Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Alhagi maurorum



Alhagi maurorum (camelthorn)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Alhagi maurorum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • camelthorn
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. maurorum and one or more of its synonyms are listed as a noxious weed in seven states of USA and it has been declared a state prohibited weed in Victoria, Australia and a regulated invasive species in South Africa. A. maurorum has been introduced...

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A. maurorum is a small perennial thorny shrub, intricately branched, generally growing to 1 m tall. The greenish stems bear numerous axillary spreading spines, green, 2-4 cm long with yellow tips.
TitleVegetative shoot
CaptionA. maurorum is a small perennial thorny shrub, intricately branched, generally growing to 1 m tall. The greenish stems bear numerous axillary spreading spines, green, 2-4 cm long with yellow tips.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
A. maurorum is a small perennial thorny shrub, intricately branched, generally growing to 1 m tall. The greenish stems bear numerous axillary spreading spines, green, 2-4 cm long with yellow tips.
Vegetative shootA. maurorum is a small perennial thorny shrub, intricately branched, generally growing to 1 m tall. The greenish stems bear numerous axillary spreading spines, green, 2-4 cm long with yellow tips.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Partially excavated shoot of A. maurorum, showing deep root system, Pakistan. The root system may be more than 2 m deep with a lateral spread of greater than 8 m.
TitleDeep root system
CaptionPartially excavated shoot of A. maurorum, showing deep root system, Pakistan. The root system may be more than 2 m deep with a lateral spread of greater than 8 m.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Partially excavated shoot of A. maurorum, showing deep root system, Pakistan. The root system may be more than 2 m deep with a lateral spread of greater than 8 m.
Deep root systemPartially excavated shoot of A. maurorum, showing deep root system, Pakistan. The root system may be more than 2 m deep with a lateral spread of greater than 8 m.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Alhagi maurorum Medik.

Preferred Common Name

  • camelthorn

Other Scientific Names

  • Alhagi camelorum Fischer
  • Alhagi canescens (Regel) Keller & Shap.
  • Alhagi graecorum Boiss.
  • Alhagi kirghisorum Schrenk
  • Alhagi mannifera Jaub & Spach
  • Alhagi persarum Boiss. & Buhse
  • Alhagi pseudalhagi Desv.
  • Alhagi tournefortii Heldr.
  • Hedysarum alhagi L.
  • Hedysarum pseudalhagi M. Bieb.

International Common Names

  • English: camel thorn bush; Caspian manna; Persian manna
  • French: alhagi des Maures

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Kameldorn, Manna-; Mannastrauch
  • India: bharbhara; jawasa
  • Israel: manna
  • Italy: lupinella alhagi; manna di Persia
  • South Africa: kameeldoringbos; volstruisdoring

EPPO code

  • ALHGR (Alhagi graecorum)
  • ALHMA (Alhagi maurorum)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page A. maurorum and one or more of its synonyms are listed as a noxious weed in seven states of USA and it has been declared a state prohibited weed in Victoria, Australia and a regulated invasive species in South Africa. A. maurorum has been introduced as contaminant of fodder and spread by livestock. It is a most hardy and aggressive species and it is very difficult to eradicate and manage the established populations because of its extensive root system. Infestations of A. maurorum where introduced need to be removed by depleting the nutrient reserves of the root system or by using appropriate cultural techniques and controlling the spread of seeds as contaminant of crop seeds.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Alhagi
  •                                     Species: Alhagi maurorum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page On the basis of examination of numerous specimens of Alhagi, the Kew Bulletin confirms that the genus has only one single variable species, A. maurorum (Awmack and Lock, 2002). All synonyms mentioned in different flora and research papers are thus included in this datasheet, including A. camelorum (Duthie, 1961; Maheshwari, 1963), A. graecorum (Dafni and Lev, 2002), A. mannifera (Thalen, 1979), A. persarum, A. pseudalhagi (Kerr et al., 1965; Singh et al., 1990), and A. tournefortii. These synonyms often refer to populations where plants vary in height, fruit size and branching pattern of shoots depending upon soil and climatic conditions. However, ILDIS (2002) includes four separate species, A. canescens, A. graecorum, A. kirghisorum and A. maurorum, treated together here, but this indicates that the taxonomy within the genus may yet be revised.


