Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Helianthus tuberosus L.
Preferred Common Name
- Jerusalem artichoke
Other Scientific Names
- Helianthus tomentosus Michx.
International Common Names
- English: Canada potato; earth-apple; fusichoke; girasole; sunchoke; sunroot; tuberous sunflower
- Spanish: castaña de tierra; pataca; pataca de caña; tupinambo
- French: artichaut de Jérusalem; hélianthe tubéreux; navet de Jérusalem; topinambour
- Russian: zemljanaja grusu
- Arabic: taffahh el ard; tartuf
- Portuguese: batata-tupinambá; girasol-de-batata; topinambo; tupinambor
Local Common Names
- Denmark: jordskók
- Germany: Knollensonnenblume; Topinambur
- Italy: carciofo di Gerusalemme ; girasole articiocco; Girasole di Canadá; Tartufo di Canna; topinambur
- Japan: kikuimo
- Netherlands: aardpeer; aardpeer; Jeruzalemartisjok; knolzonnebloem; topinamboer
- Russian Federation: podsolnečnik klubenosnij
- Sweden: jordaertskocka
- Thailand: thantawan-hua
- Turkey: yerelması
- Vietnam: cúc vu; quyf doji
- HELTU (Helianthus tuberosus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
H. tuberosus is a tall herb that can out-compete invaded natural vegetation and occurs as a sometimes serious agricultural weed. Further spread by deliberate introduction is highly likely and may result in undesirable consequences for newly invaded areas. Its tubers are often spread by water and it establishes readily along the banks of waterways.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Helianthus
- Species: Helianthus tuberosus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Helianthus contains some 70 species, which are annuals, herbaceous perennials or shrubs in North, Central and South America. Their taxonomy is complicated and individual species are difficult to determine. In addition, H. tuberosus forms hybrids with some related species, e.g., H. x laetiflorus (H. pauciflorus x H. tuberosus). This has led to some confusion as to the status of some species, including H. tuberosus, in its exotic range in Europe. Some names are treated as valid species names by some and as synonyms for H. tuberosus by others. They include H. decapetalus, Helianthus tomentosus Michx., Helianthus tuberosus L. var. subcanescens Gray (Rehorek, 1997). The species epithet tuberosus refers to the edible tubers of the plant. The common name Jerusalem artichoke may derive from the Italian name girasole articiocco, which means sunflower artichoke, referring to the taste of the tubers and sunflower-like appearance of the flowers. Jerusalem could be from a mispronunciation of girasole.
DescriptionTop of page Robust, erect, perennial herb, in cultivation usually grown as an annual, up to 3 m tall, scarcely to moderately branched in upper half of stem, hirsute in most above-ground parts. Roots adventitious (in plants not grown from seed), fibrous, spreading deeply. Tubers formed by thickening of short and stout or long and slender underground stolons, ellipsoid to globose, 2-8(-15) x 3-6 cm, whitish, yellow, red or purple, with small scale leaves and axillary buds. Leaves opposite or in whorls of three in lower plant part, in upper part alternate, simple; petiole 2-4 cm long, winged above; blade ovate to ovate-lanceoliate, 10-20 cm long, base tapering into petiole, margin irregularly serrate, apex acute, veins prominent with three main veins. Inflorescence a head, 4-8 cm in diameter, few together in a leafy panicle 8-20 cm long; involucral bracts in several rows, lanceolate, long acuminate, subequal, 15-17 x 4 mm, ciliate, blackish outside; receptacle flat, 1.5-2 cm in diameter; outer ray florets sterile, with golden-yellow, ligulate corolla, elliptical to oblong, 2.5-4.5 x 1 cm; disc florets bisexual, with tubular bright yellow corolla, 6-7 mm long; sterile bracts pale, 8-9 mm long, with greenish-yellow apex; five stamens; style slender, with two-lobed stigma. Fruit an achene, oblongoid, 5-7 mm long, flattened at the sides, brownish with dark stripes, thinly hairy.
