Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Argemone mexicana
(Mexican poppy)

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Datasheet

Argemone mexicana (Mexican poppy)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 March 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Argemone mexicana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mexican poppy
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. mexicana is a widespread annual weed primarily associated with agricultural crops and wastelands. It is a major weed of a number of crops in the tropics and warm temperate regions and is persistent as it pro...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Argemone mexicana (mexican poppy); flower
Titleflower
CaptionArgemone mexicana (mexican poppy); flower
Copyright©B. Navez - CC BY-SA 3.0
Argemone mexicana (mexican poppy); flower
flowerArgemone mexicana (mexican poppy); flower©B. Navez - CC BY-SA 3.0
Close-up of foliage and flower.
TitleFoliage and flower
CaptionClose-up of foliage and flower.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Close-up of foliage and flower.
Foliage and flowerClose-up of foliage and flower.©A.R. Pittaway
Close-up of foliage and flower.
TitleFoliage and flower
CaptionClose-up of foliage and flower.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Close-up of foliage and flower.
Foliage and flowerClose-up of foliage and flower.©A.R. Pittaway
Flowering A. mexicana (up to 1.5 m).
TitleMexican poppy in flower
CaptionFlowering A. mexicana (up to 1.5 m).
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Flowering A. mexicana (up to 1.5 m).
Mexican poppy in flowerFlowering A. mexicana (up to 1.5 m).©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mexican poppy (A. mexicana) seedlings.
TitleSeedlings
CaptionMexican poppy (A. mexicana) seedlings.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mexican poppy (A. mexicana) seedlings.
SeedlingsMexican poppy (A. mexicana) seedlings.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Argemone mexicana L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Mexican poppy

Other Scientific Names

  • Argemone alba Raf.
  • Argemone leiocarpa Greene
  • Argemone mucronata Dum.Cours. ex Steud.
  • Argemone sexvalis Stokes
  • Argemone spinosa Gaterau
  • Argemone versicolor Salisb.
  • Argemone vulgaris Spach
  • Echtrus mexicanus (L.) Nieuwl.
  • Echtrus trivialis Lour.
  • Papaver mexicanum (L.) E.H.L.Krause

International Common Names

  • English: Bermuda thistle; goatweed; Mexican pricklepoppy; Mexican pricklypoppy; Mexican thistle; prickly poppy; yellow thistle
  • Spanish: adormidera espinosa; amapolas de campo; amapolo pinchuda; cardo amarillo; cardo blanco; cardo santo; chicalote
  • French: argémone du Mexique; argemone mexicaine; chardon béni; chardon du pays; herb a femme; pavot du Mexique; pavot epineux; tache de l’oeil
  • Portuguese: papoula-do-Mexico

