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Datasheet

Elephantopus mollis (elephant's foot)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 June 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Elephantopus mollis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • elephant's foot
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Elephantopus mollis is a herbaceous perennial in the family Asteraceae. Native to the American tropics, it has been widely introduced elsewhere since the beginning of the 20th century, to Africa, Asi...
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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Elephantopus mollis Kunth

Preferred Common Name

  • elephant's foot

Other Scientific Names

  • Elephantopus cernuus Vell.
  • Elephantopus hypomalacus S. F. Blake
  • Elephantopus martii Graham
  • Elephantopus pilosus Philipson
  • Elephantopus sericeus Graham
  • Elephantopus serratus Blanco
  • Scabiosa cochinchinensis Lour.

International Common Names

  • English: elephantopus; false tobacco; soft elephant's foot; tobacco weed
  • French: faux tabac

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: erva-de-colegio; erva-de-diabo; erva-de-veado; erva-grossa; fumo-bravo; fumo-de-mata; lingua-de-vaca; pe-de-elefante; sossola; suacucaa; sucuaia
  • Caroline Islands: tpiaker en wei
  • Cook Islands: tapuac 'erepani
  • Fiji: tavako ni veikau
  • French Polynesia: avaava rapakau; ava'ava teitei
  • Guam: papago halomtano; papago vaca
  • India: jangli tambaku
  • Japan: misumigusa; sirobana-ikakozorina
  • Northern Mariana Islands: papago halomtano; papago vaca
  • Seychelles: herbe la jouissance; herbe liberalis; herbe tabac
  • Tonga: lata hina; lau veveli

Summary of Invasiveness

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Elephantopus mollis is a herbaceous perennial in the family Asteraceae. Native to the American tropics, it has been widely introduced elsewhere since the beginning of the 20th century, to Africa, Asia and the Pacific, where it has become an invasive weed of pastures and plantations in high rainfall tropical situations in many countries. The rosettes form a very dense ground cover that smothers other low vegetation and contributes to the degradation of useful pasture. It is recorded as a major weed in the Pacific region and is among species threatening endangered species in Hawaii. It is classed as a Declared class 2 pest plant in Queensland, Australia (Queensland Government, 2014). The reasons for its introduction are not clear, but probably included its use as a medicinal plant, as well as accidental introduction as a contaminant of pasture seed.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Elephantopus
  •                                 Species: Elephantopus mollis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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E. mollis has been known by a number of synonyms as indicated in the list of ‘other scientific names’. None of these are in current use but there has been some confusion with the names E. scaber L. and E. tomentosus L. which are listed by the Missouri Botanical Garden (2013) as synonyms, but not by The Plant List (2013). These refer to Asian species which are distinct, though clearly closely related.

Description

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E. mollis is a perennial herb usually 0.5 to 1 m but occasionally to 2 m high. The plant begins as a rosette of leaves up to 30 cm long, from which more or less leafy stems develop with long soft hairs. Stem leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, scabrid above, pilose below, 5–25 cm long, 3–10 cm wide, the margins shallowly to sharply toothed, lower surface gland-dotted and resinous. The leaf stalk is winged and decurrent. Flower heads are up to 2 cm across with small white or purple florets about 4 mm long, surrounded by 3 leaf-like bracts about 1 cm long. Seeds black, about 3 mm long, densely covered in fine short hairs, apex with 5 white bristles 3–4.5 mm long, each with a broad base; receptacle without scales.

Empinotti and Duarte (2008) provide a detailed description of leaf and stem anatomy.

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated

Distribution

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E. mollis is native to Central and South America, from Argentina to Mexico, including the Caribbean, but has been spread very widely into Africa, eastern Asia and the Pacific.

Distribution Table

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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

Asia

IndonesiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Japan
-Bonin IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
MalaysiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013
SingaporePresentIntroducedLee et al., 2003
TaiwanWidespreadIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
VietnamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
CameroonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
ComorosPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
GabonPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
GhanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
LiberiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
MadagascarPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
MaliPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
MauritiusPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
NigeriaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
SenegalPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
SeychellesPresentIntroducedRobertson, 1989
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
South AfricaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
SudanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
TogoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
UgandaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
ZambiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013

North America

MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
USA
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Hawai'i, Kaua'i, Lana'i, Maui, Molooka'i, Ni'ihau, O'ahu islands

