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The challenge

Weeds cost Australia billions

Alongside useful species, like lettuce, and iconic species, like dandelions, many of the world's 25,000 different daisy species are aggressive weeds. They are a threat to agriculture and invade our natural landscapes.

Our daisy weed seed key is used at Australia's borders to protect biosecurity and support trade.

Weeds cost Australia an estimated $8 billion dollars each year. The grains industry alone loses around $3.3 billion annually due to yield losses and weed management practices.

Daisies can also cost businesses money when their seeds delay shipments from entering Australia. Daisy seeds tend to arrive at our air and sea ports in containers and on cut flowers, machinery and cars. When daisy weeds seeds are intercepted at our borders they need to be identified quickly and accurately. Are the seeds a new weed risk? Or are the seeds from a native species or a weed that is already established here? Does the shipment need to be put through an expensive and time consuming cleaning process?

Around 40 per cent of seeds that are found during quarantine inspections belong to daisies. Before our weed seed key, around one in five of these seeds couldn't be accurately identified.

Our response

Creating a ID key for the seeds of weedy daisies

The Australian National Herbarium in Canberra has a collection of expertly identified daisies, including both native species and weeds that now call Australia home.

Using our collection and visiting a few other herbaria in Australia and overseas, we created an interactive, visual key that enables easy identification of weedy daisies of major biosecurity importance. Known as a Lucid key, it allows daisy weed seeds to be identified even from broken or partial seeds.

The daisy seed key was an initiative of the ON Program and initially included 43 priority weed species.

The results

Protecting biosecurity and supporting trade

This work was co-funded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, who are using our daisy weed seed key when their scientific support staff receive daisy seed samples to identify from quarantine inspectors at Australia's borders.

The Key to propagules of selected weedy Asteraceae is freely available online and is currently being expanded from the original 43 species.

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