Local Common Names

  • Angola: papoula; papoula-do-México
  • Argentina: cardo amarillo
  • Bahamas: donkey thistle
  • Bangladesh: Shialkata
  • Benin: débilo; timtonyakorou
  • Brazil: cardo-amarelo; cardo-santa; cardo-santa-maria; figo-do-inferno; morro do chapéu; papoula-de-espinho; papoula-espinhosa
  • Burkina Faso: bara; baragoué; blatoumé; mérékagnien; souroukou taba; yra
  • Chile: chicalote
  • China: ji ying su
  • Côte d'Ivoire: baragoué; blatoumé; mandé; mérékagnien; ouinigbe; souroukou taba; wenigbé
  • Dominican Republic: Jamaica yellow thistle
  • Ecuador: yellow prickly poppy
  • Ethiopia: baro bangi; eshok tilian; korehare; kossalae; madafe
  • Finland: fin naam
  • Germany: Mexikanischer Stachelmohn
  • Haiti: cardon fleurs jaunes; chadron à fleurs jaunes; chardon béni; pavot epineux
  • India: agara; bharband; bharbhar; brahamadandi; bramandandu; kantakusama; katelisatyanasi; satyonasi
  • Indonesia: celangkringan; droedjoe; druju; tjelangkringan
  • Italy: fico infernale; papavero del Messico; papavero messicano
  • Japan: Azami-Geshi
  • Kenya: ekijembajembe; mkumajalaga
  • Madagascar: fantsimboay
  • Malaysia: chelang keringan
  • Mali: bozobo; gninnidie; simsimji
  • Mauritius: chardon du pays
  • Mexico: chicalote; chichilotl
  • Myanmar: kye-ja
  • Netherlands: stekelpapaver
  • Niger: Boginahi; Dàyí gííwáá; Hákóórín kádà; Káákí rúwàn Allàh; Kàankámárkà tà bíí kà; kamukamu; Kánkààmáá; Karanko; Kùùrár fataakee; Kwarakko; Kwaranko; Wagiri; Wasiri
  • Nigeria: akunakun; Boginahi; Dàyí gííwáá; Hákóórín kádà; Káákí rúwàn Allàh; Kàankámárkà tà bíí kà; kamukamu; Kánkààmáá; Karanko; Kùùrár fataakee; Kwarakko; Kwaranko; mafowokanmomi; Wagiri; Wasiri
  • Pakistan: kanderi; kundiari; sialkanta
  • Paraguay: Cardo santo
  • Philippines: diluariu; kachumba; kasubang-aso
  • Puerto Rico: cardosanto
  • Senegal: gapéye korkot
  • South Africa: ikhakhakhakha; yellow-flowered Mexican poppy
  • Tanzania: akatojo; rangiibili; rikararungu
  • Vietnam: caf gai hoa vafng; gai cua; mufi cua
  • Zimbabwe: umjelemani

EPPO code

  • ARGME (Argemone mexicana)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. mexicana is a widespread annual weed primarily associated with agricultural crops and wastelands. It is a major weed of a number of crops in the tropics and warm temperate regions and is persistent as it produces a seed bank. In India in particular, the species is a health hazard and because of its prickliness, is a nuisance to subsistence farmers. In South Africa the seeds of A. mexicana have been declared as 'noxious' as its seeds or bits of seeds may represent a hazard to human or animal health when consumed (NDA, 2001). It is reported as invasive in many countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, and Oceania (Australia and a number of Pacific island states).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Papaverales
  •                         Family: Papaveraceae
  •                             Genus: Argemone
  •                                 Species: Argemone mexicana

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Argemone is from the Greek argena, meaning 'cataract of the eye', and was the name used in the first century AD by the classical authors Dioscorides (AD 40-90) and Pliny (AD 23-79) for some spiny poppies, the juice of which was supposedly a cure for cataract; mexicana combines Mexico with the Latin suffix ana, belonging to, suggesting the country of origin (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

Although Missouri Botanical Garden (2016) cites A. ochrouleuca as a synonym of A. mexicana, The Plant List (2016) and Otto and Verloove (2016) cite both as valid species. Of the names listed as synonyms, A. alba is reported as an illegitimate name (The Plant List, 2016). Many of the common names for this species result from the prickly stems and native range in Mexico.

Description

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A. mexicana is an annual herb, up to 150 cm tall with a slightly branched tap root. The stem is erect, branched, usually prickly, pale bluish-green and exudes an unpleasant-smelling yellow sap when cut. Leaves are alternate, without petioles, more or less sheathing the stem, up to 15 cm long, deeply lobed with irregularly toothed, spiny margins; greyish-white veins are conspicuous on the bluish-green upper surface of the leaves. Flowers are solitary, 2.5-4.5 cm in diameter, subtended by 1-2 leafy bracts; sepals 3, prickly; petals 4-6, yellow to pale orange, glabrous; stamens numerous. Fruit is a capsule, spiny, 2.5-5 cm long and 2 cm wide, with 4-6 valves opening at the tip to release numerous seeds. Seeds are brownish-black, nearly spherical, about 1 mm in diameter, covered in a fine network of veins, oily.

A. mexicana forma leiocarpa is a form found in West Africa which has few or no prickles on the stem, leaves and capsule (Lucas, 1962).

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution

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A. mexicana is native to tropical America but its native range is a matter of debate. It is thought that its natural distribution in North America included Mexico and southern Florida (Ownbey, 1997). It is probably native to much of South America but Mayworm et al. (1998) have stated that A. mexicana is an introduced and naturalized species in Brazil. Its distribution and status in tropical and warm regions of the world are likely to be seriously under-reported, considering that the species is sold as an ornamental or for ethnobotanical purposes.

As the species has probably often been confused with A. ochroleuca and even A. subfusiformis, its world distribution and abundance must be viewed with some caution. The species is found in Asia, Africa, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Oceania (see Distribution Table for details; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Flora do Brasil, 2016; PROSEA, 2016; PROTA, 2016; PIER, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). In Europe it was reported as being present in Bulgaria and Spain by Mowat (1964), but Greuter et al. (1989) stated that it was absent and reported in error.

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

Asia

BahrainPresentIntroducedMiller and Cope, 1996
BangladeshWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Islam et al., 2003
BhutanPresentIntroducedParker, 1992
CambodiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
ChinaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; PIER, 2016
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)WidespreadIntroduced Invasive DEH, 2002
IndiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra Sekar, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Invasive in the Himalayan region
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedChitra et al., 1997
-AssamPresentIntroduced Invasive Das and Duarah, 2013
-BiharWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Singh et al., 1999
-ChandigarhWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Ramakrishnan and Gupta, 1972
-DelhiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Inderjit, 2002
-GujaratPresentIntroducedPatel et al., 1993
-KarnatakaPresentIntroduced Invasive von Weizsõckerl, 1995
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedParadkar et al., 1989
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedKatole and Mundiwale, 1995
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedShanmughave, 1995
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedShah et al., 1992
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedMoody, 1989; Holm et al., 1992; PIER, 2016
-JavaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
-MoluccasPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
-Nusa TenggaraPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016Lesser Sunda Islands
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
IsraelPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Greuter et al., 1989
JapanPresentIntroducedWu et al., 2004
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoIndigenous, localizedIntroduced Not invasive Walker, 1976
LebanonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
MaldivesPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
NepalPresentIntroducedRanjit and Bhattarai, 1988
OmanPresentIntroducedMiller and Cope, 1996
PakistanPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; Mahmood, 1987
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedAbdel Hafez, 1985
SyriaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Greuter et al., 1989
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
ThailandPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
TurkeyPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
VietnamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016
YemenWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Miller and Cope, 1996

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
BeninPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
BotswanaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Phillips, 1991; Karikari et al., 2000
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
CameroonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
ComorosPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
EgyptWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Boulos and El-Hadidi, 1984; Greuter et al., 1989
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
EritreaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016Cultivated
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedStroud and Parker, 1989; Karlsson et al., 2003; Alemayehu and Desalegn, 2016
GambiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
GhanaPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1989
GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
KenyaPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987
LiberiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
MadagascarPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
MalawiPresentIntroducedBanda and Morris, 1986
MaliPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016Cultivated
MauritaniaPresentMcIntyre, 1991
MauritiusWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Vaughan and Wiehe, 1937; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016 Also cultivated
MozambiquePresentIntroducedExell, 1960
NamibiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
NigerPresentIntroducedBlench, 2003
NigeriaPresentIntroducedBlench, 2003
RéunionPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
Saint HelenaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Ashmole and Ashmole, 2000
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroduced Invasive Exell, 1944
SenegalPresentIntroducedBerhaut, 1967
SeychellesPresentIntroducedRobertson, 1989
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
SomaliaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
South AfricaPresentIntroducedHenderson and Anderson, 1966
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedde Lorenzo Caceres, unda; Otto and Verloove, 2016
SudanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
SwazilandPresentIntroducedWells et al., 1986
TanzaniaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Terry and Michieka, 1987; Katagira, 2002
TogoPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
UgandaPresentTerry and Michieka, 1987
ZambiaPresentIntroducedTerry and Michieka, 1987
ZimbabweWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Exell, 1960; Hyde and Wursten, 2002

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016Ontario
-OntarioPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
MexicoPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
USAPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2016
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-FloridaPresentNativeOwnbey, 1997; USDA-ARS, 2016
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedWester, 1992; PIER, 2016
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-IndianaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-KansasWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Ownbey, unda; Hitchcock and Clothier, 1898
-LouisianaPresentOwnbey, unda; Pammel, 1913; Brown, 1972
-MainePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-MichiganPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-MissouriPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-NevadaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-New YorkPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-TennesseePresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-TexasPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedOwnbey, 1997

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
ArubaPresentNativePROTA, 2016
BahamasPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentHolm et al., 1979
BonairePresentNativePROTA, 2016
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Guana Island, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Puntarenas, San José
CubaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Seifriz, 1943; Holm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
CuraçaoPresentNativePROTA, 2016
DominicaPresentHolm et al., 1979
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016La Libertad, Santa Ana, Sonsonate
GrenadaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Chimaltenango, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez
HaitiPresentNativeAnon, 2002; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Comayagua, Francisco Morazán, Gracias a Dios, Lempira, Olancho.
JamaicaPresentHolm et al., 1979
MartiniquePresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
NicaraguaWidespreadNativeHolm et al., 1979; Alemán, 2001; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
PanamaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Puerto RicoWidespreadNativeBarnés, 1946; Holm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
SabaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
Saint LuciaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
Sint EustatiusPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativePROTA, 2016
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
BoliviaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz
BrazilPresentIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-AlagoasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-AmazonasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-BahiaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-CearaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-GoiasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-MaranhaoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato GrossoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Minas GeraisPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParanaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PernambucoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PiauiPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Rio Grande do NortePresentLorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi, 1982
-SergipePresentLorenzi, 1982
ChilePresentHolm et al., 1979
ColombiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016Magdalena, Santander, Valle del Cauca
EcuadorIndigenous, localizedIntroducedTye, 1999; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
French GuianaPresentNativeDeFilipps et al., 2004
GuyanaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Boquerón, Concepción, Paraguarí
ParaguayPresentNativeSchvartzman and Santander, 1996; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
PeruPresentHolm et al., 1979; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
SurinamePresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
UruguayPresentHolm et al., 1979; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
VenezuelaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Europe

AlbaniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
AustriaPresentIntroducedMowat, 1964; USDA-ARS, 2016
BulgariaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
Czech RepublicAbsent, formerly presentIntroduced Not invasive Pysek et al,, 1989
FrancePresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Greuter et al., 1989
GermanyPresentIntroducedMowat, 1964
GreecePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
ItalyPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Greuter et al., 1989
PortugalPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2016
SpainPresentIntroducedde Lorenzo Caceres, unda; USDA-ARS, 2016
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedde Lorenzo Caceres, unda
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedMowat, 1964
UKPresentIntroduced Not invasive Interactive Flora of NW Europe, 2016Scattered in Central and South England
UkrainePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPIER, 2016Present based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; PIER, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; PIER, 2016
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedParsons and Cuthbertson, 1992
FijiPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979; PIER, 2016
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Tubuai Island
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016And cultivated
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; PIER, 2016
New ZealandPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
NiuePresentIntroducedSpace and Flynn, 2000; PIER, 2016
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Tinian Island
PalauPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
VanuatuPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. mexicana has been introduced accidentally (seed contaminant), as an ornamental or for its cultivation mainly for ethnobotanical purposes (Healy, 1961, APPEAR, 2016, PROSEA, 2016). Little is known about the history of its introduction and spread around the world. By 1814 it was the commonest weed of St Helena and was first recorded on Ascension in 1828. In New Zealand, it was accidentally introduced with imported wheat in the 1890s (Healy, 1961). The plant was introduced to Hawaii as an ornamental and was first recorded in 1934 (Wester, 1992). Tye (1999) reported that the plant was still relatively uncommon and suspected that it may become problematic in the future. In the Czech Republic, it was first reported occurring in the wild in 1965, but appears to have become extinct (Pysek et al., 2002).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
New Zealand 1890 Yes No Healy (2961) Accidentally introduced with imported wheat
Hawaii 1934 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes No Wester (1992)
Czech Republic 1965 No No Pysek et al. (2002)
Saint Helena 1814 Yes No Ashmole and Ashmole (2000)

