Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Key to the weed species of New Zealand

Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Image - Trevor James

A key for the identification of weeds in New Zealand.

Murray Dawson, Sheldon Navie, Trevor James, Peter Heenan, Paul Champion & others

This Lucid 3 key is for the identification of more than 650 weeds (species, subspecies, varieties, hybrids and cultivars).

These include common weeds, the Department of Conservation consolidated list of environmental weeds in New Zealand (Howell, 2008), the National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA) list of species banned from sale, distribution, and propagation in New Zealand, and Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) species. Similar and related species to some weeds are also included here.

The Weeds Key is illustrated with about 11,000 images and runs using 49 characters and 228 character-states. There are links at the species level to related weed and pest plant resources: Weedbusters, AgPest, MPI Biosecurity NZ, nzflora Weed Profiles, Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa – New Zealand Plants, and other identification keys.

The TFBIS (Terrestrial & Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) Programme funded the majority of this project (with grants since 2007) and MPI contributed towards the addition of new NPPA species.

For 2013–2015, TFBIS provided further funds to add more than 100 species to this popular key. In July 2014, 86 new RPMS species were added, along with a set of habitat characters. In October 2014, 66 common weed species were also added. Adding images for these new species was completed in December 2015.


System requirements

Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is required to run this key. You can download the most up-to-date version at

This key will not currently run using the Chrome browser. Use an alternative web browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. App versions are available for a few of these keys to run on smartphones and tablets.


Dawson, M., Navie, S., James, T., Heenan, P., Champion, P. 2007–2015. Weeds Key – interactive key to the weed species of New Zealand.
Accessed at
Date of access: 20 Feb 2018