Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Jamaica vervain)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- 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
- Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (L.) Vahl
Preferred Common Name
- Jamaica vervain
Other Scientific Names
- Stachytarpheta dichotoma
- Verbena jamaicensis L. (1753)
International Common Names
- English: blue rat's tail; light blue snakeweed
Local Common Names
- Australia: Jamaica snakeweed
- Caribbean: verbena; vervain
- Colombia: golondrina; verbena azul
- Cuba: verbena cimarona
- Dominican Republic: verbena morada
- Guam: false verbena; Jamaica vervain
- India: kariyartharani; katapunuttu; semainyuruvi
- Indonesia: gewongan; jarong
- Indonesia/Java: gajihan; ngadi rengga
- Madagascar: ombimboalareo
- Malaysia: ramput tahi babi; selaseh dandi
- Mauritius: queue de rat
- New Caledonia: herbe blue; nettle leaf vervain
- Niue: mautofu Samoa
- Philippines: albaka; bilu-bilu; bolomaros; Brazil tea; kandi-kandilaan; limbagat; sentemiento; verbena de las antilles
- Samoa: mautofu tala
- Solomon Islands: kinilio
- Sri Lanka: bulunakuta; hai-or ingi
- Tonga: iku'i kuma
- Trinidad and Tobago: rough-leaved false vervain; vervine
- USA/Hawaii: Jamaica vervain
- STCJA (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Lamiales
- Family: Verbenaceae
- Genus: Stachytarpheta
- Species: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Stachy(s) (a spike, originally an ear of corn) describes the elongate inflorescence, and tarphy (thick) refers to the thickened or densely flowered flower stalks; jamaicensis attributes the plant to Jamaica, although it more probably originated from the northern part of South America.
The genus Stachytarpheta contains about 65 species, mostly from the American tropics; many are weedy throughout the tropics and subtropics. Some sources treat S. indica and, or S. cayennensis as synonyms, but these will treated as discrete species after USDA et al. (1998).
No information is available on chromosome numbers of Stachytarpheta spp.
DescriptionTop of page S. jamaicensis is a perennial or occasionally annual woody herb with a strong tap root and usually ascending or erect annual shoots 0.5 to 2.0 m tall ending in several slender erect spikes of flowers.
Many woody stems arise from the base of the plant, these are green, 4-angled at first but cylindrical and often purplish later, ascending or erect, usually up to 1 m long, with swollen nodes.
Leaves paired, opposite, elliptic, 3-10 cm long, rather leathery, strongly nerved with the veins depressed above and prominent below, dark green, hairless or very finely hairy, merging into the short petioles, the margins are regularly toothed.
Flowers lilac, lavender, blue or purple, opening 1-3 at a time from the base towards the tip of 20-40 cm long spikes at the ends of the branches, each flower partly buried in the spike, with five unequal petals 5-8 mm across, and two stamens. Flowers normally open only for a day, but fall within an hour when picked.
Seeds 5 mm long, concavo-convex, ridged, brown, retained within the spikes which thicken to ca 5 mm diameter over the seeds, and are thinner in the intervening furrows.
Seedlings with epigeal germination. Hypocotyl 15-22 mm long, finely hairy, green to purple. Cotyledons shortly stalked, ovate, 7-9 mm long, finely hairy. Juvenile leaves paired, ovate, 8-10 mm long, toothed, finely hairy.
DistributionTop of page
Stachytarpheta species are generally agreed to be native to tropical America but were already known in Asia in the 18th Century. S. jamaicensis is now widespread in Central America, the Caribbean, East and Southern Asia and the Pacific, but occurs less frequently in Africa. However, it is recorded as invasive in Kenya and Tanzania (Witt and Luke, 2017).
