Salvation Jane

Echiium plantagineum

Salvation Jane

Image credit: John Wills

Salvation Jane is an annual winter weed of pastures that poses a particular poisoning threat to horses.

It is declared under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (NRM Act).

Description

  • an annual herb that grows from a sturdy taproot
  • leaves are produced in autumn and winter in a flat-lying rosette
  • leaves are light-green, hairy and egg-shaped, growing up to 30 cm long
  • leaves have distinct, branched veins
  • flowering stems are produced in late winter from the centre of the rosette
  • stems are unbranched, hairy and normally reach a height of 60 cm
  • stem leaves are smaller and narrower than the rosette leaves
  • stems develop flowers from September to December
  • flowers are trumpet-like and mostly purple, but occasionally white, blue and pink, up to four seeds develop from each flower
  • plants normally die in summer
  • individual plants can produce more than 5000 seeds per year, which accumulates in the soil to form a large seedbank
  • seeds may remain dormant in the soil for up to 5 years
  • valuable to the honey industry, providing an early source of pollen.

Impacts

  • a significant pasture weed
  • early winter growth allows it to out-compete pasture seedlings
  • large, flat rosettes smother adjacent plants it can become the dominant species in pastures
  • produces poisonous alkaloids that affect livestock, particularly horses and pigs
  • after feeding on Salvation Jane for a period of weeks, animals lose condition resulting in serious health issues
  • can contribute to soil erosion by suppressing perennial grasses in spring
  • when it dies off in summer, bare soil is exposed in autumn, seedlings may be so dense that they completely dominate other species
  • may be eaten by stock when young, but when abundant it reduces the overall quality and quantity of useful fodder
  • also a source of hayfever and allergies in humans, some people are allergic to the pollen
  • hairy texture of the leaves and stems can cause skin irritation
  • can impact on native vegetation, particularly in disturbed areas where it suppresses the growth and recovery of native species.

Distribution

  • introduced to Australia from Europe as an ornamental garden plant
  • present throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges region and grows on a wide range of soils
  • reproduces by seed
  • commonly spread via contaminated hay and grain, livestock droppings and machinery, birds also spread seed
  • some seeds remain dormant in the soil for many years and cultivation appears to stimulate germination
  • mowing or grazing the flowering plants encourages new shoots that will flower out of season.

How to control this weed

  • biological control agents (biocontrols) have been very successful in reducing the abundance of Salvation Jane
  • however the weed remains widespread and ongoing monitoring is required to confirm that biocontrols are still present in the landscape
  • for advice on chemical control techniques contact your nearest Natural Resources Centre
  • refer to the 'Weed control handbook for declared plants in South Australia' for advice on chemical control. You can find it on the Biosecurity SA website.

Declarations

The following sections of the NRM Act apply to Salvation Jane in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region:

  • 175 (2) Cannot transport the plant, or any material or equipment containing that plant, on a public road
  • 177 (1) Cannot sell the plant
  • 177 (2) Cannot sell any produce / goods carrying the plant
  • 182 (2) Landowner must control the plant on their land
  • 185 (1) NRM authority may recover costs for control of weeds on roadsides from adjoining landowners

More information

For more detailed information download the fact sheet.

Please contact us for advice and assistance with controlling Salvation Jane.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges