Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Sphagneticola trilobata



Sphagneticola trilobata (wedelia)


  • Last modified
  • 25 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sphagneticola trilobata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • wedelia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. trilobata has spread rapidly threatening the native flora after introduction as an ornamental species. It can spread vegetatively and is difficult to eradicate. The IUCN has listed S. trilobata in i...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page
Sphagneticola trilobata; dense foliage and flowers.
CaptionSphagneticola trilobata; dense foliage and flowers.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Sphagneticola trilobata; dense foliage and flowers.
FoliageSphagneticola trilobata; dense foliage and flowers. ©A.R. Pittaway
Sphagneticola trilobata; single flower and foliage.
CaptionSphagneticola trilobata; single flower and foliage.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Sphagneticola trilobata; single flower and foliage.
FlowerSphagneticola trilobata; single flower and foliage.©A.R. Pittaway
Sphagneticola trilobata grown as roadside ground cover adjacent to a rubber plantation. Central Sri Lanka.
CaptionSphagneticola trilobata grown as roadside ground cover adjacent to a rubber plantation. Central Sri Lanka.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Sphagneticola trilobata grown as roadside ground cover adjacent to a rubber plantation. Central Sri Lanka.
HabitSphagneticola trilobata grown as roadside ground cover adjacent to a rubber plantation. Central Sri Lanka.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sphagneticola trilobata (L.) Pruski

Preferred Common Name

  • wedelia

Other Scientific Names

  • Acmella brasiliensis Spreng
  • Acmella spilanthoides Cass.
  • Buphthalmum procumbens Desf. Ex Steud
  • Buphthalmum repens Lam.
  • Complaya trilobata (L.) Strother
  • Sereneum trilobata (L.) Kuntze
  • Silphium trilobatum L.
  • Sphagneticola ulei O. Hoffm.
  • Stemmodontia carnosa (Rich.) O.F. Cook & G.N. Collins
  • Thelechitonia trilobata (L.) H. Rob & Cautrec.
  • Verbesina carnosa (Rich.) M. Gómez
  • Verbesina tridentata Sprengel
  • Wedelia brasiliensis (Spreng.) S.F. Blake
  • Wedelia carnosa Rich. ex Pers.
  • Wedelia trilobata (L.) A.S. Hitchc.
  • Wedelina paludosa DC.

International Common Names

  • English: Bay Biscayne creeping-oxeye; creeping daisy; creeping ox-eye; creeping wedelia; gold-cup; rabbit's paw; Singapore daisy; trailing daisy; water zinnia; wild marigold; yellow dots
  • Spanish: clavelín de playa; clavelito de muerto; clavellin (Panama); manzanilla; manzanilla de playa; margarita amarilla; margarita de pasto; romerillo; romerillo; saladillo macho; yerba buena cimarrona
  • French: patte canard
  • Chinese: nan mei peng qi ju

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: trailing wedelia
  • Brazil: insulin; vedélia
  • Cuba: romero de playa
  • Germany: Wedelie, Goldstern-
  • Jamaica: creeping oxeye
  • Lesser Antilles: bobena; carpet daisy; graveyard daisy; graveyard grass; herb soleil; lad love; pa a kanna; pasture sage; piss weed; venvenn kawayib; verven carib; vin vin caribe; yellow marigold; zeb a fan
  • Marshall Islands: ut mokadkad; ut telia
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: atiat; dihpw ongohng; dihpwoangoahng suwed (Pohnpei); rostangrang; tuhke ongohng
  • Palau: ngesil ra ngebard
  • Saint Lucia: venvenn kawayib
  • South Africa: Singapoer-madeliefie
  • Tonga: ate
  • USA: Bay Biscayne creeping oxeye; yellow dots