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
Wild relatives of H. tuberosus are found in eastern North America. Opinions seem to differ on whether the species is native to Canada as well as the United States, but Swanton et al. (1992) clearly consider it native to central Canada but introduced to Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and British Columbia. The cultivated forms may have developed in southern Canada, from where they were dispersed to Western Europe early in the 17th century and subsequently to other temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere. H. tuberosus is only occasionally cultivated in the tropics. Other sources presume the original range is southern North America and treat the species as non-native in Canada (Scoggan, 1979). It is considered weedy in moist moist meadows and valleys in Ontario (OMAFRA, 2000).
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|
|China||Present||Introduced||Wang et al., 2011||Beijing|
|-Beijing||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Wang et al., 2011||All districts and counties|
|Georgia (Republic of)||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Japan||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Invasive Species of Japan, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||Introduced||Park et al., 2001|
|Turkey||Present||Introduced||DAISIE, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Tunisia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Bern Convention, 2011||North of Sfax, Kébili|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-British Columbia||Present||Introduced||Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Manitoba||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-New Brunswick||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Nova Scotia||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Ontario||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Quebec||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-Saskatchewan||Present||Introduced||Scoggan, 1979; Swanton et al., 1992|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2014|
|-Michigan||Widespread||Native||Voss, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-New Hampshire||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-New Jersey||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-New York||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-North Carolina||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-North Dakota||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-Rhode Island||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-South Carolina||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-South Dakota||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|-West Virginia||Widespread||Native||Strausbaugh and Core, 1977; USDA-NRCS, 2004|
|Albania||Present||Introduced||Tutin et al., 1976; EPPO, 2014|
|Austria||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Tutin et al., 1976; Essl and Rabitsch, 2002; EPPO, 2014|
|Belgium||Present||Alien Plants of Belgium, 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Croatia||Present||Introduced||Hulina, 1998; EPPO, 2014|
|Czech Republic||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Czechoslovakia (former)||Present||Introduced||Tutin et al., 1976|
|Denmark||Present||Introduced||Hansen, 1985; EPPO, 2014|
|France||Widespread||Introduced||1607||Invasive||Guinochet and de Vilmorin, 1975; Wagenitz, 1980; EPPO, 2014|
|Germany||Widespread||Introduced||1627||Invasive||Tutin et al., 1976; Wagenitz, 1980; Sebald et al., 1998; Kowarik, 2003; EPPO, 2014|
|Hungary||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Tutin et al., 1976; Balogh, 2001; EPPO, 2014|
|Italy||Widespread||Introduced||1614||Invasive||Tutin et al., 1976; Wagenitz, 1980; Pignatti, 1982; EPPO, 2014|
|Latvia||Present||Rutkovska et al., 2011; EPPO, 2014|
|Montenegro||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Stešević and Petrović, 2010||Mediterranean part|
|Netherlands||Present||Introduced||1613||Tutin et al., 1976; Wagenitz, 1980; EPPO, 2014|
|Norway||Present||Introduced||Lid, 1974; EPPO, 2014|
|Portugal||Restricted distribution||Introduced||DAISIE, 2014||Azores|
|Romania||Present||Introduced||Tutin et al., 1976; Filep et al., 2010; EPPO, 2014|
|Russian Federation||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Central Russia||Present||Introduced||Tutin et al., 1976; EPPO, 2014|
|-Eastern Siberia||Present||Introduced||Czerenov, 1995|
|-Northern Russia||Present||Introduced||Czerenov, 1995|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Introduced||Czerenov, 1995|
|-Western Siberia||Present||Introduced||Czerenov, 1995|
|Slovakia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Žgančíková et al., 2012||Southwest of country|
|Spain||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Dana et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014|
|Sweden||Present||Introduced||1870||Hylander, 1971; Lid, 1974|
|Switzerland||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||CPS-SKEW, 2002; EPPO, 2014|
|UK||Widespread||Introduced||1617||Wagenitz, 1980; Stace, 1997; EPPO, 2014|
|-Channel Islands||Widespread||Introduced||Stace, 1997|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|-South Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|-Tasmania||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|-Victoria||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, 2014||Garden escape|
|New Zealand||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Webb et al., 1988|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
H. tuberosus is widely distributed in central and eastern North America. Swanton et al. (1992) suggest it originated in the Great Lakes area (citing Simmonds, 1976) or in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, citing Cockerell (1918), cited in Wyse et al. (19860. Due to early human use dating back to pre-Columbian times, the original distribution can no longer be reconstructed with any accuracy. Today, it is cultivated and escaping, often invasive, in many temperate areas in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and tropical South America (Weber, 2003).
