Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Dysphania ambrosioides
(Mexican tea)



Dysphania ambrosioides (Mexican tea)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Dysphania ambrosioides
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mexican tea
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • D. ambrosioides is a herb considered a cosmopolitan weed (Correa et al., 2004). It produces thousands of small see...

  • There are no pictures available for this datasheet

    If you can supply pictures for this datasheet please contact:

    CAB International
    OX10 8DE
  • Distribution map More information

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Dysphania ambrosioides (L.) Mosyakin & Clemants

Preferred Common Name

  • Mexican tea

Other Scientific Names

  • Ambrina ambrosioides (L.) Spach
  • Ambrina anthelmintica (L.) Spach
  • Ambrina incisa Moq.
  • Ambrina parvula Phil.
  • Ambrina spathulata Moq.
  • Atriplex ambrosioides (L.) Crantz
  • Atriplex anthelmintica (L.) Crantz
  • Blitum ambrosioides (L.) Beck
  • Botrys ambrosioides (L.) Nieuwl.
  • Botrys anthelmintica (L.) Nieuwl.
  • Chenopodium amboanum (Murr) Aellen
  • Chenopodium ambrosioides L.
  • Chenopodium angustifolium Pav.ex Moq.
  • Chenopodium anthelminticum L.
  • Chenopodium citriodorum Steud.
  • Chenopodium cuneifolium Vent. ex Moq.
  • Chenopodium integrifolium Vorosch.
  • Chenopodium querciforme Murr
  • Chenopodium sancta-maria Vell.
  • Chenopodium spathulatum (Moq.) Sieber ex Moq.
  • Chenopodium suffruticosum Willd.
  • Chenopodium vagans Standl.
  • Chenopodium variegatum Gouan
  • Dysphania anthelmintica (L.) Mosyakin & Clemants
  • Orthosporum ambrosioides (L.) Kostel.
  • Orthosporum suffruticosum Kostel.
  • Roubieva anthelmintica (L.) Hook. & Arn.
  • Teloxys ambrosioides (L.) W.A. Weber
  • Teloxys vagans (Standl.) W.A. Weber
  • Vulvaria ambrosioides (L.) Bubani

International Common Names

  • English: American wormseed; bluebush; Indian goosefoot; Jerusalem-tea; Mexican tea; Spanish-tea; wormseed
  • Spanish: apazote; aposote; biengranada; epazote; hierba hormiguera; huacatay; paico; pasote; pazote; pichan; pichen
  • French: ambroisie du Mexique; botrice; chenopode ambroisine; feuilles à vers; herbe à puces; herbe à vers; thé du Mexique; vermifuge
  • Chinese: tu jing jie

Local Common Names

  • : epazote
  • Bahamas: Jerusalem parsley
  • Brazil: ambrósia; ambrósia-do-México; anserina-vermífuga; ereva-mata-pulga; erva-das-lombrigas; erva-de-bicho; erva-de-Santa-Maria; erva-formigueira; mastruço; menstruço
  • Dominican Republic: chénopode; semen contra; semin contra
  • Haiti: simón contegras
  • Jamaica: bitter weed; hedge mustard; semicontract
  • Lesser Antilles: boldo; semen contra; worm bush; wormwood

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

D. ambrosioides is a herb considered a cosmopolitan weed (Correa et al., 2004). It produces thousands of small seeds that can be easily dispersed by human activities (seed contamination, mud, and farming machinery), as well as by abiotic factors (USDA-ARS, 2013). Once established in new areas, it grows as a weed affecting agriculture and native vegetation (Jellen et al., 2011). D. ambrosioides is one of the most successful herbs colonizing both disturbed and agricultural areas in almost all continents. It is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds where it is listed as a noxious weed in the United States, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe (Randall, 2012). This species is considered invasive in a wide range of environments including areas in Australia, islands in the Pacific Ocean, Spain, Italy, Greece, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and South Africa (see distribution table for details: DAISIE, 2013; PIER, 2013; USDA-NRCS, 2013).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Caryophyllales
  •                         Family: Chenopodiaceae
  •                             Genus: Dysphania
  •                                 Species: Dysphania ambrosioides

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The generic name Dysphania R. Br. has been traditionally applied to 7-10 species endemic to Australia, and included in the family Dysphaniaceae (Wilson, 1983). However, recent phylogenetic studies suggest that Dysphania is close to a group of Chenopodium species characterized by the presence of multicellular glandular hairs (Kadereit et al., 2003; Kadereit et al., 2005). Consequently, these studies have supported the proposal by Mosyakin and Clemants (2002, 2008) to transfer the glandular species of Chenopodium to Dysphania.

At present, the genus Dysphania includes about 45 species (Mosyakin and Clemants, 2002) and it is included by APG III in the widely circumscribed family Amaranthaceae (which includes also the family Chenopodiaceae; Stevens, 2012).  The CAB Thesaurus continues to use the Cronquist system in which the genus Dysphania remains in the separate family Chenopodiaceae.

According to the new classification, most of the species within the genus Dysphania are native to the Americas (18 species) and to Australia (20 species), while the remaining ones are native to Africa, Asia and Europe (Iamonico, 2011). The former species Chenopodium ambrosioides also belongs to the group of taxa now included in Dysphania, as D. ambrosioides (L.) Mosyakin and Clemants, according to the infrageneric classification proposed by Mosyakin and Clemants (2002, 2008).


Top of page

Erect subshrub to 1 m tall, with strong, fetid smell, many-branched from a woody base; stem ribbed to cylindrical, more or less pubescent. Leaf blades 2-9 × 0.6-3.8 cm, chartaceous, lanceolate or oblanceolate, glabrous or nearly so, lower surface with abundant yellowish gland dots, the apex obtuse or acute, the base tapering into a more or less elongate (to 2 cm), winged petiole, the margins deeply lobed or serrate to entire on upper leaves. Flowers minute, greenish, in axillary glomerules or in spikes of glomerules, the spikes 1-2 cm long. Calyx greenish, ca. 1 mm long, the sepals oblong; stamens ca. 1 mm long; styles 3, whitish. Utricle whitish, ca. 1 mm long, covered with persistent sepals. Seeds 1 mm long, nearly lenticular, reddish brown (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Seed propagated


Top of page

D. ambrosioides is native to Mexico, and Central and South America (Mosyakin and Clemants, 2002; 2008). It has been actively introduced to be used as a culinary and aromatic herb, tea, and food commodity and currently can be found naturalized in Europe, the United States, the West Indies, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands and Asia (Correa et al., 2004; Park et al., 2012; Randall, 2012; Prota4U, 2013).

Distribution Table

Top 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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


CambodiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive Wu, 2001
-HunanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-SichuanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroducedKhuroo et al., 2007
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedBacker, 1954
JapanPresentIntroducedKato, 2007Bonin Islands
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Park et al., 2012
PakistanPresentIntroducedShah and Khan, 2006Agricultural weed
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedMigahid, 1988
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive eFloras, 2013
TurkeyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
VietnamPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997


BotswanaPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
EgyptPresentIntroducedMashaly and Awad, 2003Weed
GabonPresentIntroducedORSTOM, 1988
KenyaPresentIntroducedBrenan, 1954
LesothoPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMadagascar Catalogue, 2012
MalawiPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
MozambiquePresentIntroducedSilva et al., 2004
NamibiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Bethune et al., 2004
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Foxcroft et al., 2003
SwazilandPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
UgandaPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
ZambiaPresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedProta4U, 2013

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
MexicoPresentNativeVibrans, 2011Weeds
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-FloridaPresentIntroducedWunderlin and Hansen, 2008
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-IndianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-IowaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-KansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-MichiganPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
-New YorkPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-OhioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-VermontPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013Listed as a weed

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
ArubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentIntroducedCorrell and Correll, 1982
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentINBio, Instituto Nacional de BiodiversidadWeed
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentUSDA-ARS, 2013
GrenadaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentTropicos, 2013
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentMolina, 1975
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAdams, 1972
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Saba, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatius, St. Marteen, Bonaire
NicaraguaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2013
PanamaPresentCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Weed
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedGraveson, 2012Described as “rare” on this island
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentUSDA-ARS, 2013
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Weed

South America

ArgentinaPresentZuloaga et al., 2008Buenos Aires, Chaco. Cordoba, Corrientes, DF, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Río Negro, Salta, Santa Fe, San Juan, Tucumán
BoliviaPresentTropicos, 2013
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AcrePresentNativeSenna, 2013
-AlagoasPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-AmapaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-AmazonasPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-BahiaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-CearaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-GoiasPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-MaranhaoPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-ParaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-ParaibaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-ParanaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-PernambucoPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-PiauiPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-RondoniaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-RoraimaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-Sao PauloPresentNativeSenna, 2013
-SergipePresentNativeSenna, 2013
-TocantinsPresentNativeSenna, 2013
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive Danton et al., 2006Invasive on Juan Fernández Islands
ColombiaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2013
EcuadorPresentNativeJørgensen and León-Yánez, 1999Continental Ecuador
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008
French GuianaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
ParaguayPresentZuloaga et al., 2008Alto Paraguay, Caaguazú, Caazapá, Central, Concepción, Cordillera, Guairá, Itapúa, Paraguarí, Hayes
PeruPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Weed
SurinamePresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
UruguayPresentZuloaga et al., 2008Montevideo. Considered a weed.
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Naturalized


AustriaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
BelgiumPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
BulgariaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
CroatiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Borsic et al., 2008
CyprusPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
DenmarkPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
EstoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
FrancePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
GermanyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
GreecePresentIntroduced Invasive Arianoutsou et al., 2010
HungaryPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
ItalyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Including Sicilia
-SardiniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Brundu et al., 2003
MacedoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
MoldovaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
PortugalPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
-AzoresPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
RomaniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
SerbiaPresentIntroducedNestorovic and Konstantinovic, 2011Weed
SpainPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2013Andalucia, Castilla & León, Basque Country
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
SwedenPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013Established
UKPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013England, Scotland, Wales
UkrainePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Smith, 1981
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Swarbrick, 1997
New ZealandPresentIntroducedHowell and Sawyer, 2006Naturalized
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Orchard, 1994Weed
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henty, 1981

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

Within its native distribution range, D. ambrosioides has been cultivated since pre-Columbian times. Outside its native range, it has been actively introduced (probably repeated introductions) in tropical and temperate regions of the world and also has been accidentally introduced as a seed contaminant (Prota4U, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013). For example, in Korea, it was accidentally introduced around the 1970s and has become widely naturalized by replacing indigenous plants and disrupting native ecosystems (Park et al., 2012). It was reported from Puerto Rico as early as 1883 in Bello’s studies of Puerto Rican plants (Bello, 1883). I. Urban reported the occurrence of this species in Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Virgin Islands, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Vincent, and Trinidad at the start of the twentieth century (Urban, 1905).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

D. ambrosioides has been intentionally introduced in many tropical and subtropical regions to be used as a culinary and aromatic herb, tea, food commodity, to extract essential oils and as a medicinal plant. It has escaped from cultivation and spreads rapidly into disturbed areas, secondary forests, and agricultural lands where it behaves as a weed (Park et al., 2012; Randall, 2012; Prota4U, 2013: USDA-ARS, 2013). Considering that this species can produce thousands of seeds which can be easily dispersed by both biotic and abiotic seed dispersal vectors, the probability of invasion remains high principally in areas near its cultivation (PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013).


Top of page

D. ambrosioides can be found growing in a wide variety of habitats and climates including tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions, from sea level to 2000 m altitude. This species is described as a “cosmopolitan weed” common in disturbed areas, waste places, roadsides, forest edges, abandoned gardens, pastures, and agricultural fields (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012; PIER, 2013; Prota4U, 2013). D. ambrosioides is very successful colonizing new habitats, principally areas with high sunlight exposure and moist conditions (Holm et al., 1997).

Habitat List

Top of page
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page

D. ambrosioides has been reported as a weed affecting crops such as cotton, coffee, beans, chickpeas, maize, rice and grapes (Vibrans, 2011). Additionally, D. ambrosioides is host of the fungal pathogen Erysiphe betae (powdery mildew) which can spread to tomato crops (Prota4U, 2013).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page


The chromosome number reported for D. ambrosioides is 2n = 32 (Grozeva, 2006). 

Reproductive Biology

Flowers in D. ambrosioides are bisexual (have both male and female organs) or gynomonoecious (bisexual and female flowers) and are pollinated primarily by wind (Prota4U, 2013). 

Physiology and Phenology

In Mexico, within its native distribution range, D. ambrosioides produces flowers in the summer and fruits from mid-summer until mid-autumn (Vibrans, 2011). Outside its native distribution range, this species also reproduces over a lengthy period (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012). For example, in Africa, D. ambrosioides has been reported flowering from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October (Prota4U, 2013). 


Plants of D. ambrosioides are mostly annuals or short-lived perennials (Holm et al., 1997). 

Environmental Requirements

D. ambrosioides grows in a wide variety of soils including light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. It prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. D. ambrosioides does not grow in shaded areas and requires moist soil, but can tolerate seasonal drought (Prota4U, 2013). In general, plants occur from sea level to 2000 m altitude in areas with temperatures ranging from 6°C to 30°C and precipitation ranging from 300 to 3000 mm (Holm et al., 1997; PIER, 2013).


Top of page
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 7 27


Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall3002500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Peronospora Pathogen All Stages not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

The downy mildew caused by Peronospora spp. is an important disease in D. ambrosioides cultivated areas (Prota4U, 2013).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

D. ambrosioides spreads by seeds. Plants produce thousands of seeds which can be dispersed by wind, water or as a contaminant in hay, crop seeds, mud, and agricultural equipment (Holm et al., 1997; Prota4U, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013).

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionLeaf vegetable, aromatic herb, industrial uses Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
DisturbanceThis species grows as a weed Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
FoodLeaf vegetable, aromatic herb Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
Garden waste disposalPotential seed contaminant Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
Industrial purposesHerbal tea and essential oils Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
Intentional releaseFrequently grown as garden plants in the tropics. Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
Medicinal useThis species is used worldwide as a vermifuge, analgesic, antiashmatic, and antifungal agent Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013
People foragingLeaves and seeds are consumed by humans Yes Yes Prota4U, 2013

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesPotential seed contaminant Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
Land vehiclesSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
Machinery and equipmentSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
WaterSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013
WindSeeds Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2013

Impact Summary

Top of page
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

Top of page

D. ambrosioides represents a major concern to agricultural activities. It is a common weed in pastures and crop fields (i.e., cotton, coffee, beans, chickpeas, maize, rice and grapes; Holm et al., 1997; Vibrans, 2011) and it is also host of the fungal species Erysiphe betae (powdery mildew) (PROTA4U, 2013).

Environmental Impact

Top of page

D. ambrosioides has been identified as an agricultural and environmental weed that can smother native plant communities where it has been introduced (Randall, 2012). This species has the potential to out-compete native plant communities and can also reduce biodiversity in invaded areas because plants are able to dominate large areas in disturbed sites with early successional stages affecting the germination and establishment of native pioneer species (Holm et al., 1997; Park et al., 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Loss of medicinal resources
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
  • Damages animal/plant products
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Hybridization
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


Top of page

D. ambrosioides is often planted as an aromatic and spice herb, leaf vegetable, and herbal tea. Essential oils extracted from leaves are used as fragrance components in creams, perfumes and soaps (Prota4U, 2013). Leaves and stems are consumed cooked and as a condiment in traditional Mexican food. Seeds are also consumed, but they should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before being used in order to remove any saponins. Because D. ambrosioides contains terpene compounds, it is also used as a fumigant against mosquitoes and is added to fertilizers to inhibit insect larvae. Gold-green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. In Cuba, Mexico and Amazonia this species is considered a magic plant and it is used in traditional rituals. In traditional herbal medicine, this species is used as an analgesic, antiasthmatic, antifungal, carminative, and vermifuge compound. In Mexico and Central America, this herb has been used for centuries to expel parasitic worms from the body and in the early 1900s it was one of the major anthelmintics used to treat ascarids and hookworms in humans, cats, dogs, horses, and pigs in the United States (Jellen, 2011; Prota4U, 2013).

Uses List

Top of page

Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Religious


  • Amenity


  • Ritual uses

Human food and beverage

  • Food additive
  • Seeds
  • Spices and culinary herbs
  • Vegetable


  • Chemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Dyestuffs
  • Essential oils
  • Pesticide

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore


  • Potted plant


Top of page

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Adams CD, 1972. Flowering plants of Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies, 848 pp.

Arianoutsou M; Bazos I; Delipetrou P; Kokkoris Y, 2010. The alien flora of Greece: taxonomy, life traits and habitat preferences. Biological Invasions, 12(10):3525-3549.

Backer CA, 1954. Chenopodiaceae. Flora Malesiana, 4:99-106.

Balick MJ; Nee M; Atha DE, 2000. Checklist of the vascular plants of Belize. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, 85:1-246.

Bello D, 1883. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Segunda parte. Monoclamídeas.) Anales de la Sociedad Española de Historia Natural, 12:103-130.

Bethune S; Griffin M; Joubert DF, 2004. National Review of Invasive Alien Species, Namibia. Windhoek, : Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Borsic I; Milovic M; Dujmovic I; Bogdanovic S; Cigic P; Resetnik I; Nikolic T; Mitic B, 2008. Preliminary check-list of invasive alien plant species (IAS) in Croatia. Natura Croatica, 17(2):55-71.

Brenan JPM, 1954. 36 Chenopodiaceae. In: Hutchinson J, Dalziel JM, Keay RWJ, eds. Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1. Part 1. London, UK, Crown Agents.

Brundu G; Camarda I; Satta V, 2003. A methodological approach for mapping alien plants in Sardinia (Italy). In: Plant invasions: ecological threats and management solutions [ed. by Child, L.\Brock, J. H.\Brundu, G.\Prach, K.\Pyse?k, K.\Wade, P. M.\Williamson, M.]. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 41-62.

Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation.

Correa A; Galdames MDC; Stapf MNS, 2004. Catalogue of vascular plants of Panama (Catalogo de Plantas Vasculares de Panama.), Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 599 pp.

Correll DS; Correll HB, 1982. Flora of the Bahama Archipelago. Vaduz, Germany: J. Cramer, 1692 pp.

DAISIE, 2013. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. DAISIE (online).

Danton P; Perrier C; Reyes GM, 2006. New catalogue of the vascular flora of the Juan Fernández archipelago (Chile). (Nouveau catalogue de la flore vasculaire de l'archipel Juan Fernández (Chili).) Acta Botanica Gallica, 153(4):399-587.

eFloras, 2013. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012. Flora of China Web. Flora of China Web. Cambridge, Massachusetts , USA: Harvard University Herbaria.

Florence J; Chevillotte H; Ollier C; Meyer J-Y, 2013. Base de données botaniques Nadeaud de l'Herbier de la Polynésie Française (PAP) (Botanical database of the Nadeaud Herbarium of French Polynesia).

Foxcroft LC; Henderson L; Nichols GR; Martin BW, 2003. A revised list of alien plants for the Kruger National Park. Koedoe, 46(2):21-44.

Funk V; Hollowell T; Berry P; Kelloff C; Alexander SN, 2007. Checklist of the plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 584 pp.

Graveson R, 2012. Plants of Saint Lucia.

Grozeva N, 2006. Mediterranean chromosome number reports 16 (1466-1472). Flora Mediterranea, 16:400-408.

Henty EE, 1981. Handbooks of the flora of Papua New Guinea, vol 2. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 276 pp.

Holm LG; Doll J; Holm E; Pancho JV; Herberger JP, 1997. World Weeds: Natural Histories and Distribution. New York, USA: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Howell C; Sawyer JWD, 2006. New Zealand naturalised vascular plant checklist. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Plant Conservation Network.

Iamonico D, 2011. Dysphania anthelmintica (Amaranthaceae), new to the nonnative flora of Italy, and taxonomic considerations on the related species. Hacquetia, 10:41-48.

INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad), 1998. Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica (Manual of plants of Costa Rica). Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica: Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, 125 pp.

Jellen E; Kolano B; Sederberg M; Bonifacio A; Maughan P, 2011. Chenopodium. In: Wild Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources [ed. by Kole, C.]. 35-61 .

Jørgensen PM; León-Yánez S, 1999. Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden. 75:1-1182.