Risk of Introduction

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A. mexicana is an annual herb with a high likelihood of further introduction. Being still considered as a desirable ornamental in parts of the world it is likely to be further introduced within regions where its distribution is still restricted. The species can be seen at construction sites and it is also used for landscaping and gardens, from which it can invade nearby areas (Foxcroft et al., 2006). Seeds of A. mexicana can be readily dispersed via contaminated soils, crop and seed products (Healy, 1961; PROTA, 2016). It is also in high demand over the internet due to its ethnobotanical uses.

Habitat

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A. mexicana is adapted to a wide range of habitats. It is reported as occurring mainly in regions with a distinct dry season (PROTA, 2016). It occurs as a weed of arable land, pastures and in waste places, roadsides, railways and fence rows. It is also used as an ornamental in urban areas (PROTA, 2016). In Cuba the plant was found to be typical of hygrophilous meadows (Seifriz, 1943). In East Africa it is reported in grasslands and savannas (Lyons, 2000). It is known from sea level up to 3400 m elevation (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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A. mexicana is a weed of most cropping systems, including large- and small-grain cereals, legumes, vegetables, fibre crops (cotton, sisal) and perennial crops (coffee, sugarcane). It appears that any crop has the potential to be infested with A. mexicana if grown within the habitat range of this weed.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

A. mexicana is a diploid species, 2n=28. A. ochroleuca is a tetraploid (2n=56). The occurrence of 5% of triploids (2n=42) in a population of A. ochroleuca suggest the possibility of a natural hybridization between these genetically close species (Chaturvedi et al., 1999). Although it was recognised for some time that both species could hybridize, the hybrid, Argemone x hybrida, was just recently described by Otto and Verloove (2016). DNA barcode information for the species is available at the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS, 2016). Germplasm is stored at various institutions (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016).

Physiology and Phenology

A. mexicana is a long-blooming plant. In the Temperate Zone flowering occurs in summer-autumn. Elsewhere the species flowers and fruits throughout the year (PROTA, 2016; Matthew, 1999).

Reproductive Biology

The physiology of seed production and germination varies throughout the world. Mauritius reports the greatest seed production with an average of 60 to 90 capsules per plant with 300 to 400 seeds in each capsule (Holm et al., 1977). Seeds are dormant when shed and have an after-ripening period of several weeks or months. In eastern Africa and Australia, seeds germinate at any time of year if moisture is available but, in Mauritius, germination only occurs in the cooler months (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). In India also, it has been noted that germination occurs late in the season, with low night temperatures (Ambasht, 1992). Most seeds fall around the base of the parent plant where they form a carpet of seedlings. Dispersal occurs in surface water and in mud adhering to farm machinery and the feet of man and livestock. Seeds are readily eaten by a number of bird species in Puerto Rico as indicated by the presence of many seeds of the species in birds' stomachs (Barnés, 1946). In Ethiopia, most seeds do not normally germinate the year after shedding. Instead they enter the seed bank and seedlings establish, even in well-maintained field, probably for many years (Karlsson et al., 2003).