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
BelizePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Costa RicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
CubaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
DominicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
El SalvadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
GrenadaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuadeloupePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
HaitiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
HondurasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
JamaicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
MontserratPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
PanamaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Puerto RicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Saint LuciaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
BrazilPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-AlagoasPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-AmazonasPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-BahiaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-CearaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Fernando de NoronhaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-MaranhaoPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-ParaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-ParanaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-PernambucoPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-PiauiPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-RondoniaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-SergipePresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-TocantinsPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
ColombiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
EcuadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
French GuianaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuyanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
ParaguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
SurinamePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
UruguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
VenezuelaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013

Oceania

Australia
-New South WalesLocalisedIntroducedGBIF, 2013
-QueenslandLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Aitutki, 'Atiu, Mangaia, Ma'uke, Miti'aro, Raratonga islands
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Kandavu, Ovalau, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu islands
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Mangareva, Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva, Tahuatu, Ua Huka, Ua Pou, Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Mopelia, Raiatea, Taha'a, Tahiti, Makutea, Niau Atoll, Raivavae, Rurutu, Tubuai islands
GuamWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Pohnpei, Yap islands
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Île Grande Terre, Île des Pins
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013Agrigan, Alamagan, Anatahan, Asuncion, Pagan, Rota Saipan, Tinian islands
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Babeldaob Island
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Bismarck, New Ireland, eastern New Guinea islands
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Ha'apai, Lifuka, 'Eua, Tongatapu islands
VanuatuPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013

History of Introduction and Spread

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There are early records of E. mollis in West Africa, from Senegal in 1900 and from Sierra Leone in 1914 (GBIF, 2013). The earliest specimens were recorded from Cameroon in 1952, Togo in 1981, the Seychelles in 1982, Australia in 1989 and Tanzania in 1991 (GBIF, 2013). It was first recorded in Singapore in 2003 (Lee et al., 2003). The first collection on Kauai, Hawaii, was in 1926 (Motooka et al., 2003).

The reason for its spread are not clear; it has been regarded as an ornamental plant and some introductions could have been accidental, but it seems likely that it was introduced in other cases as a medicinal plant. It has become important in this respect particularly in Cameroon and in Taiwan, along with the Asian species E. scaber.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hawaii 1926 Yes Motooka et al., 2003
Senegal 1900 Yes GBIF, 2013 First specimens
Sierra Leone 1913 Yes GBIF, 2013 First specimens
Singapore 2003 Yes Lee et al., 2003 First recorded

Risk of Introduction

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The risks of further intentional introduction of E. mollis would appear to be quite small and may depend on its further importance as a medicinal plant. However, there remains a risk of accidental importation as a contaminant of pasture seed from infested areas. A first record from Singapore in 2003 indicates that introductions are continuing by some means or other.

Habitat

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E. mollis is a plant of high rainfall, fertile tropical conditions, occurring in open situations in pastures, plantations, forest edges, roadsides and disturbed or marshy areas.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
semi-natural/Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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E. mollis mainly impacts pastures, especially where overgrazed, and also plantation crops including coconuts.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeOther

Growth Stages

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

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of E. mollis is reported to be 2n=22 (Missouri Botanic Garden, 2013).

Reproductive Biology

In Queensland, Australia, flowering may occur all year but generally occurs in May (Queensland Government, 2013). Ferreira et al. (2001) in Brazil reported rapid germination of the fresh seeds of E.mollis, and in Australia it may germinate at any time of year, suggesting no significant dormancy. No more detailed information has been found.

Physiology and Phenology

Little information is available on the germination characteristics or phenology of E. mollis. It establishes from seed and initially forms a rosette of leaves from which flowering stems develop within a few months.

Longevity

Longevity of the seeds in the soil is quite short -- 90% of seeds may be lost in one year and 100% in 2 years (Far North Queensland Pest Advisory Forum, 2009). Little information is available on the longevity of the plant.

Nutrition

E. mollis apparently thrives on high soil fertility but also tolerates poor soils, and is reported as a problem weed in degraded pastures.

Environmental Requirements

E. mollis prefers humid tropical conditions. It is said to require full sunlight for optimum growth, and relatively high rainfall.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
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 Tolerated < 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])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
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)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
25 30

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Abracris dilecta Herbivore
Coleosporium elephantopi Pathogen
Tetreuaresta obscuriventris Herbivore Fiji, Hawaii

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The fungus Coleosporium elephantopi is recorded in Guatemala (Kern, 1907), Belize and elsewhere in the warmer regions of the Americas (Mains, 1939).

