Invasive In-depth: P. hysterophorus

Image via keys.lucidcentral.org

Image via keys.lucidcentral.org

     Parthenium hysterophorus, more commonly known as Santa Maria Feverfew or Whitetop Weed, is a flowering member of the aster family. Native to the American tropics, this toxic plant has begun to invade India, Australia and parts of Africa. Able to cause respiratory upset and severe dermatitis in humans (contact can cause scarring and take up to three months for symptoms to subside), the plant can also damage the intestines of cattle and domestic animals.

     In one of the more recent articles concerning the plant, Malaysian officials are worried about its spread in the country, and the inefficacy of their attempts to control it (recent herbicide applications showed little to no control of the invasive). “The seeds can be dormant in the ground for up to 10 years, making it impossible to get rid of,” said Dr. S. M. Rezaul Karim, Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantin.