Alhagi maurorum (camelthorn)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Alhagi maurorum Medik.
Preferred Common Name
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
- ALHGR (Alhagi graecorum)
- ALHMA (Alhagi maurorum)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Taxonomic TreeTop 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 NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|South Africa||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: 1890s|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Bihar||Present||Native||Original citation: Saraswat & Rabha, 1993|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present||Native|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present||Native||Original citation: Saraswat & Rabha, 1993|
|United Arab Emirates||Present|
|Russia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present, Localized||Introduced|
|-South Australia||Present, Localized||Introduced||1922||Planted|
|-Western Australia||Present, Localized||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Deserts||Present, no further details|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet)||Poaceae||Main|
|Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Trifolium resupinatum (Shaftal clover)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
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).
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).
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 RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|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|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||4||11||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||50||1000||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
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.
The roots are cut into small pieces by cultivation equipment; this can spread plants to new locations.
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 VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
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 FactorsTop of page
- 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
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Produces spines, thorns or burrs
- 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
UsesTop of page
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/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
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).
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.
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).
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).
ReferencesTop of page
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