Asphodelus tenuifolius (onionweed)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav.
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Asphodelus fistulosus L. (1753)
International Common Names
- English: asphodelus (USA); hollow-stemmed asphodel; onion weed; wild onion
- Spanish: caramuixa; gamonita
- French: asphodèle creux
Local Common Names
- Germany: Affodill, Röhriger
- India: bhukat; bokat; pyazi
- Pakistan: pyazi
- Saudi Arabia: barok; basal-esh sheitan
- ASHFI (Asphodelus fistulosus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Liliales
- Family: Liliaceae
- Genus: Asphodelus
- Species: Asphodelus tenuifolius
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Asphodelus tenuifolius is very closely related to A. fistulosus, and the existing literature gives no clear indication for their taxonomic treatment. A number of European floras unite them as the same species using evidence of intermediate forms in the Eastern Mediterranean to support this decision. Asian and African floras, however, distinguish between the two species. Other references distinguish them at varietal rank, accepting A. fistulosus var. tenuifolius. The relationship between the two species remains poorly understood, and this data sheet will treat them as one. in line with Holm et al. (1997).
Chromosome number (2n) = 28 or 56 (Richardson and Smythies 1980).
Many authorities include the genus Asphodelus in the family Liliaceae.
DescriptionTop of page A. tenuifolius is an erect annual, monocotyledonous herb; root yellowish in young plants and dark brown at maturity, superficially has the appearance of the taproot system of dicotyledons, in fact the ridged and furrowed organ is a hard and compacted bundle of fibrous roots, which may sometimes twist to give a rope-like appearance; leaves numerous, all basal, hollow, slender, gradually acuminate to a point, 10 to 40 cm long, the base sheathing, smooth to minutely hairy; seeming to rise as a 'bunch' from the soil, scapes several, simple, sparse dichotomous branching in upper region, stout, 3 mm in diameter, up to 60 cm long; flowers campanulate, white with pink or purple stripe, in lax racemes; bracteate, pedicellate, short pedicel may be jointed; petals 1.5 cm long in six perianth segments; stamens six; simple, superior, 3-carpelled, 3-loculed ovary; flowering progressing upward in the inflorescence over a period of weeks, normally flowers do not open until late afternoon and unless conditions are dull and cool will close and wither before the next day; fruit, a 3-valved globular capsule, dehiscing at partitions into the cavity, transversely wrinkled, about 3 mm long; seeds 3-angled, blackish, finely pebbled texture, deep irregular dents on face and back.
DistributionTop of page A. tenuifolius is native to the Mediterranean region, Asia and the Mascarene Islands. It is generally present from the Canary Islands, across the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Afghanistan. Further south it occurs from Sudan across the Arabian peninsula to India and Malaysia. The species is also present in Australia and parts of Central America. It is found to an altitude of 2200 m in the mountains of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (Holm et al., 1997).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Afghanistan||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Bangladesh||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|India||Restricted distribution||Singh et al., 1995; Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014|
|-Haryana||Widespread||Malik & Singh, 1994|
|-Indian Punjab||Widespread||Adlakha et al., 1971; Sekhon et al., 1993|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Widespread||Bamber, 1916; Thakur, 1954|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present||Tomar and Namdeo, 1991; Yadav et al., 1995|
|-Rajasthan||Widespread||Sen and Kasera, 1988|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||Sanjai et al., 2009|
|-West Bengal||Widespread||Anon, 1985|
|Iran||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Iraq||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Israel||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Malaysia||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Nepal||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Oman||Present||Chaudhary et al., 1981; Holm et al., 1997|
|Pakistan||Present||Ahmad et al., 1968; Saeed et al., 1979; Holm et al., 1991|
|Saudi Arabia||Widespread||Chaudhary et al., 1981|
|Turkey||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Yemen||Present||Chaudhary et al., 1981; Holm et al., 1997|
|Egypt||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Sudan||Present||Holm et al., 1991|
|Mexico||Present||Holm et al., 1997|
|USA||Present||Holm et al., 1997|
|Bolivia||Present||Holm et al., 1997|
|Peru||Present||Holm et al., 1997|
|France||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Greece||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Italy||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980; Holm et al., 1991|
|Portugal||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|-Azores||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Spain||Restricted distribution||Richardson and Smythies, 1980; EPPO, 2014|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Yugoslavia (former)||Present||Richardson and Smythies, 1980|
|Australia||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-New South Wales||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Queensland||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-South Australia||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Tasmania||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Victoria||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Western Australia||Present||Lazarides et al., 1997|
|New Zealand||Restricted distribution||Holm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014|
HabitatTop of page A. tenuifoliusis a sub-tropical species which prefers places with a relatively dry climate, low rainfall, rainfed agriculture and light soils. It is adversely affected by frequent irrigations and intensive agriculture, especially rice-wheat cropping systems. In a region of heavy infestation in India a series of experiments revealed that the weed is most competitive where the soil has a pH of 7, a water-holding capacity of 40%, a N level of 0.05% and an organic matter content of 0.7 to 1.5% (Tripathi, 1968a).
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page A. tenuifolius is a weed of 15 crops (Holm et al., 1997). It is a serious weed of wheat in India and Pakistan and a principal weed of chickpeas, lentils, linseed, peas, potatoes, tobacco and many other winter season crops in India.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Beta vulgaris (beetroot)||Chenopodiaceae||Other|
|Brassica juncea var. juncea (Indian mustard)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Cicer arietinum (chickpea)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Gossypium hirsutum (Bourbon cotton)||Malvaceae||Other|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Other|
|Linum usitatissimum (flax)||Main|
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Phoenix dactylifera (date-palm)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Pisum sativum (pea)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Other|
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Main|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Other|
Biology and EcologyTop of page A. tenuifolius is an annual species which reproduces solely by seed. In South Asia, where the species is most commonly a serious weed, maximum germination and emergence occurs in September and October. Sant et al. (1979) showed that maximum growth, measured as increase in above-ground biomass, occurred 60 to 100 days after seed sowing. Once established, the quantity of weed seed in a field often increases from year to year as the species generally completes its life cycle and sheds seed before crop harvest. In India, seed output ranged from 270 to 2300 per plant in five wheat fields (Tripathi, 1968a).
In germination trials, Tripathi (1968a) collected fresh seed and stored it in bottles prior to conducting germination trials. Fresh and 6-month-old seed did not germinate, suggesting that they possess innate dormancy. After 8, 20 and 32 months, germination was 22, 90 and 100%, respectively. Further trials have shown that germination may be promoted by scarification by acid, fluctuating temperatures and stratification (Holm et al., 1997). Khan and Chaudri (1957) demonstrated an internal periodicity of germination whereby germinability of seeds increased during the growing season until December after which time it slowly decreased. These increases in germination coincided with the growth cycle of the plant. Maximum emergence occurs from 2 to 3 cm soil depth (Sahai and Bhan, 1991a).
Seed dispersal occurs when the fruiting capsule breaks open into three parts, each of which contains two seeds which normally fall slightly away from the parent plant. Adult plants harvested with the crop may contain seed, and A. tenuifolius is often a contaminant of wheat seed in India (Tripathi, 1977) and is dispersed over long distances in this manner. Seeds may also be dispersed from field to field via farm machinery or manure.
ImpactTop of page Yield loss as a result of interference from A. tenuifolius is most severe in India and Pakistan. The range of affected crops has been listed. Yield losses of 42% were recorded in chickpea fields infested with A. tenuifolius (Tripathi, 1967), and competition from this weed is more severe than that from Chenopodium album (Tripathi, 1969).
A. tenuifolius is an alternative host for the root-rot-causing fungus, Macrophomina phaseoli in Pakistan (Anon., 1985), and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum has been isolated from A. tenuifolius in mustard fields (Rathore et al., 1993).
Sharma (1977) noted that one gram of seed was fatal to some birds.
UsesTop of page Oil extracts from A. tenuifolius may be used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes and soap. These oils also have various medicinal and therapeutic properties, for example, their high linoleic acid content makes them useful for the prevention of arteriosclerosis. The seeds are diuretic, and antiseptic when applied externally to ulcers (Anon., 1985; Agrawal, 1990). A. tenuifolius has been used as a manure and its oil cake as a cattle feed (Anon., 1985). The tuberous root system was eaten by humans in ancient times and is still occasionally used as food, and may also be used in the production of adhesives.
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
Human food and beverage
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Few other Asphodelus species occur as weeds, but where A. aestivus occurs (in Europe and the Middle East) it is distinguished by its flat leaves and more robust habit.
Prevention and ControlTop of page Cultural Control
In India, a regime of two hand weedings, 30 and 45 days after sowing, was more effective than herbicides for controlling A. tenuifolius in winter pulses (Sekhon et al., 1993). In north-west India the time of crop sowing was critical, with early sowings considerably increasing infestation compared to planting in mid-November (Sahai and Bhan, 1991b). Tripathi (1968b) found that manual control by clipping the plants at or close to soil level in January and February did not adequately control the weed. The population density of this weed may also be kept in check by ensuring a high density of crop plants (Sen, 1981), increasing intervals between irrigation (Tripathi, 1968a), and by crop rotation which reduces the soil seed bank. Farmers in India have also used a heavy roller immediately before crop sowing to prevent early seedling emergence.
The population density and growth of A. tenuifolius in wheat and winter maize can be effectively reduced by early applications of 2,4-D and atrazine, respectively. Singh and Saroha (1975) treated weed species with 2,4-D at several stages after anthesis and found that later treatments allowed more viable seed production. Treatments at the time of 50% flowering prevented seed formation in A. tenuifolius. Isoproturon has been found effective in wheat and mustard, but not in chickpea (Rajput et al., 1993). Applied pre-emergence in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), yield was significantly improved and weed densities reduced. Pendimethalin is effective in peas and lentils (Sekhon et al., 1993), methabenzthiazuron and metoxuron in mustard (Brassica campestris) (Rajput et al., 1993) and fluchloralin in chick peas (Yadav et al., 1995). For efficient weed management herbicide treatments often need to be supplemented with one manual weeding between 30 and 45 days after sowing.
ReferencesTop of page
Adlakha PA; Shrivastava AK; Sirohi SS; Sharma VK, 1971. Weed Flora of Ludhiana. Indian Journal of Weed Science, 3(1):37-44.
Agrawal VS, 1990. Economic Plants of India. Dehra Dun, India: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh.
Ahmad M; Baluch A; Soomro SK, 1968. A note on the effect of U-46 and gramaxone weedicides on the rabi weeds of the Hyderabad region. West Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research, 6(1):125-126.
Anon, 1985. The Wealth of India. Raw Materials. Vol. I. New Delhi, India: Publication & Information Directorate, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.
Bamber CJ, 1916. Plants of Punjab. Punjab, India: Superintendent Government Printing.
EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm
Holm L; Doll J; Holm E; Pancho J; Herberger J, 1997. World Weeds. Natural Histories and Distribution. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Joshi NC, 1974. Manual of Weed Control. Delhi, India: Researchco Pub.
Khan A; Chaudhri I, 1957. Studies on the seed dormancy of Asphodelus tenuifolius. Proceedings of the Pakistan Science Conference, Lahore, Pakistan, 9:25-26.
Richardson IBK; Smythies BE, 1980. 5. Asphodelus L. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA, eds. Flora Europaea, Volume 5. Alismataceae to Orchidaceae Monocotyledones. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 17.
Sanjai Chaudhry; Rathi JPS; Chaudhary DK; Singh OP, 2009. Weed management in field pea (Pisum sativum) through agronomic manipulations. International Journal of Plant Sciences (Muzaffarnagar), 4(2):524-526. http://www.hhindagrichorticulturalsociety.com
Sant HR; Singh RL; Pandey DD, 1979. Productivity of Asphodelus tenuifolius, a common weed of cultivated fields of Varanasi, India. Proceedings of the 7th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference, Sydney, Australia, 445-446.
Sekhon HS; Guriqbal Singh; Brar JS, 1993. Effect of chemical, mechanical and cultural manipulations on weed growth and grain yield of various pulse crops. Integrated weed management for sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of an Indian Society of Weed Science International Symposium, Hisar, India, 18-20 November 1993 Hisar, Haryana, India; Indian Society of Weed Science, Vol. III:141-146
Sen DN; Kasera PK, 1988. Biology of some important Kharif and rabi weeds in Indian arid zone. VIIIe Colloque International sur la Biologie, l'Ecologie et la Systematique des Mauvaises Herbes Paris, France; A.N.P.P., Vol. 2:325-333
Sharma M, 1977. The role of the common sparrow in the control of weeds of the major crops in the Meerut district. Indian Journal of Agricultural Science, 47:224.
Thakur C, 1954. Weeds. Bankipur, Patna, Bihar, India: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers and Booksellers.
Tripathi RS, 1967. Mutual interaction of gram (Cicer arietinum L.) and two common weeds (Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav. and Euphorbia dracunculoides Lamk.). Tropical Ecology, 8(1-2):105-109.
Tripathi RS, 1968. Certain autecological observations on Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav., a troublesome weed of Indian agriculture. Tropical Ecology, 9(2):208-219.
Tripathi RS, 1968. Comprison of competitive ability of certain common weed species. Tropical Ecology, 9(1):37-41.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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