Top of page A. maurorum is a small perennial thorny shrub, intricately branched, generally growing to 1 m tall. It has roots that may penetrate to 5-7 m deep, and up to 15 m near the Dead Sea (Oppenheimer, 1951; King, 1974). Rhizomes are present on the root system which may be more than 2 m deep with a lateral spread of greater than 8 m (Ambasht, 1963; CDFA, 2001) and root nodules are reported to be present (Zahran, 1998). The greenish stems bear numerous axillary spreading spines, green, 2-4 cm long with yellow tips. The leaves are alternate, simple, entire, elliptic to obovate, 7-20 mm long with short petioles 1-2 mm long and stipules 1 mm long. The upper surface of leaves is yellow-green, coriaceous, the lower surface is bluish-green and slightly hairy. The flowers are pink to maroon, approximately 10 mm long with a short slender pedicel. The number of flowers varies from 1 to 6 arising from the axillary spines. The fruit is a small pod, 20-30 mm long, falcate, constricted between the seeds, glabrous and reddish brown in colour on maturity. The seed pods are non-dehiscent; seeds are reniform, blackish brown and polished. Morphology is quite variable depending on environmental conditions with thorns smaller and fewer and leaves larger and more numerous in moister climates.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


Top of page The native range of A. maurorum ranges from Cyprus and Egypt in the east to Mongolia in the west, and south to India and Saudi Arabia (ILDIS, 2002). It has been introduced to Australia, South Africa and the USA.

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 ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


AfghanistanWidespreadNative Not invasive FAO, 2002; ILDIS, 2002
ArmeniaPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
AzerbaijanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
BahrainPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-XinjiangPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-BiharPresentNative Not invasive Natural Saraswat & Rabha, 1993
-ChandigarhPresentNative Not invasive Natural Brandis, 1972
-DelhiPresentNative Not invasive Natural Maheshwari, 1963
-GujaratPresentNative Not invasive Natural Brandis, 1972
-HaryanaPresentNative Not invasive Natural Jain et al., 2000
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Not invasive Natural Bamber, 1916
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Not invasive Natural Bamber, 1916
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Natural Saraswat & Rabha, 1993
-RajasthanPresentNative Not invasive Natural Bhandari, 1978
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Not invasive Natural Ambasht, 1963
IranPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
IraqPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
IsraelPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
JordanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
KazakhstanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
KuwaitPresentNative Not invasive Malallah et al., 2001; ILDIS, 2002
KyrgyzstanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
LebanonPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
MongoliaPresentNative Not invasive Natural Wang et al., 2001
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
SyriaPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
TajikistanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
TurkmenistanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
United Arab EmiratesPresent Not invasive Al Masoum, 1998
UzbekistanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
YemenPresentAli et al., 2005


EgyptPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
South AfricaRestricted distributionIntroduced1890s Invasive Jooste, 1965; Bromilow, 2001

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaPresentIntroduced Invasive Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced1915 Invasive Shwartz et al., 1996; Bottel, 1933; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-ColoradoPresentIntroduced Invasive Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-IdahoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-NevadaPresentIntroduced Invasive Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced1915 Invasive Bottel, 1933; Tellman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-TexasPresentIntroduced Invasive Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-UtahPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2002
-WashingtonRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002


CyprusPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002
Czech RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Pysek et al., 2002
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Southern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Goncharov et al., 2001; ILDIS, 2002
-Western SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive Natural ILDIS, 2002


