Commelina benghalensis (wandering jew)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Commelina benghalensis L. (1753)
Preferred Common Name
- wandering jew
Other Scientific Names
- Commelina prostrata Regel
International Common Names
- English: benghal dayflower; tropical spiderwort
- French: herbe aux cochons
Local Common Names
- Bangladesh: kanaibashi
- Germany: Commeline, Bengalische
- India: kanasiri; kanchara; kankaua; kena; konasimalu; krishnaghas; mankawa
- Indonesia: gewor
- Japan: tsuyukusa
- Myanmar: myet-cho
- Philippines: alikbangon; bias-bias; kuhasi; kulkulasi; sabilau
- Taiwan: ju-ye-tsai
- Zimbabwe: chidyahumba; gezi; goche; idabane
- COMBE (Commelina benghalensis)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Commelinales
- Family: Commelinaceae
- Genus: Commelina
- Species: Commelina benghalensis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Commelina benghalensis belongs to the Commelineae (Commelinaceae).
Populations of C. benghalensis represent several clones, as propagation is both vegetative and sexual (Vernon, 1983; Terry, 1983; Drummond, 1984; Chivinge and Kawisi, 1989).
DescriptionTop of page C. benghalensis belongs to a family with 500-600 species with distinct characteristics. C. benghalensis has creeping stems which assume an ascending position, are 15-40 cm long, branched and rooting at the nodes. The leaves are ovate or elliptical, acuminate, 3-7 cm long, 1-2.5 cm wide with a base narrowed into a petiole. The flowers are subtended by bracts with their edges fused to a length of about 10 mm to form a flattened funnel-shaped spathe, 1.5 cm long and wide. Flowers have three lilac blue petals 3-4 mm long, the lower rather smaller than the two laterals and occasionally white. There are two anterior cells which are two-ovuled. The fruit consists of a pear-shaped capsule with five seeds and the capsule open when mature(dehiscent). Seeds which sometimes appear sugar-coated are 2 mm long, ribbed-rough (rugose) and greyish brown in colour. C. benghalensis produces white underground rhizomes with reduced leaves and closed modified flowers which produce subterranean seeds. These seeds are fewer but remain viable longer than the aerial ones. The species is distinguished from others by the blue flowers, the short flower stalk which does not extend above the spathe, the partially joined spathe margins and the reddish brown hairs on the leaf sheath (Ivens, 1967; Holm et al., 1977; Drummond, 1984).
DistributionTop of page C. benghalensis is a weed of the tropics and subtropics. It is widely distributed in West Africa, East Africa, Central, Southern and South-East Asia extending as far as Japan, the Philippines and Australia (Drummond, 1984; Holm et al., 1977). It is reported as a serious and troublesome weed in most arable crops in the Eastern and Southern African countries, but only sporadically in the Americas.
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.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Bangladesh||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|China||Restricted distribution||Ciba, 1982; EPPO, 2014|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|India||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Indonesia||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kalimantan||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Japan||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||Ciba, 1982|
|Malaysia||Restricted distribution||Wilson, 1981; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014|
|Myanmar||Present||Holm et al., 1977; Waterhouse, 1993|
|Philippines||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014|
|Sri Lanka||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Taiwan||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Thailand||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014|
|Vietnam||Restricted distribution||Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014|
|Angola||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Congo Democratic Republic||Present||Brenan, 1968|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Ethiopia||Present||Terry & Michieka, 1984; EPPO, 2014|
|Gambia||Present||Holm et al., 1977; Terry, 1981|
|Ghana||Restricted distribution||Carson, 1977; Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Guinea||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Kenya||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Madagascar||Restricted distribution||Wilson, 1981; EPPO, 2014|
|Malawi||Present||Banda and Morris, 1985|
|Mauritius||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Mozambique||Restricted distribution||South, 1972; EPPO, 2014|
|Nigeria||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; Wilson, 1981; EPPO, 2014|
|Rwanda||Present||Terry & Michieka, 1984|
|Senegal||Restricted distribution||Wilson, 1981; EPPO, 2014|
|Sierra Leone||Present||Brenan, 1968|
|Somalia||Present||Terry & Michieka, 1984|
|South Africa||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Swaziland||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Tanzania||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Uganda||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1977; EPPO, 2014|
|Zambia||Restricted distribution||Wilson, 1981; Vernon, 1983; EPPO, 2014|
|Zimbabwe||Restricted distribution||Chivinge, 1983; Drummond, 1984; EPPO, 2014|
|USA||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Hawaii||Present||Holm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014|
Central America and Caribbean
|Barbados||Present||Adams et al., 1968|
|Jamaica||Present||Adams et al., 1968|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Windward Islands||Present||Hammerton, 1981|
|Russian Federation||Present||Shcherbakova, 1974|
|Australia||Restricted distribution||Ciba, 1982; EPPO, 2014|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Wilson, 1981|
HabitatTop of page C. benghalensis is an annual or perennial herb with fleshy creeping stems that root readily at the nodes. It is equally abundant on all soil types and pH; grows in a wide range of habitats, varying from water-saturated to dry soils; grows rapidly and forms dense mats at the nodes under optimum conditions. C. benghalensis is found in arable and plantation crops, and non-crop lands.