E. mollis is eaten by the grasshopper (Abracris dilecta) in Brazil (Sperber, 1996).

The tephritid fly Tetreuaresta obscuriventris, a biological control agent which was introduced from the Caribbean to Fiji for the biocontrol of E. mollis, is reported as established there and has also spread to Tonga (Hancock and Drew, 1994). It was introduced to Hawaii in 1961 and is well established there, but the level of damage being caused is not clear (Alyokhin et al., 2002).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Seeds are spread by wind (up to a few hundred metres) and water (Queensland Government, 2014).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seed may be dispersed in the fur of animals (Queensland Government, 2014) and on the clothing of humans.

Accidental Introduction

There are no specific records of accidental introduction, but it has presumably happened as a result of contamination of seeds of pasture species. According to Queensland Government (2014) the seeds can also be transported on machinery.

Intentional Introduction

Although there is no record of it, there has presumably been deliberate introduction either as an ornamental plant or as a medicinal herb.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
HitchhikerOn clothing, animals or machinery Yes Queensland Government, 2014
Medicinal useAssumed Yes Yes
Ornamental purposesAssumed Yes Yes
Seed tradeAssumed Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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E. mollis is a weed of turf in Brazil (Maciel et al., 2008), and regarded as a serious weed of various crops in the Pacific. In Australia it is well documented as a weed of pasture -- Queensland Government (2013) states that it 'smothers healthy thick pastures with dense masses of broad-leafed seedlings' and is a 'major threat to the beef and dairy industries of North Queensland' -- but no economic loss data have been seen. It is competitive with pasture species because of the rosette habit of young plants and its unpalatability to stock.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

As an invasive weed, E. mollis can have a significant impact as a result of the dense shading from its basal rosette of leaves.

Impact on Biodiversity

E. mollis is one of the introduced species threatening the endangered palm, Pritchardia napaliensis, and Schiedea apokremnos (Caryophyllaceae) in Hawaii (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a,b).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Pritchardia napaliensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Schiedea apokremnos (Kauai schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b

Social Impact

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The hairs on the leaves can cause irritation to the skin (Topoclimate Australia, 2013).

Risk and Impact Factors

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Impact mechanisms

  • Competition - smothering

Impact outcomes

  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species

Invasiveness

  • Fast growing
  • Has a broad native range
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc

Likelihood of entry/control

  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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The only known uses for E. mollis are medicinal:

In Brazil the leaves are used as an emollient, vulnerary and diaphoretic, and to treat bronchitis, coughs and influenza in folk medicine (Empinotti and Duarte. 2008). A range of other traditional uses are listed by Lorenzi (1982).

Ethanolic extracts of E. mollis accelerate fracture repair in rats via stimulatory effects on osteoblast differentiation and mineralization, thereby justifying their traditional use in Cameroon (Ngueguim et al., 2012).

Ooi et al. (2011) demonstrated the major role of 3,4-di-O-caffeoyl quinic acid in the antioxidant capacities of E. mollis extracts. The compound also exerted apoptosis-mediated cytotoxicity and α-glucosidase inhibitory effects and is thus a promising non-toxic agent for treating cancer and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Tabopda et al. (2008) identified a new sesquiterpene lactone in E. mollis which exhibited significant cytotoxic activities against mouse neuroblastoma B104 cells.

Other results suggest that E. mollis extract reduces melanogenesis by down-regulating Mitf expression, leading to reduced expression of Tyr and Trp1. In addition, melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) expression was down-regulated by the extract, suggesting desensitization to α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) of cells treated with the extract (Hasegawa et al., 2010).

In Ecuador E. mollis was among the 10 most frequently reported taxa for treatment of leishmaniasis (Gachet et al., 2010).

E. mollis extract demonstrated a protective effect against hepatotoxicity caused by β-D-galactosamine and acetaminophen, by reducing levels of serum glutamate-oxalate-transaminase [aspartate aminotransferase] and serum glutamate-pyruvate-transaminase [alanine aminotransferase]. The hepatic fatty metamorphosis and necrosis of the central lobule were obviously improved by treatment with E. mollis (Lin et al., 1995).

Uses List

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Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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E. mollis is similar in appearance to the closely related E. scaber, which is also an invasive weed. E. mollis can be distinguished from E. scaber by its smaller florets, up to 5 mm long (E. scaber 7-8 mm) and by the pappus elements being abruptly narrowed above a dilated short scale-like base, while those of E. scaber taper gradually from a  scale-like lower half (Pope, 1992). Some sources indicate that they are distinguished by flower colour, E. scaber being always purplish and E. mollis usually white (e.g. eFloras, 2013), but the flowers of the latter can also be purplish to blue as indicated by Lorenzi (1982) for Brazil. It is also suggested that E. scaber is less robust and has less leafy stems than E. mollis but these do not appear to be very distinct characters.

