Cumbungi (Bullrush)

What is cumbungi?

(Typha latifolia)

Cumbungi, Photo: T. Rudman
  • Cumbungi (also known as bullrush) is a name given to a group of three similar plant species found in Tasmania. Cumbungi (Typha latifolia) is a weed, while broadleaf cumbungi (T. orientalis) and narrowleaf cumbungi (T. domingensis) are native to Tasmania.
  • Cumbungi is a troublesome weed of farm dams, creeks, ponds and slow moving rivers in Tasmania. The two native cumbungi are not weeds, but can sometimes become a problem in poorly managed dams and waterways on agricultural land.

How to identify cumbungi

  • Cumbungi are semi-aquatic plants growing in lakes, dams, irrigation channels, marshes and rivers where the flow is slow and dissolved nutrient levels are high.
  • The grass-like leaves are thick and spongy, and are borne on either side of a stout, cane-like stem growing to 2.5 m high. The flower head is produced in summer. Each stem produces one flower head divided into an upper spike of male flowers, and below this a cylindrical spike of female flowers.
  • The introduced cumbungi (T. latifolia) can be distinguished from the two native cumbungi by the colour and size of the flower head.
  • For the introduced cumbungi, the female (or lower and cylindrical) part of the flower head is blackish-brown in colour, 100-200 mm long and 15-30 mm in diameter.
  • The female flower head of broadleaf cumbungi is chestnut-brown in colour, 100-200 mm long and 15 - 25 mm in diameter.
  • The female flower head of narrowleaf cumbungi is cinnamon-brown in colour, 120-300 mm long and 6-15 mm in diameter.
  • See the Cumbungi Fact Sheet for more information in distinguishing between the three species. If you are in doubt about the cumbungi you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.

Cumbungi infestation, Photo: T. RudmanCumbungi flowers
Image top: Cumbungi, photo: T. Rudman.
Images above, left to right: Cumbungi infestation (T. Rudman); Cumbungi flowers.

Cumbungi in Tasmania

  • The introduced cumbungi is found throughout the State in farm dams, creeks, ponds and slow moving rivers. Cumbungi is continuing to spread in Tasmania as fertiliser and animal manures are washed into waterways, creating the nutrient-rich waters cumbungi prefers.
  • Cumbungi can reduce the holding capacity and access areas of dams and waterways. In rivers, creeks, and irrigation and drainage channels, cumbungi can restrict and even block water flow. Destruction of the weed can also result in a large amount of decaying vegetation polluting the water and blocking pump intakes, channels and ditches.

Detailed management and control guidelines for cumbungi can be found in the Cumbungi Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Cumbungi Control.

See also:

Cumbungi Control Guide
Herbicides for Cumbungi Control
Weed Links and Resources
Cumbungi Fact Sheet

Other useful links:
Pest Genie

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