Environmental Requirements

A. mexicana occurs mainly in dry areas, but can grow in humid and semi-arid areas and a wide range of soil types. It tends to grow best in soils of low fertility and, in Australia, is peculiarly adapted to colonise derelict areas low in phosphorus (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). A. mexicana is better suited to grow at sites deficient in nitrogen whereas the closely related A. ochroleuca does better where phosphorus is limiting (Ramakrishnan and Gupta, 1972). However, neither species appear to have obvious restriction to particular agronomic or environmental situations (Karlsson et al., 2003).

In southern India A. mexicana occurs up to an altitude of 800 m (Matthew, 1999): and is reported from near sea level to 3000 m throughout all its range (PROTA, 2016). When growing in undisturbed land, it can produce fresh weights of 6-9 t/ha, but in cultivated land, it is generally not an aggressive competitor (Holm et al., 1977). It can grow in acid, neutral or alkaline pH, preferring light and sandy soils (PROTA, 2016). It will not grow in the shade, and can tolerate droughts and temperatures down to ca. -5°C (PROTA, 2016).

Associations

In India grazing effects forest vegetation structure. It reduces grass cover and leads to the appearance of unpalatable species, including A. mexicana (Shanmughave, 1995).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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 Preferred < 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])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
52 40

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -5
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 35

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall1241400mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aspergillus niger Pathogen Whole plant not specific
Helicoverpa assulta Herbivore Stems not specific
Rotylenchulus reniformis Parasite Roots not specific
Xanthomonas campestris Pathogen Leaves not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A bacterial wilt, Xanthomonas papavericola [X. campestris pv. papavericola], periodically checks the growth of A. mexicana in some areas (Holm et al., 1977) but there is a dearth of information on natural enemies of this weed. Some organisms reported affecting the species are Aspergillus niger, Rotylenchulus reniformis and Helicoverpa assulta.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

A. mexicana is reported as being dispersed by water and wind (PROTA, 2016).  

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Birds might be dispersers as they have been seen eating the fruits (Barnés, 1946).

Accidental Introduction

The species has been reported as unintentionally introduced into the Indian Himalayas through trade exchange, including grain import (Chandra Sekar, 2012).

Intentional Introduction

A. mexicana has been used and introduced as an ornamental and for ethnobotanical purposes throughout its range (PROTA, 2016).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionA weed of cultivated land Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Digestion and excretionSeeds found in birds' stomachs Yes Barnés, 1946
Disturbance Yes PROTA, 2016
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
Garden waste disposal Yes Healy, 2961
HorticultureUsed as an ornamental. Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Internet sales Yes Yes
Medicinal use Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes
Seed tradeSeeds are available over the internet Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Plants or parts of plantsSeed contaminant Yes
Soil, sand and gravel Yes Yes
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSeeds dispersed in mud adhering to footwear Yes Mankeleja et al., 2014
Machinery and equipmentSeeds dispersed in mud adhering to machinery Yes Mankeleja et al., 2014
LivestockSeeds adhering to animals Yes Mankeleja et al., 2014
Water Yes PROTA, 2016
Water Yes PROTA, 2016

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health Negative
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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A. mexicana is a principal weed of beans and maize in Tanzania, cereals in Australia and India, cotton in Nicaragua, potatoes in India, tobacco in Argentina and Puerto Rico, and wheat in Pakistan (Holm et al., 1977). In Bangladesh, it grows in wheat, sugarcane, potato, pulses and tea fields (Islam et al., 2003). In Florida, USA, it is reported as a weed in tomato crops (Johnson, 1997) and Vaughan and Wiehe (1937) stated that it was frequent in cane fields in Mauritius. A. mexicana is one of the main weeds associated with common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) in Nicaragua (Alemán, 2001). In the late 19th century the plant was not considered to be a bad weed in Kansas, USA (Hitchcock and Clothier, 1898). A. mexicana has an inhibitory effect on germination and seedling growth of vegetables (Hazarika and Sannigrahi, 2001) and weed residues may affect Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) growth and development because of inhibitory effects of allelochemicals (Karikari et al. 2000).

