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Senegal tea

Senegal tea
Gymnocoronis spilanthoides

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Why it is a pest plant

Senegal tea is already here but we're working to get rid of it.

Production threat Environmental threat Public threat

Senegal tea is an extremely aggressive freshwater weed that inhabits wetlands and still or flowing waters. It forms dense floating mats, which can quickly cover waterways or wetland areas, causing a number of serious problems. It has the ability to smother submerged and other native plant species, affecting the health of wetland ecosystems and native biodiversity.

By changing habitats and smothering other useful species, Senegal tea may displace traditional food sources of value to Māori. It may hamper water flow, block streams and cause flooding. Senegal tea can also interfere with recreational activities such as boating.

Senegal tea (Gymnocoronis spilanthoides) is a native of central and southern America (Mexico to Argentina) and was originally brought into New Zealand as an ornamental plant for ponds and aquariums. Since then, only a few isolated infestations have been found in the Waikato region and all have eradication programmes underway.

Senegal tea is spread by seed or stem fragments, which readily form new roots. Seed can be dispersed by water movement and in soil attached to vehicles, machinery or animals. Fragments can be dispersed by water movement, planting, clearing and dumping pond vegetation or by drainage machinery.

Responsibility for control

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for controlling Senegal tea – do not attempt to remove it yourself. However, landowners/occupiers are encouraged to report Senegal weed on their properties. Senegal tea is also banned from being sold, propagated, distributed or included in commercial displays.

How to control senegal tea

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for controlling Senegal tea and it is illegal for anyone else to remove or disturb it.

If you see this weed on your property, do not cut or treat it. Call 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732) to report it to your nearest biosecurity pest plant officer.

See our tips below for ideas on how you can help us prevent Senegal tea from spreading.

Tips - stopping the spread

Senegal tea can spread by water movement such as floods or tides, soil movement, and equipment such as diggers, farm machinery, eel nets and boats. When disturbed, Senegal tea breaks up easily into small fragments which can easily regrow. Take special care not to disturb it or transport it to new sites.

  • Check boats, trailers, vehicles and equipment for fragments before heading home.
  • Check drains regularly.
  • Never empty the contents of aquariums into ponds or waterways.

Farmers should protect their properties from Senegal tea and other serious plant pests by:

  • insisting all contractors practise good weed hygiene, cleaning their equipment before
    entering the farm
  • ensuring supplementary feed brought onto the farm is weed free
  • ensuring aggregates, soil and sand brought onto the farm are weed free.

More information


  • For advice and additional information on control methods, call our pest plant staff on freephone 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732).
  • Chemical company representatives, farm supply stores and garden centres can also be good sources for advice.


View, download or order the following publications or call our freephone 0800 800 401.

  • National Pest Plant Accord (Manual of plants banned from sale, propagation and distribution) ($10.00 plus GST)
  • Plant Me Instead! (Plants to use in place of common pest plants) (free)
  • Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) (free) (Section 5.55, page 138)
  • Waikato Regional Council pest guide (free)

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