• Key characteristics
  • Biology
  • Impacts
  • Control
  • Further information

  • Tall, stiff, erect plant when in flower, with yellow, dandelion-like flowers up to 25 mm across
  • Leaves have raised spots with short, hooked bristles, giving the leaves a very rough feeling (like an ox’s tongue, hence the name)
  • The plant forms a large rosette before flowering
  • Flower stems are stiff, erect, branched, with rough bristles and small leaves
  • Fruits are achenes 3 mm long, each with a white, feathery, umbrella-shaped pappus
  • Common on roadsides, especially in the Whanganui/Manawatu area, and in central Hawkes Bay.


  • Native to southern Europe, south-west Asia and North Africa
  • In New Zealand it is often conspicuous on roadsides, but also occurs on arable and pasture land and in waste place
  • Occurs in all parts of North and South Islands, from scarce to abundant
  • Introduced to New Zealand, either by accident or as a potentially useful plant, sometime before 1871. By 1901 it was reported to be spreading rapidly in South Taranaki.

Life cycle

  • Seeds are probably long-lived in the soil
  • Plants normally over-winter as rosettes and the flower stem elongates in spring, with flowering taking place in January to March
  • Plants die after flowering.

Impact on pasture

  • This species is not commonly found in pastures but where it does occur its prickly nature discourages grazing close to plants, reducing the access of livestock to more useful pasture plants.

Impact on livestock

  • Usually avoided by livestock and there is no evidence of it causing any problems.

Grazing management

  • The usual recommendation is good pasture management with appropriate pasture species, adequate fertiliser input and good grazing management.

Chemical Control

  • In waste places oxtongue is susceptible to commonly used herbicides like glyphosate
  • In pasture most commonly used selective herbicides like 2,4-D or MCPA give adequate control
  • In crops, oxtongue is generally controlled by the herbicides commonly used for other species.

Popay I, Champion P, James T 2010. An illustrated guide to common weeds of New Zealand. New Zealand Plant Protection Society, Christchurch, New Zealand. 416 p.