Red bidibid
Acaena novae-zelandiae 1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Acaena
A. novae-zelandiae
Binomial name
Acaena novae-zelandiae

Acaena novae-zelandiae, commonly known as red bidibid,[1]bidgee widgee,[2]buzzy[3] and piri-piri bur,[4] is a small herbaceous, prostrate perennial, native to New Zealand, Australia and New Guinea,[5] of the family Rosaceae.[1]


Acaena novae-zelandiae is a small herbaceous perennial. It is stoloniferous with prostrate stems of 1.5 – 2 mm diameter.[5] Damage to stolons encourages new shoots to be produced.[6]

Acaena novae-zelandiae, Tasmania, Australia.

It has imparipinnate leaves, with 9–15 toothed, oblong leaflets, which are approximately 2 –11 cm long.[5] The adaxial surface of the leaves is dark green and shiny, and the abaxial surface is hairy and glaucous green in colouration.[2][5][7] The rachis of the leaves is often red.[5]

The scape is 10 – 15 cm long[5] and bears a globular, terminal inflorescence, of 20 – 25 mm diameter,[2] with 70 – 100 flowers.[5][7] The flowers lack petals and can range in colour from green to white or purple.[8] The flowers are wind pollinated.[6]

Acaena novae-zelandiae seeds on a glove, demonstrating their ability to attach easily to articles of clothing.

Each flower produces one achene, bearing four approximately 10 mm long spines,[2] tipped with barbs,[2][5][7] which aid dispersal by attaching to wool, feathers and various clothing materials.[9] When the fruit are ripe, these spines are red in colouration, later becoming brown.

Taxonomy and naming

Acaena novae-zelandiae was first formally described in 1871 by Thomas Kirk who published the description in Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute.[10][11] The genus name (Acaena) is derived from the Ancient Greek word akaina meaning "thorn" or "spine",[12] referring to the spiny calyx of many species of Acaena. The specific epithet (novae-zelandiae) refers to New Zealand.[1]

Distribution and habitat

Red bidibid is native to New Zealand, Australia and New Guinea. It has also become naturalised in California, Great Britain and Ireland.[5] It is regarded as invasive in Great Britain where it has established itself in places such as dune habitats on Lindisfarne.[13][14]

It occurs within a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, shrublands and grasslands, from coastal areas to alpine areas.[2][7] It grows in freely draining soils such as silty and sandy loams, typically on sites which receive a high amount of sunlight.[7]

It also establishes readily on disturbed sites such as roadsides.[9]


Acaena novae-zelandiae may be used for ground cover in gardens or as a lawn substitute. This plant can be prevented from spreading by limiting disturbance to stolons, thus reducing vegetative propagation,[6] and by mowing flowers before the burrs form.[15]

It has also been suggested that dried “tiny tips”[16] of young succulent leaves may be brewed as tea.[15][16][17][18]


  1. ^ a b c "Acaena novae-zelandiae". New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Australia, Victorian Resources Online, Agriculture Victoria. "Bidgee-widgee". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  3. ^ "View By Common Name | Tamar Valley Weed Strategy". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Pirri-pirri-bur". IWSL. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Webb, C; Sykes, W; Garnock-Jones, P; Given, D (1988). Flora Of New Zealand : Volume IV, Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons. Christchurch, NZ: Botany Division, D.S.I.R. p. 1062.
  6. ^ a b c Agriculture, California Department of Food and. "CDFA > PLANT > INTEGRATED PEST CONTROL > Encycloweedia > Noxious Weed Photographic Gallery > Acaena genus". Archived from the original on 19 December 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Gynn, E; Richards, A (1985). "Acaena Novae-Zelandiae T. Kirk". Journal of Ecology. 73 (3): 1055–1063. doi:10.2307/2260167. JSTOR 2260167.
  8. ^ Corporation, Grains Research and Development. "Bidgee-widgee". Grains Research and Development Corporation. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b Mount, A; Pickering, C (2009). "Testing the capacity of clothing to act as a vector for non-native seed in protected areas". Journal of Environmental Management. 91 (1): 168–179. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.08.002. hdl:10072/29656. PMID 19717222.
  10. ^ "Acaena novae-zelandiae". APNI. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  11. ^ Kirk, Thomas (1871). "Descriptions of new plants". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 3: 177–178. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  12. ^ Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 796.
  13. ^ "Pirri-pirri-bur". Plant Life. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Pirri-pirri burr (Acaena novae-zelandiae)". GB non-native secretariat. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Bidgee-widgee - Victorian Native Seed". Victorian Native Seed. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Plants for the water friendly garden" (PDF). City of Clarence.
  17. ^ "Plants of Tasmania Nursery & Gardens". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  18. ^ Hopkins, Kat; Alexander, Mark. "Edible Native Plants of Tasmania" (PDF).