Stachys arvensis (staggerweed)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Stachys arvensis (L.) L.
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Glechoma arvensis L.
International Common Names
- English: annual hedge nettle; corn woundwort; field hedge nettle; field nettle betony; field stachys; field woundwort; fieldnettle betony; wild mint
- Spanish: betonica; hierba del gato; supiquehka
- French: epiaire des champs
- Chinese: tian ye shui su
- Portuguese: orelha-de-urso
Local Common Names
- Brazil: hortela-das-rocas
- Canada: hedge-nettle
- Germany: Acker- Ziest
- Netherlands: Akkerandoorn
- Sweden: Aakersyska
- STAAR (Stachys arvensis)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The species S. arvensis is an Old World herb species that has become naturalized in parts of the New World, and is reportedly a poison and potential seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2014). S. arvensis poses negative environmental, economic, and human health impacts. It is a serious weed in Austria, Brazil, and Hawaii as well as a principal and common weed elsewhere (Holm et al., 1979), and is known to be an agricultural weed in Italy and Slovenia, where it invades carrot crops (Randall, 2012). It is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as “agricultural weed, casual alien, environmental weed, naturalised, weed” (Randall, 2012) and is invasive to parts of Australia, China and Asia-Pacific (PIER, 2014). It causes nervous disorders to livestock (Hill, 1986).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Lamiales
- Family: Lamiaceae
- Genus: Stachys
- Species: Stachys arvensis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The Lamiacae family, or mint family, is a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees comprising about 200 genera and 3,200 species, many with a long history of medicinal and food use (University of Hawaii, 2014). Many Lamiaceae species have square stems (although square stems are also found in other families), aromatic aerial parts when crushed, simple opposite leaves, and two-lipped flowers.
The genus Stachys, the ‘betony’ or ‘hedgenettle’ genus, consists of about 200-300 annual and perennial herb species, primarily of north temperate regions but also somewhat developed in the Southern Hemisphere in South America and South Africa (Burrows and Tyrl, 2012; Wagner et al., 2014). The genus name is the Greek word for ‘spike’ and was a name used by Dioscorides and the Greeks, presumably referring to the spike-shaped flowers of various members of the Labiatae (Smith, 1971; Burrows and Tyrl, 2012).
The species name S. arvensis refers to the species’ habitat of cultivated fields (Smith, 1971), and indeed, a vernacular name for this species is ‘field woundwort’. Another common name for this species is ‘stagger weed’, referring to the nervous disorders it causes to livestock, causing them to stagger (Hill, 1986). Linnaeus originally classified the species under the genus Glechoma, which derives its name from the Greek ‘glechon’, an old name for mint or thyme.
DescriptionTop of page
Herb with stems decumbent to ascending, many-branched, 2-6 dm long, hirsute. Leaves ovate to narrowly ovate, 1-3.5(-6) cm long, 0.6-2.3(-3.5) cm wide, hirsute, more densely so along veins on lower surface, margins crenate, apex rounded, base truncate to subcordate, petioles 0-2(-3.5) cm long. Flowers usually 3-6 in verticillasters, these arranged in terminal, leafy, spike-like inflorescences; calyx usually tinged purple, campanulate, 5-6 mm long, hirsute, especially along nerves, cleft ca. 1/2 its length, the teeth slightly unequal, lanceolate, upper lobes ca. 2.7-2.8 mm long, lower lobe ca. 2.2-2.3 mm long; corolla pink, rose, or blue, 5-7 mm long, upper lip erect, median lobe of lower lip ovate, faintly spotted red near base. Nutlets black, shiny, muricate, obovoid, ca. 2 mm long. [Wagner et al., 2014]
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
S. arvensis is native and widespread across parts of Europe, temperate Asia, North Africa and, according to some sources, some of the Atlantic and Pacific Islands (Govaerts, 2014; PIER, 2014). As of 2008, the species was reportedly rare on the Sefton coast of northwest England (Smith, 2008), although it continues to be listed as present in the UK in Kew’s World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (Govaerts, 2014).
In several European countries including the UK, Germany, and Denmark, the species was listed as native by USDA-ARS (2014) and Govaerts (2014), but as an introduced species by DAISIE (2014).