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.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Cambodia||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|China||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)||Present||Barker and Telford, 1993|
|India||Present||Tadulingam et al., 1955; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|-Karnataka||Present||Sharma and Singh, 1988|
|-Kerala||Present||Estelitta et al., 1995; Mathew and Balakrishnan, 1991|
|Indonesia||Widespread||Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|-Java||Present||Kostermans et al., 1987|
|Malaysia||Present||Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|Philippines||Widespread||Pancho et al., 1969; Holm et al., 1991|
|Sri Lanka||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1991|
|Taiwan||Widespread||Chang et al., 1982; Holm et al., 1991|
|Thailand||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Vietnam||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Ghana||Widespread||Holm et al., 1991|
|Kenya||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke, 2017|
|Madagascar||Present||Holm et al., 1997|
|Malawi||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017|
|Mauritius||Present||Holm et al., 1991; McIntyre and Barbe, 1994; Holm et al., 1997|
|Nigeria||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|South Africa||Present||Wells et al., 1986|
|Tanzania||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke, 2017|
|Zambia||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017|
|USA||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|-Hawaii||Widespread||Haselwood & Motter, 1983; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
Central America and Caribbean
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Natural|
|Barbados||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1997|
|Costa Rica||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1991|
|Cuba||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1997|
|Dominica||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1997|
|Grenada||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Guadeloupe||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Jamaica||Present||Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|Martinique||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Montserrat||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1991|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Natural||Fournet and Hammerton, 1991|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Baronowski & Slater, 1979; Holm et al., 1991|
|Colombia||Present||Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|Ecuador||Widespread||Natural||Holm et al., 1991|
|Suriname||Present||Natural||Holm et al., 1991|
|Australia||Widespread||Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Hnatiuk, 1990; Smith, 1991|
|French Polynesia||Present||Florence et al., 1983|
|New Caledonia||Present||MacKee, 1985; Holm et al., 1997|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Henty and Pritchard, 1975|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Hancock and Henderson, 1988|
HabitatTop of page S. jamaicensis thrives in moist, fertile soils, but will also tolerate seasonal drought. It tolerates soil compaction, vehicular passage and trampling by livestock, and grows in a wide range of soils. It requires medium to high light intensities and grows poorly in dense shade. The plant grows to altitudes of 800 m in India.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page In addition to listed crops S. jamaicensis is also a major weed in pastures throughout the tropics, and a minor weed in many other tropical vegetable and plantation crops. It is also common in uncultivated sites such as pastures, roadsides, gardens, parks, fencelines and around habitation and farm buildings.
Biology and EcologyTop of page S. jamaicensis is a perennial woody herb which reproduces solely by seed. Mature seeds remain within the dry, brittle fruiting spike. Up to 2000 seeds have been recorded per plant (Holm et al 1997). The seeds have no obvious method of dispersal other than in contaminated trash and soil. They may also pass unharmed through the digestive system of herbivores. Seeds remained viable for 6.5 years when buried 15 cm deep in soil in the Philippines (Holm et al., 1997).
The plant grows in a wide range of environments but prefers moist, uncultivated soils. Following damage resulting from trampling, grazing and mowing it is able to regrow from dormant buds at and below soil level. Plants are destroyed by cultivation, which if frequent enough to prevent the production of viable seed, will result in eradication of the weed.
S. jamaicensis grows in a wide range of soil types, including ferralitic soils on volcanic islands (Florence et al., 1983).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Asphondylia stachytarphetae||Growing point|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Waterhouse and Norris (1987) discuss the natural enemies and biological control prospects for Stachytarpheta urticifolia and include a list of natural enemies recorded in Trinidad. Cock (1985) reviewed a range of insects for biological control potential in Trinidad and Guyana. These are the only investigations of natural enemy impact and prospects for classical biological control made for Stachytarpheta spp.
ImpactTop of page S. jamaicensis is usually a minor weed of cultivation due to frequent soil disturbance but may become serious in unimproved pastures, especially where these are regularly overgrazed. It is also common in wasteland and other disturbed but unused areas.
S. indica is a probable host of cucumber mosaic cucumovirus in India (Mathew and Balakrishnan, 1991), and is a minor host for the lantana bug, Orthezia insignius (Srikanth et al., 1988).
UsesTop of page S. jamaicensis has no significant uses. The dried leaves were at one time exported from Brazil to Europe as tea, and an infusion of the leaves is used medicinally in Southeast Asia (Holm et al. 1997). Mabberley (1997) reports that S. urticifolia has been used as a hedge plant in Africa. S mutabilis is grown as a minor garden ornamental in many tropical countries, and has occasionally become naturalized in southeast Queensland, Australia (Stanley and Ross 1986).
S. jamaicensis is available through a number of American internet sites as an ornamental, rain forest ornamental and medicinal plant.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Several other species of Stachytarpheta are also widespread tropical weeds. Although all are generally similar to S. jamaicensis, they can usually be distinguished as follows:
S. cayennensis (= Verbena cayennensis, S. dichotoma) has thinner fruiting spikes (ca 2.5 mm diameter) is also now a pan-tropical weed and somewhat commoner than S. jamaicensis in Africa; it differs in having thinner fruiting spikes (ca. 2.5 mm diameter) with little swelling over the fruits; flowers are paler in colour, varying from mid to pale blue to almost white, and smaller, the tube 4 to 5 mm long (7 to 10 mm in S. jamaicensis) and limbs only 4 to 6 mm long.
