Telegraph weed

Native to northern Mexico and south-western USA, telegraph weed is a biennial or annual herb with hairy stems and yellow flowers. It forms dense infestations on sand dunes and beaches, where it can threaten native vegetation.

Telegraph weed is a common weed throughout Hawaii and was first found in Australia in central New South Wales. It was first recorded in Queensland on the Gold Coast in the early 1990s.

Telegraph weed is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Heterotheca grandiflora

Other names

  • Sticky daisy


  • Flowering herb up to 2m tall.
  • Leaves are ovate to oblong, 2–8cm long, 1–3.5cm wide, arranged alternately.
  • Stems are thick, densely hairy, 5–20cm long.
  • Flowers are small, yellow, daisy-like, 15–22mm wide.
  • Each flower head produces many seeds 2–5mm long.
  • Plant emits strong odour when crushed.


  • Prefers open, disturbed sites with dry, sandy soils.


  • Infestations occur at Labrador on the Gold Coast and on South Stradbroke Island and Wavebreak Island.

Life cycle

  • Produces flowers during late summer.



  • Threatens native vegetation.
  • Rapidly forms dense infestations on coastal sand dunes and beaches.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by wind and water.
  • Also spread on clothes, shoes and beach towels.


Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are most effective control method.
  • Check after 4 months and re-treat as required.
  • Control programs have been undertaken on South Stradbroke Island and at The Spit on Gold Coast.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Telegraph weed is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its 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