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page C. benghalensis is reported as a principal weed in upland rice in India and the Philippines, tea in India, coffee in Tanzania and Kenya, soyabeans in the Philippines and cotton and maize in Kenya (Holm et al., 1977). It is also a common weed in rice in Sri Lanka, sugarcane in India, the Philippines and Mozambique; cassava in Taiwan; maize in Zimbabwe (Chivinge, 1983), Angola, India, the Philippines and Taiwan; peanuts in Zimbabwe, India and the Philippines; pineapples in Taiwan and Swaziland; cowpeas and sorghum in the Philippines; tea and citrus in Mozambique and roselles in Indonesia; cotton in Zimbabwe (Chivinge, 1988). It is also a weed of barley, jute, sisal, beans, pastures, sweet potatoes, vineyards and cereals in many countries.
See Awatigeri (1975) for further details on bitter gourds and Madri and Manimtim (1978) for further details of mung beans as hosts of C. benghalensis.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Agave sisalana (sisal hemp)||Agavaceae||Main|
|Ananas comosus (pineapple)||Bromeliaceae||Main|
|Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Brassica napus var. napus (rape)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Camellia sinensis (tea)||Theaceae||Main|
|Capsicum frutescens (chilli)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Citrus limon (lemon)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Citrus sinensis (navel orange)||Rutaceae||Main|
|Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)||Rubiaceae||Main|
|Corchorus olitorius (jute)||Tiliaceae||Main|
|Glycine max (soyabean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Gossypium hirsutum (Bourbon cotton)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Guizotia abyssinica (niger)||Asteraceae||Main|
|Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)||Malvaceae||Main|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Main|
|Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)||Convolvulaceae||Main|
|Manihot esculenta (cassava)||Euphorbiaceae||Main|
|Momordica charantia (bitter gourd)||Cucurbitaceae||Main|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Main|
|Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Prunus armeniaca (apricot)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Prunus persica (peach)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Main|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)||Poaceae||Main|
|Vigna radiata (mung bean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Vigna unguiculata (cowpea)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Vitis vinifera (grapevine)||Vitaceae||Main|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Seedling stage
Biology and EcologyTop of page C. benghalensis is a fleshy, herbaceous, creeping annual which becomes perennial depending on moisture conditions. It is found in wet and dry lands making it a troublesome weed in arable and plantation crops. C. benghalensis grows best in moist and highly-fertile soils. Stems have a high moisture content, and once well rooted the plant can survive for long periods without moisture availability (Wilson, 1981) and can then grow rapidly on the onset of rains (Holm et al., 1977). It reproduces both vegetatively and by seeds. It spreads by runners which root at the nodes and by re-establishment of stem fragments. It also produces underground stolons which bear cleistogamous flowers and seeds, in addition to the normal aerial flowers (Budd et al., 1979).
One C. benghalensis plant can produce about 1600 seeds (Pancho, 1964). Freshly shed aerial seeds have a dormancy depending on an impermeable seedcoat, but will germinate following scarification or pricking of the seed. Aerial seeds germinate mainly from the upper 5 cm, while the larger subterranean seeds may emerge from depths down to 14 cm (Budd et al., 1979). These authors found that a majority of seedlings in the field in Zimbabwe derived from subterranean seeds. However, Walker and Evenson (1985a, b) concluded that the aerial seeds were the more important in Queensland, Australia. They also distinguished large and small classes of seed within the aerial and subterranean, and showed each of the four classes to have characterisitc germination behaviour. Subterranean seeds had a more pronounced light requirement for germination and a higher optimum germination temperature (28 v. 24°C). They comment on the long persistence of the seeds due to dormancy and the corresponding difficulty of control. Fertilizer application reduced seed production and resulted in stunted growth when grown under artificial dense competition in cereals in Russia (Shcherbakova, 1974).
The rate of stem elongation, branch and leaf formation increases as the node number on the stem increases (Chivinge and Kawisi, 1989). Broken stems may persist on the soil surface for several weeks or months in low moisture conditions and easily form leaves 10-14 days after moisture becomes available. Though stem cuttings on the surface regenerate easily (Chivinge and Kawisi, 1989), cuttings buried deeper than 2 cm fail to regenerate (Budd et al., 1979).
The weed is used as fodder for pigs and rabbits in Zimbabwe.
Crops are affected most severely during the first 2-5 weeks of crop growth, but mature plants can also be affected.
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page The few natural enemies of C. benghalensis have been listed by Waterhouse (1994). They include insects, nematodes and fungi but most relate to polyphagous species, many of which are pests. However, there are records of agromyzid leaf miners, likely to have narrow host ranges from the Americas. One of them, Liriomyza commelinae, has also been reared from Tradescantia spp., which is presumeably its original host as Commelina spp. are believed to be of Old World origin.
The fungus Kordyana celebensis has been recorded from C. diffusa as well as C. benghalensis.
Commelina is an alternative host of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita (Valdez, 1968), of the reniform nematode Rotylenchulus spp. (Edmunds, 1971), groundnut rosette virus [groundnut rosette assistor luteovirus] (Valdez, 1968) and of groundnut mosaic virus [groundnut rosette umbravirus] (Adams, 1967). In the Dharwar district of India the weed is a host of Cuscuta chinensis (Awatigeri et al., 1975) and an alternative host of Corticium sasakii [Thanatephorus sasakii], a leaf blight of rice (Roy, 1973).
ImpactTop of page The economic importance of C. benghalensis is related to its persistence in cultivated lands and the difficulty associated with its control. C. benghalensis seriously competes with arable and plantation crops in most of Africa. It is one of the troublesome weeds which affects several crops in Eastern and Southern Africa, sugarcane in the Philippines, maize in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan and pineapples in Taiwan and Swaziland.
Its effects on crop growth and yield varies with each crop and with environmental conditions. Groundnut flower production may be delayed by 1-2 weeks and nodules are also reduced depending on the intensity of infestation.
Removal of C. benghalensis in India increased groundnut yield by 27% (Mehrotra and Singh, 1973). The price of rice was reduced in Texas when the C. benghalensis seed contamination was 20 seed/kg rice (Palmer, 1972).
The plant is used for medicinal purposes by many African tribes for treating sore throats, eyes and burns. In India and the Philippines the weed is used for food during famine periods.
Uses ListTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Confusion can occur with a number of other weedy Commelina species, but the following combination of characters may be used to distinguish C. benghalensis: all three petals blue, leaves broadly elliptical (length up to twice width only), spathe sealed to form triangular pocket, seeds rugose, presence of stolons, leaf sheaths with reddish-brown-tipped hairs. C. diffusa, the commonest of other species, has blue petals, but spathe open along one edge, leaves narrower, seeds smooth, and no stolons. C. forskalaei has stolons and rough seeds, and spathe sealed, but leaves are narrower, length up to 4 times width, and wavy-edged (Holm et al, 1977; Drummond, 1984). None of the other weedy species have brown-tipped hairs. Hence this is an especially useful character when looking at vegetative material.
Prevention and ControlTop of page Introduction
The method of control depends on the crop infested, land size, level of technology available, value of the crop, labour availability and costs, availability of draft power and the associated equipment and availability of herbicides. The methods currently used include proper land preparation, hand hoeing and pulling, removing the plants from the fields and drying, use of ox-drawn and tractor-drawn cultivation, slashing and herbicide application. However, mechanical control and hand hoeing and pulling are not very effective as the cut stems quickly regenerate into new plants, especially in wet conditions (Chivinge and Kawisis, 1989). When plants are removed they should be shaken to remove all the soil, spread and left to dry for more than a week. Walker and Evenson (1985a) emphasize the importance of growing crops which will smother the weed as quickly as possible. Le Bourgeois and Marnotte (1997) emphasise the need to control the weed when young but also list some new herbicides under test in maize.
In the review by Wilson (1981) it is noted that C. benghalensis is relatively difficult to control by herbicide, especially when well established. However, young plants in cereal crops are susceptible to 2,4-D and related herbicides. Bentazon is useful in both cereals and in some broad-leaved crops such as soyabean. Among pre-emergence treatments, metribuzin is especially effective, e.g. in sugarcane and soyabeans while substituted urea, triazine, acetanilide and dinitroaniline treatments, alone or in combinations, give variable results. In plantation crops and non-crop situations, paraquat is relatively ineffective but glyphosate is effective on younger plants, especially with the addition of surfactant or other additives such as 2,4-D or ammonium sulphate.
There have not been any attempts to use biological control against Commelina spp. and the possibilities have not been explored. However, Waterhouse (1994) notes that although Commelina spp. are believed to be of Old World origin, it is curious that there are no records of agromyzid leaf miners, except from the Americas, and therefore tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas may be promising sources of candidate biological control agents.
ReferencesTop of page
Adams A, 1967. The vectors and alternate hosts of groundnuts resette virus in Central Province, Malawi. Rhodesian, Zambian, Malawian Journal of Agricultural Research, 5(2):145-151.
Adams CD, 1963. Compositae. In: Hutchinson J, Dalziel JM, Hepper FN, eds. Flora of West Tropical Africa, Volume 2, Second edition. London, UK: Crown Agents.
Banda AK; Morris B, 1985. Common Weeds of Malawi. Lilangwe, Malawi: University of Malawi.
Chivinge OA, 1988. A weed survey of arable lands of the small-scale farming sector of Zimbabwe.
Ciba Geigy, 1982. Moroco Weed 3. Basel, Switzerland: Ciba Geigy Ltd.
Drummond RB, 1984. Arable weeds of Zimbabwe. A guide to the recognition of more important arable weeds of crops. Harare, Zimbabwe: Agricultural Research Trust.
Edmunds JE, 1971. Association of Rotylenchulus reniformis with `Robusta' banana and Commelina sp. roots in the Windward Islands. Tropical Agriculture Trinidad, 48(1):55-61.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
Ivens GW, 1964. East African Weeds and their Control. Oxford University Press, Nairobi, Kenya.
Le Bourgeois T; Marnotte P, 1997. Commelina benghalensis. Agriculture et Developpement Special Issue - May, 1997:64-65.
Lorenzi H, 1982. Weeds of Brazil, terrestrial and aquatic, parasitic, poisonous and medicinal. (Plantas daninhas de Brasil, terrestres, aquaticas, parasitas, toxicas e medicinais.) Nova Odessa, Brazil: H. Lorenzi, 425 pp.
Palmer RD, 1972. Dayflower and spangle top survey in the Texas rice belt. In: Proceedings of the 25th Annual Meeting of the Southern Weed Science Society, 473-477.
Pancho J, 1964. Seed size and production capabilities of common weed species in rice fields of Philippines. Philippines Agriculturalist, 48:307-316.
Roy AK, 1973. Natural occurrence of Corticium sesakii on some weeds. Current Science, 43(3):842-433.
Tutin TG, 1976. Galinsoga Ruiz & Pavon. In: Flora Europeae, Volume 4. (Ed. by Tutin TG, Haywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM & Webb DA, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
USDA, 1970. Selected Weeds of the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 366. Washington DC, USA: United States Department of Agriculture, 324-325.
Valdez R, 1968. Survey, identification and host-parasite relationships of root-knot nematodes occurring in some parts of the Phillippines. Phillippine Agriculturist, 51:802-824.
Waterhouse DF, 1993. The Major Arthropod Pests and Weeds of Agriculture in Southeast Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 21. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 141 pp.
Wetala MPE, 1978. The relationship between weeds and soyabean yields. In: Proceedings of the 6th East African Weed Science Conference (1976), 156-168.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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