Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tridax procumbens
(coat buttons)



Tridax procumbens (coat buttons)


  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tridax procumbens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coat buttons
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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T. procumbens plant.
TitleT. procumbens in the field
CaptionT. procumbens plant.
Copyright©S.D. Sawant
T. procumbens plant.
T. procumbens in the fieldT. procumbens plant.©S.D. Sawant


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tridax procumbens L. (1753)

Preferred Common Name

  • coat buttons

International Common Names

  • English: p.w.d.weed
  • Spanish: mata gusano
  • French: herbe caille (Mauritius)

Local Common Names

  • : hierba del toro
  • Australia: Tridax daisy
  • Brazil: erva-de-touro
  • Colombia: cadillo chisaca
  • Germany: Dreibiss, Niederliegender
  • India: bisalyakarmi; mukkuthipoo
  • Indonesia: cemondelan; glentangan; gletang; gobesan; katumpang; londotan; orang aring
  • Japan: kotobukigiku
  • Madagascar: anganiay
  • Malaysia: kanching baju
  • Mexico: flor amarilla
  • Myanmar: mive sok ne-gya
  • USA: Tridax daisy

EPPO code

  • TRQPR (Tridax procumbens)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Tridax
  •                                 Species: Tridax procumbens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The taxonomic status of this species is clearly defined and universally accepted. The name Tridax refers to the three lobes of the ray flowers while procumbens refers to the prostrate, trailing habit of the stems (Holm et al., 1997).


Top of page Perennial herb with a firm taproot. Branches ascending from a creeping base, brittle, 20-75 cm long. Stem cylindrical, often purplish, sparsely and patently long- and white-pubescent. Leaves opposite, oblong-ovate, herbaceous or somewhat succulent; pinnately nerved, 2.5-6 x 2-4.5 cm, midrib strongly prominent below, both sides sparsely and patently long white-hirsute; petiole concave, long-hairy, 0.8-2.5 cm long. Flower heads terminal and axillary, 2 x 1 cm, erect-patently long-peduncled (10-40 cm), rather sparsely long-hirsute; 3-seriate, 5-9 cm long, base attenuate; outer bracts smallest, foliaceous, green; green; inner ones membraneous, usually purplish-margined; receptacle slightly convex, paleate; paleas linear, subpersistent, 5-8 mm long. Ray flowers 5-6, female; corolla 8-9 mm long with greenish-yellow limb, 3-4 lobed, pale yellow or white; ovary long, white, hairy. Disc flowers numerous, dense, erect, inner flowers numerous, dense, erect, inner ones longest; corolla 6-7.5 mm long, bright yellow, lobes 5; ovary with long white hairs; anthers cuneate, yellow with apical valve, 1.5 mm long; style arms long, acute, pilose. Achenes angular, dark brown to black, densely white long-hairy, 1.8-2.3 mm long, with 15-20 patent, 3-6 mm long rather stiff, feathered, unequal bristles.

The seedling hypocotyl is 1-7 mm long. The two cotyledons are glandular-hairy, green or purplish and have petioles 2-5 mm long. The first two true leaves are glandular-hairy with petioles 2-7 mm long and ovate to lanceolate blades 6-14 by 6-7.5 mm. The midnerve is distinctly prominent on the lower leaf surface (Soerjani et al., 1987).


Top of page T. procumbens originated in Central America but now occurs throughout the tropics and subtropics. It was reportedly introduced into Nigeria as an ornamental in the early 1900s and later spread from there to many other tropical countries (Holm et al., 1997).

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


BangladeshPresentRahman et al., 2008
CambodiaRestricted distributionWaterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
ChinaRestricted distributionWang, 1990; EPPO, 2014
-YunnanPresentZhao et al., 2008
IndiaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentMaruthi et al., 2005
-GujaratPresentBhattacharyya and Pandya, 1996
-Indian PunjabPresentSidhu and Bir, 1987
-KarnatakaPresentSridhara et al., 1995
-KeralaPresentDevi et al., 1993
-Madhya PradeshPresentOudhia, 2001
-MaharashtraPresentPawar and Barkhede, 1991
-OdishaPresentMishra et al., 2003
-Tamil NaduPresentPaliwal and Ilangovan, 1988
-Uttar PradeshPresentAlam and Anis, 1987
IndonesiaRestricted distributionSoerjani et al., 1987; EPPO, 2014
IranPresentHolm et al., 1979
IraqPresentHolm et al., 1979
IsraelPresentHolm et al., 1979
JapanPresentHolm et al., 1979
JordanPresentHolm et al., 1979
Korea, Republic ofPresentHolm et al., 1979
LebanonPresentHolm et al., 1979
MalaysiaRestricted distributionBarnes and Chan, 1990; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993
NepalRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
PakistanPresentKhalid, 1995
PhilippinesRestricted distributionMoody et al., 1984; EPPO, 2014
SingaporePresentWaterhouse, 1993
Sri LankaRestricted distributionPemadasa, 1976; EPPO, 2014
TaiwanRestricted distributionDepartment of Agronomy, 1968; EPPO, 2014
ThailandRestricted distributionNoda et al., 1985; EPPO, 2014
VietnamRestricted distributionMinh-Si, 1969; EPPO, 2014