H. tuberosus was brought to Europe for the first time in 1607. Early in the 17th century it was distributed to several European countries: the first plants were mentioned in France, in 1614 it was brought to the Netherlands and Italy, 1617 to England and 1627 to Germany. Whereas the motive for the first introduction may have been botanical curiosity, it was soon grown on a large scale for the edible tubers. In the mid-18th century it was widely replaced by the potato as a staple food in central Europe. The first escaped plants were found in the mid 19th century, while the invasive spread began mostly around 1900 and became more rapid in central Europe in the 1930s (Hartmann et al., 1995). According to Pilkington (2011) it can sometimes grow from bird seed, presumably imported into Britain from other countries. In Belgium it was first recorded in the wild in a meadow near a granary in 1893 (Alien Plants of Belgium, 2014). It then appeared near the river Vesdre in the 1920s and spread rapidly, becoming very abundant in large parts of the valley, and later became abundant along other river systems. Since it never produces seeds in Belgium its spread must have been entirely by tuber or root fragments.
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
As H. tuberosus has many uses, including agricultural crops and its ornamental flowers, further deliberate spread is likely. No estimate is available regarding the risk of accidental introductions, although the risks especially in Europe where rivers can carry fragments of root or tuber across international borders must be considerable.
HabitatTop of page
Native habitats include wetlands, river banks, meadows, grasslands, wastelands and disturbed areas.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
2n=102 (Swanton et al., 1992, citing Kulshreshtha and Gupta, 1979).
Growth and development
Nearly all documented research concerning H. tuberosus applies to areas between latitudes 30 and 50°N. Tuber formation starts with a drastic drop (dormancy) of the elongation rate near the stolon apex. If this rate drops to zero, the tuber will be pear-shaped, tapering backwards. If dormancy is less deep, the top end of the tuber will be oval. If the lateral eyebuds on the developing tuber retain or regain some elongation activity, irregular tuber shapes will arise. The dormancy behaviour of the different buds and their interaction depend on the cultivar, but are also influenced by soil temperature and texture. Short stolons and early tuber initiation lead to an unwieldy, tightly-packed bunch of tubers. Long stolons and late initiation cause a very loose pattern of tubers wide apart that easily become lost at lifting. Swanton (1982) says that as many as 75 tubers per plant can be produced but that under some conditions no tubers at all are produced. Wyse and Wilfhart (1982) say that tubers can be various shapes and also vary in colour from white through pink to red. Cultivated varieties yield large tubers clustered near the main stem whereas wild types produce smaller tubers at the ends of longer rhizomes.
Normally, fruits (seeds) are rarely formed. Under reduced light intensity or cold conditions, no flower heads may appear. Usually, a crop reaches maturity in 3-6 months.
Near the equator, the shorter daylength causes foliage growth to stop earlier and tuber initiation to start sooner, resulting in smaller plants. Moreover, temperatures are more even, so that cool or cold periods in the juvenile and closing phases of the production cycle are absent. Therefore, leaf area reaches full size sooner, but leaves senesce earlier. Also underground functions such as tuber growth, translocation of assimilates from the foliage to the tubers, and mineral uptake are faster near the equator. As a result, two consecutive crops may be produced per year.
H. tuberosus varies considerably in time to flowering, form and colour of the tubers, leaf form and hairiness. Well-known cultivars include 'Fuseau' (tubers purple, smooth, easy to peel), 'New White' (tubers white), 'Boston' (tubers red), and 'Dwarf Sunray' (plants relatively small). Cultivated plants usually have thick rounded tubers, the invasive plants in central Europe and also the wild plants in North America have narrow elongated tubers (Wagenitz, 1980).
In many of the countries to which the species has been introduced it apparently flowers late in the season and never produces seeds (Alien Plants of Belgium, 2014; Artsdatabanken, 2014) Alien Plants of Belgium (2014) also says that outside of cultivation tubers are either very rarely produced or remain very small.
Swanton et al. (1992) quote Wyse and Wilfahrt (1982) and J F Alex (pers. comm.) in saying that the species is pollinated by insects (including honey bees, Apis mellifera) and that it must be pollinated from different populations before it can set seed. Lukens (1982), cited by Swanton et al. (1992), reported that the seeds are largely infertile.
Most H. tuberosus cultivars respond to short days with earlier tuber and flower bud initiation.
Physiology and Phenology
Swanton et al. (1992) mention research by Bacon and Loxley (1952) and Chubey and Dorrell (1983) that found the total reducing sugar content of the tubers increases as they enlarge and mature in autumn, and speculated that substances of high molecular weight are formed during the period of carbohydrate storage. Citing Chubey and Dorrell (1983), Swanton et al. (1992) say that the reducing sugar components of the tubers decrease with the initiation and growth of tuber sprouts in the spring.
The main carbohydrate found in the tubers is ‘a homologous series of polyfructofuranose units consisting of linear chains of D-fructose molecules terminated by a D-glucose molecule’ (Kosaric et al., 1984). The name ‘inulin’ is commonly given to such polysaccharides, although this name is sometimes restricted to some but not all polyfructans.
In Canada, growth begins from tubers or seeds in April or May (Swanton et al., 1992), and a period of rapid growth follows. Flower buds appear from early July to late September depending on strain and location. In the late summer leaf senescence begins and sucrose is translocated to the tubers which rapidly enlarge until the first frost stops further activity.
In Norway, Artsdatabanken (2014) says that plants normally last less than 10 years or five generations. In Canada, Swanton et al. (1992) say that new ramets may arise continuously over several years from tubers although some varieties overwinter better than others.
Population Size and Structure
The species produces dense and persistent monospecific stands along rivers (Branquart et al., 2007). Hogetsu et al. (1960) is quoted by Swanton et al. (1992) as stating that the species becomes self-limiting at high densities.
In Belgium (Branquart et al., 2007) H. tuberosum in its ‘wild form’ prefers well-lit, sandy, moist and nutrient-rich soils. Dorrell and Chubey (1977) reported that Jerusalem artichoke can grow on most soil types and had minimal requirements for fertiliser. Maximum crop yields, however, require better soils and fertility levels: all biotypes grow best on rich sandy loams, light loams and well-drained river bottom or alluvial soils (Swanton et al., 1992).
Kompała-Bąba and Błońska (2008) studied the floristic composition of patches containing H. tuberosus in an industrial region of Poland and compared it with that of neighbouring countries. They found that it could invade different types of plant community, both natural and man-made. In its ‘natural’ habitats it is confined to mainly to moist habitats, like meadows and waste places and close to habitation, with species with wide ecological tolerance like Cirsium arvense, Elymus repens, and a range of meadow plants. In root crops it associates with weeds typical of such places. Its invasiveness can sometimes allow it to completely transform some rush communities in Germany (Moor, 1958, quoted in Kompała-Bąba and Błońska, 2008). It can also create monodominant patches on river banks which are poor in species because of its tall, strong growth form.
Swanton et al. (1992) list plant communities associated with Jerusalem artichoke in occasionally mown grassland communities in Ontario, and also weeds associated with this species in crops of maize, soyabean, and small grains in southern Ontario.
The growing season needs at least 125 frost-free days, preferably with average temperatures of 18-26°C and an evenly distributed rainfall of up to 1250 mm. It is tolerant of drought and can recover even after wilting, and survives short periods of flooding. Tubers are frost-resistant, in the soil as well as in storage and may be improved rather than harmed by frost. In the tropics, H. tuberosus is preferably grown at 300-750 m altitude, but in India it is cultivated up to 3600 m. The soil should preferably not be too heavy, and should be well drained and friable in order to facilitate harvesting of the tubers.
Tubers apparently exhibit a post-harvest dormancy that can be broken with gibberellic acid or a cold treatment for 2-3 months (Gaspar et al., cited in Russell, 1979, and in turn by Swanton et al., 1992).
H. tuberosus is completely naturalized on moist, nutrient-rich, sandy or loamy soils, especially along rivers (Hartmann et al., 1995). It requires full sunlight and is rarely found in shaded situations. Some small and suppressed individuals may be found under light canopies of poplar plantations or under willows. In central Europe the plant is most invasive in warm areas of low altitude indicating high temperature requirement. The first frost in autumn kills the aboveground parts of the plant: only the tubers can withstand freezing temperatures. H. tuberosus grows best on various soils with good water supply and can stand some inundation for limited times. In dry urban ruderal sites H. tuberosus usually occurs as small individuals with reduced vigour.
Kosaric et al. (1984) say it is well adapted to grow in many geoclimatic regions including Europe and most of North America. Because of its moderate frost tolerance its range goes beyond that of most conventional crops (Stauffer et al., cited in Swanton et al., 1992).
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-30|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||6||27|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||10||35|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-10||10|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||5||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||300||2800||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Summer
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
PFAF (2014) says that the young growth is extremely attractive to slugs (species unspecified), but that plants are rarely if ever troubled by deer or rabbits. Swanton et al. (1992) reported on a range of insects and fungi that are associated with and sometimes adversely affect H. tuberosus in Canada. They include the sunflower stem maggot (Strauzia longipennis), northern corn rootworm (Diabrotica longicornis), ladybird beetle (Adalia bipunctata), potato leaf-hopper (Empoasca fabae), granary weevil (Sitophilus granarius), the weevil Cosmobaris americana, and the treehopper Publilia concava. Among the fungi are Erysiphe cichoracrarum, Puccinia helianthi, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and several others sometimes associated with the species.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
In many countries in Europe, most of the invasive spread occurs vegetatively. Tubers or rhizomes are transported downstream with flowing water, especially winter floods. They can also be carried by rodents and sometimes by humans during transport of soil or garden refuse (Kompała-Bąba and Błońska, 2008).
No information is available on seed dispersal, although seed could potentially be transported with various goods.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
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 H. tuberosus can be a weed of agricultural fields either by invading fields such as forage crops (Park et al., 2001) or when it is used as a crop in crop rotation systems. As not all tubers are removed in harvesting, H. tuberosus infests the consecutive crop as a volunteer weed, which can reduce the yield of maize and sugarbeet by 91 or 81%, whereas the yield reductions in wheat, oat, rape and ryegrass were insignificant (Schittenhelm, 1996).
Invasive populations on river banks can result in damage to flood protection constructions, which can impact on the environment. Quantitative estimates of the economic impacts are not available.
Economic ImpactTop of page
H. tuberosus can be a weed of agricultural fields either by invading fields such as forage crops (Park et al., 2001) or when it is used as a crop in crop rotation systems. As not all tubers are removed in harvesting, H. tuberosus infests the consecutive crop as a volunteer weed, which can reduce the yield of maize and sugarbeet by 91 or 81%, whereas the yield reductions in wheat, oat, rape and ryegrass were insignificant (Schittenhelm, 1996). Wall et al. (1986) said that the species is a troublesome weed in many areas of the United States and in southern Ontario in Canada. Tesio et al. (2010) found decomposing residues of both wild and cultivated Jerusalem artichoke reduced the radicle growth of seedling lettuce (60%), tomato (30%), large crabgrass (70%), and barnyardgrass (30%), whereas total germination of these species was less affected.
Schittenhelm (1996) points out that tubers not collected at the harvest of Jerusalem artichoke crops remain in the soil and cause serious problems in subsequent crops and must be controlled for two or three years afterwards. He found that shoots emerging in subsequent crops ranged from 9-25 m-2, depending on the crop, oats with the lowest number of shoots and maize with most. Yield reductions were insignificant in unweeded wheat, oats, rape and ryegrass but reductions in sugar beet and maize were 91% and 81% respectively. Wyse and Young (1979) found that densities of 4 tubers per m row reduced maize seed yields by 16-25%, and suggested this loss was caused by decreased fill length and number of kernels per row of maize. Wyse et al. (1986) also found adverse effects on soyabeans (Glycine max).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Invasive populations on river banks can result in damage to flood protection constructions, which can impact on the environment. It has fewer fine roots than native river bank vegetation and leaves the soil bare and unprotected after it dies back in autumn. In addition, its tubers are dug after by rodents resulting in further damage to river banks and flood protection dams (Hartmann et al., 1995; Kowarik, 2003).
