Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Boerhavia diffusa
(red spiderling)



Boerhavia diffusa (red spiderling)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Boerhavia diffusa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • red spiderling
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • B. diffusa is a fast-growing weed common in ruderal areas, agricultural land, and pastures. It has been listed as invasive in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Hawaii, Japan and Cambodia where it...

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Leaves opposite, unequal, ex-stipulate; petiole distinctly sulcate above and convex beneath, lamina ovate-orbicular, triangular. Inflorescence axillary or terminal branched cymose; flowers small, 3.8-4.0 x 3-3.2 mm, 2-14 together.
TitleShoot with leaves and panicle
CaptionLeaves opposite, unequal, ex-stipulate; petiole distinctly sulcate above and convex beneath, lamina ovate-orbicular, triangular. Inflorescence axillary or terminal branched cymose; flowers small, 3.8-4.0 x 3-3.2 mm, 2-14 together.
CopyrightA. Bramadhayalaselvam
Leaves opposite, unequal, ex-stipulate; petiole distinctly sulcate above and convex beneath, lamina ovate-orbicular, triangular. Inflorescence axillary or terminal branched cymose; flowers small, 3.8-4.0 x 3-3.2 mm, 2-14 together.
Shoot with leaves and panicleLeaves opposite, unequal, ex-stipulate; petiole distinctly sulcate above and convex beneath, lamina ovate-orbicular, triangular. Inflorescence axillary or terminal branched cymose; flowers small, 3.8-4.0 x 3-3.2 mm, 2-14 together.A. Bramadhayalaselvam
Boerhavia diffusa, flowering shoot.
TitleFlowering shoot
CaptionBoerhavia diffusa, flowering shoot.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Boerhavia diffusa, flowering shoot.
Flowering shootBoerhavia diffusa, flowering shoot.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
B. diffusa is a terrestrial, prostrate, diffusely branched annual or perennial herb, 1-1.5 m long.
TitleGrowth habit
CaptionB. diffusa is a terrestrial, prostrate, diffusely branched annual or perennial herb, 1-1.5 m long.
CopyrightA. Bramadhayalaselvam
B. diffusa is a terrestrial, prostrate, diffusely branched annual or perennial herb, 1-1.5 m long.
Growth habitB. diffusa is a terrestrial, prostrate, diffusely branched annual or perennial herb, 1-1.5 m long.A. Bramadhayalaselvam


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Boerhavia diffusa L.

Preferred Common Name

  • red spiderling

Other Scientific Names

  • Axia cochinchinensis Lour.
  • Boerhavia adscendens Willd.
  • Boerhavia caespitosa Ridl.
  • Boerhavia ciliatobracteata Heimerl
  • Boerhavia coccinea var. leiocarpa (Heimerl) Standl.
  • Boerhavia coccinea var. paniculata Moscoso
  • Boerhavia friesii Heimerl
  • Boerhavia paniculata Rich.
  • Boerhavia paniculata f. esetosa Heimerl
  • Boerhavia paniculata var. guaranitica Heimerl
  • Boerhavia paniculata var. leiocarpa (Heimerl) Heimerl
  • Boerhavia procumbens Banks ex Roxb
  • Boerhavia repanda Wall.
  • Boerhavia repens var. diffusa (L.) Hook. f.

International Common Names

  • English: hogweed; pigweed; spreading hogweed
  • Spanish: escorian morado (Guatemala); hierba de cabro (Guatemala); hierba de puerco; mata pavo (Cuba); moradilla (Guatemala); pegajera (Bolivia); pega-pollo (Dominican Republic); raíz china (Bolivia); rodilla de pollo (Colombia); tripa de pollo (Colombia)
  • French: boerhaavia à fleurs rouges
  • Arabic: handakuki; sabaka
  • Chinese: huang xi xin
  • Portuguese: agarra-pinto; amarra-pinto; celidônia

