Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Chenopodiastrum murale
(nettleleaf goosefoot)



Chenopodiastrum murale (nettleleaf goosefoot)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Chenopodium murale
  • Preferred Common Name
  • nettleleaf goosefoot
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Chenopodium murale L. 1753

Preferred Common Name

  • nettleleaf goosefoot

Other Scientific Names

  • Chenopodium lucidum Gilib.
  • Chenopodium triangulare Forssk.

International Common Names

  • English: nettle-leaved goosefoot
  • Spanish: cenizo; chenopodio des murs; chual; quelite cenizo
  • French: ansérine des murs; chénopode des murs
  • Arabic: abu-efein; mentab; muntinab; rumram; sentar; zurbaih
  • Portuguese: pe-de-ganso

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Mauer- Gaensefuss
  • Italy: chenopodio dei muri
  • Netherlands: Muurganzevoet
  • Sweden: gattmaalla

EPPO code

  • CHEMU (Chenopodium murale)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Caryophyllales
  •                         Family: Chenopodiaceae
  •                             Genus: Chenopodium
  •                                 Species: Chenopodiastrum murale

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Chenopodium murale is the universally accepted name for this widespread weed species which is found in more than 43 countries. The generic name, Chenopodium, is derived from the Greek words khen (= goose) and pous (= foot) and describes the shape of the leaves. Two varieties are known; microphyllum Boiss and humile Peterm (Zohary, 1966).

Anatomical characters (cortex, pericycle, nature of abnormal secondary thickening in vascular cylinder and interxyllary phloem, leaf mesophyll, number of vascular bundles at the mid-rib region and foliar trichome types), foliage, floral, morphological and phenological aspects (habit, aroma, stem position, leaf base, blade shape, structure and density of inflorescence, ovarian shape, number of length of stigmatic arms, ovule position within ovary, pericarp surface, seed colour and diameter and embryo shape) are of considerable diagnostic use in identification (Ahmad and Safa, 1995a, 1995b).

The chromosome number (2n = 18).


Top of page C. murale is an annual herbaceous weed. It spreads by seeds, and is green, sparingly mealy, 20-70 cm. Stem ascending to erect, generally branching, more or less angular and thickened at base. Leaves 1-7 x 0.5-4 cm, alternate, broadly triangular in outline, dark-green, rather fleshy. Petiolate, rhombic-ovate to rhombic-oblong, cuneate at base, acute to acuminate at apex, irregularly, unequally and acutely toothed, glabrous or somewhat mealy, mainly on lower surface (Zohary, 1966). Inflorescences axillary and terminal, paniculate, divaricately branched, leafy at the base, with dense or loose clustures. Flowers hermaphrodite, small, greenish. Sepals five, hooded, green, bluntly keeled, enclosing the fruit. Pericarp membranous, hardly separable from seed. Seeds 1-1.5 mm in diam., black, slightly shining, lens-shaped, acutely keeled at margin, minutely pitted, edible.


Top of page This species is mainly regarded as a summer weed in the Mediterranean region. However, it has spread to different geographical areas in the world including sub-tropical, temperate and cool climate regions in Canada, North America and Europe. It is generally less frequent in cooler temperatures.

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


AfghanistanWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
IndiaWidespreadBhattacharyya and Pandya, 1996
IranPresentHolm et al., 1991
IraqWidespreadStephan, 1988
IsraelWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
JordanWidespreadQasem, 1992
LebanonPresentHolm et al., 1991
NepalPresentHolm et al., 1991
OmanWidespreadChaudhary et al., 1981
PakistanWidespreadAheer et al., 1997
Saudi ArabiaWidespreadChaudhary et al., 1981; Tag-El-Din et al., 1989
TurkeyPresentHolm et al., 1991
United Arab EmiratesWidespreadChaudhary et al., 1981
YemenWidespreadChaudhary et al., 1981; Walter, 1981


