Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tagetes minuta
(stinking Roger)



Tagetes minuta (stinking Roger)


  • Last modified
  • 19 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tagetes minuta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • stinking Roger
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Seedlings (note Australian 20 cent coin for scale).
CaptionSeedlings (note Australian 20 cent coin for scale).
CopyrightJohn T. Swarbrick
Seedlings (note Australian 20 cent coin for scale).
SeedlingsSeedlings (note Australian 20 cent coin for scale).John T. Swarbrick
Mature plant (cut into halves). (A) Main stem, leaves, and roots.  (B) Main stem, leaves and flowers.
TitleMature plant
CaptionMature plant (cut into halves). (A) Main stem, leaves, and roots. (B) Main stem, leaves and flowers.
CopyrightJohn T. Swarbrick
Mature plant (cut into halves). (A) Main stem, leaves, and roots.  (B) Main stem, leaves and flowers.
Mature plantMature plant (cut into halves). (A) Main stem, leaves, and roots. (B) Main stem, leaves and flowers.John T. Swarbrick
Mature plant parts of T. minuta, showing flowers, leaves, and main stem.
TitleMature plant
CaptionMature plant parts of T. minuta, showing flowers, leaves, and main stem.
CopyrightJohn T. Swarbrick
Mature plant parts of T. minuta, showing flowers, leaves, and main stem.
Mature plantMature plant parts of T. minuta, showing flowers, leaves, and main stem.John T. Swarbrick


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tagetes minuta L. (1753)

Preferred Common Name

  • stinking Roger

Other Scientific Names

  • Tagetes bonariensis Pers. (1786)
  • Tagetes glandulifera Schrank
  • Tagetes glandulosa Link (1822)
  • Tagetes montana (Hort.) DC. (1836)
  • Tagetes porophyllum Vell. (1827)

International Common Names

  • English: Mexican marigold; stinkweed; tall khaki weed; wild marigold
  • Spanish: huacatay
  • Portuguese: cravo de defuncto

Local Common Names

  • Angola: ekaibulo
  • Argentina: chil chil
  • Brazil: chinchilla; coora; cravo de mato; margarita; rabo de foguete; rabo de rajao; suique; voadeira
  • Chile: quinchihue
  • Germany: Wilde Sammetblume
  • Kenya: ang'we; anyach; bhangi; mubangi; muvangi; nyanjaga; nyanjagra; omotioku; omubazi gwemhazi
  • Madagascar: mavoadala
  • Malawi: khaki
  • Paraguay: agosto; suico
  • South Africa: africander bossie; jeremane; kakiebos; khaki bush; khaki weed; kleinafrikander; lang kakiebos; Master John Henry; mbanje; stinkbos; transvaalsekakiebos
  • Zambia: mutanda zyeelo
  • Zimbabwe: mbanda

EPPO code

  • TAGMI (Tagetes minuta)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Tagetes
  •                                 Species: Tagetes minuta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The genus Tagetes contains 27 annual and 29 perennial species (Soule, 1996), mostly from subtropical and tropical America (one from tropical Africa). The genus name refers to the Latin name for marigold, 'Tages', an Etruscan god associated with agriculture; minuta means very small, and probably refers to the very small individual flowers within the inflorescences.

No chromosome number has been recorded for T. minuta.


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T. minuta is an erect, woody annual herb, usually 0.5–2 m tall with strongly odorous foliage. The taproots are usually short and tapering, and surrounded by fibrous lateral roots, which form mycorrhizal associations. The stems are typically erect, woody, and grooved or ridged, initially green but often maturing to brownish or reddish. They are usually branched only in the upper part, unless broken or cut off near the base. Leaves occur in opposite pairs on the main stem and usually singly on the laterals. Leaves are 5–20 cm long, slightly glossy-green and are pinnately compound with 4–6 pairs of pinnae, opposite below and alternate or opposite above. Leaflets are narrowly lanceolate, sharply toothed and 2–4 cm long. The undersurface of the leaves bears a number of small, punctate, orange, multicellular glands, which exude a licorice-like aroma when ruptured. Glands occur beside the midribs and towards the margins of each leaflet, and may also be found in the stem and involucre bracts. The scented, panicle-like inflorescences consist of 20–80 narrowly cylindrical flower heads. The heads are small, 10–15 mm long and 3–4 mm in diameter, surrounded by 4–5 fused involucre bracts, and dotted with glands not splitting apart at maturity. Ray and disk flowers barely extend beyond the phyllaries; ray flowers are 3–5 yellow-orange florets, disk flowers are 10–15 yellow-orange (Soule, 1996). The dark-brown achenes are 10–20 mm long, with a pappus of 1–4 tiny scales and 0–2 retrosely serrulate awns, which are 1–3 mm long. The slender black fruits are 5–8 mm long, finely hairy, and tipped with a chaffy pappus of 4–8 scales of different lengths.

The seedlings have epigeal germination. The slender, often reddish, hypocotyls are 1.0–1.5 cm long, and end in elongate cotyledons about 1 cm long which are often reddish below. The first pair of leaves are deeply divided into three segments with a large terminal lobe and have irregularly toothed edges.


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T. minuta originated in South America, and has been deliberately distributed across the tropics, subtropics and several temperate countries as an ornamental, medicinal or perfume plant as well as accidentally as a weed. In Kenya, T. minuta was first recorded as an alien weed during the 1920s. It was originally restricted to the higher altitudes, but has since spread to lower altitudes as a result of increasing agricultural activities (Stadler et al., 1998). T. minuta was introduced to California, USA, in the 1930s to control root-knot nematodes in orchards, but has since become an invasive weed.

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


ChinaPresentIntroducedDong et al., 2013naturalized.
IndiaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedBikram Singh et al., 1992
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedWani and Ansari, 1993
IsraelPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
JapanPresentIntroducedToida, 1972
LebanonPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
NepalPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
ThailandPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
TurkeyPresentIntroducedBaser and Malyer, 1996


AlgeriaPresentIntroducedSellami and Mouffarrah, 1994
AngolaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
BotswanaPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
CameroonPresentIntroducedChalchat et al., 1997
CongoPresentIntroducedBasabose et al., 1997
EgyptPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Owino and Mousa, 1996; Holm et al., 1997
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
GhanaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
GuineaPresentIntroducedBeccaloni, 1991
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Terry and Michieka, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997; IPPC-Secretariat, 2005
LesothoPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986
MadagascarPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
MalawiPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987
MozambiquePresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
NamibiaPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986
RwandaPresentIntroducedChalchat et al., 1995
South AfricaPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
SwazilandPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
UgandaPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987; Holm et al., 1991
ZambiaPresentIntroducedVernon, 1983; Terry and Michieka, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Rambakudzibga, 1991; Holm et al., 1997

North America

USAPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1997
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Anon, 1998
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedHaselwood and Motter, 1983; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
-MontanaPresentIntroducedWeaver et al., 1994

Central America and Caribbean

GuatemalaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1991

South America

ArgentinaPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Gil et al., 1996; Holm et al., 1997
BrazilPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
ChilePresentNative Invasive Vallejo, 1980; Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
ColombiaPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1997
GuyanaPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
ParaguayPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1997
PeruPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997
SurinamePresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1997
UruguayPresentNative Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997


FranceRestricted distributionIntroducedHansen, 1976
GreecePresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
ItalyPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
RomaniaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1997
SpainRestricted distributionIntroducedAbdala and Seeligmann, 1995
Yugoslavia (former)Restricted distributionIntroducedHansen, 1976


AustraliaPresentHolm et al., 1991
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentHnatiuk, 1990
-New South WalesPresentHnatiuk, 1990; Holm et al., 1997; Lazarides et al., 1997
-QueenslandPresentHnatiuk, 1990; Holm et al., 1997; Lazarides et al., 1997
-South AustraliaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-VictoriaPresentLazarides et al., 1997
-Western AustraliaPresentHnatiuk, 1990; Holm et al., 1997; Lazarides et al., 1997
New CaledoniaPresentMacKee, 1985
New ZealandPresentHolm et al., 1991; Holm et al., 1997


Top of page T. minuta is capable of rapid growth and seed production (about 29,000 seed per plant), enabling it to invade ephemeral habitats which provide (at least seasonally) a medium to high temperature, ample water, light and nutrients and minimal competition from established perennial plants. It grows in moist and dry areas, from sea level to reasonable altitudes in the tropics and subtropics, and in soil pHs ranging from 4.3 to 6.6 (Holm et al., 1997). It thrives under high nutrient and high soil moisture conditions. It tolerates low rainfall and is commonly found along streams and river banks. It can colonize waste areas, neglected rangeland and poorly managed fields.

