Centaurea iberica (Iberian starthistle)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Centaurea iberica Trev. Ex Sprengel (1826)
Preferred Common Name
- Iberian starthistle
Other Scientific Names
- Calcitrapa iberica (Spreng.) Schur (1866)
- Leucantha iberica (Spreng.) Á. Löve & D. Löve (1961)
Local Common Names
- English: Iberian knapweed; Spanish centaury-thistle
- Spanish: abrepuño gigante; azulejo gigante
- Brazil: centáurea-gigante
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
C. iberica appears to be somewhat weedy in its native environment, but is less aggressively invasive elsewhere than other Centaurea species. The only South American country where it appears to have established as an invasive alien is Argentina. It has been introduced in Europe and North America, but has either failed to persist or eradication efforts have been successful to some degree. Only in California has eradication not been achieved. Introductions in Wyoming and Oregon have not expanded rapidly. In its native range, various uses in folk medicine are proving to have a scientific basis. C. iberica is on prohibited weed lists in Chile and Australia; and is a Class A noxious weed in California and Oregon, and a prohibited noxious weed in Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Centaurea
- Species: Centaurea iberica
DescriptionTop of page
Plants 20-200 cm tall; stems 1-several, divaricately much branched (‘bushy’ in some references), often forming a rounded mound, puberulent to loosely tomentose. Leaves hispidulous to loosely tomentose, more or less glabrate, dotted with minute resin glands; proximal leaves petiolate, blades 10-20 cm, margins 1-2 times pinnately lobed or dissected, rosette with central cluster of spines; mid sessile, not decurrent, blades more or less lanceolate, shorter; distal blades linear to oblong, entire to coarsely dentate or shallowly lobed. Heads disciform, borne singly or in leafy cymiform arrays, sessile or short-pedunculate. Involucres ovoid to hemispheric, 10-18 mm. Principal phyllaries: bodies greenish or stramineous, ovate, scarious-margined, appendages stramineous, spiny-fringed at the base, each tipped by a stout, spreading spine 1-3 cm long. Inner phyllaries: appendages truncate, spineless. Florets many; corollas white, pink or pale purple, those of sterile florets slender, 15-20 mm, those of fertile florets 15-20 mm. Cypselae white or brown streaked, 3-4 mm, glabrous. Pappus of white bristles 1-2.5 mm (Keil and Ochsmann, 2006).
Plant TypeTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present||Native||Kashmir 5-6000 ft. Westward to the Atlantic|
|Iraq||Present||Native||Jebel Baykhair near Zakho, near Amara|
|Turkey||Present, Widespread||Native||Fields, roadsides, waste land s.l. -2300 m|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|France||Absent, Formerly present||Transitory species at Juvenal Port|
|Italy||Present||Introduced||Adventive, disturbed places|
|United Kingdom||Absent, Formerly present||Casual alien e.g., once or twice near Slateford Railway Sta. & Leith Docks in 1904; First reported: >1900|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-California||Present, Few occurrences||Introduced||1923||Invasive||Eradicated in 1 location, ongoing in 2 others|
|-Oregon||Present, Few occurrences||Introduced||1954||Jackson Co. Clackamas & Wheeler counties|
|-Washington||Absent, Formerly present||1929||Kittitas Co.|
|-Wyoming||Present||Introduced||1955||Converse (2000), Big Horn counties|
|Argentina||Present||Introduced||1956||Also collections at Smithsonian Herbarium from 1961-1988|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
C. iberica was introduced in Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s (e.g., Juvenal Gate in southern France and grain fields and railway stations in England and Scotland) but most introductions have failed to persist. Ballast ground introductions in North America have also not established. In California, C. iberica was first reported in 1923 near Solvang, Santa Ynez Canyon, Santa Barbara County (Robbins et al., 1970). In July 1929 a larger population was found near Santa Rosa. Two infestations, one of about 80 acres, were reported in San Diego County (near Ramona in 1932 and in Santa Teresa Valley in 1938) (Howell, 1959; Robbins et al., 1970). As a Class A noxious weed, an eradication program is in effect; one population has been eradicated and eradication is on-going for the other two (Rejmanek and Pitcairn, 2006). C. iberica was reported from 1955 through 2000 in Converse County, Wyoming (Dorn, 1977; Rice, 2009).
HabitatTop of page
In North America, C. iberica grows along roadsides and in fields and pastures (Keil and Ochsmann, 2006). In California it has often been reported to colonize the banks of watercourses and other moist sites (DiTomaso and Healy, 2007).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Arid regions||Present, no further details|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
C. iberica was reported to be one of the top three weeds in mustard fields in the district of Chakwal in Pakistan, and was ranked seventh overall in importance among all the weeds (Nasir and Sultan, 2006).