BotswanaPresentBrenan, 1988
CongoPresentHolm et al., 1991
EgyptWidespreadFarag and Koriem, 1995
EthiopiaPresentSahile et al., 1992
KenyaPresentIvens, 1968; Hepper, 1983
LesothoPresentWells et al., 1986
MoroccoPresentLockhart et al., 1985
NamibiaPresentWells et al., 1986
SenegalPresentBrenan, 1954
South AfricaWidespreadMeyer & van Wyk, 1989; Wells et al., 1986
-Canary IslandsWidespreadCarnero and Castillo, 1989
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1991
SwazilandPresentWells et al., 1986
TanzaniaPresentHolm et al., 1991
ZambiaPresentBrenan, 1988
ZimbabweWidespreadBrenan, 1988; Holm et al., 1991

North America

CanadaWidespreadHuber, 1988
MexicoWidespreadAnaya et al., 1987
USAWidespreadAgamalian, 1988
-HawaiiWidespreadHolm et al., 1991

Central America and Caribbean

CubaWidespreadCordero, 1983
Dominican RepublicPresentHolm et al., 1991
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1991
HondurasPresentHolm et al., 1991

South America

ArgentinaWidespreadNobile and Lujan, 1989
ChilePresentHolm et al., 1991
PeruWidespreadAragon and Gutierrez, 1992
UruguayPresentHolm et al., 1991
VenezuelaPresentHolm et al., 1991


AlbaniaPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
AustriaPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993; Schratt-Ehrendorfer, 2012
DenmarkPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
FrancePresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
GermanyWidespreadReimann and Breckle, 1988
GreeceWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
HungaryWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
ItalyPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
PolandWidespreadHolm et al., 1991; Brenan and Akeroyd, 1993
PortugalPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
RomaniaPresentBrenan and Akeroyd, 1993
SpainWidespreadRivas, 1978
SwedenWidespreadEngstrand and Gustafsson, 1973


AustraliaPresentHolm et al., 1991
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-New South WalesPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-QueenslandPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-South AustraliaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-TasmaniaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-VictoriaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-Western AustraliaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
New ZealandPresentHolm et al., 1991


Top of page C. murale is a species favoured by a high level of fertilization (Walter, 1981), and grows in nitrogen-rich habitats in the Mediterranean region (Rivas, 1978). It has been regarded as a nutrient accumulator with a high demand for K and N (Qasem, 1992). In certain parts of the world it is a weed of arid zones and may be found growing in heavy clay soil types of varying salinity (Bhati et al., 1979). Animal manure is a major cause of weed establishment in newly reclaimed land (Bloomfield, 1975). It is found growing under irrigated and rainfed conditions and also in wasteland, roadsides and refuse heaps.

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page Crops invaded by this weed include a wide range of field crops of diverse botanical affiliation and economic importance. This reflects the adaptation of this weed to different habitats and its plastic responses to different environmental factors. It competes with relatively weakly (onions, cumin, fenugreek) and strongly competitive crops (Brassicas, potato, sorghum) of different habits and at varying planting densities. This weed is able to invade orchards of fruit trees and to colonize the space available between rows and/or around trunks and, therefore, it may become dominant under suitable levels of irrigation and high fertilization.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page C. murale is a long-day, C3 annual plant (Hom et al., 1997). Seed germination of C. murale is induced by nitrate (Kosera and Sen, 1992), and the weed is greatly favoured by a high level of fertilization (Walter, 1981). Photoperiodic flower induction is not correlated with changes in cytokinin level in the plant (Machackova et al., 1993), and flowering can be induced by aminoethoxy vinyl glycine (AVG) and silver thiosulphate, which completely reverse flowering inhibition imposed by indole acetic acid (IAA) (Machackova et al., 1985).

It is a nutrient accumulator, and better at accumulating N, P, K and Mg than associated vegetable crops and many other weed species it co-exists with under field conditions (Qasem, 1992). It is a comparatively better accumulator of N and P than fenugreek (Maliwal and Gupta, 1988) and has been reported to accumulate appreciable levels of Se (selenium) (Abuereish and Lahham, 1987).

