Most of us are familiar with the saying, “A weed is a plant in the wrong place”. There are many versions of this saying, but the main idea is that a weed is generally a plant that is fast-growing, often tending to spread or exclude other “more desirable” plants and definitely growing where we don’t want it to.

Since Europeans came to this country there has been an ever-growing list of “weeds”, but that is not the focus of this article. If we look at the role that some weeds play in the environment, then we open up an entirely different point of view. To begin with, weeds are at their best (or worst) in areas that have been disturbed. Their job is to stabilise the soil by protecting it from wind, water and sunlight and to begin the process of rejuvenation. This is clearly a good, in fact, vital role and a fast-growing, spreading plant is ideal for the job.

So, what plants filled this niche before colonisation?

The answer is that there are many, many native plants that filled this roll, and they are still doing their job today. Most of them are very cute in their own quiet way. Many are often overlooked, and unfortunately, many are mistaken for exotic weeds and removed.

If I got a dollar for every time I got a landowner excited about a plant they thought was a weed…

The point of this article is to showcase a very small selection of those native plants that, in my experience, are commonly considered “weeds”. In fact, they all act like weeds according to the definition above, but they are all native plants as well. I am sure you will recognise some, and hopefully you will be inspired to find out more about the ones you don’t recognise.

These few plants are just the more commonly found ones. There are many more. You can learn more by talking with your Land for Wildlife Officer and by uploading pictures to iNaturalist. You can also have a look at the iNaturalist Guide Logan Native Plants that Look Like Weeds, at

Article and photos by Peter Copping
Land for Wildlife Officer
Logan City Council

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