of the leaves are covered with white woolly hairs, giving the plant a silvery appearance. The leaves have a "crinkly" appearance and the leaf margins have rounded teeth. The white flower clusters are densely packed, forming balls of flowers that surround the upper stems at each leaf node.
  • Most seed germinates after autumn rains but some germination also occurs through winter into spring. Established plants flower over several months during summer and autumn and new growth is produced each year in autumn and spring.
  • For help in identifying Bathurst burr, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora Database for Bathurst burr illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.
  •  Bathurst burr plant
Image top right: Bathurst burr - fruiting branch, © Robyn Knox
Image above: Bathurst burr plant, © Karen Stewart

Burr species in Tasmania

  • Burr species (Xanthium spp.) have the capacity to grow throughout much of Tasmania. Burrs are most troublesome in grazing areas. Infestations occur on roadsides, waste areas, stockyards, dry banks, near farm buildings and on the site of old homesteads.
  • Bathurst burr, one of the more serious burr species, is not widely recorded and is a target for eradication.
  • Bathurst burr can contaminate sheep and goat fleeces by its dry fruits (or burrs), leading to significant losses in fleece value due to matting.
  • Bathurst burr is also an important environmental weed due to its ability to invade disturbed native vegetation.

What is the legal status of Bathurst burr in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with Bathurst burr are laid out in the burrs Statutory Weed Management Plan.

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Weed Management Plan to find out whether this weed occurs in your municipality.

Detailed management and control guidelines for Bathurst burr can be found in the Bathurst Burr Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Burrs Statutory Weed Management Plan
Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

Bathurst Burr Control Guide


  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Get in early - for new infestations, eradicate before the plants reach the flowering stage: once plants begin seeding, control becomes more difficult and expensive; and
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken;
  • Use a combination of different control methods; and
  • Establish vigorous pasture (or native species) after removal to reduce re-infestation.


  • Don't introduce Bathurst burr to Bathurst burr-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't allow bathurst burr to flower and set seed before treatment;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential; and
  • Don't rely on just one control method.

Spread of Bathurst burr

  • Bathurst burr is spread entirely by seed. The burr is covered with hooked spines which catch on the hair, fur or wool of domestic stock, on sacks or woolpacks, and on clothing.

Avoid the introduction of Bathurst Burr

  • Avoid introducing seed into clean areas, or into areas from which the weed is being eradicated.
  • Use best practice weed hygiene. Fully inspect all imported stock, fodder, machinery, grain and any material to which burrs might adhere to ensure none is present.

Physical removal

  • Removal by hand is difficult due to the sharp spines.
  • Small infestations are best dealt with by hoeing or grubbing the plants, then burning them.
  • Plants carrying burrs should never be dumped, as this can spread the seed. Persons wishing to dispose of burrs or anything contaminated with burrs should contact a Biosecurity Inspector first, in order to receive direction upon how best to do this.


  • Vigorous and well managed pasture containing legumes will help inhibit the establishment of Bathurst burr.
  • Bathurst burr should be removed by grubbing or herbicide then the area sown to pasture to help prevent new plants from establishing.
  • The area should be regularly inspected from late spring to autumn as seeds can germinate through this period. Inspection should continue in subsequent years to locate and treat any new plants.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on Bathurst burr in Tasmania. Use the Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control link for more information.
  • Larger infestations of Bathurst burr should be spot sprayed with herbicide.

Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control

Herbicides for Bathurst Burr Control

Important Disclaimer

To the extent permitted by law, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.