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesRestricted distributionIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003
-South AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroduced1922 Planted Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-TasmaniaRestricted distributionIntroduced Planted Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced1919 Invasive Parsons, 1992; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003
-Western AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page It had been introduced from Asia to California and New Mexico, USA before 1915 (Bottel, 1933; Tellman, 1996). It came in packaging materials around date palm offshoots and probably also with shipments of alfalfa seed. It spread in the Napa Valley, California through seeds carried in water as well as by vegetative propagation. It became a noxious weed in date palm plantations in California and Arizona, from where it spread to the Gila River and as far as the San Juan River in Utah. It was already listed as a noxious weed in California in 1920. The populations became naturalized near Gillespie Dam along the Gila River in 1940. There it grows along irrigation canals, on abandoned ranches with many old palm trees as well as in alfalfa fields (Tellman, 1996). It spread in hay to Washington and was declared a noxious weed there in 1955. A. maurorum is listed as a noxious weed in a number of US states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Washington (Whitson, 1991; Zimmerman, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2002; USDA-APHIS, 2003). A. maurorum has become naturalized in localized arid areas of the Northern and Western Cape in South Africa (Jooste, 1965). It was thought to have been first noticed at a horse station near Oudtshoorn in the 1890s, and probably arrived as a contaminant of imported fodder (Bromilow, 2001). A. pseudalhagi (A. maurorum) has also been reported as a constituent of alien flora in Czech Republic (Pysek et al., 2002). It was first noted in Victoria, Australia in 1915 and was considered naturalized by 1919; and was discovered in South Australia in 1922 (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page A. maurorum has been introduced to new areas mainly as a result of seed contamination of crop and fodder seeds and is then spread by livestock or agricultural practices that break the root system into fragments. It is possible that further introduction may be likely as a seed contaminant. There are no known cases of intentional introduction.


Top of page A. maurorum is an important constituent of halophytic vegetation of inland salt marshes of the western deserts of Egypt including the Siwa and Dakhla Oases (Abd el Ghani, 2000), also growing in dry salt marshes in Ayoum Musa, south western Sinai, Egypt (Olama and Shehata, 1993). In the central Saudi Arabia region of Kharj, having rainfall as low as 54 mm per year, A. maurorum has been reported to grow on disturbed lands, dry river beds and dunes (Shaltout and Mady, 1996). In steppe vegetation, in the central and upper Jezira in Iraq receiving 150-300 mm annual rainfall, A. maurorum occurs on a range of soils from silty loams to clays as well as saline depressions (Thalen, 1979). In the northern plains of Afghanistan with a warm Mediterranean climate, A. maurorum is a widespread colonizer on disturbed lands (FAO, 2002) and is common in low-lying steppe vegetation. In the sand dune vegetation of Cholistan, Pakistan with 128-178 mm annual rainfall, it occurs on coarse-textured to clay soils with a pH of 8.3-8.5, and on stabilized sand dunes in shady sites. In Quetta and Quetta-pishin districts of Pakistan, A. maurorum has been reported on calcareous wastelands (Alikayani et al., 1984; Tareen and Quadir, 1987). A. maurorum is found in semi-arid regions of northern India, on sandy banks of the rivers Ganges, Saraswati and Yamuna on fresh alluvial deposits rich in calcium carbonate (Ambasht, 1963) and on sandy to sandy loam soils in western and northern Rajasthan (Bhandari, 1978). In grassland vegetation at Kurukshetra, Haryana, India (800 mm annual rainfall) it grows on slightly calcareous and loamy soils with a pH of 8.5 (Singh and Yadava, 1974).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details
Deserts Present, no further details
Coastal areas Present, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page A. maurorum has been reported to be the hardiest of all weeds on the banks of the river Ganges (Ambasht, 1963; 1978), competing with wheat and mustard during winter. In association with Chrozophora rottleri, it forms a dense protective cover during the hot and dry summer (Ambasht, 1963; 1978). A. maurorum has been reported to be a problem weed in several crops in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, India (Saraswat and Rabha, 1993). A. maurorum is an important weed of wheat in Sukhur district, Pakistan, (Rahmatullah-Qureshi and Bhatti, 2001) and Uzbekistan (Allanazarova, 1967). A. maurorum has been reported invading lucerne fields in Oudtshoorn district, Cape Province, South Africa (Jooste, 1965). It has been found in pastures, rangeland, irrigated croplands, date palm plantations, alfalfa fields and citrus groves in Victoria, Australia (Parsons, 1992). It also grows in fallow fields of shaffal (Trifolium resupinatum) in Afghanistan (FAO, 2002).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Genetics

The chromosome number is 2n=16 (Al-Turki et al., 2000; Malallah et al., 2001). There are no records of hybridization of A. maurorum with related species in the USA (CDFA, 2001) or in its native range.

Physiology and Phenology

Singh and Yadava (1974) have reported phenological stages of A. maurorum from tropical grassland in India where buds sprout from rhizomes in October and show extensive vegetative growth in the winter months from October to February with flowering in March and April. A. maurorum grows steadily throughout the winter months and attains maximum biomass in May, becoming dominant when other plants are senesced (Singh and Yadava, 1974). At the time of peak growth, plant biomass was uniformly distributed in the middle and upper portions of the plant and A. maurorum contributed 28.5% of total plant biomass of the grassland system during summer (Singh and Yadava, 1974). Underground parts form a system of horizontal and vertical roots at a depth of 1-2 m or greater; new shoots regenerating during winter from the dormant buds on the rhizomes (Ambasht, 1963). The sprouting of reproductive buds was enhanced by shoot injury which was not affected by light or aeration (Ambasht, 1963).

In Victoria, Australia, seeds germinate and new shoots from underground lateral roots are produced in the spring, flowering occurs during spring and summer and top growth dies down in autumn (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Under temperate climates in the USA, plants are deciduous in winter because the above-ground parts are killed by frost and sprouts start developing from the roots in spring (Zimmerman, 1996).

Reproductive Biology

A. maurorum is self fertile and produces a large number of flowers during hot and dry conditions, whereas flowering is limited under moist and shady conditions (CDFA, 2001). About 20% of flowers produce fruits and total production is approximately 6000 seeds per plant. In the sub-humid monsoon climate of the upper Gangetic plains, seeds of A. maurorum showed a dormancy of 5-6 months, seed germination exceeded 20% although with very high seedling mortality (Ambasht, 1963). Low seed germination has also been reported by Zimmerman (1996) and CDFA (2001). Fruits are formed in May in India, which remain attached on the spines of the plants throughout the rainy season when most leaves are shed. Seeds may remain viable in the soil for many years (Kerr et al., 1965) because of the hard, thick seed coat (Bottel, 1933) and viability has been reported to be as long in dry soil as compared to moist soil (CDFA, 2001). The plant reproduces by seeds, but spreads primarily by vegetative propagation. The optimum temperature for seed germination is 25-27ºC (Kerr et al., 1965). Seeds are made water permeable by passage through the digestive tracts of ruminants, enhancing germination as well as helping to deposit them in moist and manured environments and many seedlings fail to survive without being embedded in manure (Kerr et al., 1965).

A. maurorum has been found to regenerate easily in tissue culture (Bharal and Rashid, 1981) and has been genetically transformed using Agrobacterium rhizogenes to produce hairy roots from cotyledon and hypocotyl segments (Wang et al., 2001). From the callus of hairy roots, fertile plants regenerated with normal leaf morphology, stem growth and shallow extensive root system (Wang et al., 2001), but Hassanein and Mazen (2001) found that regenerated explants showed low potential for bud or callus formation. The regeneration of plants from the callus culture could have potential in breeding drought- and salt-resistant forage crops for arid and semi-arid regions (Wang et al., 2001).

Environmental Requirements

A. maurorum is tolerant to drought, high temperatures, frost, sandstorms and salinity (Wang et al., 2001). It exhibits phreatophytic tendencies, preferring a high water table such as in saline meadows (Jian Ni, 2001), riverbanks (Ambasht, 1963) and fallow croplands. It can grow under a range of soil conditions including sand, silt and clay though it prefers calcareous soils, and grows at altitudes up to 1000 m.