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page T. minuta is primarily a weed of cultivated and disturbed land. It occurs in arable crops, vegetables, pastures and orchards, as well as on abandoned cultivation, roadsides, rubbish dumps, streams and river banks, newly cleared and burnt land, and around buildings and animal enclosures.

Biology and Ecology

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No chromosome number has been recorded for T. minuta. Flowers are hermaphrodite and pollinated by insects. Galicia, (1995) has distinguished four phenotypes of T. minuta on the basis of the morphological traits of capitula. Three chemotypes, which differ in biomass and essential oil yield of inflorescence and leaves, were identified by Gil et al. (2000).

Physiology and phenology
T. minuta is an annual herbaceous weed that flowers 120–150 days after emergence (Aranha et al., 1982). Under controlled conditions flowering is initiated by 13 hours daylength (Luciani-Gresta, 1975). When grown outdoors the plant flowered in July and in Zimbabwe, average seed production per plant was 29,100 (Schwerzel, 1967). However, in less sunny areas or far northern regions, plants may not flower. The seeds lie loosely within the upright tubular inflorescences until shaken out, and are distributed attached to clothing and animals and with soil, water and plant debris.

Reproductive biology
T. minuta has a relative small seed, with no dormancy stage, and 7–8 month longevity. It has an aerial seed bank, which compensates for the lack of a persistent soil seed bank. The seeds have hooks, which aid in animal dispersal, as well as secondary products that prevent herbivory (Martinez-Ghersa et al., 2000).

The plant is propagated by seeds, which germinate over a period of 48 h; most seeds germinate between 20 and 30°C (optimal 25°C). Germination of fresh seed may be as high as 95%. At 36°C, the achenes become thermoinhibited and do not germinate; however, once the temperature is reduced below 35°C, germination occurs but is spread over a reduced period of 24 h. The thermoinhibited proteins may result in the prevention of radical emergence at unfavourable temperatures. Seeds do not require light for germination; however, they respond to it very positively, so that germination only occurs from seeds near the soil surface and most seedlings emerge from soil depths of less than 6 mm (Holm et al., 1997). Detailed studies on some aspects of its germination have been conducted by Forsyth and van Staden (1983), Drewes and van Staden (1991) and (Hills et al., 2001).

Mohamed et al. (1998) has developed an efficient in vitro propagation protocol for T. minuta.

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Phillips (1992) has shown that T. minuta is susceptible to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.


Top of page T. minuta is a fast-growing annual weed which competes with crops and interferes with their management or harvest. It has been reported as a weed of 19 crops in 35 countries (Holm et al., 1997). In parts of East Africa, it has been reported as infesting 10% of maize fields, and may be particularly severe in low-growing crops such as beans. Its presence in a crop may also lead to skin irritation to agricultural workers, whilst contamination of milk (this can occur as a result of external contact between the plant and cattle udders) imparts an objectionable flavour.

T. minuta is a significant crop seed contaminant in East Africa (especially of wheat and some pasture grass seeds) (Holm et al., 1997), and contaminates wool in South Africa (Wells et al., 1986). It is an alternative host to the bean fungus Ascochyta phaseolorum in Australia (Holm et al., 1997).

T. minuta may also leave allelopathic residues in soil (Meissner et al., 1986). The roots exude a polyacetylene derivative which delays germination and reduces the yield of crops grown in soil previously infested with the species.

Although T. minuta is considered as a weed in many countries, it is cultivated for essential oil production as a pure crop as well as an intercrop in maize, tomato and geranium (Singh and Singh, 2001). Also, as the root secretions of T. minuta have an insecticidal, nematicidal, bacterial and fungicidal effect, the plants have been used in intercroping schemes. Soule (1996) found that the production of T. minuta as a pure crop or as an intercrop in maize was more profitable than other crops considered. Singh and Singh (2001) suggested that T. minuta had a bright prospect in Himachal Pradesh, India, and Soule (1996) reported that T. minuta has potential to become a new crop for many drug-growing areas.

Environmental Impact

Top of page Many Latin American farmers have volunteer T. minuta growing in their fields as a second crop for different purposes. Rapid growth of T. minuta shades out other hazardous weeds, and aids in the retention of humidity in the field.