In poultry, one ounce of seed causes symptoms (e.g. decreased egg production), and 2 ounces usually cause death (Everest et al., undated). Grazing animals generally avoid this weed but can be poisoned if it is consumed in hay or chaff. The species produces aflatoxins that are toxic to animals consuming contaminated crops and also could be found in milk, eggs and meat products (Alemayehu and Desalegn, 2016). The value of wool is decreased when contaminated by the prickly fruits of A. mexicana (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Harvesting by hand of low-growing field crops can be a painful experience in the presence A. mexicana and hired labour may expect to be paid a premium in these conditions.

Environmental Impact

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Islam et al. (2003) has ascertained that the species reduces plant diversity, and Kumar and Rohatgi (1999) postulated that it decreases biodiversity in India. In Tanzania the plant is commonly found in the Lake Manyara National Park (Lyons, 2000). Alemayehu and Desalegn (2016) report a decrease in plant and animal diversity, and a disrupt in the ecosystems structure and function in Ethiopia. According to Namkeleja et al. (2014) the allelochemicals produced by A. mexicana can affect the germination, growth and chlorophyll content of plants in natural ecosystems.

Social Impact

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A. mexicana has had a major impact on human health in the Indian subcontinent. Edible vegetable oil either accidentally contaminated with A. mexicana or intentionally adulterated by unscrupulous traders has resulted in a dropsy epidemic. Such an epidemic occurred in 1998 in Delhi (India) and also has been reported from Nepal (Jha et al., 2001; Sharma et al., 2002). Sharma et al. (1999) have provided a review of the clinical effects of adulterated oil and suggested preventive measures. An epidemic occurred in South Africa following the contamination of wheat flour (Sharma et al., 1999). In northern and central India, A. mexicana has been identified as an important allergen (Singh and Kumar, 2004). Subsistence farmers in the Ethiopian Highlands find this prickly plant difficult to manage in cereal fields.

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
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Damages animal/plant products
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Hybridization
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

A. mexicana has shown antibiotic activity against Staphylococcus aureus, S. agalectiaei and Escherichia coli, with potential in the pharmaceutical industry (Alemayehu and Desalegn, 2016). It has been cultivated for its seed oil, which is used for soap production and for fuel (Hanelt and IPK, 2016).

Social Benefit

A. mexicana is used for religious purposes in Central America (Hanelt and IPK, 2016).

Extracts of the leaves, flowers and seeds of A. mexicana have been tested, mostly under laboratory conditions in India, against insect pests (Chitra et al., 1997), crop pathogens (Singh et al., 1993) and nematodes (Das and Sukul, 1988; Saxena and Tabassum, 2000; Shaukat et al., 2002). Aqueous extracts have been tested with success against Tropical Hen Louse, Lipeurus lawrensis tropicalis (Kumar et al. 2002). Studies suggest that the extracts from the roots can be used to prevent oviposition and act as ovicidal against Aedes aegypti (Warikoo and Kumar, 2014). Von Weizsäckerl (1995) reported that it is used in parts of India to prepare antifeedant sprays in the same way as is done with leaves of Azadirachta indica. Extracts of A. mexicana readily kill the snail Biomphalaria glabrata and thus have potential as a molluscide for the relatively cheap control of human schistosomiasis (Melendez and Capriles, 2002). Although control or suppression of these pests has been found, there is little evidence for the widespread practical exploitation of these findings.

Medicinal properties have been attributed to the sap and oil from the seed (Holm et al., 1977). In the Guianas the whole plant is used as an infusion against asthma. The root is taken in rum and cognac for stomach pain. Sap from the cut end of the stem is applied to cavities as a treatment for toothache. Children having difficulty with urination are given infusions of petals (DeFilipps et al., 2004). In India (Madhya Pradesh) it is reported to be a homeopathic drug (Oudhia et al., 1998). In West Africa it is used as a cosmetic, i.e. a washing milk (Rukangira, 2001).