In Steppe lands in Asia, A. maurorum is commonly associated with Zizyphus spinsa-christi, Lagonychium farctum (=Prosopis farcta) and Cynodon dactylon (Shaltout and Mady, 1996). In China, A. maurorum has been reported to grow along with Aeluropus littoralis var. sinensis, Suaeda salsa, Leymus chinense, Hordeum brevisubulatum, Achnatherum splendens, Leymus dasystachys, Phragmites communis and Poacynum hendersonii in halophytic grass and forb meadows (Jian Ni, 2001). It is a common constituent in grassland vegetation in Haryana, India (Singh and Yadava, 1974) and forms an association with Chrozophora rottleri during the summer (Ambasht, 1963, 1978). A. maurorum is the most common species among the 350 species of Leguminosae recorded from Afghanistan and it commonly grows in low-lying steppe vegetation forming almost pure stands in the Balkh/Mazar region (FAO, 2002), or found with an open vegetation of Artemisia herba-alba, other Artemsia spp., Acantholimon spp., Acanthophyllum spp., Atriplex spp., Cousinia spp. and Zygophyllum spp. in the west and south of the country. In Iraq, A. maurorum grows with Artemisia scoparia, Achillea conferata, Lagonchium farctum (=Prosopis farcta) and Peganum harmala and is common in Tamarix spp. - Aeluropus lagopoides vegetation communities (Thalen, 1979).

A. maurorum is the dominant low shrub in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) in the summer months (Al Masoum, 1998). In Syria, A. maurorum has been reported to grow in saline oases with Tamarix spp, Salicornia herbacea, Salsola crassa, Aleuropus littoralis and Juncus maritinus (FAO, 2002). In the saline desert area of Arava valley, Israel, A. maurorum grows with Nitraria retusa which is an important habitat for the gazelle, Gazella dorcas which also feeds on young leaves and twigs of A. maurorum in the autumn and winter (Baharav, 1980). In the salt marshes of Sinai, Egypt, A. maurorum grows with Cressa cretica, Netraria retusa and Tamarix nilotica (Olama and Shehata, 1993) and in the Mediterranean vegetation of the Nile delta, A. maurorum is the dominant vegetation in one of the nine major groups of vegetation found there (Mashaly, 2001).

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
50 20 0 0

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -16 0
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 0 0
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 0 0
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0 0


Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration411number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall501000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page In Iraq, Rassoul et al. (1988) reported five insect species attacking seeds of A. graecorum (=A. maurorum): Tychius morawitizi, T. winkleri, T. urbanus, Bruchidius fulvus and Bruchophagus mutabilis. These insects preferentially attacked A. graecorum (=A. maurorum) and most damage was inflicted by Tychius spp.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Seeds and root pieces can be spread long distances by water and high winds (Richardson, 1953). Under dry conditions, high winds may blow the aerial parts as a 'tumble weed'. Plants regenerate from transplanted ramets forming a lateral spread of 4-5 m in 4-5 years, with new shoots tending to grow in ever-wider circles (Ambasht, 1963, 1968).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seeds are dispersed primarily by livestock through the grazing of the pods of mature plants by cattle, sheep, horses and camels. In natural infestations, seedlings have been observed mainly in cattle manure; dispersal by cattle is thought to be the major cause of dispersal as digestive scarification stimulates germination and the manure provides suitable conditions for seedling establishment (Kerr et al., 1965). Dispersal by the consumption of pods by wild animals is also probable though no evidence is presented.

Agricultural Practices

The roots are cut into small pieces by cultivation equipment; this can spread plants to new locations.

Accidental Introduction

Seeds may spread as a contaminant of crop or fodder seeds, notably alfalfa (Zimmerman, 1996) and this means is thought to have been the principal route of introduction to Australia, South Africa and the USA. It has also been introduced accidentally into the USA in packing materials (Bottel, 1933).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehiclesShipment Yes
Plants or parts of plantsAlfalfa seeds; date palm offshoots Yes
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds carried by water Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods)
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Positive
Livestock production Positive
Native fauna Positive
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


Top of page A. maurorum occurs as a weed throughout its native range though there are no data on actual economic costs. Where introduced in Australia, A. maurorum is considered one of the three most troublesome weeds, because when plants are mechanically weeded, stems and roots break off readily spreading the species to waste places and agricultural fields (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). A. maurorum is a potential weed host for Cuscuta spp. in the Middle East (Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq) and the high incidence of Cuscuta in sugarbeet fields is facilitated because of the nearby presence of A. maurorum infected with Cuscuta spp. (Mamluk and Weltzien, 1978).