EPPO code

  • WEDTR (Wedelia trilobata)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

S. trilobata has spread rapidly threatening the native flora after introduction as an ornamental species. It can spread vegetatively and is difficult to eradicate. The IUCN has listed S. trilobata in its 100 of the world's worst invasive alien species and the Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council classified it as a category II invader. This species continues to be available as an ornamental and is therefore likely to spread further.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The basonym is Siphium trilobatum L., and the species has since been transferred to numerous genera including Compalaya,Sphagneticola, Thelechitonia, Verbesina and Wedelia. Although Sphagneticolatrilobata is the accepted name (HEAR, 2008, USDA-NRCS, 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008; USDA-ARS, 2008), Wedeliatrilobata is still widely used in the Pacific (HEAR, 2008), the USA and elsewhere. A large number of other synonyms are provided by Missouri Botanical Garden (2008).


Top of page

S. trilobata is perennial and grows to 45-60 cm high. Stems are green, rounded, rooting at nodes, 10-30 cm long, the flowering portions ascending, coarsely strigose to spreading hirsute, sometimes subglabrous. Leaves are medium textured, fleshy, usually 4-9 cm long (1.5-) 2-5 cm wide, simple obovate, irregularly toothed or serrate, usually with a pair of lateral lobes. The leaf arrangement is opposite to subopposite. Leaf venation is bowed and brochidodrome. Leaves are green in colour and do not change colour during autumn in the USA. S. trilobata usually flowers throughout the year. Flowers, solitary, arise in the leaf axils at any height but appear to have the most blossoms at about 10 cm above ground level. Peduncles 3-10 cm long, involucre, campanulate-hemispherical, 1 cm high; chaffy bracts lanceolate, rigid, ray florets often 8-13 per head, yellow in colour, rays 6-15 mm long; disk corolla 4-5 mm long; pappus a crown of short fimbriate scales (HEAR, 2008). Achenes tuberculate, 4-5 mm long with a brown, dry and hard fruit cover. Fruits are inconspicuous.


Top of page

S. trilobata is native to tropical America, from Mexico to Brazil including much of the Caribbean (USDA-ARS, 2008). It is now also common in many other parts of the world, especially at low elevations. S. trilobata is also present in West Africa, though records are limited. It has a history of repeated introductions outside its natural range and is becoming widely naturalized throughout the tropics (HEAR, 2008).

Distribution Table

Top 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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedCao et al., 2007
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2008
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-KeralaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedNirmal et al., 2005
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroduced Invasive Subramanium, 1996
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedNarain and Lata, 2006
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2008
JapanPresentIntroducedPIER, 2008Bonin Islands
KuwaitPresentIntroducedAl-Zalzaleh and Ghulam, 2004
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced Invasive Dissanayake et al., 2001
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013
ThailandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013


BeninPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2008
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedHenderson, 2001
GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013
RwandaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2001
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2001

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2008Noxious weed
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2008Hawai’I, Kaho’olawe, Lana’I, Maui, Moloka’I, Ni’ihau, O’ahu
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
BahamasPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
BarbadosPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
BelizePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Costa RicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; USDA-ARS, 2013
DominicaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
GrenadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuatemalaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
HaitiPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
HondurasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2013Weed
MartiniquePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
MontserratPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013Saba
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
PanamaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2008Weed
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Saint LuciaWidespreadNativeGraveson, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2013
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2008Weed. St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas

South America

BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
BrazilPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
-AcrePresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-AlagoasPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-AmapaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-AmazonasPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-BahiaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-CearaPresentNativeMaia et al., 2004; Forzza et al., 2012
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-GoiasPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-MaranhaoPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-ParaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-ParaibaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-ParanaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-PernambucoPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-PiauiPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-RondoniaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-RoraimaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Sao PauloPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-SergipePresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-TocantinsPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
ColombiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
EcuadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
French GuianaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
GuyanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
PeruPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
SurinamePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008
VenezuelaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2008


GermanyPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2008
SpainPresentIntroducedVerloove and Sanchez, 2012Potentially invasive


American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2000a; PIER, 2008
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Batianoff and Franks, 1998; PIER, 2008
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive McCormack, 2002; PIER, 2008‘Atiu, Rartonga
FijiPresentIntroducedmid-1970s Invasive PIER, 2008; Macanawai, 2013
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008; PIER, 2008Fatu Hiva, Moorea, Raiatea, Taha’a, Tahiti, Tupai, Rapa, Tubuai
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Fosberg et al., 1979; PIER, 2008
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008Butaritari Atoll, Tarawa
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Fosberg et al., 1979; PIER, 2008Enenwetak, Jahuit, Kwajalein, Arno, Majuro
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Space & Felanruw, 1999; Santos, 1998; Englberger, 2009Invasive in Pohnpei. Also present on Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap
Midway IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008; PIER, 2008
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008Ile Grande Terre
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2000b; PIER, 2008
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008Rota, Saipan
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008; PIER, 2008Tobi, Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, Malakal, Ngerkebesang, Peleliu
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008; PIER, 2008
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008Savai’I, Upolu
TokelauPresentIntroducedEnglberger, 2009
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2001; PIER, 2008Tongatapu
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2008; PIER, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

S. trilobata has been repeatedly introduced to other countries as an ornamental plant although the original dates of introduction are rarely known. GBIF (2008) lists earliest herbarium specimens in Australia from the mid 1980s, Hong Kong in 1993 and both Papua New Guinea and Indonesia as recently as 1997. Propagules are intentionally dispersed because S. trilobata is one of the most common and dependable ground covers in landscaping and it has been commonly introduced to many tropical gardens as an ornamental and has spread from these foci.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

Further spread of S. trilobata is highly probable, due to risks of accidental movement, mixed with crop seeds and other agricultural produce, and in soil. Deliberate introduction of this species to natural habitats is also very common because S. trilobata has an ornamental value in landscape practices. It is available from dozens of internet plant sales sites and is therefore certain to reach many new territories in the future.


Top of page

S. trilobata grows well in open areas up to 700 m or more in elevation (and up to 1300 m in French Polynesia) although it is commonly a coastal species. It is a noxious weed in agricultural areas, along roadsides and trails, in open areas, waste ground, irrigated lawns, rubbish dumps, natural grasslands and disturbed sites. Thaman (1999) has reported that S. trilobata has become naturalized in many Pacific islands and has become invasive along streams, canals, the margins of mangrove forests and in coastal vegetation. S. trilobata is suited to a wide variety of conditions and will cover rough rocky ground or wet drainage ditches and even tolerates some degree of trampling.


Habitat List

Top of page
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Principal habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Principal habitat Natural
Coastal dunes Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Mangroves Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Mangroves Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page

S. trilobata is a threatening invasive species in agricultural and forestry land, urban areas and roadsides. It forms a dense ground cover, crowding or preventing regeneration of other species (HEAR, 2008). It has been reported as a weed of taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Fiji (Macanawai, 2013).

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Pre-emergence, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page


The chromosome number for S. trilobata is given as x=30, 2n=60 by the Missouri Botanical Garden (2008). Ren et al. (2012) give the karyotype formula 2n=56=24m+28sm+4st, and postulate that the basic chromosome number may be x=14 rather than x=15 and that S. trilobata may be tetraploid.

Wu et al. (2013) report that S. trilobata in South China, where it is invasive, may be hybridizing with the native congener Sphagneticola calendulacea.

Reproductive Biology

S. trilobata produces achenes which contain seeds that are often said to be sterile (Hear, 2008), however, Macanawai (2013) demonstrated that large numbers of seeds were present in the the soil seed bank in wedelia-infested study sites in Fiji and that up to 17% of seeds were viable. The minimum generative time of these seeds is usually one year. However, S. trilobata usually propagates vegetatively, with stems forming new plants where they touch the ground. Stem fragments also readily form roots.

Physiology and Phenology

S. trilobata is a vigorous perennial herb capable of forming a continuous herbaceous ground cover. Flowering takes place year round. It produces the most flowers in open, frost-free locations. However, S. trilobata can grow in shade and still flower, although only sparingly. Where it has escaped from garden boundaries it can be found in lawns and disturbed areas, where it will respond to mowing by flowering at ground level.

Environmental Requirements

S. trilobata is generally a tropical species which will thrive in full sun or shade, but full sun produces most flowering. It grows in any soil when provided with ample moisture, but is also moderately drought tolerant and can tolerate extended flooding. It grows best in moist, well-drained, fertile soils, clays, sands or loams and can tolerate saline soils. S. trilobata does well over a range of soil pH values, but 5.5-7.5 is preferred. Though killed to the ground by frost when grown in temperate countries, S. trilobata may return with the onset of warm weather in the spring. The long, creeping stems of S. trilobata root wherever they touch moist soil.

In China, S. trilobata has been reported to grow better at high temperatures and carbon dioxide levels than its indigenous related species Wedelia chinensis, and it is suggested that the invasive species may become more aggressive through climate change (Song et al., 2010a,b).


Top of page
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 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 Tolerated < 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])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred 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 Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 30 1300

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 7 12


Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration04number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall10002500mm; lower/upper limits

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

Though relatively resistant to many pests, S. trilobata can occasionally be infested with chewing insects, leaf hoppers and mites. These insects are seldom fatal to S. trilobata, and chemical pest controls are only recommended for severe infections. In Hawaii, it has been reported that the banana rind thrip, Elixothrips brevisetis, feeds on leaves, flowers and stems of S. trilobata, with injured tissue taking on a silvery appearance and eventually turning dark brown. When E. brevisetis feeds on the leaf tips it results in wilting and curling and the undersides of leaves are spotted with small black faecal specks. Flowers become flecked, spotted, deformed and many buds fail to open. This thrip causes scarring and the formation of corky growth on fruit skins (Metcalf et al., 1962; Muruvanda, 1986). Several leaf spot and root rot diseases also affect the growth and development of S. trilobata under moist conditions.

Yu et al. (2011) report that native Cuscuta australis reduces the growth and nutrient content of invasive hosts including S. trilobata, helping native species to compete against the invader.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

S. trilobata usually reproduces vegetatively (HEAR, 2008) but viable seeds may also be present in the soil (Macanawai, 2013). The propagules are very often dispersed intentionally by people, or unintentionally in garden waste. It is commonly planted as an ornamental (Englberger, 2009).

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx flowers; seeds
Fruits (inc. pods) flowers; seeds
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches stems
True seeds (inc. grain) flowers; seeds
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants

Impact Summary

Top of page
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Negative
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Positive
Livestock production Negative
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

Top of page

There are costs associated with the control of S. trilobata in agricultural situations, though no figures are available. It is listed as a ‘principal’ weed in Trinidad (Holm et al., 1991). In Sri Lanka, it is a favoured host of Cuscuta campestris and could therefore contribute to the spread of this serious parasitic weed (Jayasinghe et al., 2004).

Environmental Impact

Top of page

Impact on Habitats

S. trilobata is an aggressive weed which forms a dense ground cover. This plant will spread rapidly excluding other ground cover vegetation. It has a vine-like habit and grows up into shrubs and trees thus retarding their growth. Batianoff and Franks (1997) reported that S. trilobata invaded the sandy beach fronts along the east coast of Queensland in Australia. Competition with other vegetation may be enhanced by allelopathic effects (Zhang et al., 2004), and the same allelopathic substances may also damage brine shrimps (Nie et al., 2004).

Impact on Biodiversity

S. trilobata has been ranked as a threatening invasive species that has invaded and affected the native biota of many areas in Hawaii, many other Pacific islands, the West Indies and southern Florida, USA, Central America, West Africa and Asia. In addition, it will also invade rainforest margins. The regeneration of native species in invaded areas can be inhibited due to rapid growth of S. trilobata and this can lead to reduction of biodiversity in invaded areas.

In South China, S. trilobata hybridization with the native congener Sphagneticola calendulacea is reported to threaten conservation of the native species (Wu et al., 2013).

Social Impact

Top of page

S. trilobata has an ornamental value. Subramanium (1996) reported that it could be maintained on fences, arches, compounds, building walls, trees, pillars and roofs to provide aesthetic appeal.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control


Top of page

S. trilobata provides an excellent ground cover and is especially good for soil retention and erosion control. Farmers in Indonesia believe it enhances soil fertility (Handayani et al., 2006). S. trilobata is very attractive because of nearly constant and prolific blooming of yellow daisy-like flowers. Therefore it is used in many landscape practices and mass planting such as under trees, open areas, around rocks and ponds as a covering in parkways and on walls or in pots. Furthermore, this species is excellent for erosion control on slopes and banks because it roots where the stems come in contact with soil. S. trilobata can also be used successfully as a companion crop to combat silver leaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), an important vegetable pest in Puerto Rico, the southern USA and the Caribbean Basin.

S. trilobata has traditionally been used to treat infections, indigestion and to treat hepatitis. It shows considerable anti-hepatotoxic and protective effects against carbon tetrachloride induced liver destruction. The active ingredient present in S. trilobata is a coumestan called wedelolactone (Wagner et al., 1986). Due to the presence of active chemicals such as n-hexane and ethyl acetate in extracts of S. trilobata, it shows antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella group C, Salmonella paratyphi and Shigella sonnei (Taddei and Romero, 1999). S. trilobata has also been traditionally used to clear the placenta after birth. Sureshkumar et al. (2007) also report effectiveness as an analgesic in studies on mice.

Dissanayake et al. (2002) reported that S. trilobata has the capability to absorb a high amount of Cu+2, Ni+2, Mn+2 and Fe+2 / Fe+3 from polluted areas in Sri Lanka. Hence, S. trilobata can be recommended as a phyto-remediator that can be used in a profitable manner to treat waste effluents and environments contaminated with heavy metal ions.

Prevention and Control

Top 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

Growth of S. trilobata can be controlled by carefully managing nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation. The importation and spread of S. trilobata can be significantly reduced by public education on the aggressive nature of the species. Educating the public on the identity, impacts and control of the spread of S. trilobata can reduce ecological degradation of native ecosystems by S. trilobata.

Mechanical Control

S. trilobata can be effectively controlled by removing the top few centimetres of soil using a suitable tool such as a fire hoe (a sharped-toothed hoe used for cutting roots and sod to clear fire breaks), with the aim of removing the soil-stored seed bank. Studies have shown that hand pulling can be effective, but can be impractical on a larger scale, because even small underground portions can re-sprout and seeds buried in soil can germinate. Therefore, repeated hand pulling or follow up with herbicide application is often necessary. In addition, burning can also be practised. It is important to note that pulling plants from the ground may cause unwanted soil disturbance in certain areas and recolonization by other invasive non-native plants. Hence, plans for management or replanting of sites with native vegetation should be carefully developed prior to implementation of mechanical removal.

Chemical Control

The spread of S. trilobata may be controlled by spraying metsulfuron-methyl herbicide (HEAR, 2008) and the addition of a suitable wetting agent is also important. This gives good control, but it is important to follow up with repeat treatments as some underground runners will survive the initial treatment and resprout (HEAR, 2008). In Australia, Spencer (2012) reports that most native species growing together with S. trilobata in the Daintree, Queensland, are resistant to metsulfuron-methyl and that native sensitive species tended to be pioneer species which could readily colonise once S. trilobata had been removed.

Large, dense populations may be treated by tryclopyr ester with follow-up treatments as needed. Spread of S. trilobata can also be controlled by applying 2,4-D, dicamba or triclopyr because many broadleaved weed species are more sensitive to these herbicides than are grasses. Also, some chemical growth regulators have shown promise in controlling the height of S. trilobata.