In East Africa, the seeds are ground and put into beer or tea to increase their potency and cause drunkenness (Verdcourt and Trump, 1969). In India, A. mexicana seeds are added to mustard oil in very small quantities, to increase its pungency. However, recently in New Delhi, over 60 deaths have been attributed to adulteration of mustard oil with larger quantities of A. mexicana, as a means of reducing costs (The Indian Society of Weed Science, 1998).

Environmental services

Although the species has been reported as poisonous to animals, lemurs were seen eating the stems of the plants when other resources were scarce after a devastating cyclone in Madagascar (LaFleur and Gould, 2009). No detrimental health issues on the lemurs were reported by the authors.

Uses List

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General

  • Ritual uses

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base

Materials

  • Oils
  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Hosking et al. (2000) have pointed out that A. mexicana, A. ochroleuca, and A. subfusiformis have been confused in the past and at present, and are often incorrectly identified.

Ownbey (1997) differentiates A. ochroleuca from A. mexicana on the basis of differences in flower bud shape and petal colour. A. ochroleuca is recorded as a weed from Australia (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992), Ethiopia (Karlsson et al., 2003), India (Ramakrishnan and Gupta, 1972) and South Africa (Milton and Dean, 1998). In Zimbabwe, these two species are viewed as colour forms of one species A. mexicana (Hyde and Wursten, 2002), but Otto and Verloove (2016) cite both as valid species. Chaturvedi et al. (1999) have suggested that A. ochoroleuca can naturally hybridize with A. mexicana, and the hybrid was recognised and described in 2016 by Otto and Verloove.

A. subfusiformis is closely related to A. ochroleuca and is found in Australia (New South Wales and South Australia) (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). It has cream to pale yellow petals, capsule slenderly spindle-shaped and seed approximately 2 mm in diameter.

Other Argemone species that occur in the USA are:

  • A. albiflora with white flowers, 10-15 cm in diameter and is a weed of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas(Brown, 1972). 
  • A. corymbosa is a weed native to California (Goeden and Ricker, 1985).
  • A. intermedia has white or pinkish flowers, 5-8 cm in diameter, densely covered with short yellowish hairs and is a weed from Arizona (Parker, 1972).
  • A. polyanthemos has white or lavender flowers, prickles on the lower surface of the leaves and it  is a weed of pastures in the Great Plains (Davis, 1993). 
  • A. squarrosa is a perennial with prickles on both sides of the leaves and is a weed of pastures and rangeland in the Great Plains of the USA (Davis, 1993).

Other Argemone species occurring in California, include A. minuta (Goeden and Ricker, 1985) and A. platyceras (Robbins et al., 1951).

Prevention and Control

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Eradication

Alemayehu and Desalegn (2016) recommended that the Bureau of Agriculture, other GOs and NGOs of Ethiopia develop mechanisms to eliminate the species from agricultural and grazing lands.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Plants of A. mexicana should be destroyed or removed before they produce seeds. Seedlings are readily controlled by light tillage. Long cultivated fallow or vigorous perennial pastures will control large infestations (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

Biological Control
The beetles Conotrachelus cf. leucophaeatus and Sirocalodes cf. wickhami are being tested in South Africa as possible biological controls for the species (Westhuizen and Mpedi, 2011).

A biological control programme of A. mexicana and of the closely related A. ochroleuca has been initiated in Australia. This native of Mexico is naturalized in most warm countries of the world in sub-humid as well as semiarid regions. This project sought natural enemies in Mexico and identified several predatory insects including an extremely damaging species of root-breeding and leaf-feeding weevil (CSIRO, 1999; Julien, 2002).

Chemical Control

Herbicides which control A. mexicana include 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, dicamba, diuron, fluroxypyr, hexazinone, isoproturon, karbutilate, MCPA, metribuzin, oxadiazon, picloram and terbutryn.

References

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Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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