Prevention and Control

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Queensland Government (2004) gives general advice on the management of E. mollis. It advises: ‘Limit spread by developing and implementing hygiene and prevention practices. Prevent the spread of tobacco weed into uninfested properties by enforcing restrictions on the movement of products and machinery contaminated with seed.’

Prevention

SPS measures (sanitary and phytosanitary)

E. mollis is a declared noxious weed in Hawaii and in Fiji (PIER, 2013). It is a declared class 2 pest in Queensland, Australia (Queensland Government, 2004; 2009).

Control

Physical/mechanical control

E. mollis may be controlled by hoeing and cultivation before flowering, but not so readily when it is well established. Slashing only temporarily prevents flowering, and may prolong the life of rosettes (PIER, 2013). The species is favoured by non-tillage in Brazil (Favreto et al., 2007). In Hawaii, mowing has been used in conjunction with pesticide treatment – see below under ‘IPM’.

Biological control

The tephritid fly Tetreuaresta obscuriventris was introduced from the Caribbean (deliberately?) to Fiji and from there, in 1961, to the island of Kauai (Hawaii, USA) for biocontrol of E. mollis. The first recoveries were made on Kauai in February 1962, followed by a recovery at Kalopa on the Big Island of Hawaii in June 1962. The fly was recovered at virtually all release points on Kauai and was well established by 1963 (Davis and Kraus, 1963). A survey in 1989 recorded that 80-90% of flower heads were infested, containing an average of 5.2 fly larvae. Fly populations in the surveyed areas followed aggregated distribution, and the mean number of flies per infested flower head was positively correlated with the percentage of infested flower heads (Alyokhin et al., 2002). The impact of this infestation on the population and vigour of E. mollis has not been reported since that date.

The same fly has also been used for the biological control of the related E. scaber, but in 1987, there was no evidence that it had a significant effect on the abundance of this weed (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).

Chemical control

E. mollis is reported to be susceptible to glyphosate and dicamba and moderately so to triclopyr and metsulfuron. It is susceptible to 2,4-D and paraquat when young. A 2,4-D/picloram mixture is registered for use in pastures in Australia. Fenoprop has also been used in Hawaii, where Nicholls and Plucknet (1972) reported that the best control was obtained with a combination of pesticide treatment and mowing – see below under ‘IPM’.

IPM

In Hawaii, Nicholls and Plucknet (1972) reported that good control was obtained with a combination of mowing and a single treatment of 2,4-D and fenoprop. The optimum time for treatment was in early winter before flowering and seed-set. Nitrogen applications are recommended once the mowing and herbicide treatments have adequately controlled the weed.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a particular lack of information on the phenology, longevity and germination characteristics of E. mollis, and of up-to-date information on the impact of biological control measures.

References

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Alyokhin AV; Messing RH; Duan JJ, 2002. Infestation of Elephantopus mollis (Asteraceae) flowerheads by Tetreuaresta obscuriventris (Diptera: Tephritidae) on Kauai, Hawaiian islands. Entomological News, 113(4):247-252.

Davis CJ; Krauss NLH, 1963. Recent introductions for biological control in Hawaii-VIII. Proceedings, Hawaiian Entomological Society, 18(2):245-250.

eFloras, 2013. Digital Flora of Taiwan. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=100

Empinotti CB; Duarte M do R, 2008. Anatomical study of the leaf and stem of Elephantopus mollis Kunth (Asteraceae). (Estudo anatômico de folha e caule de Elephantopus mollis Kunth (Asteraceae).) Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia, 18(1):108-116. http://www.sbfgnosia.org.br/admin/pages/revista/artigo/arquivos/605-arquivo-Artigo%2019.pdf

Far North Queensland Pest Advisory Forum, 2009. Tobacco weed. http://fnqpaf.com.au/assets/paf_meetings/2009_1_Presentation_Tucker_Tabacco_Weed.pdf

Favreto R; Medeiros RB de; Levien R; Pillar VD, 2007. Spontaneous vegetation in croplands under different management practices established on natural grassland. (Vegetação espontânea em lavoura sob diferentes manejos estabelecida sobre campo natural.) Iheringia, Série Botânica, 62(1/2):5-17.

Ferreira AG; Cassol B; Rosa SGT da; Silveira TS da; Stival AL; Silva AA, 2001. Germination of seeds of Asteraceae native to Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. (Germinação de sementes de asteraceae nativas no Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil.) Acta Botanica Brasilica, 15(2):231-242.

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