Local Common Names

  • : devasapat
  • Brazil: erva-tostao; pega-pinto
  • Caribbean: ipeca
  • Dominican Republic: pega pollo cimarron; toston; yerba de puerco
  • Haiti: liane manger cochon; manger cochon
  • India: bashkhira; punarnava; sant
  • Sri Lanka: chattaranai; kancharanai; mukurattai

EPPO code

  • BOEDI (Boerhavia diffusa)
  • BOERE (Boerhavia repanda)

Summary of Invasiveness

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B. diffusa is a fast-growing weed common in ruderal areas, agricultural land, and pastures. It has been listed as invasive in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Hawaii, Japan and Cambodia where it is invading principally coastal and ruderal areas (Wagner et al., 1999; Mito and Uesugi, 2004; Zuloaga et al., 2008; PIER, 2015). The sticky fruits of the plant facilitate dispersal. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Caryophyllales
  •                         Family: Nyctaginaceae
  •                             Genus: Boerhavia
  •                                 Species: Boerhavia diffusa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Boerhavia diffusa belongs to the Tribe Nyctagineae of the Nyctagineaceae family (Stevens, 2015). Mukherjee (1984) has revised Indian Nyctaginaceae members. Bramadhayalaselvam (1991) made revisionary studies on the South Indian species of Nyctaginaceae. The spelling Boerhaavia has been widely used for this genus, but most recent texts use Boerhavia

Taxonomy of the genus is complex and interpreted in various ways. Some authors treat B. repens L. and B. diffusa L. as synonyms. Singh (1988) and Stemmerik (1964) conclude that there is too much variation to distinguish these two (and B. procumbens) and all three are treated as conspecific in Indian floras. B. diffusa is certainly a highly variable plant and Theodore Cooke (1958) refers to it as a 'protean' plant, changing its appearance according to soil and climate. Others (e.g. Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1954) distinguish B. repens as a separate species with more prostrate stems, smaller flowers and smaller leaves than B. diffusa (= B. repens L. var. diffusa (L.) Hook. f.). Matters are also confused because the name B. diffusa has been misapplied by some authors to the closely related B. coccinea Mill. which is also a very widely distributed weed. In Holm et al. (1979)B. coccinea is treated as a synonym of B. diffusa. See Similarities to Other Species for means of separating these two species.


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The genus Boerhavia can be recognised by its erect or diffused herbaceous habit, funnel-shaped, plicate limb of the perianth and paniculate inflorescence.

Prostrate or ascending herb, to 50 cm long, many-branched from a taproot; twigs cylindrical, glabrous.  Leaves in unequal pairs; blades 1.2-5.5 × 1.3-4 cm, ovate to wide ovate, chartaceous, sparsely pilose, especially on veins, lower side glaucous, the apex rounded to acute, shortly apiculate, the base rounded, truncate to nearly cordate, the margins wavy, ciliate; petioles pilose, 0.5-3 cm long.  Flowers nearly sessile, 2-4(-7) in terminal, subcapitate clusters on axillary racemes or terminal panicles, 10-30 cm long; the axes glabrous; bracts and bracteoles lanceolate.  Calyx base 0.5-1.5 mm, puberulent, the limb funnel-shaped, red or violet, 0.6-1 mm long; stamens usually 2, slightly exserted.  Anthocarp sessile, green, glandular pubescent, sticky, short club-shaped, 2-2.5 mm long, 5-ribbed.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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B. diffusa is pantropical in distribution. It is recorded in floras of India, Malaysia and West Pakistan, and in many of the Indian regional floras such as Madras (Gamble, 1957), Tamil Nadu Carnatic (Matthew, 1983), Goa, Diu, Daman and Nagarhaveli (Rolla Seshagiri Rao, 1986), Tamil Nadu (Henry et al., 1987), Cannanore (Ramachandran and Nair, 1988) and Eastern Karnataka (Singh, 1988). B. diffusa has also been recorded in much of Africa, tropical and temperate Asia, southern North America, Central America, the West Indies, and South America (see distribution table for details; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015; PIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015). Its native range is unclear, and it is widely naturalized (USDA-ARS, 2015).

