Ageratina adenophora (Croftonweed)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Ageratina adenophora (Spreng.) R.M. King & H. Rob.
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Eupatorium adenophorum Spreng. (1826)
- Eupatorium glandulosum Kunth
- Eupatorium pasdadense Parish
International Common Names
- English: Crofton weed; sticky eupatorium
Local Common Names
- Polynesia: pamakani
- Australia: catweed; hemp agrimony; Mexican devil; sticky agrimony
- India: cypress weed
- New Zealand: catweed; hemp agrimony; Mexican devil
- USA: sticky agrimony; sticky snakeroot
- USA/Hawaii: Maui pamakani
- EUPAD (Ageratina adenophora)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
A. adenophora has proved to be a very aggressive invasive species in some parts of the world, notably Australia, where it forced some farmers to abandon their land in the 1950s. Its spread is restricted there now due to adequate legislation and control measures. It is, however, still spreading in other parts of the world such as China, and due to its potential introduction as a seed contaminant and potential impacts, it must be considered as a high risk species meriting further attention. It is known to be invasive in Kenya and is also present in Uganda. Control is possible, although difficult, and biological control has been attempted and proved at least partially successful.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Ageratina
- Species: Ageratina adenophora
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
It is not, however, to be confused with Eupatorium trapezoideum Kunth (=Ageratina trapezoides (Kunth) R.M. King & H. Rob.) though it is synonymized as such in CAB Abstracts. A. trapezoides is a native to Nepal, northern India and neighbouring areas, and valued as a medicinal and green manure plant (common name 'banmara'). The use of this species epithet is common, especially in Asian populations; further work is, however, required in order to elucidate the exact relationship between these populations and those of A. adenophora sensu stricto, native to central Mexico. Also, in northern India there has been reference to 'Eupatorium (Chromolaena adenophorum L.)' (Saini, 2002) which is thought to represent A. adenophora, though this again highlights the need for further taxonomical studies, especially in this region.
DescriptionTop of page
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 21 Jul 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||Original citation: Wells et al., 1986|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|France||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Greece||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Madeira||Present||Introduced||1840||As: Eupatorium adenophorum|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present, Localized||Introduced|
|United States||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
|-Lord Howe Island||Present||Introduced||1920||As: Eupatorium adenophorum|
|-New South Wales||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
|-South Australia||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
|New Zealand||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
|Papua New Guinea||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
In Australia, it was introduced as an ornamental species to the north coast of New South Wales around 1900 (Trounce and Dyason, 2003) and soon colonized much of the newly cleared lands on both sides of the border between New South Wales and Queensland, where in 1930 it was recorded as naturalized on the Springbrook plateau above the Tweed Valley. It spread slowly over the next 10 years but became more aggressive between 1940 and 1950. Then, because of drought, a shortage of fertilizer and overgrazing, A. adenophora suddenly proliferated, overrunning large areas of dairy pastures and horticultural land on both sides of the border. It spread so fast that in some areas dairy farmers and banana growers abandoned their holdings (Auld, 1969, 1970; Holm et al., 1991; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). It has been present in the Sydney area since approximately 1970 (Trounce and Dyason, 2003).
In Australia, Crofton weed is currently almost wholly restricted to the coastal strip from Sydney northward to the Mary River, Queensland, where the major infestations occur in the mountain valleys and adjacent tablelands, straddling the border between the two states. However, as it has been cultivated as an ornamental in most mainland states, it has become naturalized in and close to some urban areas, particularly suburban Adelaide and along the Murray River in South Australia (Auld, 1969, 1970; Holm et al., 1991; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). However, whether due to the effects of quarantine, declaration as a weed or to other reasons, Australia's Virtual Herbarium (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2004) still only records it as present in New South Wales and Queensland, rare in South Australia and absent elsewhere in the country.
The means of introduction into Pacific islands, mainland USA and Europe are unknown, but it appears that this weed may be spreading and is likely to be found elsewhere. In Europe it is restricted to Mediterranean regions, and even within these, to those with warmer climates, such as Atlantic and Mediterranean islands. Peng et al. (1998) noted it as then 'newly naturalized' to Taiwan and there is increasing concern in parts of China rergarding its recent spread.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Deserts||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Little is known and even less is published regarding the genetics and evolutionary origin and affinities of A. adenophora. Further research, especially on the affinities within this genus and closely related ones may reveal interesting insights into the biology of the species for possible use in its control and management.
Physiology and Phenology
In Australia, seeds germinate in the light any time between December and September, with peak germination (>80% of viable seeds) in February and March. Seedlings grow rapidly and are fully established and able to regenerate from the crown, if damaged, within 8 weeks of germination. In second year and older plants, new growth begins with the first major summer rains, usually in January. The growth rate of seedlings and mature plants remains high during summer but tapers off in the cooler winter months. Buds appear in late winter and flowering begins in September. Seeds mature and are shed between October and mid-January, the lower leaves of the plant dropping after seed fall. For further information on the biology of A. adenophora, refer to Auld and Martin (1975) and Auld (1977). Once established, seedlings tolerate shade and can grow rapidly, and occasional plants are able to develop into substantial infestations.