Kadereit G; Borsch T; Weising K; Freitag H, 2003. Phylogeny of Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae and the evolution of C4-photosynthesis. International Journal of Plant Science, 164:959-986.

Kadereit G; Gotzek D; Jacobs S; Freitag H, 2005. Origin and age of Australian Chenopodiaceae. Organisms Diversity & Evolution, 5(1):59-80.

Kato H, 2007. Herbarium records of Makino Herbarium, Tokyo Metropolitan University.

Khuroo AA; Irfan Rashid; Zafar Reshi; Dar GH; Wafai BA, 2007. The alien flora of Kashmir Himalaya. Biological Invasions, 9(3):269-292.

Madagascar Catalogue, 2012. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar. Antananarivo, Madagascar: Missouri Botanical Garden, Madagascar Research and Conservation Program.

Mashaly LA; Awad ER, 2003. Weed Flora of Orchards in the Nile Delta, Egypt: Floristic Features. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 2:314-324.

Migahid AM, 1988. Chenopodiaceae. In: Flora of Saudi Arabia. Vol. 1. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: King Saud University, 192-223.

Molina RA, 1975. Enumeration of the plants of Honduras. (Enumeración de las plantas de Honduras) Ceiba, 19(1):1-118.

Mosyakin SL; Clemants SE, 2002. New nomenclatural combinations in Dysphania R. (Chenopodiaceae): taxa occurring in North America. Ukrainian Botanical Journal, 59:380-385.

Mosyakin SL; Clemants SE, 2008. Further transfer of glandular-pubescent species from Chenopodium subg. Ambrosia to Dysphania (Chenopodiaceae). Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 2:425-431.

Nestorovic MLJ; Konstantinovic B, 2011. Overview of the Weed Flora in the Serbia. Contemporary Agriculture,The Serbian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 60:215-230.

Orchard AE, 1994. Flora of Australia. Vol. 49, Oceanic islands 1. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service.

ORSTOM, 1988. List of vascular plants of Gabon.

Park MJ; Cho SE; Wolcan S; Shin HD, 2012. First Report of Powdery Mildew Caused by Erysiphe betae on the Invasive Weed Dysphania ambrosioides in Korea. Plant Disease, 96:592-592.

PIER, 2013. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.

Prota4U, 2013. PROTA4U web database. Grubben GJH, Denton OA, eds. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp.

Senna L, 2013. Chenopodium in Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro.

Shah GM; Khan MA, 2006. Checklist of noxious weeds of district Mansehra, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research, 12(3):213-219.

Silva MC da; Izidine S; Amude AB, 2004. A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Pretoria, South Africa: South African Botanical Diversity Network.

Smith AC, 1981. Flora Vitiensis nova: a new flora of Fiji (spermatophytes only). Volume 2. 1981, 818 pp.; many pl. (8 col.).

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.

Swarbrick JT, 1997. Weeds of the Pacific Islands. Technical Paper - South Pacific Commission, No. 209: 124 pp.

Tropicos, 2012. Tropicos. Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Urban I, 1905. Symbolae Antillanae. Volumen IV. Berlin, Germany: Fratres Borntraeger, 771 pp.

USDA-ARS, 2013. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2013. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Vibrans H, 2011. [English title not available]. (Malezas de México. Listado alfabético por familia, géneroy especie.) .

Wagner WI; Herbst DR; Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii, revised edition. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press.

Wilson PG, 1983. A taxonomic revision of the tribe Chenopodieae (Chenopodiaceae) in Australia. Nuytsia, 4:135-262.

Wu TL, 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised):384 pp.

Wunderlin RP; Hansen BF, 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Tampa, Florida, USA: University of South Florida.

Zuloaga FO; Morrone O; Belgrano MJ, 2008. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Argentina, Sur de Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay). Volumen 1: Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae y Monocotyledoneae (Catalogue of the vascular plants of the southern cone (Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay). Volume 1: Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae and Monocotyledoneae) [ed. by Zuloaga FO, Morrone O, Belgrano MJ]. St. Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 983 pp.

Links to Websites

Top of page
Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies
Plant Resources of Tropical Africa


Top of page

16/01/14 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map