Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Orobanche cernua
(nodding broomrape)

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Datasheet

Orobanche cernua (nodding broomrape)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Orobanche cernua
  • Preferred Common Name
  • nodding broomrape
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • O. cernua is an obligatory, non-photosynthetic root parasite which is native over a wide range across northeast Africa, southern Europe and western and southern Asia. In many of these areas it is a serious pest...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
O. cernua on tomato.
TitleOn tomato
CaptionO. cernua on tomato.
CopyrightD.M. Joel
O. cernua on tomato.
On tomatoO. cernua on tomato.D.M. Joel
O. cernua, typical form on tobacco.
TitleFlower spike
CaptionO. cernua, typical form on tobacco.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
O. cernua, typical form on tobacco.
Flower spikeO. cernua, typical form on tobacco.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Orobanche cernua Loefl.

Preferred Common Name

  • nodding broomrape

Other Scientific Names

  • Orobanche bicolor CA Meyer
  • Orobanche cernua var. cumana (Wallr.) G. Beck
  • Orobanche curviflora Viv.
  • Orobanche gallica Grenier
  • Orobanche glaucantha Trautvetter
  • Orobanche hispanica Boissier
  • Orobanche nicotiana Wight
  • Orobanche pogonanthera Reuter in DC.

International Common Names

  • English: drooping broomrape

Local Common Names

  • Ethiopia: delantuba; yebeg eras; yemeder kitenge
  • Germany: Nickende Sommerwurz
  • India: bodu; pokayilai-kalan

EPPO code

  • ORACE (Orobanche cernua)

Summary of Invasiveness

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O. cernua is an obligatory, non-photosynthetic root parasite which is native over a wide range across northeast Africa, southern Europe and western and southern Asia. In many of these areas it is a serious pest of Solanaceaeous crops such as Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) and S. melongena (aubergine) and occasionally S. tuberosum (potato). Species of Orobanche depend totally on their hosts for all nutrition and become an active sink for the host plant. This therefore results in a decrease in crop yield and as a result can have a major impact on the economy and livelihoods. Once established, the seed bank may last 10-20 years and there are no simple, economic control measures. Seeds of O. cernua are very small and inconspicuous and can be accidentally introduced into new areas as a contaminant of soil, seeds and machinery. There is potential for this species to invade many other areas of the world.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Orobanchaceae
  •                             Genus: Orobanche
  •                                 Species: Orobanche cernua

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Orobanchaceae comprises of more than 100 parasitic plants, native to temperature zones of the old world (Miladinovic et al., 2012).

O. cernua is often treated as a single species sensu lato, in accordance with many botanical authorities, including Beck-Mennagetta (1930), Chater and Webb (1972) and The Plant List (2013). There is now, however, well supported evidence for a clear distinction between the typical O. cernua and the form now known as O. cumana Wallr.. This difference is based not only on quite distinct host range but also on seed morphology, flower morphology, genetic differences and seed oil profiles (Joel et al., 1996; Paran et al., 1997; Pujadas-Salvá and Thalouarn, 1998; Pujadas-Salva and Velasco, 2000). Furthermore, the primer (GATA)4 detected polymorphism between five specimens each of O. cernua and O. cumana collected from different countries, permitting these two closely related species to be clearly differentiated molecularly (Benharrat et al., 2002). Hybridisation between the two species can occur, as in Hungary (Solymosi and Horvath, 2001; Solymosi et al., 2004). There is also suspicion that this has occurred in Israel where Joel (2015) reports that infestations of O. cumana on Helianthus annuus (sunflower) have developed to infest and cause serious damage to Solanum lycopersicum (tomato), perhaps by introgression with local O. cernua.

Several other varieties of O. cernua were distinguished by Beck-Mennagetta (1930); vars. typica, latebracteata, desertorum (also known as var. nepalensis), hansii and australiana. The form of O. cernua attacking Solanaceae is usually ascribed to var. desertorum. The significance of the other varieties as crop pests is uncertain. The geographical distribution provided in this data sheet makes distinction between varieties where that information is available.

Although generally referred to as O. cernua Loefl., there is a suggestion that the botanical authority for this taxon could be Linnaeus, hence O. cernua L. (Pujadas-Salva and Velasco, 2000).

Description

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O. cernua is a non-photosynthetic parasite producing erect, fleshy, leafless flowering stems 15-40 cm high bearing alternate scales less than 1 cm long. Although usually unbranched above ground, multiple stems sometimes arise from a single tubercle below ground. The plant is pale, completely lacking any chlorophyll. The base of the stem, below ground, is normally swollen and tuberous. The inflorescence, occupying up to half the length of the stems carries many acropetally developing flowers, arranged in spikes or racemes, each subtended by a bract 7-12 mm long (without the additional bracteoles present in O. ramosa). The calyx has four free segments, more-or-less bidentate, 7-12 mm long. The white corolla tube, 12-30 mm long, is inflated near the base, conspicuously down-curved, with narrow reflexed lips, up to 10 mm across. The tube is mainly white or pale while the lips are contrastingly blue or purple, without distinct venation. Filaments are inserted in the corolla tube, 4-6 mm above the base. A capsule develops up to 8-10 mm long and may contain several hundred seeds, each about 0.2 x 0.4 mm. A single plant carries 10-100 flowers and hence may produce over 100,000 seeds (Chater and Webb, 1972).

Morphological differences between typical O. cernua and O. cumana include; height 15-30 cm in O. cernua, 40-60 in O. cumana; flowers 10-20 mm in O. cernua, 20-30 mm in O. cumana; inflorescence dense in O. cernua, lax in O. cumana; filaments and anthers virtually glabrous in O. cernua, hairy in O. cumana. The flowers are conspicuously longer and more down-curved in O. cumana.

Distribution

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O. cernua occurs widely from southern and eastern Europe and North Africa eastwards through southern Asia into China and Australia. There are sporadic occurrences of O. cernua in both West and East Africa. The presence of O. cernua in the UK as described by Stace (1991) is believed to have been in error (Euro+Med, 2016).

The Distribution Table below includes almost all records for O. cernua in the widest sense. Even where the main weed problem is O. cumana other forms of O. cernua will occur. Where these are not thought to include the weedy form, it is noted accordingly.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016Weedy on Solanaceae
BahrainPresentNativeBorg, 1994
ChinaPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016As var. hansii. Present on Solanum lycopersicum and Nicotiana tabacum
-TibetPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
IndiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979Recorded as a ‘principal weed’
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeKrishnamurthy and Chari, 1991Major problem on Nicotiana tabacum
-BiharPresentNativeCarlón et al., 2015
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930; Amit and Singh, 2005
-KarnatakaPresentNativeDhanapal et al., 1998Present on Nicotiana tabacum
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeRavi Upadhyay, 2004
-MaharashtraPresentNativeRothe, 1997
-RajasthanPresentNativeMaharshi, 2001Present on Cuminum cyminum and Plantago ovata
-Tamil NaduPresentNativePrabhakaran et al., 2009Major problem on Nicotiana tabacum
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeCarlón et al., 2015
IranPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
IraqPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986Weedy on Solanaceae
IsraelLocalisedNativeParker and Riches, 1993Weedy on Solanaceae
JordanPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986
KazakhstanPresentNativeTeryokhin et al., 2001; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
KuwaitPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016Record may be O. cumana
LebanonPresentNativeEdgecombe, 1970; Holm et al., 1979
MongoliaPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
NepalPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
OmanPresentNativeCarlón et al., 2015
PakistanPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker and Wilson, 1986; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986Weedy on Solanaceae
SyriaPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
TajikistanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016Record may be O. cumana
TurkeyPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016
TurkmenistanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016Record may be O. cumana
UzbekistanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016Record may be O. cumana
YemenPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930; Parker and Wilson, 1986
EgyptPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979Recorded as a serious weed
EthiopiaPresentNative Invasive Stroud and Parker, 1989Weedy on Solanaceae
KenyaPresentNativeGraham, 1957; Mwangi, 1999
MoroccoPresentNativeBeck-Mennagetta, 1930
NigerPresentIntroducedParker, 2013Recorded on Solanum lycopersicum
SomaliaPresentNativeParker and Wilson, 1986
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentCarlón et al., 2015Present in Gran Canaria, Lanzarotte, Tenerife
SudanPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
TanzaniaPresentNativeGraham, 1957Var. nepalensis
TunisiaPresentNativeAmri et al., 2012
UgandaPresentNativeParker and Riches, 1993

Europe

BulgariaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
FrancePresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
-CorsicaPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
GreecePresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016
-CretePresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
HungaryPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016
ItalyPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016
-SicilyPresentNativeEuro+Med, 2016
MaltaPresentCarlón et al., 2015
RomaniaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
Russian FederationPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016
-Central RussiaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
SerbiaWidespreadNativeKojic´ et al., 2001Recorded on Solanum lycopersicum and Nicotiana tabacum
SpainPresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Euro+Med, 2016
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeChater and Webb, 1972; Holm et al., 1979; Euro+Med, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNativeLazarides et al., 1997
-New South WalesPresentNativeLazarides et al., 1997; Government of South Australia, 2008
-South AustraliaPresentNativeLazarides et al., 1997; Government of South Australia, 2008
-VictoriaPresentNativeLazarides et al., 1997; Government of South Australia, 2008
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeLazarides et al., 1997; Government of South Australia, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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Due to the uncertainty over the natural distribution of O. cernua there are few examples of its introduction, that into Niger being perhaps the most probable, though there is no information on its history. USDA-ARS (2016) indicates ‘naturalization’ in Slovakia but it is however listed as occurring naturally in closely adjacent countries of southern Europe.

Risk of Introduction

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Species of Orobanche are listed as prohibited and/or subject to quarantine, in virtually all countries with developed plant quarantine systems. However the due to the small size of the seeds they can be readily overlooked as contaminants in crop seed or in the packaging of crop produce, etc. and hence the risks of this species being accidentally introduced is quite high.

Habitat

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Most of the weedy Orobanche species are native to the Middle East and are adapted to soils of generally high pH. They occur to some extent in wild vegetation but the weedy species are mostly associated with the crops which they attack. O. cernua requires relatively high temperatures for optimum germination and growth and the weedy form occurs mainly in irrigated or rain fed crops grown under summer conditions in sub-tropical climates. The forms parasitising wild hosts can occur in a wide range of soil types, sometimes in very dry conditions.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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The weedy form of O. cernua (var. desertorum), with which this data sheet is primarily concerned normally parasitises Solanaceae, especially Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco), S. melongena (aubergine) and occasionally S. tuberosum (potato). In very dense infestations, there can be occasional attachment of O. cernua to species of Xanthium but it is possible that this occurred after stimulation of germination by an adjacent crop. Other varieties of O. cernua are usually recorded on Asteraceae, especially species of Artemisia but are also recorded on species of Galinsoga and Senecio. Helianthus annuus (sunflower) is usually attacked by the closely related species O. cumana rather but O. cernua has been recorded on sunflower in China (Daniel M. Joel, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Israel, personal communication, 2016). Other crops which are attacked by O. cernua locally include Olea europaea (olive) in Jordan (Qasem, 2011), species of Capsicum (pepper) in Kenya, (Mwangi, 1999), Prunus armeniaca and P. persica in Jordan (Qasem, 2009), Cuminum cyminum (cumin) and Plantago ovata in Rajasthan, India (Maharshi, 2001).

A study on the mitochondrial activity in O. cernua from different hosts recorded this species on Petunia hybrida, Solanum nigrum and Datura metel (Singh, 2007).

Growth Stages

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

Symptoms

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O. cernua does not cause very distinctive symptoms but may cause some wilting, yellowing and necrosis of the foliage and a general weakening of the plant, with reduced fruit production. Hibberd et al. (1998) have shown that the damaging effect on Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) is proportional to the weight of the parasite, while surprisingly, the carbon fixation by the host was increased by 20%. Under drought conditions there may be more serious reduction of crop growth.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / reduced size
Leaves / wilting
Leaves / yellowed or dead
Whole plant / dwarfing
Whole plant / early senescence

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of O. cernua is 2n = 38 (Missouri Botanic Garden, 2016) but Musselman (1986) indicates that 2n = 24 may also occur. Hybridisation with O. cumana is possible.

Reproductive Biology

O. cernua is self-pollinated, having a very pronounced form of autogamy in which anthers shed pollen onto the stigma several nodes above the open flowers (Musselman et al., 1982). Seeds are produced in very large numbers and remain viable in soil for many years. There is evidence for other Orobanche species, of seeds surviving at least 10-13 years and possibly longer. It would seem likely that the same would apply to O. cernua. However, in India, it is claimed that populations affecting Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) can be reduced by three years of clean weeding, suggesting shorter longevity under those local conditions.

Physiology and Phenology

O. cernua is an obligate parasite, needing to establish a connection to a host root within a few days of germination. The seed is minute (approximately 0.2 x 0.4 mm), from which only the radicle emerges and this can grow only a few mm long. A chemical stimulus is needed to trigger Orobanche germination. This stimulus normally comes from host roots. Therefore, Orobanche normally only germinates when a host root is nearby. However, a moist environment is required (for several days) together with suitable temperatures, before the mature seed is responsive to germination stimulants. This preparatory period is known as conditioning or preconditioning. Conditioned seeds remain responsive to germination stimulants for a limited period beyond which secondary dormancy may be induced, especially at lower than optimal temperatures (Weldeghiorghis and Murdoch, 1997; Kebreab and Murdoch, 1999a). The ability to respond to germination stimuli also fades gradually when the seeds dry and they then remain dormant until reconditioned (Timko et al., 1989; Joel et al., 1995). Detailed studies of the effects of different temperature and moisture regimes on the germination and viability of O. cernua have been reported by Kebreab and Murdoch (1999a; 199b). Optimum temperatures for conditioning and germination of O. cernua are in the region of 15-25°C (Foy et al., 1991). The stimulus exuded by host roots may be one or more strigolactones, including orobanchol and solanacoil.

On contact with the host root, a swelling, the haustorium, is formed and intrusive cells penetrate through the cortex to the vascular bundle to establish connection with the host xylem. This process is assisted by the exudation of pectolytic enzymes (Losner-Goshen et al., 1998). The parasite develops into a tubercle on the surface of the root, developing to a diameter of 5-20 mm. Secondary roots may develop on the tubercle and make separate contacts with the host root system. After several weeks, the tubercle develops a flowering shoot which emerges above the soil.

Species of Orobanche depend totally on their hosts for all nutrition, drawing sugars and nitrogen compounds from the phloem and also drawing most of their water from the host xylem. The parasite becomes an active sink, comparable to an actively growing part of the host plant itself, such that effects on the host are generally proportional to the biomass of the parasite. Thus the mass of the parasite is reflected in a very similar loss in mass of the host crop (Hibberd et al., 1998; Hibberd et al., 1999). Photosynthesis in the host may even be stimulated initially. Hibberd et al. (1999) showed that net fixation of carbon was 20% higher in infected N. tabacum compared with uninfected controls. However, O. cernua caused an 84% increase in net carbon flux moving downward from the shoot and 73% of this carbon was intercepted by O. cernua, almost entirely through the phloem.

Environmental Requirements

O. cernua requires temperatures of at least 15-20°C for germination and is associated with host crops requiring at least these temperatures. Hence it is a weed of at least warm temperate to sub-tropical conditions. Soils must be moist for conditioning and germination but are otherwise not critical. It is most common in relatively alkaline soils but can occur in others. Germination of O. cernua is quite sensitive to ammonium levels (Westwood and Foy, 1999).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
0-45 35-40

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Athelia rolfsii Pathogen Galdames and Diaz, 2010
Fusarium arthrosporioides Pathogen Bedi, 1994
Fusarium oxysporum Pathogen Seedlings Thomas et al., 1999
Fusarium solani Pathogen
Phytomyza orobanchia Predator Fruits/pods/Stems Elzein et al., 1999

Notes on Natural Enemies

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O. cernua is widely affected by the mining fly Phytomyza orobanchia. In Ethiopia it was estimated that over 70% of capsules of O. cernua were damaged at one location (Elzein et al., 1999).

Pathogens of O. cernua have been widely studied and Fusarium oxysporum and F. arthrosporioides have shown some potential as biocontrol agents (Bedi, 1994; Thomas et al., 1999; Amsellem et al., 2001). A study in Jordon showed highest pathogenicity from a species of Cylindrocladium, Fusarium, F. oxysporum and F. solani. These organisms caused total necrosis of inoculated stem tissues. A species of Epicoccum was found to cause moderate damage (60% severity) (Goussous et al., 2009). A previous report of Sclerotium rolfsii [Athelia rolfsii] parasitising O. cernua has also been made. The high susceptibility of Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) plants to this isolate precludes the use of this pathogen as a biological control agent against O. cernua (Galdames and Diaz, 2010). 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Natural dispersal of O. cernua can occur locally by wind or by water.

Vector Transmission

Seeds of species of Orobanche can survive passage through livestock, as well as adhering to feet and fur and are those of O. cernua are thus very likely to be moved by cattle or sheep (Jacobsohn et al., 1987; Ginman et al., 2015).

Accidental Introduction

The accidental introduction of O. cernua can occur locally via the movement of soil on vehicles or over long distances via contaminated crop seed, or plant parts in e.g. hay.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Growing medium accompanying plants seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Roots seeds Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative

Economic Impact

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The economic impact of O. cernua is unknown. However, species of Orobanche depend totally on their hosts for all nutrition, drawing sugars and nitrogen compounds from the phloem and also drawing most of their water from the host xylem. The parasite becomes an active sink, comparable to an actively growing part of the host plant itself, such that effects on the host are generally proportional to the biomass of the parasite. Thus the mass of the parasite is reflected in a very similar loss in mass of the host crop (Hibberd et al., 1998; Hibberd et al., 1999). Holm et al. (1979) recorded O. cernua as a 'principal' or 'serious' weed in Arabia, Egypt, India, Italy, Iran, Nepal and Pakistan. Most of these records probably relate to the form attacking Solanaceae, with Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) being the most widely affected followed by Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) and S. melongena (aubergine). Parker and Wilson (1986) record it as a problem on Solanceae in Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In Ethiopia, the viability of tomato juice factories has been threatened by reduced yields, resulting from both O. ramosa and O. cernua (Parker, 1988). In Kenya, O. cernua has now been identified attacking tomato and species of Capsicum (pepper) (Mwangi, 1999). In India, yield losses of 24-52% are recorded in tobacco, with additional loss due to reduction in leaf quality (Krishnamurthy et al., 1977; Ramachandra et al., 2015). O. cernua is also a major problem for tobacco in Pakistan (Shah and Khan, 2006).

Social Impact

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The social impact of O. cernua is related to the economic hardship created by reduced yields to farmers.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Detection and Inspection

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It is possible to determine the level of O. cernua seeds in the soil by sieving the lighter, organic matter and the portion between 0.1 and 0.5 mm studied under a dissecting microscope for the presence of the characteristically sculpted seeds. Jacobsohn and Marcus (1988) have developed a method to check for the contamination of crop seed stocks which involves washing and sieving material a number of times. The presence of Orobanche seeds can be determined on the surface of the lower sieve, with the help of a dissection microscope.

Molecular techniques have also been developed for the detection of O. cumana seeds and the results of this assay can be expressed in terms of the number of O. cumana seeds per kilogram of crop seeds and can help decisions regarding crop seed lot utilisation and commercialisation (Dongo et al., 2012).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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O. cernua (and O. cumana) are distinguished from the related species O. ramosa and O. aegyptiaca by the absence of bracteoles and the lack of branching above ground, while they are much less robust than O. crenata. The closest of other common weedy species in size and morphology is O. minor, but the latter has distinct veins in the corolla and wider-spreading lips. Useful keys for identification are provided by Chater and Webb (1972) and Parker (2013).

Morphological differences between typical O. cernua and O. cumana include height 15-30 cm, flowers 10-20 mm, inflorescence dense and filaments and anthers virtually glabrous in O. cernua, whereas for O. cumana the height is 40-60 cm, flowers 20-30 mm, inflorescence lax, the filaments and anthers are hairy and the flowers are conspicuously longer and more down-curved. These differences are illustrated by Pujadas-Salva and Thalouarn (1998). The two species may also be distinguished on the basis of DNA markers, even from individual seeds (Joel et al., 1998) and on the basis of seed-borne oils, O. cumana containing much higher levels of linoleic acid than typical O. cernua (Pujadas-Salva and Velasco, 2000).

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.

Prevention

SPS Measures

Most countries prohibit the entry of major parasitic weed species, including species of Orobanche. Phytosanitary measures are aimed at preventing the spread of viable seeds by minimizing the movement of infested soil by farm machinery and vehicles, preventing livestock grazing on infested plant material, treating manure (e.g. composting) and avoiding the use of hay made of Orobanche infested plants (Jacobsohn, 1984). The use of Orobanche infested crop seeds should also be avoided.

Control

Cultural Control

Hand-weeding of emerged stems of O. cernua is often too late to prevent crop damage but may be worthwhile where infestations are still light, to prevent or reduce future infestations. The stems should immediately be removed from the field to preclude seed shed after pulling.
Trap crops may be used to promote germination of Orobanche seeds in soil, without themselves supporting parasitism, in order to deplete the seed reserve. Examples of trap crops for O. cernua include species of Sorghum, Vigna unguiculata (cowpea), Capsicum annuum (chilli), Cannabis sativa (hemp), Linum usitatissimum (linseed), Medicago sativa (lucerne), Glycine max (soybean), Cicer arietinum (chickpea) (Parker and Riches, 1993), Crotalaria juncea (sunn hemp) and Vigna radiata (mung bean) (Dhanapal and Struik, 1996). While trap crops rarely provide high levels of control, they should be considered in any integrated control approach.

Soil solarisation, based on mulching moist soil with polyethylene sheets for several weeks under solar irradiation, can provide excellent levels of control of Orobanche seeds in the upper soil layers where temperatures are high enough (Jacobsohn et al., 1980) and this has been confirmed in a number of studies involving O. cernua (Parker and Riches, 1993; Meti and Hosmani, 1994).

Host-Plant Resistance

There has been little progress on enhancing resistance in crops attacked by O. cernua however, resistant varieties of Helianthus annuus (sunflower) has been developed for the closely related species O. cumana. Some variation in the susceptibility towards O. cernua has been reported in both Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) (Alonso, 1998; Cubero, 1991; Parker and Riches, 1993; Cubero, 1994), but there has been little evidence that resistance in these crops is proving of practical usefulness. Nagarajan and Reddy (2001) screened over 100 varieties of tobacco and failed to find any that were resistant.

A mutant of tomato, SI-ORT1, produced by fast-neutron mutagenesis from the standard processing variety M82 shows resistance to O.cernua and related species characterised by its inability to secrete strigolactones. This character is controlled by a single recessive gene and is of potential value for further breeding work (Dor et al., 2010). Subsequently, the same group used ethyl methane sulfonate to cause more refined point mutations in M82 tomato and have 8 lines highly resistant to Orobanche species, again lacking strigolactone secretion. Although these yield equally with M82, there are problems of fruit quality (Dor et al., 2013).

Induced Resistance

A recent development has been the demonstration of induced resistance in Helianthus annuus (sunflower) resulting from seed treatment with the benzothiadiazole compound known as 'BTH'. This treatment greatly reduces subsequent attack by O. cernua, apparently due to the enhanced production of the phytoalexin scopoletin and/or hydrogen peroxide in the crop roots (Sauerborn et al., 2002).

Chemical Control

In Iran, sulfosulforon directed to the soil 20 days after transplanting proved partially selective for control of O. cernua and of other weeds in tomato (Bazgir et al., 2013). In India, Prabhakaran et al. (2009) achieved good control with post emergence application of imazethapyr 55 days after transplanting. For N. tabacum, the use of glyphosate applying at 40 and 60 days after planting has been reported to reduce the levels of O. cernua (Jinga et al., 2006).

More recently it has also been shown that post-emergence application of maleic hydrazide can provide selective control of O. aegyptiaca in S. lycopersicum (Herschenhorn et al., 2015). Dor et al. (2015) report on the use of chemical mutagenesis to create a tomato line HRT-1 that is resistant to several groups of ALS inhibiting herbicides, including imidazolinones. Thus imazapic and imazapyr can be safely used to cause complete suppression of Orobanche seeds Field tests at very high doses of herbicide have caused no yield reduction.

Biological Control

The fly Phytomyza orobanchia has been used for biological control of species of Orobanche in the past (Kroschel and Klein, 1999) but there is no evidence that there are currently any deliberate efforts to exploit this organism for control of O. cernua. Promising results have been reported by several groups studying the potential of a species of Fusarium for biocontrol of O. cumana (Bedi, 1994; Amsellem et al., 2001; Iliev et al., 1998) but no practical recommendations have yet emerged.

Seed treatment with Penicillium oxalicum followed by soil drenches after 25 and 50 days gave 80% reduction in O. cernua (misidentified as O. crenata) (Pathak and Kannan, 2015).

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24/02/2016 Updated by:

Christ Parker, Consultant, UK

20/03/2002 Original text by:

Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

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