A. adenophora appears to prefer mild, moist, sub-humid climates for optimal growth. Although native to central Mexico, noting its absence from areas receiving winter frosts in its introduced range, it is likely to be native to low altitude areas in Mexico because higher altitudes are known to receive frosts during winter. In Europe it is restricted to frost-free regions in the Mediterranean basin and Atlantic islands. Moist south-facing slopes are preferred in Queensland, Australia (Land Protection, 2004), though it does not appear to be restricted to such areas.
There does not appear to be any specific preference for soil types, with A. adenophora apparently able to grow on dry sands as well as wetland clay soils. It can tolerate some salinity and infertility.
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Spread of A. adenophora is principally by seed, which is adapted for dispersal by both wind and water due to the feathery hairs of its pappus.
It is possible that seeds could attach to the hair, skin or feathers of animals with mud thus facilitating their spread. This could be a major means of dispersal when moving livestock from infested to clear pastures during wet weather in the seed-setting periods.
Local extension of colonies and an increase in plant density can occur when bent and broken stems take root where they contact the soil, or when pieces of root have a portion of the crown attached. These can be easily moved during cultivation. The seeds can also attach themselves, often in mud, to clothes (of agricultural workers as well as tourists, hikers, etc.) and especially to farm machinery. Seeds may also contaminate stockfeed.
An important means of spread of A. adenophora is movement as an impurity in agricultural produce, mainly cereals, forage and other seeds, also in sand and gravel used for road making, soil, and in mud sticking to animals, machinery and other vehicles, as well as to footwear and clothing. These multiple means of introduction mean that many pathways are possible for the accidental importation of A. adenophora seed.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Growing medium accompanying plants||weeds/seeds||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Leaves||weeds/seeds||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||weeds/seeds||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Loose wood packing material|
|Processed or treated wood|
|Solid wood packing material with bark|
|Solid wood packing material without bark|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
Cattle find it unpalatable, sheep and goats eat it without apparent ill effect if other pasture is present, but horses, eating it readily, die as a result. This horse disease, an important impact of A. adenophora, is known in Australia as 'Numimbah horse sickness' in New South Wales and 'Tallebudgera horse disease' in Queensland (Land Protection, 2004), and as 'blowing disease' in Hawaii, USA. It may take several years to become evident but is always fatal. The symptoms are coughing, difficult breathing and violent blowing after exertion, and are the result of acute oedema (swelling) of the lungs, leading to haemorrhaging. The liver can also be affected, but death from respiratory failure is the eventual result. Affected horses may collapse and die suddenly during work (Trounce and Dyason, 2003). No method of preventing horse losses is known other than denying access (Land Protection, 2004), because A. adenophora is particularly palatable to horses even though it is poisonous.
The poisonous principle is unknown but feeding tests suggest that it is present only in flowering plants, though it also noted as poisonous just prior to flowering (Trounce and Dyason, 2003). Because the occurrence of pulmonary lesions is not reduced when pollen inhalation is prevented, systemic toxicity appears to be a response to inhalation (Auld, 1970, 1977).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Nototrichium humile (kaala rockwort)||EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2008a)|
|Peristylus holochila (Hawai'i bog orchid)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition (unspecified)||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2009a)|
|Phyllostegia mollis (Waianae Range phyllostegia)||USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition (unspecified)||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2009c)|
|Phyllostegia parviflora (smallflower phyllostegia)||NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2008b)|
|Plantago princeps||NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2010a)|
|Pritchardia kaalae (Waianae Range pritchardia)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - smothering||US Fish and Wildlife Service (1998)|
|Pritchardia munroi (Kamalo pritchardia)||No Details||Hawaii||Competition - smothering||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2011a)|
|Remya mauiensis (Maui remya)||USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition (unspecified)||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2009d)|
|Schiedea hookeri (sprawling schiedea)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2011b)|
|Schiedea kaalae (Oahu schiedea)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (1998)|
|Schiedea lydgatei (Kamalo Gulch schiedea)||NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2011c)|
|Schiedea sarmentosa||USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2011d)|
|Pteris lidgatei (Lidgate's brake)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2009b)|
|Silene lanceolata (Kauai catchfly)||USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2010b)|
|Silene perlmanii (cliffface catchfly)||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2012)|
|Viola chamissoniana subsp. chamissoniana (pamakani)||USA ESA listing as endangered species||Hawaii||Competition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service (2008c)|
Social ImpactTop of page
Though a number of invasive plant species are noted as having negative health effects via the allergenic nature of their pollen (e.g. Broussonetia papyrifera, Prosopis juliflora), no effects have been observed with A. adenophora even though the pollen has been implicated in a fatal disease of horses (Auld, 1970, 1977). Horse owners and horse users may be affected by stress and high veterinary fees.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - smothering
- Competition (unspecified)
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Uses ListTop of page
- Poisonous to mammals
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Mechanical Control
Where practicable, A. adenophora can be controlled by slashing followed by ripping or ploughing and then sowing a pasture containing tropical grasses and legumes suited to the district. Unreliable rainfall patterns may make sown pastures difficult to establish in spring, prior to the summer germination of the weed, but pasture improvement is probably the most effective means of control available. Slash and cultivate infested areas in early spring, using crawler tractors and tandem offset discs where wheeled tractors cannot be employed with safety. Sow the pasture mixture at a high rate and spotspray seedlings as they appear (Auld, 1969; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).
Chemical control is effective when using high volume application and applying glyphosate, dicamba + MCPA or picloram + triclopyr in late summer or autumn when the weed is growing actively, thoroughly wetting the whole plant, particularly at the base. Where the slope permits, boomspray denser infestations with dicamba + MCPA but, in less accessible, steep or rocky areas, treat scattered plants with granular formulations of the herbicides, or use a gas gun and apply low volume, high concentration treatments of picloram + triclopyr (Auld, 1969; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).
Because biological control of Crofton weed was fairly successful in Hawaii, USA, the trypetid gall fly, Procecidochares utilis, was introduced to Queensland, Australia, in 1952. It established successfully, but the amount of damage fluctuated because of parasitism by indigenous hymenopteran insects. Crofton weed is also attacked by an exotic fungus, Cercospora eupatorii (which is thought to have been introduced accidentally with P. utilis), and a native crown-boring cerambycid, Dihammus argentatus. None of these organisms offer any real degree of control individually, but the combined effect has reduced plant vigour (Dodd, 1961; Haseler, 1966; Cullen and Delfosse, 1990).
Biological control was pioneered in Hawaii, USA. A survey of natural enemies in the native range of the weed in Mexico was carried out by Osborne (1924) and the gall fly P. utilis, was introduced in 1945. The weed was successfully controlled in all areas, except in regions with annual rainfall over 1030-1540 mm (Bess and Harmamoto, 1972).
The gall fly, accompanied by a specific leaf spot disease caused by Mycovellosiella sp., was introduced into the foothills of the Himalayas in India in 1963 and spread into Nepal but its impact has been reduced by parasitism by native parasitoids (Sankaran, 1973). When the weed spread into China, the gall fly was obtained from the border area with Nepal and released in Yunnan Province (He and Liang, 1988) and later in Sichuan Province but the results have been disappointing due to heavy parasitism (Greathead, 1996). Biological control has also been attempted in New Zealand and South Africa where both the gall fly and the fungus are established but, again with little impact on the weed (Kluge, 1991).
ReferencesTop of page
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Auld BA, 1969. The distribution of Eupatorium adenophorum Spreng. on the far north coast of New South Wales. Journal and Proccedings, Royal Society of New South Wales, 102:159-161
Auld BA, 1970. Eupatorium weed species in Australia. PANS, 16:82-86
Bess HA, Harmamoto FH, 1972. Biological control of pamakani, Eupatorium adenophorum, in Hawaii by a tephritid gall fly, Procecidochares utilis. 3. Status of the weed, fly and parasities of the fly in 1966-71 versus 1950-57. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 21:165-178
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Trounce R, Dyason R, 2003. Crofton Weed. Agfacts P7.6.36. 2nd edition, AGDEX 642.. Australia: NSW Agriculture. 4pp
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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008. Viola chamissoniana ssp. chamissoniana (Pamakani). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. In: Viola chamissoniana ssp. chamissoniana (Pamakani). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation : US Fish and Wildlife Service.11 pp.
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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009. 5-Year Review, Short Form Summary: Species Reviewed: Pteris lidgatei (no common name). In: 5-Year Review, Short Form Summary: Species Reviewed: Pteris lidgatei (no common name) : US Fish and Wildlife Service.7 pp.
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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009. Remya mauiensis (Maui remya). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. In: Remya mauiensis (Maui remya). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation : US Fish and Wildlife Service.15 pp.
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US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010. Silene lanceolata (no common name). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation. In: Silene lanceolata (no common name). 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation : US Fish and Wildlife Service.15 pp.
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Guacchio E del, 2013. Ageratina adenophora (Asteraceae) new species to the Italian alien flora and observations on its environmental threats. Hacquetia. 12 (2), 17-22. http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/hacq
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Ma Y, Tan S T, Liu Q L, Li Y Y, Chen X J, Chen H R, Li F, 2018. First report of Tobacco vein distorting virus infecting Eupatorium adenophorum in China. Plant Disease. 102 (10), 2048-2049. DOI:10.1094/PDIS-12-17-2021-PDN
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