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Noogoora bur


Noogoora bur

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Why it is a pest plant

Production threat Environmental threat Public threat

Noogoora bur grows to between 1.5-3m high, with a deep taproot and extensive root system. Noogoora bur is a serious threat to crops and pastures. It grows rapidly over late spring and summer germinating quickly after rain. Its prickly burs attach to livestock causing discomfort or injury. Burs caught in cattle hooves can also result in irritation and infection. Burs can damage sheep’s wool, lowering its value. Noogoora bur seedlings and seeds are poisonous to livestock (particularly cattle and pigs), horses and poultry. It can also cause dermatitis in humans and animals.

Noogoora bur’s rapid growth means it can out-compete pastures and crops. Plants die down in late autumn but most stems remain standing, bearing mature burs for many months.

Noogoora bur is spread by seed contaminating agricultural machinery and crops and by becoming attached to livestock or clothing. It has appeared recently in the Waikato region in maize cropping land in Matamata-Piako and Waipa districts. Infestations found in the Bay of Plenty region have the potential to spread into the Waikato.

It generally occurs in cropping paddocks or paddocks that have been cultivated but could establish anywhere soil has been disturbed, along waterways or roadsides.

Similar species

Weeds which can appear similar to Noogoora bur but are common in the region include:

  • Bathurst bur (Xanthium spinosum). This plant is smaller and its root system is not as extensive as Noogoora bur’s. Bathurst bur’s leaves are narrow and each leaf has three spines beneath it.
  • Thornapple (Datura stramonium). This plant has large white trumpet shaped flowers over summer and autumn. The fruits are prickly but much larger than those of Noogoora bur. Thornapple fruits are also rounder and occur singly.
  • Apple of Sodom (Solanum linnaeanum). This plant has mauve flowers and its leaves are oblong.

Identifying features

Noogoora bur is an erect summer annual growing to 2.5m high but more usually about 1m high.


  • Flowers are not very noticeable.
  • Flower clusters grow where the leaf joins the stem, towards the end of branches.

Fruit/ seed

  • The fruit or ‘burs’ are 7-25mm long.
  • Burs occur in clusters of 2-13.
  • Burs are covered in hooked spines, ending in two diverging straight spines.
  • Each bur contains two brown, grey or black seeds.


  • Leaves are 3 to 5-lobed, similar in shape to grape or maple leaves.
  • Leaves are dark green above and paler below.
  • Leaves are coarsely toothed (zig-zagged edges) and rough textured.
  • Leaf stems have purple blotches and are covered in short, upward pointing hairs.

Responsibility for control

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for the control of Noogoora bur. If you think you’ve seen it, call us.

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for controlling Noogoora bur – do not attempt to remove it yourself. However, landowners/occupiers are encouraged to report Noogoora bur on their properties and liaise with Waikato Regional Council in areas where control programmes are in place. Noogoora bur is also banned from being sold, propagated, distributed or included in commercial displays.

How to control Noogoora bur

If you see these weeds on your property, do not cut or treat it. Call 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732) to report them to your local biosecurity pest plant officer.

Noogura bur

Tips – stopping the spread

Noogoora bur can spread by soil movement, stock feed and equipment such as diggers, crop harvesting machinery and farm machinery. Take special care not to disturb it or transport it to new sites.

Farmers should protect their properties from Noogoora bur and other serious plant pests by:

  • insisting all contractors practice good weed hygiene, cleaning their equipment before entering the farm
  • ensuring supplementary feed brought onto the farm is weed free
  • ensuring aggregates, soil and sand brought onto the farm is weed free.

For more information about machine hygiene contact the regional council for the Keep it Clean – Machine Hygiene Guideline booklet.

More information


  • For advice and additional information on control methods, call our pest plant staff on freephone 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732).
  • Chemical company representatives, farm supply stores and garden centres can also be good sources for advice.


View, download or order the following publications or call our freephone 0800 800 401.

  • National Pest Plant Accord (Manual of plants banned from sale, propagation and distribution) ($10.00 plus GST)
  • Plant Me Instead! (Plants to use in place of common pest plants) (free)
  • Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) (free) (Section 5.23, page 83)
  • Waikato Regional Council pest guide (free)


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