Top of page

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Al-Zalzaleh H, Ghulam Shabbir, 2004. Effect of bioremediated soil on growth of different plant species. Kuwait Journal of Science & Engineering, 31(1):107-118

Batianoff GN, Franks AJ, 1997. Invasion of sandy beachfronts by ornamental plant species in Queensland. Plant Protection Quarterly, 12(4):180-186; 26 ref

Batianoff GN, Franks AJ, 1998. Environmental weed invasions on south-east Queensland foredunes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 107:15-34

Cao F, Song XL, He YH, Qiang S, Qin WH, Jiang MK, 2007. Investigation of alien invasive plants in Huizhou Mangrove Natural Reserve. Journal of Plant Resources and Environment, 16(4):61-66

Chong KY, Tan HTW, Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore. National University of Singapore, Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, 273 pp

Dissanayake US, Tennakoon KU, Priyantha N, 2002. Potential of two invasive plant species, Lantana camara L. and Wedelia trilobata L., for selective heavy metal uptake. Ceylon Journal of Science, Biological Sciences, 29:1-11; 17 ref

Englberger K, 2009. Invasive weeds of Pohnpei: A guide for identification and public awareness. Kolonia, Federated States of Micronesia: Conservation Society of Pohnpei, 29 pp

Forzza RC, Leitman PM, Costa AF, Carvalho Jr AA, et al. , 2012. List of species of the Flora of Brazil (Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden.

Fosberg FR, Sachet MH, Oliver RL, 1979. A geographical checklist of the Micronesian dicotyledonae. Micronesica, 15:222

GBIF, 2008. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. GBIF.

Graveson R, 2012. The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean). The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean).

HEAR, 2002. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA.

HEAR, 2008. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii.

Henderson L, 2001. Alien weeds and invasive plants: a complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute, Handbook 12

Holm LG, Pancho JV, Herberger JP, Plucknett DL, 1991. A Geographic Atlas of World Weeds. Malabar, Florida, USA: Krieger Publishing Company

ISSG, 2013. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

Jayasinghe C, Wijesundara DSA, Tennekoon KU, Marambe B, 2004. Cuscuta species in the lowlands of Sri Lanka, their host range and host-parasite association. Tropical Agricultural Research, 16:223-241

Macanawai AR, 2013. Impact of Sphagneticola trilobata on plant diversity in soils in south-east Viti Levu, Fiji. Journal of Life Sciences, 7(6):635-642.

Maia SMF, Oliveira TSde, Oliveira FNS, 2004. Spontaneous plants in the soil covering and accumulate of nutrients in areas cultivated with cashew. (Plantas espontâneas na cobertura do solo e acúmulo de nutrientes em áreas cultivadas com cajueiro.) Revista Ceres, 51(293):83-97

McCormack G, 2002. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Project database. Cook Islands

Metcalf CL, Flint WP, Metcalf RL, 1962. Destructive and useful insects. 4th ed. New York, USA: McGraw-Hill

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003. VAScular Tropicos database. St. Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008. Tropicos database. St Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Muruvanda DA, 1986. Notes and Exhibitions. Prac. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc., 27

Narain S, Lata K, 2006. Additions to the family Asteraceae in Flora of Gorakhpur. Indian Forester, 132(11):1504-1508

Nie CR, Zeng RS, Luo SM, Li HS, Hong MQ, Cheng LQ, 2004. Allelopathic potentials of Wedelia trilobata L. on rice. Acta Agronomica Sinica, 30:942-946

Nirmal SA, Chavan MJ, Tambe VD, Jadhav RS, Ghogare PB, Bhalke RD, Girme AS, 2005. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of essential oil of Wedelia trilobata leaves. Indian Journal of Natural Products, 21(3):33-35

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96

PIER, 2008. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. USA: Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.

