Clear it for keeps

Old Man's Beard is not easy to kill in a way that it won't come back - but it can be done! Here's a quick guide to whacking it effectively. Watch the video and see our pointers below.

NOTE: If the plant isn't on your property or the land is steep, check out our advice on scouting out your site.

1. Check it's OMB

Before tackling the plant, confirm it is Old Man's Beard.

  • Does it have five leaflets per stem?

  • Are the vines ribbed?

If it has smooth vines and three or six leaflets per stem, it's likely a native clematis and should be left to grow.

2. Give it the chop

Cut any climbing vines one or two metres off the ground, ideally before they go to seed.

Leave them hanging in the tree where they will die off.

If seeds have formed, it can be useful to bag them up and dispose of them to save new seedlings growing next year.

3. Kill the roots

Roots will form at each node, about 20cm apart. Working along the roots pull them out of the ground if possible.

If they snap or you can't pull them, you'll need to cut them below the node and apply a thin layer of weedkiller paste within 30 seconds.

Picloram based gels such as Vigilant, Triumph, McGregors Woody and Bulbous Weed Killer, Cut 'n Paste Picloram are best. Others such as Invade Gel, Woody Weedkiller or RoundUp Tough Gel may work over summer.

Wellington City Council only allow Picloram gel to be used on their land and require you to be trained and certified before using it.

4. Hang the roots up

Left on the ground, the roots will resprout.

Coil them up and hang them in a tree to allow them to die off.

5. Update iNaturalist

So that we can tell which OMB patches have been tackled and which haven't, please update the iNaturalist observation, or add a new one if it doesn't exist.

Add the observation to the Wellington's old man's beard sightings project if it's not already. You might need to join this project first (click on the link above and click the Join button).

This project will show some observation fields. Enter or edit the Is the Pest Controlled? field to yes and complete the Date Controlled field. For existing observations, you may need to click on the field and select Edit.

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Annual check up

Any seeds that have blown onto the ground could be viable for 5-10 years. After clearing an area, you should check annually for any seedlings or roots that are re-sprouting.

Seedlings often start off with three leaves. If there's a chance it might be native clematis, wait until it grows to have five leaves before pulling it out.

OMB Seedling

Resprouting roots