Mother-in-law's tongue

Native to Nigeria, mother-in-law's tongue is an upright, succulent plant.

A popular garden species, it is easily spread through dumping of garden waste. Bushland infestations of mother-in-law's tongue can crowd out low-growing native plants.

Mother-in-law's tongue is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Sansevieria trifasciata

Other names

  • Snake plant, bowstring hemp, good luck plant


  • Upright, succulent plant up to 60cm tall.
  • Leaves are stiff, lance-shaped, 0.6-1.2m long, dark green with mottled grey-green and yellow.
  • Flowers are small, tubular, cream to green, 25-30mm long, carried on spike.
  • Fruit are small, round, orange berries, 7-9mm in diameter.
  • Seeds are pale brown, oblong, 6-7mm long, 5mm wide.
  • Rhizomes are bright orange, thick, fleshy, succulent.


  • Prefers well drained soils in shady areas, but will tolerate dry periods.
  • Found along roadsides and in gardens, disturbed areas, riparian vegetation.


  • Common throughout eastern Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers mostly during spring and summer.



  • Forms dense infestations, preventing regeneration of native plants in bushland and eventually forming monoculture.

How it is spread

  • Rhizomes spread in dumped garden waste
  • Seeds spread by birds and other animals.


Physical control

  • Carefully dig out isolated plants and small infestations, making sure to remove all roots and fragments.
  • This requires persistent effort, regular site monitoring, and removal of any new growth and its rhizome.

Herbicide control

  • No herbicide currently registered; however, an off-label use permit exists (PER11463).

See the Mother-in-law's tongue fact sheet (PDF, 115KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Mother-in-law's tongue is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information