BeninPresentLutzeyer and Koch, 1992
CameroonPresentHutchinson et al., 1963
Congo Democratic RepublicRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
Côte d'IvoireRestricted distributionHutchinson et al., 1963; EPPO, 2014
EthiopiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
GambiaPresentTerry, 1981
GhanaRestricted distributionHutchinson et al., 1963; Holm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
KenyaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
MadagascarPresentHolm et al., 1979
MalawiPresentBanda and Morris, 1986
MauritiusRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentHolm et al., 1979
MozambiqueRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaRestricted distributionHutchinson et al., 1963; EPPO, 2014
SenegalRestricted distributionBerhaut, 1967; EPPO, 2014
SeychellesPresentRobertson, 1989
Sierra LeonePresentHutchinson et al., 1963
South AfricaRestricted distributionWells et al., 1986; EPPO, 2014
SudanRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
SwazilandPresentWells et al., 1986
TanzaniaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-ZanzibarPresentIvens, 1989
TogoPresentPocanam, 2007
UgandaRestricted distributionIvens, 1989; EPPO, 2014
ZambiaPresentVernon, 1983
ZimbabweRestricted distributionDrummond, 1984; EPPO, 2014

North America

MexicoRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
USARestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentWestbrooks and Eplee, 1988
-HawaiiPresentHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
CubaPresentHolm et al., 1997
Dominican RepublicRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1997
GuatemalaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
HondurasRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
NicaraguaPresentSolis & de la Cruz, 1992
Puerto RicoRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1979; EPPO, 2014
United States Virgin IslandsRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentHolm et al., 1979
BrazilRestricted distributionLorenzi, 1982; EPPO, 2014
-GoiasPresentProcópio et al., 2006
-Mato GrossoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentBacelar, 1994
-ParanaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi, 1982
ColombiaRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
VenezuelaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014


FrancePresentHolm et al., 1979
ItalyPresentHolm et al., 1979
PortugalPresentHolm et al., 1979
Russian FederationRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
SpainPresentHolm et al., 1979
Yugoslavia (former)PresentHolm et al., 1979


AustraliaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
FijiRestricted distributionWaterhouse, 1997; EPPO, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
GuamPresentWaterhouse, 1997
KiribatiPresentWaterhouse, 1997
New CaledoniaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
New ZealandRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
Papua New GuineaRestricted distributionHenty and Pritchard, 1975; EPPO, 2014
SamoaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
Solomon IslandsPresentWaterhouse, 1997
TongaPresentWaterhouse, 1997
TuvaluPresentWaterhouse, 1997
VanuatuPresentWaterhouse, 1997


Top of page T. procumbens occurs in many environments but is particularly well adapted to coarse-textured soils in tropical regions (Holm et al., 1997). It is found at elevations from sea level to over 2000 m, often as a weed of roadsides, waste land, fallow land and crops.

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page Holm et al. (1997) cite T. procumbens as a weed of 31 crops, however, this is almost certainly an underestimate. A wide range of crop types are infested, including cereals, fibres, legumes, pastures, tree crops and vegetables. Though not associated with waterlogged soils, it occurs in irrigated crops. Most crops have the potential to be infested with T. procumbens when grown within its habitat and geographical range.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Germination of T. procumbens occurs over a prolonged period and in a variable pattern. In Nigeria, Marks and Nwachuku (1986) found that freshly harvested seeds required light for 100% germination but, after two months of burial in soil, half germinated in darkness. Ogbonnaya (1988) found the highest germination rate (82%) of T. procumbens for seeds on the soil surface under diffuse light. While seeds can germinate when buried at depths of up to 4 cm in the soil, only 6% of those at 1 cm actually emerged and became established (Pemadasa and Kangatharalingam, 1977). Seeds stored in soil for two years gave 7% germination in south Benin (Lutzeyer and Koch, 1992). The pappus on the achene aids water uptake from soil, promoting germination (Pemadasa and Kangatharalingam, 1977). The percentage germination of fresh seed in India was greatest at 30°C and at pH 6 to 8. Synchronous germination of high densities of seedlings results in intra-specific competition and a reduction in subsequent seedling establishment.

Dry weight, plant height and leaf area index of T. procumbens are reduced by shade (Shetty et al., 1982). In Nigeria, seedlings attain maximum increments in height and biomass after 12 weeks, after which the growth rate declines (Ogbonnaya, 1988). T. procumbens forms slender, wavy taproots with many lateral branches (Shetty and Maiti, 1978). The branches are more abundant near the soil surface. Lateral roots angle sharply downward and are important in water and nutrient uptake. T. procumbens is a C3 plant and is a very inefficient user of water; Datta (1959) reports a transpiration coefficient of 1402 compared with 430 for sorghum.

Flowering plants of T. procumbens are found year-round in Sri Lanka (Pemadasa, 1976) but shorter flowering periods are reported for West Africa (Le Bourgeois and Merlier, 1995). In East Africa, flowering occurs 35 to 55 days after emergence, and seeds ripen within 3 weeks of flowering (Popay and Ivens, 1982). T. procumbens is not apomictic and can be either cross- or self-pollinated (Holm et al., 1997). Insect pollinators include thrips, beetles, bees (Ananthakakrishnan et al., 1981) and butterflies (Balasubramanian, 1989). Single plants can produce 500 to 2500 seeds (Pancho, 1964). The pappus is relatively small in comparison to seed weight and is not likely to aid in widespread seed dispersal (Baker, 1965).

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Symptoms, host range and methods of transmission of Tridax mosaic virus, a mosaic virus disease of T. procumbens in India are described by Shamsher Singh and Verma (1979).


Top of page T. procumbens has been recorded at densities as high as 340,000 plants/ha in cassava (Doll et al., 1977), and it is as a competitor with crops that this species has its most serious impact. However, though very common as a weed in East Africa, Ivens (1989) does not consider it to be a serious problem. In India, it can interfere with the harvesting of jute (Holm et al., 1997). Das and Pal (1970) have shown that T. procumbens has an allelopathic effect on rice. It is reported as a host to several crop pests, including root-knot nematodes in India (Upadhyay et al., 1977), an insect (Phalanta phalantha) which defoliates poplar trees in Nigeria (Akanbi, 1971), red spider mite (Tetranychus telarius [Tetranychus urticae]) in India (Choudhury and Mukherjee, 1971), Macrophomina phaseolina in India (Singh et al., 1990), sunflower yellow blotch umbravirus in Kenya (Theuri et al., 1987) and Aphis citricola, a vector of citrus cistreza closterovirus in India (Naidu, 1980). T. procumbens is also an alternate host to the parasitic weed Orobanche in India (Sen, 1981).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Scaevola coriacea (dwarf naupaka)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010
Vigna o-wahuensis (Oahu cowpea)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Pest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition
  • Pest and disease transmission


Top of page T. procumbens can be used for wound healing (Udupa et al., 1991), staunching bleeding (Burkhill, 1985) and treatment of diarrhoea (Burkhill, 1985; Shashi Gupta et al., 1993), backache (Burkhill, 1985) and bronchial catarrh (Ambasta, 1986). Extracts of this weed are reported to inhibit the growth of Culex quinquefasciatus larvae. Root galling by Meloidogyne incognita is reduced by powdered leaves of T. terrestris mixed in soil (Sharma and Tiagi, 1989) and there is evidence from laboratory tests that juvenile stages of this nematode are killed by leaf extracts (Mani and Chitra, 1989). Essential oils extracted from T. procumbens are reported to have insecticidal activity against Musca domestica, Culex quinquefasciatus, Dysdercus similis and Supella spp. (Pathak and Dixit, 1988). Aqueous extracts inhibit aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus (Ghewande and Nagaraj, 1987) and a petroleum ether extract from flowers protects cowpea seeds from damage by the bruchid Callosobruchus maculatus (Alam and Anis, 1987). T. procumbens is sometimes used as green feed for poultry in Nigeria (Egunjobi, 1969).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed


  • Host of pest


  • Essential oils
  • Pesticide

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Though there are many related weeds in the Compositae (Asteraceae) family, T. terrestris has a distinct appearance making it unlikely to be mistaken for any other weed species.

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control

T. procumbens does not have the great powers of regeneration possessed by some other perennial Compositae and can be easily controlled by cultivation and hand pulling (Adams and Baker, 1962; Ivens, 1989).

Chemical Control

Herbicides reported to give control of T. procumbens include ametryne, atrazine, 2,4-D and diuron (Terry, 1983), Avirosan (dimethametryn + piperophos) and oxadiazon in rice (Vernier, 1985), bromacil (Jayachandra and Menon, 1972), metobromuron + metolachlor in cowpea (Olifintoye and Adesiyun, 1989), MCPA and 2,4-D in sisal (Ivens, 1989) and oxyfluorfen in groundnut (Prasad et al., 1987).


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Ananthakakrishnan T, Varatharajan R, Gopinathan K, 1981. Pollination in Wedelia chinensis (Osbeck) Merr. and Tridax procumbens L. (Compositae) by thrips (Thysanoptera: insects). Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, Part B, Biological Sciences, 47:159-165.

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