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In South America, mint marigold is used as a spice that gives an apple-like flavour. Both fresh and dried leaves are used as aromatic seasoning for soups and vegetables. It is grown as a vegetable in parts of Peru, dried leaves are used as condiments and flavouring in different food products. Essential oil extracted from the plant (leaves and floral heads), known as tagetes oil and marigold oil, is a flavour component in most major food products, including cola beverages, alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, puddings, condiments and relishes. Fresh leaves can be chopped and used to season chicken and green salads or to brew a sweet, anise-flavoured tea. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well if sealed in a glass container and protected from extreme heat and bright light. Mint marigold is also used to flavour liqueurs. When cooking, the sweetish anise-like flavour of leaves and stems can be substituted for tarragon (Ravindran, 2017).

The strong-smelling essential oils of T. minuta have enabled it to be used for many purposes, including as a relish, laxative, diuretic, flavouring, insect repellent, stimulant and snuff (Holm et al., 1997). T. minuta var. vanphool, which has been derived from the open population in northern India, has a high yield and quality of essential oil (Sushil Kumar et al., 1999). It is also used for the treatment of coughs, stomach cramps and rheumatism. In South Africa it is grown for the perfumery industry (Gil et al., 1996).

T. minuta has strong insecticidal and nematicidal properties, both as a fresh plant and when distilled (Weaver et al., 1994; Gil et al., 1996). Holm et al. (1997) provide a brief review of the evidence for use against nematodes. A wide range of nematode species can be affected and some dramatic reductions of nematode infestation have been recorded after growing T. minuta for short periods. Effects from T. minuta have been greater than those from T. patula and T. erecta. However, success has been variable and results depend on a range of environmental and other factors. Root secretions also have a herbicidal effect, inhibiting the growth of certain plants growing nearby. It has been found to be effective against perennial weeds such as Ranunculus ficaria (celandine), Aegopodium podagraria (ground elder), Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy), Agropyron repens (couch grass) and Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed) (Ravindran, 2017).

Fresh plants can be hung indoors to drive away cockroaches (Beccaloni, 1991).

Uses List

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  • Host of pest

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Spices and culinary herbs
  • Vegetable


  • Essential oils
  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore


  • Christmas tree
  • Cut flower
  • garden plant
  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page T. minuta is similar to a number of other Asteraceous species, including Bidens pilosa and Bidens bipinnata. It may be distinguished from these species by its taller and less branched habit, and by the possession of the strong-smelling oil glands in the leaves. Holm et al. (1997) describe the distinguishing features of the species as its grooved stems, strong aromatic scent, deeply divided leaves and the variable length of bristles in the pappus. Dyssodia papposa, which originates from central and north-eastern America, is similar to T. minuta, but has an unpleasant smell and separate phyllaries in 2-3 series and flower heads 4-10 mm in diameter. Several closely related species are grown as ornamentals, including T. patula and T. erecta, but these are distinguished by markedly larger flowers.

Prevention and Control

Top of page Cultural Control

T. minuta is easily uprooted or removed by hand or mechanical cultivation, but this should be done before the flowers form to prevent the return of viable seeds to the soil. In East Africa, T. minuta is abundant following fires or other clearing operations.

Mechanical Control

Tillage and hand pulling is very effective in controlling T. minuta in agricultural fields and in cultivation processes. However, agricultural machines should be cleaned to prevent seed dispersal among fields.

Chemical Control

In screening trials in Brazil, Lorenzi (1986) showed T. minuta to be susceptible to acifluorfen, ametryne, bentazon, bifenox, bromacil, cyanazine, dicamba, diphenamid, diquat, diuron, 2,4-D, glyphosate, imazaquin, linuron, metribuzin, molinate, oxadiazon, oxyfluorfen, paraquat and simazine.

Current Australian registrations for the control of T. minuta include 2,4-D, MCPA, norflurazon, prometryn, pendimethalin, atrazine, 2,4-D + picloram, linuron, and bromacil + diuron (Hamilton, 1997). The effect of these herbicides can be reduced if the herbicide leaches below the germination zone, e.g. in sandy soil.

Biological Control

No biological control has been attempted against T. minuta.


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Abdala LR, Seeligmann P, 1995. Natural distribution of flavonoids in Tagetes minuta. Biochemical Systematica and Ecology, 23:567-568

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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