S. indica (= S. bogorensis, Verbena indica), where it is dintinguished from S. jamaicensis has softer leaves with the lower margins of the middle leaf teeth at least twice as long as the upper margins, compared with S. jamaicensis in which the leaves are leathery and both sides of the middle leaf teeth are of similar length. This species occurs sporadically from Central America, through Africa and Asia to Australia.
S. urticifolia, occurring mainly in Central America and the Pacific, has soft thin leaves, unlike the rather leathery leaves of the other two species.
Further species of Stachytarpheta are occasionally found as weeds in the tropics and subtropics, including S. angustifolia, S. australis and S. mutabilis.
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.Cultural Control
S. jamaicensis and related species can be controlled by any form of cultivation which cuts the strong taproots and loosens the plant from the soil (ploughing, grubbing and hoeing, but not mowing). Although it tolerates light shade it is suppressed by heavy shade, as well as by strongly competitive plants such as vigorous twining legumes.
Kostermans et al. (1987) report that seedlings and young plants can be killed by regular spraying with 2,4-D or MSMA plus 2,4-D. In Mauritian sugarcane germination has been prevented by diuron or atrazine and post-emergence control effected with picloram, paraquat or 2,4-D (McIntyre 1991). Challa (1984) prevented seedling germination in Indian mango root stock nurseries with oxyfluorfen, atrazine, diuron and fluchloralin. McIntyre and Barbe (1994) controlled this plant in citrus and mango nurseries in Mauritius with alternate treatments of glyphosate followed by Krovar 1 (a mixture of diuron and bromacil) + paraquat, or glyphosate followed by diuron and paraquat.
The following herbicides are registered for the control of Stachytarpheta spp. in Australia: 2,4-D sodium, and atrazine + dicamba in sugarcane, and 2,4-D amine in both pastures and uncropped land.
The potential for biological control of S. jamaicensis is discussed by Cock (1985).
ReferencesTop of page
Barker RM, Telford IRH, 1993. Verbenaceae. In: Flora of Australia, Volume 50, Oceanic Islands 2. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service
Florence J, Guerin M, Reboul JL, 1983. Weeds of French Polynesia (Les mauvaises herbes de la Polynesie Francaise). Compte Rendu de la 12e Conference du COLUMA. Tome I. Paris, France: Comite Francais de Lutte contre les Mauvaises Herbes, 427-432
Hancock IR, Henderson CP, 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. Research Bulletin No. 7. Honiara, Solomon Islands: Dodo Creek Research Station
Hnatiuk RJ, 1990. Census of Australian Vascular Plants. Australian Flora and Fauna Series Number 11. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service
Holm LG, Doll J, Holm E, Pancho JV, Herberger JP, 1997. World Weeds: Natural Histories and Distribution. New York, USA: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Kostermans AJGH, Wirjahardja S, Dekker RJ, 1987. The weeds: description, ecology and control. Weeds of rice in Indonesia [edited by Soerjani, M.; Kostermans, A.J.G.H.; Tjitrosoepomo, G.] Jakarta, Indonesia; Balai Pustaka, 24-565
Mabberley DJ, 1989. The Plant Book. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
MacKee HS, 1985. Les Plantes Introduites et Cultivees en Nouvelle-Caledonie. Volume hors series, Flore de la Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dependances. Paris, France: Museum Nationelle d'Histoire Naturelle
McIntyre G, 1991. Weeds of Sugar Cane in Mauritius: Their Description and Control. Reduit, Mauritius: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute
McIntyre G, Barbe C, 1994. Chemical v/s hand weeding in young citrus and mango orchards. Revue Agricole et Sucriere de l'Ile Maurice, 73:44-47
Pancho JV, Vega MR, Plucknett DL, 1969. Some Common Weeds of the Philippines. Laguna, Philippines: Weed Science Society of the Philippines, University of the Philippines at Los Ba±os
Stanley TD, Ross EM, 1986. Flora of South-eastern Queensland, Volume 2. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Department of Primary Industries, 366
Tadulingam C, Venkatanarayana G, Mudaliar CR, Rao JS, 1955. A Handbook of Some South Indian Weeds. Madras, India: Government Press, 330-331
USDA-ARS, 1999. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx
Wells MJ, Balsinhas AA, Joffe H, Engelbrecht VM, Harding G, Stirton CH, 1986. A catalogue of problem plants in South Africa. Memoirs of the botanical survey of South Africa No 53. Pretoria, South Africa: Botanical Research Institute
Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000
Distribution MapsTop of page
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