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Datasheet

Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Amaranthus spinosus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • spiny amaranth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. spinosus is a serious weed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. For instance, it is a troublesome weed in agricultural areas, pastures, and orchards in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the P...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing inflorescence. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing inflorescence. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing inflorescence. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2007.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing inflorescence. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, in residential backyard. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, in residential backyard. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, in residential backyard. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, in residential backyard. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. USA.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. USA.
Copyright©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. USA.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. USA.©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
TitleHabit.
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
Habit.Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing leaves, spines and seeds. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing leaves, spines and seeds. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing leaves, spines and seeds. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing leaves, spines and seeds. Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing characteristic spiny stems. Around residences on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing characteristic spiny stems. Around residences on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing characteristic spiny stems. Around residences on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing characteristic spiny stems. Around residences on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. May 2008.©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); flowers and stem. Mokuauia, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.
TitleFlowers
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); flowers and stem. Mokuauia, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); flowers and stem. Mokuauia, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.
FlowersAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); flowers and stem. Mokuauia, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. February 2005.©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seeds. Note scale. USA.
TitleSeeds
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seeds. Note scale. USA.
Copyright©Bruce Ackley/The Ohio State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seeds. Note scale. USA.
SeedsAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seeds. Note scale. USA.©Bruce Ackley/The Ohio State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seedling. Kawela Bridge, Molokai, Hawaii, USA. April 2012.
TitleSeedling
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seedling. Kawela Bridge, Molokai, Hawaii, USA. April 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seedling. Kawela Bridge, Molokai, Hawaii, USA. April 2012.
SeedlingAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); seedling. Kawela Bridge, Molokai, Hawaii, USA. April 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, usa. November 2006.
TitleHabit
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, usa. November 2006.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, usa. November 2006.
HabitAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit. Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, usa. November 2006.©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing white-flushed leaves Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
TitleLeaves
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing white-flushed leaves Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing white-flushed leaves Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.
LeavesAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); habit, showing white-flushed leaves Kahului Airport, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November 2006.©Forest & Kim Starr-2006 - CC BY 4.0
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); leaves alternate, broadly lanceolate to ovate, discolorous, up to 7 cm long, 4 cm wide, margins entire, base tapering to a slender petiole up to 7 cm long, with a pair of straight spines up to 1 cm long at base.
TitleLeaves and inflorescence
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); leaves alternate, broadly lanceolate to ovate, discolorous, up to 7 cm long, 4 cm wide, margins entire, base tapering to a slender petiole up to 7 cm long, with a pair of straight spines up to 1 cm long at base.
Copyright©S.D. Sawant
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); leaves alternate, broadly lanceolate to ovate, discolorous, up to 7 cm long, 4 cm wide, margins entire, base tapering to a slender petiole up to 7 cm long, with a pair of straight spines up to 1 cm long at base.
Leaves and inflorescenceAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); leaves alternate, broadly lanceolate to ovate, discolorous, up to 7 cm long, 4 cm wide, margins entire, base tapering to a slender petiole up to 7 cm long, with a pair of straight spines up to 1 cm long at base.©S.D. Sawant
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); inflorescences long, slender, terminal, with ancillary spikes in clusters, greenish; flowers unisexual, straw-coloured.
TitleInflorescence
CaptionAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); inflorescences long, slender, terminal, with ancillary spikes in clusters, greenish; flowers unisexual, straw-coloured.
Copyright©S.D. Sawant
Amaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); inflorescences long, slender, terminal, with ancillary spikes in clusters, greenish; flowers unisexual, straw-coloured.
InflorescenceAmaranthus spinosus (spiny amaranth); inflorescences long, slender, terminal, with ancillary spikes in clusters, greenish; flowers unisexual, straw-coloured.©S.D. Sawant

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Amaranthus spinosus L.

Preferred Common Name

  • spiny amaranth

Other Scientific Names

  • Amaranthus caracasanus Kunth
  • Amaranthus diacanthus Raf.
  • Galliaria spinosa (L.) Nieuwel.
  • Galliaria spitosa (L.) Nieuwl.

International Common Names

  • English: calaloo; needle burr; pigweed; prickly calaloo; prickly callau; prickly caterpillar; spiny amaranthus; spiny calaloo; spiny pigweed; sticker weed; thorny pigweed; wild callau
  • Spanish: bledo; bledo de espina; bledo espinoso; quelite espinoso
  • French: amarante épineuse; blette épineuse; brèche de Malabar; epinard malabre
  • Chinese: ci xian; tsz-hsien

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: ataco espinudo
  • Bahamas: calalue; spiny amaranth
  • Bangladesh: katanata
  • Brazil: bredo de espino; caruru de espino; caruru-bravo; caruru-de-espinho
  • Cambodia: phti banla
  • Cuba: bledo espinoso
  • El Salvador: bledo; blero; huisquilite
  • Ethiopia: aluma
  • Germany: Amarant, Dorn-; Fuchsschwanz, Dorniger; Malabar-Spinat
  • Haiti: epinard piquard; epinard sauvage; zépina piquant; zépinard piquant
  • India: bajra; chauli; kataili; kataneatia
  • Indonesia: bayam eri; bayem cikron; senggang cucuk
  • Japan: haribiyu
  • Lesser Antilles: zépinna wouj
  • Malaysia: bayam duri
  • Mauritius: brede malabar a piquants; oseille; petit trefle; trefle
  • Mexico: quelite
  • Myanmar: hin-nu-nive-tsu-bauk; tsu-gyi
  • Nigeria: tete elegun
  • Peru: yuyo macho
  • Philippines: akum; alayon; ayantoto; gitin-giting; kalitis; kalunai; orai; tadtad
  • Puerto Rico: blero espinoso
  • South Africa: doring misbredie
  • Thailand: pak-khom-nam
  • Venezuela: pira brave
  • Vietnam: dén gai
  • Zimbabwe: imbowa; mohwa-gura

EPPO code

  • AMASP (Amaranthus spinosus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. spinosus is a serious weed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. For instance, it is a troublesome weed in agricultural areas, pastures, and orchards in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific region. In those regions, it is also a serious environmental weed in disturbed sites, secondary forests, along forest edges, and around water troughs (Lemmens and Bunyapraphatsara, 1999; Motooka et al., 2003; PIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015). The plant has large thorns which make it unpalatable for grazing livestock and make weeding difficult in parts of the world where hand weeding and harvest are done by hand. Like other amaranths, it produces large numbers of seeds, which can mature after the plant has been cut, and remain viable for long periods.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Caryophyllales
  •                         Family: Amaranthaceae
  •                             Genus: Amaranthus
  •                                 Species: Amaranthus spinosus

Description

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Plants glabrous or sparsely pubescent in the distal younger parts of stems and branches. Stems erect or sometimes ascending proximally, much-branched and bushy, rarely nearly simple, 0.3-1(-2) m; each node with paired, divergent spines (modified bracts) to 1.5(-2.5) cm. Leaves: petiole ± equaling or longer than blade; blade rhombic-ovate, ovate, or ovate-lanceolate, 3-10(-15) × 1.5-6 cm, base broadly cuneate, margins entire, plane or slightly undulate, apex acute or subobtuse. Inflorescences simple or compound terminal staminate spikes and axillary subglobose mostly pistillate clusters, erect or with reflexed or nodding tips, usually green to silvery green. Bracts of pistillate flowers lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, shorter than tepals, apex attenuate. Pistillate flowers: tepals 5, obovate-lanceolate or spatulate-lanceolate, equal or subequal, 1.2-2 mm, apex mucronate; styles erect or spreading; stigmas 3. Staminate flowers: often terminal or in proximal glomerules; tepals 5, equal or subequal, 1.7-2.5 mm; stamens 5. Utricles ovoid to subglobose, 1.5-2.5 mm, membranaceous proximally, wrinkled and spongy or inflated distally, irregularly dehiscent or indehiscent. Seeds black, lenticular or subglobose, 0.7-1 mm diameter, smooth, shiny (Flora of North America, 2015).

The striated, often reddish, stem with two sharp, long spines at the base of the petioles, and the fruit which opens by a line around the centre are distinguishing characteristics of this species.

Plant Type

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Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution

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The native distribution range of A. spinosus is uncertain. It is probably a native of tropical America and was introduced into other warmer parts of the world. It extends into the temperate zone in Japan and the USA. It is a problem weed principally around the Caribbean Sea, the west and south of Africa, around the Bay of Bengal and in East and South-East Asia from Japan to Indonesia. With minor exceptions its range extends from latitude 30°N to 30°S (Holm et al., 1991).

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

BangladeshPresentHolm et al., 1991; Kumar et al., 2014
BhutanPresentParker, 1992
CambodiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
ChinaPresentHolm et al., 1977; Wang et al., 1990
-AnhuiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuizhouPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HebeiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Hong KongPresentHolm et al., 1977
-HubeiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HunanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ShaanxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ShanxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-SichuanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Orchard, 1993
IndiaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Kumar et al., 2014Naturalized
-KeralaPresentIntroducedKumar et al., 2014Naturalized
-OdishaPresentIntroducedKumar et al., 2014Naturalized
-SikkimPresentIntroducedKumar et al., 2014Naturalized
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedKumar et al., 2014Naturalized
IndonesiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
IsraelPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Mito and Uesugi, 2004
Korea, DPRPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
MaldivesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993
NepalPresentHolm et al., 1977; Kumar et al., 2014
PakistanPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1977; Flora of Pakistan, 2015Listed as casual in temperate regions of the country and as a weed elsewhere
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse, 1993
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedKumar et al., 2014Naturalized
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
ThailandPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
VietnamPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Waterhouse, 1993

Africa

AngolaPresentHolm et al., 1991; PROTA, 2015
BeninPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
BotswanaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
BurundiPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
CameroonPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
Côte d'IvoirePresentHolm et al., 1977
EgyptPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
EthiopiaPresentStroud and Parker, 1989
GambiaPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
GhanaWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
GuineaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
KenyaPresentHolm et al., 1977; PROTA, 2015
LiberiaPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
MadagascarPresentHolm et al., 1977; PROTA, 2015
MalawiPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
MaliPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1977; PIER, 2015
MozambiquePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
NamibiaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
NigerPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; Holm et al., 1977
NigeriaPresentHolm et al., 1991; PROTA, 2015
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
SenegalPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
South AfricaPresentHolm et al., 1977; PROTA, 2015
SwazilandPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
TanzaniaPresentHolm et al., 1977
TogoPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; PROTA, 2015
UgandaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
ZambiaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015

North America

CanadaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
MexicoWidespreadHolm et al., 1991; Davidse et al., 2015
USA
-AlabamaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-ArkansasPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ConnecticutPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-DelawarePresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979
-District of ColumbiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-FloridaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-GeorgiaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Wagner et al., 1999
-IllinoisPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-IndianaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-IowaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-KansasPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-KentuckyPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-LouisianaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MainePresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MarylandPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MassachusettsPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MichiganPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MinnesotaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979
-MississippiPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-MissouriPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979
-NebraskaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979
-New HampshirePresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-New JerseyPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-New YorkPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-North CarolinaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-OhioPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-OklahomaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-PennsylvaniaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-Rhode IslandPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-South CarolinaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-TennesseePresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-TexasPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-VermontPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-VirginiaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-West VirginiaPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015
-WisconsinPresentCorrell and Johnston, 1979; USDA-NRCS, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
BahamasPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
BelizePresentNativeBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentNativeDavidse et al., 2015
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentNative
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1991; Davidse et al., 2015
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
HaitiPresentHolm et al., 1977; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentHolm et al., 1977; Davidse et al., 2015
JamaicaPresentHolm et al., 1991; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MartiniquePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
MontserratPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
NicaraguaPresentHolm et al., 1991; Davidse et al., 2015
PanamaPresentHolm et al., 1977; Davidse et al., 2015
Puerto RicoPresentHolm et al., 1991; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Sint EustatiusPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Sint MaartenPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St Croix, St Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentHolm et al., 1991; Zuloaga et al., 2008Probably native
BoliviaPresentNativeJørgensen et al., 2015
BrazilPresentHolm et al., 1991
-AcrePresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-AlagoasPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-AmazonasPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-BahiaPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-CearaPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Fernando de NoronhaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-MaranhaoPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Mato GrossoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-ParaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-ParanaPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-PernambucoPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-PiauiPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Rio Grande do NortePresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Santa CatarinaPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi, 1982; Marchioretto, 2014
-TocantinsPresentIntroducedMarchioretto, 2014Naturalized
ChilePresentHolm et al., 1977
ColombiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1991; Davidse et al., 2015
EcuadorPresentNativeJørgensen and León-Yánez, 1999
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008
French GuianaPresentFunk et al., 2007Listed as both native and introduced
GuyanaPresentFunk et al., 2007Listed as both native and introduced
PeruPresentHolm et al., 1991
SurinamePresentFunk et al., 2007Listed as both native and introduced
VenezuelaPresentHolm et al., 1991

Europe

AustriaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
BelgiumPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
BulgariaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
CyprusPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
DenmarkPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
FrancePresentDAISIE, 2015Casual
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
GreecePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
HungaryPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
ItalyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
LatviaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
MacedoniaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
MoldovaPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
Portugal
-MadeiraPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2015
Russian Federation
-Russia (Europe)PresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015
SpainPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2015
SwedenPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual
UkrainePresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2015Casual

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Lazarides et al., 1997
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Lazarides et al., 1997
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Lazarides et al., 1997
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Lazarides et al., 1997
FijiPresentSmith, 1981; Holm et al., 1991
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Johnston IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
New CaledoniaPresentHolm et al., 1977; MacKee, 1994
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
SamoaPresentPIER, 2015
Solomon IslandsPresentPIER, 2015
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Midway Atoll, Sand Island
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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It has been suggested that A. spinosus originates from lowland tropical South and Central America, and that it was introduced in other warmer parts of the world from about 1700 AD onwards (Lemmens and Bunyapraphatsara, 1999). Nowadays it is rarely cultivated and grows principally as a weed in crops, pastures and orchards. Thus, it is likely that it has been introduced accidentally as a contaminant in crop and pasture seeds and in agricultural machinery (PROTA, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015). In Cuba, it appears in herbarium collections made in 1900 in Havana and Isla Juventud (US National Herbarium). In Hawaii it was introduced in 1928 (Motooka et al., 2003). 

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of A. spinosus is potentially high. This species is a cosmopolitan weed and a prolific seed producer: up to 235, 000 seeds per plant have been recorded. Seeds are easily disturbed by wind, water, and animals. Consequently, the potential of this species to spread and colonize new habitats, especially in disturbed sites and waste ground, is very high. 

Habitat

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A. spinosus is found in cultivated fields, waste places, roadsides, garbage heaps and abandoned fields. It will grow both in wet or dry sites, but grows best when soil moisture levels are below field capacity. Waterlogging retards its growth. Maximum growth is obtained on soils that are high in organic matter, loamy in texture and that have sufficient nitrogen (Holm et al., 1977).

A. spinosus often grows as a weed in crops, pastures, orchards, disturbed ground, along roadsides, and in secondary forests (Waterhouse, 1994). It grows in arid lowlands and moist uplands on the Galapagos Islands (McMullen, 1999). In Australia, it grows as an environmental weed in disturbed areas and rainforest and as an agricultural weed in areas from near sea level to 820 m (Lazarides et al., 1997). 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for A. spinosus is 2n = 34, 68 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). The genetic variability of A. spinosus is great because of its large area of distribution and its wide ecological adaptation (PROTA, 2015).

Reproductive Biology

A. spinosus is a monoecious herb and produces male and female flowers on the same plant. This species is self-compatible and flowers are pollinated by wind (Waterhouse, 1994). A single plant produces several hundred thousand seeds, a large proportion of which are fertile.

Longevity

A. spinosus is an annual fast-growing herb. Many seeds germinate soon after being dispersed, but some seeds can remain viable for many years in the soil seed bank (Waterhouse, 1994). For example, the seed of some types will germinate within a few days after harvest if held at a high temperature, whereas others require 4-5 months of storage before they will germinate. Germination is satisfactory in both light and dark (Holm et al., 1991).

Environmental Requirements

The photoperiodic response is day-neutral and the plant may flower at day lengths between 8 and 16 h. Overall optimum growth is obtained at a day length of 11-12 h, and it is in areas with such day lengths that the earliest and most abundant flowering takes place. A. spinosus does not grow well in shade or cool temperatures, because spine development and flowering are suppressed under these conditions. Maximum growth occurs in soils high in organic matter, and those with sufficient nitrogen (Holm et al., 1977). A. spinosus is capable of growing on wet soils as well. It is drought-resistant and can even grow under arid conditions. Conclusive evidence is lacking, but there are indications that several different ecological populations exist in some regions of the world (Misra, 1969).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated 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)
30 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 35

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall5002000mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Cassida exilis Herbivore Leaves
Cletus fuscescens Herbivore Growing point/Leaves
Coleophora versurella Herbivore Growing point
Eretmocera impactella Herbivore Leaves
Germalus unipunctatus Herbivore Leaves
Haplopeodes minutus Herbivore Leaves
Haplothrips longisetosus Herbivore Leaves/Stems
Hypolixus ritsemae Parasite Stems
Hypolixus truncatulus Parasite Stems
Nysius Herbivore Leaves
pigweed mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A. spinosus is attacked by a number of natural enemies. Most of the reports come from outside its range and are of non-specific organisms; some, however, may be sufficiently specific for potential biological control (Waterhouse, 1994; El-Aydam and Burki, 1997). A. spinosus is a host plant for tobacco mosaic virus, groundnut rosette virus, cucumber mosaic virus and root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), which attack some commercial crops. Natural insect enemies includes the pyralid Herpetogramma bipunctalis and the curculionid Conotrachelus seniculus. In India, the bud weevil Ceutorhynchus asperulus, a pest of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), has been found feeding on A. spinosus (Lemmens and Bunyapraphatsara, 1999).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. spinosus spreads by seeds. This species is a prolific seed producer and one plant can produce up to 235,000 seeds. Seeds are dispersed by wind, water and as a contaminant in crop and pasture seeds, farm machinery and farm products. For example, Japanese authorities report A. spinosus as a contaminant of imported animal feed grains (Kurokawa, 2001).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesPotential seed contaminant Yes USDA-ARS, 2015
Land vehiclesSeeds Yes USDA-ARS, 2015
Machinery and equipmentSeeds Yes USDA-ARS, 2015
WaterSeeds Yes Yes Waterhouse, 1994

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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A. spinosus is reported to be the number three weed in maize in the Philippines as well as a principal weed in that crop in Ghana, Hawaii, Mexico and Thailand, and a common weed in Malaysia and Taiwan. In cotton, it is ranked number one in Thailand, principal in Nicaragua and the USA, and as a common weed in Mozambique. In groundnuts, it is a principal weed in Ghana, Hawaii, the Philippines and the USA. In sugarcane, it is a principal weed in Brazil, South Africa and Taiwan and a common weed in Hawaii, India, Indonesia and Peru. In upland rice, A. spinosus is the principal weed in Mexico and the Philippines, and a common weed in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia (Holm et al., 1991).

A. spinosus is a principal weed of mangoes, sorghum, soyabeans and cowpeas in the Philippines; tobacco in Taiwan, beans in Mexico, vegetables in Malaysia, oil palms in Indonesia, papayas and sweet potatoes in Hawaii, mulberries in Japan, and cassava in Ghana. It is a common weed of bananas in Taiwan, oil palms in Nicaragua, pineapples in Hawaii, vegetables in Brazil, Ghana, Hawaii, India, the Philippines and the USA, and of tea and jute in Taiwan. It is found in millet in the Philippines, coffee in Angola and El Salvador, and pineapples in the Philippines (Holm et al., 1991).

Risk to Livestock

A. spinosus was implicated in a case of livestock poisoning in 1973 when 39 dairy cows died after being fed chopped forage sorghum containing as much as 25-33% (by weight) of the weed. The poisoning was diagnosed as being caused by nitrate, and A. spinosus showed high nitrate levels. Hurst (1942) and Kingsbury (1964) both mention A. spinosus as a suspected poisonous plant.

Environmental Impact

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A. spinosus has the potential to outcompete native vegetation and induce the loss of biodiversity, especially decreasing floristic richness in native vegetation communities where is becoming dominant and invasive such as insular ecosystems and native grasslands. 

Risk and Impact Factors

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Uses

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In tropical Africa and elsewhere, A. spinosus leaves and young plants are collected for home consumption as a cooked, steamed or fried vegetable, especially during periods of drought. Leaves are occasionally found for sale on markets. However, its use is declining, and it is acquiring the status of a famine food. It has a bitter taste and is usually eaten in small quantities as a substitute when no other vegetables are available.

A. spinosus is also used as forage and said to increase the yield of milk in cattle. It is browsed by sheep and goats and is a highly nutritious feed at any time during the year. However, the spines may cause injury to the mouths of grazing animals and cases of poisoning in cattle have also been reported. 

A. spinosus is also used as a medicinal herb. The root is known as an effective diuretic. In South-East Asia a decoction of the root is used to treat gonorrhea and as a antipyretic. In many countries, the bruised leaves are considered a good emollient and applied externally in cases of eczema, burns, wounds, boils, earache and haemorrhoids. Plant sap is used as an eye wash to treat ophthalmic infections in children. Some tribes in India used A. spinosus to induce abortion (Lemmens and Bunyapraphatsara, 1999; PROTA, 2015). 

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable

Materials

  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Detection and Inspection

Top of page The striated often reddish stem with two sharp, long spines at the base of the petioles, and the fruit which opens by a line around the centre are distinguishing characteristics of this species.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. spinosus is superficially similar to other weedy species of Amaranthus, but is the only species with auxillary spines.

Prevention and Control

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Chemical Control

A. spinosus is susceptible to most of the standard herbicides used on broad-leaved weeds. These include 2,4-D, EPTC, MCPA, MSMA (methylarsonic acid), acifluorfen, atrazine, bensulfuron, butachlor, chlorthal-dimethyl, dimethametryn, diphenamid, diuron, glyphosate, metribuzin, oxadiazon, oxyfluorfen, paraquat, pendimethalin, propanil and trifluralin (Kostermans et al., 1987; Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987; Ampong-Nyarko and de Datta, 1991). Ampong-Nyarko and de Datta (1991) indicate resistance to fenoxaprop, piperophos and thiobencarb. It should also be noted that repeated herbicide use has resulted in the development of resistant strains in some species of Amaranthus (Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987), and the same could occur in A. spinosus.

In groundnuts, A. spinosus is usually controlled with soil-applied herbicides (Grichar, 1994). Post-emergence control can be obtained with acifluorfen alone or in combination with bentazone; lactofen alone, or 2,4-DB alone applied late post-emergence provided more than 80% control when rated early in the season (Grichar, 1994). Lactofen applied early post-emergence and 2,4-DB applied late post-emergence controlled more than 90% late in the season. Imazethapyr controlled 72-90% of A. spinosus, whereas bentazone and pyridate failed to provide adequate control (Grichar, 1994). In Korea, Lee et al. (2007) found pendimethalin on its own ineffective in pastures, but pendimethalin combined with mecocrop, mecocrop alone, or dicamba, gave good control.

Biological Control

In Thailand, augmentative releases of Hypolixus truncatulus have resulted in successful control. This beetle may replace the use of herbicides to control occasional infestations (Julien, 1992).

The fungal pathogens Phomopsis amaranthicola and Microsphaeropsis amaranthi have been investigated as potential bioherbicides for weedy amaranths including A. spinosus (Rosskopf et al., 2000; Ortiz-Ribbing and Williams, 2006). Extracts of the plant Murraya paniculata inhibit seed germination of A. spinosus, giving potential for weed control. (Pangnakorn and Poonpaiboonpipattana, 2013). 

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Contributors

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01/12/15 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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