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page A. maurorum in its native range grows in association with many other plants, forming important and stable vegetation communities. Though it becomes a weed in wasteland, there are no reports of A. maurorum having an adverse impact on biodiversity.

In the Arava valley, Israel, A. maurorum grows with Nitraria retusa which is an important habitat for the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) and young leaves and twigs of A. maurorum are browsed in the autumn and winter (Baharav, 1980). In Galilee, Israel, A. maurorum along with Zizyphus lotus and Prosopis farcta is an important browse species for the mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) (Baharav, 1981).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • 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
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


Top of page A. maurorum plants are grazed by livestock, with forage value regarded as low in Iraq (Thalen, 1979) though it is widely cultivated in China as a highly palatable forage (Wang et al., 2001). A. maurorum is cut in late spring and used for making hay for small livestock and camels in Afghanistan (FAO, 2002) and it is also used for camel fodder in India (Bhandari, 1978). A. maurorum is collected and used locally as a source of fuel in desert regions (Thalen, 1979). In arid regions of India, dried branches are widely used in making screens after wetting, to protect land against desiccating hot winds. It is also sometimes planted for sand dune stabilization immediately after the rains.

Manna, a sugar exudate, is formed on stems and leaves and shaken from the bushes at flowering (Bamber, 1916; Brandis, 1972). In Indian markets it is sold under the name 'torajabin' and is imported from Afghanistan and Iran (Maheshwari, 1963). Today, manna is used for extracting mannitol, made into tablets and used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries to produce laxatives, diuretics and sweeteners. The composition of the polysaccharide fractions shows the presence of different types of monomeric units mainly consisting of galactose and uronic acids (Goncharov et al., 2001). The plant is used as laxative, diuretic and expectorant in India and oil is extracted from leaves for curing rheumatism (Singh et al., 1990). It is used in traditional medicine as a laxative, purgative and for curing rheumartic pains and bilharzia (El-Sayed et al., 1993). A decoction made from seeds of A. maurorum is used for curing kidney stones in the Jordan valley and throughout Israel (Fahmy, 1963; Dafni and Lev, 2002).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page A. maurorum is sometimes confused with the Russian salt tree (Halimodedron halodendron (L.) Voss), a deciduous thorny shrub introduced as an ornamental plant in the USA (CDFA, 2001). This can be distinguished from A. maurorum by having evenly pinnate compound leaves with 2-6 leaflets each and thorn-tipped branches and black seed pods which are not constricted between seeds (CDFA, 2001).

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control

Preventive measures in infested areas include the use of certified seeds and by preventing grazing and ground disturbance to reduce the spread of root fragments. Flooding can control A. maurorum by preventing oxygen availability to plant roots and has been used in infested areas by covering with 15-25 cm of water for 3 to 8 weeks in summer, being more effective in sandy soil than in clay soil (Robbins et al., 1956; Muzic, 1970).

Mechanical Control

To control the spread of A. maurorum in winter wheat, an early harvest in early June and deep ploughing before A. maurorum fruits ripen has been recommended (Allanazarova, 1967). Singh et al. (2001) have found hand weeding and weeding by a dry land weeder to be effective for controlling A. maurorum in pearl millet fields in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Chemical Control

Herbicides can control A. maurorum, but different herbicides need to be used each year to prevent populations becoming resistant. Spraying with 2,4-D at the full bud stage gave satisfactory and economic control in numerous trials (Jooste, 1965; Kerr et. al., 1965; Nir, 1982) giving up to 70% control. Nir (1982) found that dicamba either alone or in combination with 2,4-D also proved effective, as can glyphosate and fosamine (Parsons, 1992).

Biological Control

No records of any biological control are available although the potential may exist for the biological control of A. maurorum. Further investigations would yield lists of possible species for specificity trials, such as the seed-feeding insects identified in Iraq by Rassoul et al. (1988).


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