The weed exhibits severe growth reduction in response to intraspecific competition, and is better at competing in the spring than in the summer. It was superior in growth when it emerged at the same time or before tomato, and reduced K level in the soil decreased its competitive effect (Qasem, 1997).

Some further information is provided by Holm et al. (1997), including the observation that seeds have been found viable after 132 years.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Peronospora farinosa Pathogen
Stagonospora atriplicus Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page A large number of natural enemies have been reported for C. murale, including species of fungi, viruses, nematodes and insects of economic importance. The weed serves as a host or indicator for a wide range of serious viral diseases which attack different economic crops.


Top of page C. murale is a widespread noxious weed infesting more than 25 crop species (mainly field crops) and tree orchards in at least 57 countries around the world (Holm et al., 1997). These include carrots in Egypt, cereals and vegetables in Italy, cotton in Mexico, dates in Arabia, flax and safflower in Mexico, lucerne in Canada and USA, millets in India, orchards and vines in South Africa, sugarcane in Iran, wheat in several different parts of the world. It causes considerable yield losses, especially in vegetables, through both competition and allelopathy.

This species has a high phenotypic plasticity and is found under different climatic conditions including temperate and cool climates. It harbours economically important insects and serves as a host for many fungal and viral diseases and for some plant parasitic nematodes. This increases the negative impact of this weed on different crops. It is regarded as a nutrient accumulator (Qasem, 1992), strongly competing with other species under various conditions (Qasem, 1997).

It is highly competitive in wheat (Singh, 1973) and exerts its effect through both competition and allelopathy. A density of 248 plants/m² of C. murale (and C. album) caused 16% loss of wheat yield in Pakistan (Holm et al., 1997).

In garlic, when C. murale was a dominant weed species occurring at a density of 50 plants/m², bulb yield reduction reached 78% (Qasem, 1996). In tomato, a pot experiment with two C. murale and one tomato plant/pot resulted in a 33% reduction in tomato shoot dry weight compared with the control (weed-free tomato) (Qasem, 1997).

Extracts of C. murale show pesticidal properties and affected a wide range of living organisms. They have antifungal activity against Penicillium digitatum and Alternaria solani (Qasem and Abu-Blan, 1995); nematicidal effects on Melodogyne incognita; antiviral activity against tobacco mosaic tobamovirus and sunn-hemp mosaic tobamovirus and induced resistance to these viruses in tobacco and Crotalaria juncea (Neeta and Verna, 1995). The extracts of this weed inhibited tobacco mosaic tobamovirus and cucumber mosaic cucumovirus (Allam et al., 1978). Herbicidal activity of this species has also been reported against Cuscuta campestris (Habib and Rahman, 1988), mustard (Brassica juncea) seeds (Datta and Ghosh, 1987) and some weed species (Saeed et al., 1977). However, the negative impact of its allelopathic influence is mainly due to the harmful effect that the weed imposes on different crop species including wheat, barley and a number of vegetable crops through extracts, leachates and/or its residues in the soil (Qasem, 1993a, b, 1995), and also on Abutilon indicum and Evolvulus numularius (Datta and Ghosh, 1987). Allelopathic agents were also detected in the pericarp and perianth associated with seeds of this species (Qasem, 1990).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Scaevola coriacea (dwarf naupaka)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Sesbania tomentosaNational list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition


Top of page The positive value of this weed species is very limited, although it is sometimes eaten as a vegetable and used for food. Chemical analysis of its tissues revealed the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, saponin, tanin and naphthaquinones, alkaloids, flavonoids, glucose (Verma and Agarwal, 1985) and oxalic acid (Datta and Ghosh, 1987). In addition, 11 amino acids were detected in the roots. The presence of many toxic compounds in this plant greatly restrict its value as a feed or fodder species. In contrast, there is a good potential for this weed to be used as a source of natural chemical compounds of pesticidal activity.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page A number of other Chenopodium species occur as weeds, including C. album, which has a less distinctly wedge-shaped leaf base and seeds not keeled. Others including C. ambrosioides (Mexican tea) differ in being highly aromatic when crushed. C. ambrosioides has a chromosome number 2n = 32 (Schwarzova, 1986) and originates in subtropical regions of the USA. It is less common as a weed of cultivated land but is of interest as a medicinal wild or cultivated species with a high potential for use as a source of natural chemicals, important for the biocontrol of different agricultural pests.

Ivens (1968) provides a useful table indicating the differences among East African species.

Prevention and Control

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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.

Cultural Control

Cultural control methods depend on crop species and the growing system adopted. Among these is hand weeding which is widely practised in fruit trees and vegetable crops especially where labour costs are reasonable. Where this method is used, it should be carried out during early growth stages before the weed starts flowering and seeding. Sometimes herbicide application may be necessary in combination with hand weeding. Hoeing is an alternative mechanical method of weed control, but more effective when accompanied by herbicides. Hoeing twice with pendimethalin was recommended for weed control in fenugreek (Maliwal and Gupta, 1989), while effective control of C. murale with other weed species in onion and tomato crops, was achieved by soil solarization (Satour et al., 1991).

Biological Control

Despite the long list of natural enemies which attack or are harboured by this weed (see Natural Enemies), only two have been tested for biological control. These were Indian ring dove (Streptopelia decaoto) and the common house sparrow (Paser domesticus). Both were found to feed on seeds of this weed species (Sharma, 1977; Tomar and Singh, 1980).

Chemical Control

Different herbicides have been recommended for effective control of C. murale in different crop species, for example, fluchloralin in chickpea (incorporated pre-sowing), onion (post-emergence), radish, potato (pre-planting), fenugreek and Cucumis (incorporated immediately after sowing). However, other herbicides are also effective and selective in different crop species including oxadiazon and fluorodifen applied post-emergence in onion; bromoxynil and oxyfluorfen as a pre-emergence application were also highly effective in this crop (Porwal and Singh, 1993; Farag and Koriem, 1995); and pendimethalin, which ensured the greatest yield of onion (Iqbal et al., 1990). In garlic, Qasem (1996) reported that post-emergence application of oxyfluorfen and oxadiazon at 3-4 leaf stage controlled weeds effectively and resulted in garlic yields comparable with a weed free crop. Pendimethalin in pre-emergence treatment, was the best for weed control in fenugreek and gave the highest crude protein content in grains (Maliwal and Gupta, 1988).

In potato, different herbicides have been recommended including methabenzthiazuron which was highly effective and gave the highest benefit cost value (Randhaw and Sandhu, 1981; Maliwal and Jain, 1991), trifluralin, metribuzin (pre-emergence) and dinitramine (Ahmed et al., 1988) were also useful. For weed control in transplanted tomato, Trabulsi and Abu-Hayja (1982) reported metobromuron, diphenamid and dinitramine as effective herbicides against C. murale. They found that diphenamid was the most promising for weed control and tomato yield. For radish weeds, nitrofen were effective (Gambhir et al., 1983), while in sugarbeet, cycloate may be used. Pendimethalin is used prior to sowing in cotton (Nielsen, 1974), and terbutryn is used in cumin (Chaudhary and Gupta, 1991).

For effective and selective control of C. murale in wheat, triasulfuron is highly recommended (Biljon et al., 1988). In addition, bentazone + dichlorprop, bromoxynil + MCPA (Tag-El-Din et al., 1989) or a mixture of isoproturon and 2,4-D ester have been used (Bhan et al., 1985). Chlorotoluron applied at the 4-5 leaf stage resulted in 90% weed control and increased yield by 29-71% (Fazali and Muhammad, 1991).


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