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21 August 2012

Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip)

Datasheet Types: Invasive species, Pest, Host plant, Crop

Abstract

This datasheet on Achyranthes aspera covers Identity, Overview, Distribution, Dispersal, Hosts/Species Affected, Biology & Ecology, Environmental Requirements, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Further Information.

Identity

Preferred Scientific Name
Achyranthes aspera L.
Preferred Common Name
devil's horsewhip
Other Scientific Names
Achyranthes aspera var. indica L.
Achyranthes aspera var. obtusifolia Griseb.
Achyranthes indica (L.) Mill
Achyranthes obtusifolia Lam.
Achyranthes virgata Poir.
Centrostachys aspera (L.) Standl.
Centrostachys indica (L.) Standl.
International Common Names
English
burweed
prickly chaff flower
rough chaff flower
Spanish
abrojo (Mexico)
anamu
chile de perro
chilillo (Honduras)
mozote (Honduras)
rabo de gato
French
achyranthe rude
cadelari
herbe de fievre
herbe d'Inde
herbe sergent
queue de rat
Local Common Names
Botswana
moxato
Costa Rica
mozotillo
rabo de chanco
Cuba
pinedo do gato
rabo de gato
Dominican Republic
cadillo de gato
huevo de gato
rabo de ratón
Germany
Spreublume
Haiti
feuilles la fiebre
queue de rat
santypite
India
kunjar
puthkanda
Italy
scimitro
Kiribati
libai
Lesotho
bohomane
Lesser Antilles
ven-ven
Netherlands
kafbloem
South Africa
grootklits
isinama
Zimbabwe
udombo
EPPO code
ACYAS (Achyranthes aspera)

Pictures

Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); flower spike. Kadavoor, Kerala, India. November 2010.
Flower spike
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); flower spike. Kadavoor, Kerala, India. November 2010.
©Jeevan Jose-2010/Kadavoor, Kerala/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); close-up of flower. Kadavoor, Kerala, India. November 2010.
Flower
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); close-up of flower. Kadavoor, Kerala, India. November 2010.
©Jeevan Jose-2010/Kadavoor, Kerala/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit, showing dense patch of flower spikes. Kaohikaipu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.
Habit
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit, showing dense patch of flower spikes. Kaohikaipu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.
©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 3.0
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); spiny seeds adhering to gloved hand. Stable Rd, Spreckelsville, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2013.
Seeds
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); spiny seeds adhering to gloved hand. Stable Rd, Spreckelsville, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2013.
©Forest & Kim Starr-2013 - CC BY 3.0
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); leaves.
Leaves
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); leaves.
©Sheldon Navie
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); small flowers on stems.
Flowers
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); small flowers on stems.
©Sheldon Navie
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit, showing leaves.
Habit
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit, showing leaves.
©Sheldon Navie
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit.
Habit
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); habit.
©Sheldon Navie
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); four-leaf seedling.
Seedling
Achyranthes aspera (devil's horsewhip); four-leaf seedling.
©Sheldon Navie

Summary of Invasiveness

A. aspera can become aggressive outside of its native range and has naturalized widely. It appears to be kept under control in its native range by natural enemies.

Taxonomic Tree

This content is currently unavailable.

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Six species of Achyranthes occur in warm temperate and tropical regions of the world. Townsend (1985) records three infraspecific variants of A. aspera: var. aspera, var. pubescens and var. sicula. The latter is the only form occurring in the Mediterranean region. The variants A. aspera var. aspera and A. aspera var. pubescens were recorded in the West Indies (Liogier, 1985).

Plant Type

Annual
Perennial
Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Description

Erect or ascending herbs or shrubs; 0.8-4 m high, sometimes almost treelike; Stems tough, becoming woody at the base. Leaves opposite, simple and ovate, up to 10 cm long by 8 cm wide, tapering to a point at both ends and shortly stalked, the blades entire. Inflorescences terminal and axillary, spicate, erect, many-flowered; becoming elongate, with only a few flowers open at the same time; flowers hermaphrodite, solitary in axils of acute, membranous, persistent bracts. Individual flowers are small, with five white to pink or greenish tepals and white filaments, and form narrow, elongated terminal spikes up to 60 cm long. As the flowers age, they bend downwards and become pressed closely against the stem. The bracts surrounding the flowers in the fruiting stage have sharp, pointed tips making the heads spiny to the touch. Fruits are capsules, orange to reddish purple or brown, 1-3 (-5) mm long. Ovary is 1-seeded. Further details are given in Smith (1981).

Distribution

Probably indigenous to South-East Asia and Africa and now a ubiquitous weed (Smith, 1981). Many records in the country list have been added from USDA-ARS (2003) which were still listed as native on the USDA-ARS GRIN database in 2012; however, this website notes that the exact native range is obscure.

Distribution Map

This content is currently unavailable.

Distribution Table

This content is currently unavailable.

History of Introduction and Spread

A. aspera frequently occurs in waste areas, and along roadsides, foot paths, railroads and sand dunes. It often infests fence rows, open woodland, and the borders of forests and plantations. It has adapted to a wide range of environments (Holm et al., 1979). In the Bahamas this species was collected by N.L. Britton and C. T. Millspaugh in 1920 (Britton and Millspaugh, 1920). For Puerto Rico (including Mona, Vieques and Culebra), the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix and St. Thomas) and the British Virgin Islands (Tortola) this species appears in a 1924 collection made by N.L. Britton on these islands (Britton and Wilson, 1924). A. aspera was also introduced on Pacific Islands (including Hawaii, Samoa, Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, and French Polynesia) where it has been classified as an “invasive species” (PIER, 2012) and in Florida it is listed as a “potential problematic species” (USDA-NRCS, 2012).

Risk of Introduction

The risk of introduction of A. aspera  is high. It is a widespread weedy pantropical species readily transported to new habitats because its spiny fruits easily detach and stick to clothes, fur, and feathers. Consequently, seeds of this species may be easily transported to new habitats by birds, mammals, and humans.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Spiny bracts cause the fruits to stick to the hair of animals, clothing etc. There is evidence of dispersal by livestock (Bullock and Primack, 1977).

Pathway Causes

Pathway Vectors

Plant Trade

Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
weeds/flowers
   
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
weeds/seeds
weeds/whole plants
   

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Habitat

A. aspera is a weed of crops, grasslands, forestry, disturbed areas and waste places. It is common in waste and cultivated grounds in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012). In Fiji, this species occurs from sea level to about 900 m elevation as an abundantly naturalized weed on rocky shores, limestone islets and grassy slopes, in coastal thickets, cultivated areas and along roadsides and forest trails (Smith, 1981).

Habitat List

CategorySub categoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial    
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural landPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedProtected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)Present, no further details 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchardsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems)Present, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedRail / roadsidesPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedUrban / peri-urban areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forestsPresent, no further details 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslandsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanksPresent, no further details 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlandsPresent, no further details 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalDesertsPresent, no further details 
Littoral Coastal areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

Physiology and Phenology

A. aspera is a coarse herb or shrub, sometimes growing in arable land as an annual, but under suitable conditions lasting for a number of years and reaching a height of 4 m. There are sun and shade adapted types (Vora et al., 1989).

Reproductive Biology

In germination studies of desert plants, Khan et al. (1984) noted little seed dormancy in this species.

Associations

A. aspera displays antifeedant activity against gram pod borer (Helicoverpa armigera; Singh et al., 2001).

Soil Tolerances

Soil texture > light
Soil texture > medium
Soil texture > heavy
Soil reaction > acid
Soil reaction > neutral
Soil reaction > alkaline
Soil drainage > free
Soil drainage > impeded
Special soil tolerances > shallow
Special soil tolerances > infertile

List of Pests

This content is currently unavailable.

Impact Summary

CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collectionsNegative
Animal/plant productsNone
Biodiversity (generally)Negative
Crop productionNegative
Environment (generally)Negative
Fisheries / aquacultureNone
Forestry productionNone
Human healthNone
Livestock productionNegative
Native faunaNegative
Native floraNegative
Rare/protected speciesNone
TourismNone
Trade/international relationsNone
Transport/travelNone

Risk and Impact Factors

Invasiveness

Invasive in its native range
Proved invasive outside its native range
Highly adaptable to different environments
Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
Highly mobile locally
Has high reproductive potential
Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year

Impact outcomes

Damaged ecosystem services
Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Negatively impacts agriculture
Negatively impacts animal health
Reduced native biodiversity

Impact mechanisms

Competition - monopolizing resources
Produces spines, thorns or burrs

Likelihood of entry/control

Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

A. aspera has various medicinal applications: for example, as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic treatment (Girach et al., 1992; Gokhale et al., 2002); as an abortifacient (Pakrashi and Bhattacharya, 1977; Siddiqui et al., 1988); it has also been tested as an antifertility agent (Prakash, 1986; Varshney et al., 1986; Wadhwa et al., 1986), and for anti-cancer activity (Chakraborty et al., 2002). Barua et al. (2012) examined it for healing of wounds and burns, while antifungal potential is reported by Sharma et al. (2011).

It is a diuretic in goats (Nazish Jahan et al., 2002) and is used in other veterinary preparations (Bhaumik and Sharma, 1993; Sikawar, 1994).

It has been investigated for energy production (Subramanian and Sampathrajan, 1999).

Uses List

Environmental > Host of pest
Environmental > Soil improvement
Medicinal, pharmaceutical > Traditional/folklore

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
A. aspera is moderately resistant to 2,4-D and MCPA. In the young seedling stage, a reasonable kill can be obtained with rates of the order of 1.0 kg/ha but resistance increases rapidly with age and older plants require 2.0 kg/ha or more (Ivens, 1967).

Links to Websites

NameURLComment
Flora of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/ 
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Riskhttp://www.hear.org/pier/ 

References

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