Biology and EcologyTop of page
2n=16 (Tonian, 1980)
C. iberica reproduces prolifically by seed (Whitson et al., 1996).
Physiology and Phenology
C. iberica plants form a rosette in late May and June and flower in July and August (Whitson et al., 1996). In California, flowering occurs between July and October (DiTomaso and Healy, 2007). It is a winter annual, biennial (Whitson et al., 1996) or short-lived perennial (Keil and Ochsmann, 2006). DiTomaso and Healy (2007) state that “the biology of this species is probably similar to purple starthistle” indicating that little is known about C. iberica in North America. Turkoglu et al. (2009) studied the effects of temperature on germination in C. iberica above 1750 m in Turkey. In Israel, it flowers in April, May, June and July (http://www.flowersinisrael.com/Centaureaiberica_page.htm).
In Israel, C. iberica grows on light soils and in the Mediterranean it occurs in woodlands and on shrublands, semi-steppes and the montane vegetation of Mt. Hermon.
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
Natural enemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Most seed falls near the parent plant or is dispersed over short distances by wind or sometimes water (DiTomaso and Healy, 2007).
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Longer distance dispersal is probably mediated by human or other animal activities, for example, on vehicles, in mud or soil, on hooves or equipment, clinging to fur or hair, or passing through the digestive tract of an animal. The presence of C. iberica at woollen mills indicates that sheep transport the seeds (Fraser, 1905).
All of the introductions appear to have been accidental, or at least caused by carelessness. Soil carried as ballast on ships may have been the most significant long distance dispersal mechanism for C. iberica between continents (Roché and Talbott, 1986) but it has also been transported with grains (Dunn, 1905).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
C. iberica is present as a part of the diverse native flora in the best rangelands on the West Bank, which are suitable for a Highly Sensitive Area (HSA): in the District of Jenin, on the northeastern side of the mountain of Lehif Jader (Palestine Institute For Arid Land and Environmental Studies, 1996).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Has high reproductive potential
- Negatively impacts agriculture
UsesTop of page
Drozda (1965) reported the occurrence of cnicin in C. iberica. Dumlu and Gürkan (2006) isolated sesquiterpene lactones and a steroidal compound from C. iberica in Turkey, which showed significant antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Ulusoylu et al. (2001) reported antibacterial and antifungal activities in extracts from C. iberica in Turkey.
C. iberica is one of several Centaurea species used in Turkish folk medicine to alleviate the pain and inflammatory symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis, high fever, headache, and for healing of wounds (in particular, the aerial part of C. iberica is applied on wounds for healing). Koca et al. (2009) evaluated the anti-inflammatory and healing properties of extracts of C. iberica. They found that C. iberica displays remarkable wound healing and anti-inflammatory activity. Senatore et al. (2005) studied the chemistry of C. iberica in Lebanon and isolated 91 volatile components, mostly fatty acids and hydrocarbons. In Pakistan, Hussain et al. (2004) studied antidiabetic compounds in C. iberica and found insulin secretagogue activity at 10 µg/mL in its extracts. Abdel-Jalil (2002) also investigated extracts of C. iberica for possible hypoglycaemic activity.
In Jordan, Qasem (2002) studied the effects of root exudates of C. iberica on parasitic branched broomrape (Orobanche ramosa) and determined that they did not reduce parasitic infection in tomatoes.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
C. iberica closely resembles Centaurea calcitrapa (Keil and Ochsmann, 2006). The rosettes of both species have deeply lobed leaves with light coloured midribs and spines develop in the centre of the rosette. The introductions in Kansas and Wyoming were first reported as C. calcitrapa (McGregor, 1986). The capitula of C. iberica are more globose than the narrow heads of C. calcitrapa (Roché and Roché, 1998). Achenes of C. iberica are plumed with a pappus, whereas those of C. calcitrapa lack this feature (Keil and Ochsmann, 2006; DiTomaso and Healy, 2007). Plants of C. iberica tend to be taller and more robust thanthose of C. calcitrapa (McGregor, 1986).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
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.
In 1978 Chile included C. iberica in a list of species whose seeds were prohibited from entry to the country (faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/chi9312.pdf). It is also on the prohibited seed list for Australia (http://www.invasive.org/gist/global/australia/ast.html).
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
30/11/09 Original text by:
Cindy Roché, Consultant, USA
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