Pilkington (2011) points out that once established at a site it is difficult to eradicate and can form dense stands of vegetation several metres high. Plants grow aggressively and out-compete other vegetation and its roots are known to be allelopathic, suppressing the growth of nearby plants. According to Swanton et al. (1992) it is listed as a noxious weed in Nova Scotia and is on a list of weeds which can be declared noxious in Manitoba.
H. tuberosus can form dense populations on river banks and floodplains. The competitive power of the species affects native river bank vegetation: herbaceous plants react with strongly decreased cover and abundance, and trees are unable to regenerate under the canopy of H. tuberosus. As natural floodplains are rare in central Europe due to damming and flood control, this effect is critical for nature conservation. No evidence exists, however, for the complete competitive exclusion of plant species by H. tuberosus.
Phytophagous or flower visiting insects are affected by the displacement of their food plants; on the other hand, H. tuberosus offers nectar for flower visitors. The overall effect on biodiversity has not been demonstrated (Hartmann et al., 1995; Kowarik, 2003).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
The most important part of this plant is the edible tuber, which is served as a vegetable dish. H. tuberosus was formerly grown for alcohol production in parts of France and Germany, but it has been superseded by cheaper raw materials. Since the 1980s, there has been a revival of research on the industrial processing of H. tuberosus for fuel and chemicals.
Swanton et al. (1992) point out that high biomass yields, along with a reasonable nutrient value and a high level of carbohydrates give H. tuberosus many important applications, and new varieties are being developed for high yield and nutrient content.
Pigs, chickens and rabbits relish the raw tubers. The fresh foliage may serve as a forage, mainly for horses, mules and ruminants. The withered, almost leafless aboveground material of mature plants is used for litter or fuel. If the foliage is harvested or grazed at an early stage, the nutritive value will be good but the production of tubers will suffer. The green foliage is not especially liked by animals because it is rough-haired and stalky, but it will be rejected only if more tasty feed is available. Early-flowering cultivars are popular as ornamentals. Because of its tall leafy habit, H. tuberosus is often used as a shelter crop for high value crops such as strawberry.
PFAF (2014) suggests medicinal and herbal uses of the species as an aperient, aphrodisiac, cholagogue (stimulating the flow of bile), diuretic, spermatogenic, stomachic, and tonic. It is also used as a source of inulin, an indigestible starch recommended for inclusion in the diets of those suffering from diabetes or obesity because it reduces calory intake but satisfies requirements for protein and minerals (Shoemaker, 1927; Mayfield, 1974; Kosaric et al., 1985). The tubers are a good source of B vitamins, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, iron and calcium (Kosaric et al., 1984).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Shade and shelter
- Miscellaneous fuels
Human food and beverage
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Invasive populations in Germany were successfully controlled by various mechanical methods: mowing twice a year in late June and in August gave good control after two consecutive years. Large areas can be mowed with agricultural machinery where the soil permits, small infestations or those on soft soils were treated with hand-held trimmers or brush cutters. Removing the mowed plants did not result in better control. Faster success may be reached by cutting in June and light cultivation. Close monitoring for the right timing is essential: it must be done when the tubers formed in the preceding year are consumed, and new ones have not formed (Hartmann et al., 1995). In light soils, plants can be hand pulled in October or in early spring; if this is done in late spring, too many tubers remain in the soil. Fehér and Končeková (2009), in Slovakia, also observed that regular mowing of the species in riparian situations gave effective control.
Glyphosate and dicamba were both found to give good control of H. tuberosus in forage crops in Korea. In Manitoba, Canada, Wall et al. (1986) investigated control of volunteer plants infesting a field of barley and found that clopyralid, clopyralid plus 2,4-D, dicamba, and dicamba plus clopyralid, applied when barley seedlings had 3-5 leaves and the Jerusalem artichoke plants were 20-25 cm high all gave good control. However glyphosate, applied to a summer fallow gave only marginal control of the weed during the summer of application and reduced growth in the following year in only one of three experiments.
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21/8/2014 Updated by:
Dr Ian Popay, Consultant, New Zealand
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