Ren Chen, Sun JingJing, Yuan Qiong, 2012. Cytology of Sphagneticola and Wollastonia, two genera in Heliantheae, Asteraceae. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany, 20(2):107-113.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2003. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Sydney, Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Sydney, Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens. http://avhtas.tmag

Santos I, 1998. Wedelia trilobata on Pohnpei. Aliens, 7:3

Song LiYing, Chow WahSoon, Sun LanLan, Li ChangHan, Peng ChangLian, 2010. Acclimation of photosystem II to high temperature in two Wedelia species from different geographical origins: implications for biological invasions upon global warming. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61(14):4087-4096.

Song LiYing, Li ChangHan, Peng ShaoLin, 2010. Elevated CO2 increases energy-use efficiency of invasive Wedelia trilobata over its indigenous congener. Biological Invasions, 12(5):1221-1230

Space JC, Falanruw M, 1999. Observations on invasive plant species in Micronesia. Honolulu, Hawaii: USDA Forest Service, 32 pp

Space JC, Flynn T, 2000. Observations on invasive plant species in American Samoa. USDA Forest Service, Honolulu, 51

Space JC, Flynn T, 2000. Report to the Government of Niue on invasive plant species of environmental concern. USDA Forest Service, Honolulu, 34

Space JC, Flynn T, 2001. Report to the Kingdom of Tonga on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service

Spencer HJ, 2012. Metsulfuron-methyl impact on native vegetation in the daintree lowlands, far-north Queensland, Australia. In: Developing solutions to evolving weed problems. 18th Australasian Weeds Conference, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 8-11 October 2012 [ed. by Eldershaw, V.]. Frankston, Australia: Weed Science Society of Victoria Inc., 122-125

Subramaniam A, 1996. Cultivation of ornamental climbers at the experimental garden, Yercaud. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany, 341-344

Sureshkumar S, Bhama S, Kumar TS, Chandrasekar MJN, Rajesh R, 2007. Analgesic activities of the medicinal plants of Wedelia trilobata, Wedelia biflora and Eclipta alba in standard experimental animal models. Biosciences, Biotechnology Research Asia, 4(1):201-206

Taddei A, Romero AR, 1999. Antimicrobial activity of Wedelia trilobata crude extracts. Phytomedicine, 6(2):133-134

Thaman RR, 1999. Wedelia trilobata: Daisy invader of the Pacific Islands. Preliminary draft discussion paper prepared for the SPREP Regional Invasive Species Strategy for the South Pacific Islands Region, Nadi, Fiji

USDA-ARS, 2003. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-ARS, 2008. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-ARS, 2013. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, USA.

USDA-NRCS, 2008. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Verloove F, Sanchez E, 2012. New records of interesting vascular plants (mainly xenophytes) in the Iberian Peninsula. II. Flora Mediterranea, 22:5-24

Wagner H, Geyer B, Yoshinobu K, Govind SR, 1996. Ayurveda and Liver Damage. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine.

Weber E, 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: A reference guide to environmental weeds. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 548 pp

Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: + 601 pp. doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000

Wu Wei, Zhou RenChao, Ni GuangYan, Shen Hao, Ge XueJun, 2013. Is a new invasive herb emerging? Molecular confirmation and preliminary evaluation of natural hybridization between the invasive Sphagneticola trilobata (Asteraceae) and its native congener S. calendulacea in South China. Biological Invasions, 15(1):75-88.

Yu Hua, Liu Jian, He WeiMing, Miao ShiLi, Dong Ming, 2011. Cuscuta australis restrains three exotic invasive plants and benefits native species. Biological Invasions, 13(3):747-756.

Zhang YH, Liu MF, Ling TJ, Wei XiaoY, 2004. Allelopathic sesquiterpene lactones from Wedelia trilobata. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany, 12(6):533-537

Links to Websites

Top of page
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.


Top of page

10/07/13 Updated by:

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

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

15/04/2008 Updated by:

Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map