Boneseed is a hardy, persistent shrub that is capable of rapidly colonising and dominating coastal sites. 


Dense communities of boneseed can form which displace native vegetation and shade out native seedlings. Replacement of native species with boneseed alters the food source and habitat for local fauna, favouring introduced species such as blackbirds and sparrows.

Boneseed is a bushy, much-branched shrub that grows to 2-3 metres high. It has leathery leaves with toothed edges, tapered leaf bases and a white powdery surface. Clusters of small, yellow, daisy-like flowers cover the plant in late winter to early summer. The fruit is initially green, becoming round and black which makes them attractive to birds. When ripe, the soft outer fruit flakes off to leave a hard, whitish, inner coat. The single seed is very hard and bone-like in colour, hence the name.

Management and control

Under the Pest Management Strategy for Otago, property occupiers are required by law to destroy any bomarea on their properties. Any breach of this rule is an offence under Section 154(r) of the Biosecurity Act 1993, and may result in default work under Section 128 of the Act. 

Hand pull all but the largest plants and mulch. Cut stump as close to the ground as possible and paint with a herbicide such as Grazon, Escort or Glyphosate.

Germination from the extensive seed bank following the removal of adult boneseed plants can result in heavy reinfestations. Regular follow-up is necessary to remove any seedlings occurring.

Alternative plantings include the native Comprosma repens (taupata) which has bright orange fruits and thrives in the same environment as boneseed.

Disclaimer: Mention of product tradenames does not endorse these products nor implies criticism of similar products not mentioned Although this fact sheet has been prepared in good faith we do not give any warranty that the information is accurate or complete or that it is suitable for all circumstances.

Use herbicides at application rates recommended by the manufacturer and wear protective clothing.

View our factsheet on Boneseed.

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