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Paterson's curse

Paterson's curse is a major pasture weed throughout southern Australiawhich now covers millions of hectares of land from WA to northern New South Wales. It is estimated to cost Australian sheep and cattle producers $250 million annually through lost productivity in pastures, control costs, and wool contamination.

Paterson's curse is also known as Patterson's curse, salvation Jane, blueweed, Lady Campbell weed or Riverina bluebell.

Paterson's curse contains alkaloids that can cause chronic cumulative liver damage. This can lead to death, especially when consumed in large amounts over a prolonged period. Horses and pigs are highly susceptible to poisoning by Paterson's curse. Cattle are moderately susceptible, while sheep and goats are only slightly susceptible.

Conditions under which poisoning by Paterson's curse is likely to occur

Paterson's curse is most common in high rainfall, temperate areas. It can, however, grow over a wide area, due to its tolerance of different climates and soils.

Conditions under which Paterson's curse is more likely to be abundant include:

  • years when the autumn break is early
  • paddocks that have not been cropped or grazed for several years or have only been lightly grazed.

Strategies to prevent poisoning by Paterson's curse

New or existing Paterson's curse infestations can be controlled by:

  • seasonal grazing management tactics
  • tactical application of herbicides
  • biological control agents.