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: 10 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Equatorial Guinea||Present||Introduced||Gulf of Guinea Is|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||Cape provinces|
|-Fujian||Present||Weed in waste areas adjacent to cultivated land|
|-Guangdong||Present||Weed in waste areas adjacent to cultivated land|
|-Guangxi||Present||Weed in waste areas adjacent to cultivated land|
|Taiwan||Present||Weed in waste areas adjacent to cultivated land|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|Greece||Present||Native||Including Crete, East Aegean Is.|
|Italy||Present||Native||Including Sardinia and Sicily|
|Serbia and Montenegro||Present||Native|
|United Kingdom||Present||Introduced||Casual alien of the British Isles|
|United States||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Naturalised in Eastern United States|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Introduced|
|-Lord Howe Island||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Naturalised on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island|
|-New South Wales||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Naturalized||Widely naturalised; cultivation weed, environmental weed|
|-Queensland||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Naturalized||Widely naturalised|
|-Tasmania||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Naturalized||Widely naturalised|
|-Victoria||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Naturalized||Widely naturalised|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Widely naturalised|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Leeward Is|
|Bolivia||Present||Cochabamba, La Paz; Original citation: Bolivia Checklist (2014)|
|-Rio de Janeiro||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Naturalised|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||Central Chile, Juan Fernandez Is.|
|Ecuador||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Risk of introduction for this species appears to be mid-to-high, as it has spread beyond its native range and become naturalized, even invasive, to non-native environments (Randall, 2012; Govaerts, 2014; PIER, 2014). S. arvensis propagates by seeds and is a potential seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2014). As a low, creeping plant known to be a common invasive species in China, Chile, Australia, Taiwan, and parts of the Asia-Pacific (PIER, 2014), S. arvensis has been reported as a ‘serious weed’ in Austria, Brazil, and Hawaii, a ‘principal weed’ in Australia, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden, a ‘common weed’ in Argentina, England, Italy, and Turkey, and weedy in Canada, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Mauritius, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States (Holm et al., 1979). It is an agricultural weed in Australia and Europe, and in Italy and Slovenia it is known to invade carrot crops (Randall, 2012; Queensland Government, 2012). Considering both its known invasiveness and weediness around the world, but also that it is responsive to herbicides (Hurford, 2007), the risk of introduction for this species is mid-to-high.
HabitatTop of page
S. arvensis is often found in waste places and disturbed areas. It is reportedly a main agricultural weed in carrot crops in Italy and Slovenia (Randall, 2012). In China and Bermuda, it has been reported to be weedy in waste areas or previously cultivated land (Britton, 1918; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014). It is found in the Central Brazilian Savanna and Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil (Forzza et al., 2010), while in Bolivia, it occurs in the Yungas and dry valley vegetation zones (Bolivia Checklist, 2014). In Peru, it has been observed growing in coastal regions in disturbed areas and rocky slopes (Peru Checklist, 2014). In Queensland, Australia and New Zealand, the species is a weed of gardens, fields, pastures, waste places, roadsides, river beds, and cultivation and disturbed sites (PIER, 2014; Queensland Government, 2012).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Rocky areas / lava flows||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Gametophytic count = 5; sporophytic count = 10, 18 (IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2014).
S. arvensis is reportedly intolerant of dense shade and generally prefers soils with pH of 6.0 or less (Hurford, 2007), dry habitats and low elevations. It has been reported growing in Peru at altitudes of 0-500 m (Peru Checklist, 2014), in the Galapagos Islands between elevations of 0 and 1000 m (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014) and in the Andean region of Bolivia between elevations of 1500-2000 and 2500-3000 m (Bolivia Checklist, 2014). In Hawaii the species is reportedly naturalized at low elevations up to 1200 m with dry, disturbed habitats (PIER, 2014). It was previously reported to occur at 1400-1600 m in fields, meadows, and roadsides of Haiti (Urban, 1898-1928).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Preferred||< 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)|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- very acid
Special soil tolerances
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
S. arvensis does not regenerate by cuttings, but is known as a potential seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2014). It is probably through seed contamination that the species was introduced beyond its native range and into the Neotropics, Asia-Pacific, and other areas where it has been reported, as there are no reports of its intentional cultivation. It is unlikely to be dispersed by livestock as it is known to be toxic, causing nervous disorders and ‘staggering’, especially among sheep (Hill, 1986).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
The spread of S. arvensis presents negative environmental and economic impacts, as it is known to be an invasive species as well as an agricultural and environmental weed (Holm et al., 1979; Hurford, 2007; Randall, 2012; PIER, 2014). It causes nervous disorders in livestock, especially sheep (Hill, 1986), causing them to stagger- thus the common name ‘stagger weed’- and could thus pose a negative impact to human health.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Highly mobile locally
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
Uses ListTop of page
- Poisonous to mammals
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
S. arvensis is very similar to a fellow member of the Lamiaceae family, Lamiumamplexicaule; these can be distinguished by the leaves on the flowering stems, which are stalked in S. arvensis and sessile (attached without a stalk) and kidney-shaped in L. amplexicaule.
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.
S. arvensis is reportedly sensitive to herbicides and nitrogen input as well as shade and soils with pH above 6; it is thus not considered difficult to control, and was listed in 100 of the most rapidly declining weed species in the UK (Hurford, 2007).
ReferencesTop of page
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Britton NL, 1918. Flora of Bermuda. New York, USA: Charles Scribner's Sons. 585 pp.
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ContributorsTop of page
24/08/2014 Original text by:
Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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