Elisha’s Tears (Leycesteria formosa)

Photo: (c) Sten Porse

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Growth Habit: Upright, multi-stemmed, large shrub. Arising from a root crown just below the soil surface, the bamboo-like (hollow) stems are 2 to 4 cm in diameter and may be upright or horizontal. Leaves are dark green on the upper surface, paler green and lightly hairy underneath with prominent veins.

Type of Plant: This weed is a handsome, variable, deciduous shrub that can grow up to 4m in height.

Photo: (c) H. Zell

Flowers: Flowers occur in clusters of six in pendulous hanging chains. Each cream-purple, funnel-shaped flower is 1.5 cm long and tubular, and enclosed by leaf-like purple-green bracts, which are easily mistaken for the flower itself. Flowering usually occurs from late spring to summer..

Fruit/Seed: Numerous black oval-shaped berries, 6-10 mm long are formed in summer.

Dispersal: Birds readily eat the berries and later pass the seed unharmed. Also reproduces by stem layering, where roots sprout from where the stems touch the ground.

Distribution: A relatively common garden plant, now widely found invading damp forest and woodland areas throughout Tasmania.

Status: Elisha’s tears is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Elisha’s tears is prohibited in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Elisha’s tears is a serious bushland invader and is capable of forming strong colonies in wet bushland areas.
  • Elisha’s tears invades cool moist forests, woodlands and riparian (stream-side) areas.
  • Elisha’s tears can invade both disturbed and undisturbed bush, forming dense thickets that can smother other vegetation and prevent regeneration, displacing both native plants and animals.
  • Once established, it excludes native flora and fauna.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Plant, or replace with, alternative species in your garden. For example Common Heath (Epacris impressa) and Derwent Speedwell (Derwentia derwentiana).
  • Grubbing (all year). Remove seedlings and small bushes. Make sure to take any crown that has developed, as well as any layered stems.
  • The material should be disposed of by burning where safe to do so, or by piling plants where they cannot layer.
  • Care should also be taken to remove fruit to prevent accidental seed dispersal during disposal.
  • Herbicide (summer, spring and autumn). For larger plants, spraying and the cut stump method work. Herbicides registered in Tasmania include glyphosate and triclopyr. For more information look at the DPIPWE Herbicides for Elisha’s Tears Control.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.