Owing to the possible confusion with B. coccinea, it is possible that some of the records included here are more correctly attributed to the latter.

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


AfghanistanPresentHolm et al., 1979
CambodiaPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Martin and Pol, 2009Probably native
ChinaPresentHolm et al., 1979
-FujianPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentBroome et al., 2007
-GuangxiPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuizhouPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-SichuanPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-YunnanPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andhra PradeshWidespreadNagarajan et al., 1990
-AssamPresentHooker, 1885
-GoaPresentRolla, 1986
-GujaratPresentTheodore, 1958
-Indian PunjabPresentHooker, 1885
-KarnatakaPresentTheodore, 1958; Singh, 1988
-Madhya PradeshPresentRajput et al., 1993
-MaharashtraWidespreadKamble and Pradhan, 1988
-RajasthanPresentVerma, 1983
-Tamil NaduWidespreadBramadhayalaselvam, 1991
-Uttar PradeshPresentSingh and Prasad, 1991
IndonesiaWidespreadHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Invasive Mito and Uesugi, 2004
KuwaitPresentMathew et al., 2012
MalaysiaPresentStemmerik, 1964
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993
NepalPresentHolm et al., 1979
OmanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
PakistanPresentHooker, 1885; Holm et al., 1979
PhilippinesPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
SingaporePresentHooker, 1885; Waterhouse, 1993
Sri LankaPresentHooker, 1885
TaiwanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015
ThailandPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993
VietnamPresentHolm et al., 1979
YemenPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015


BeninPresentHolm et al., 1979
BotswanaPresentHolm et al., 1979
Côte d'IvoireWidespreadHolm et al., 1979
EgyptPresentHolm et al., 1979
EthiopiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
GhanaWidespreadHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954; Holm et al., 1979
KenyaPresentHolm et al., 1979
LiberiaPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954
MalawiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
MauritiusPresentHolm et al., 1979
MozambiquePresentHolm et al., 1979
NamibiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
NigeriaPresentKehinde and Fagade, 1986
RwandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
SenegalPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954
Sierra LeonePresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954
SomaliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
South AfricaPresentHolm et al., 1979
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1979
TanzaniaWidespreadHolm et al., 1979
TogoPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1954
UgandaWidespreadHolm et al., 1979
ZambiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
ZimbabwePresentHolm et al., 1979

North America

MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
USAPresentHooker, 1885
-AlabamaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-FloridaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-GeorgiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Stemmerik, 1964; Wagner et al., 1999
-LouisianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-South CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
BonairePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
CubaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
CuraçaoPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
DominicaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1979
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
GuatemalaPresentHolm et al., 1979
HaitiPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentHolm et al., 1979
JamaicaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
PanamaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
Puerto RicoPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St Thomas, St Croix, St John

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Zuloaga et al., 2008
BoliviaPresentHolm et al., 1979
BrazilPresentAzevedo and Beltrao, 1984
-AmazonasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-BahiaPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-Espirito SantoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedSá, 2015Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-ParaPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-ParaibaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParanaPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-PiauiPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-Rio Grande do NortePresentLorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982; Sá, 2015Naturalized
-SergipePresentLorenzi, 1982
ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive IABIN, 2015
ColombiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
EcuadorWidespreadHolm et al., 1979
French GuianaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
GuyanaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Invasive Schuester, 1987; IABIN, 2015
PeruPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015
SurinamePresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
VenezuelaPresentNativeQuinones and Moreno, 1995; Funk et al., 2007


GermanyPresentSchuester, 1987


Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentHolm et al., 1979
AustraliaPresentStemmerik, 1964
FijiPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015
Marshall IslandsPresentStemmerik, 1964
New CaledoniaPresentNativeStemmerik, 1964; USDA-ARS, 2015
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2015


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B. diffusa is a tropical species growing in various soil types in waste places, along roadsides, near habitations, in and along cultivated fields and in open cleared patches in forests. The weed is also noted in dry waste lands, cultivated land and pasture. In China it is found in open places near sea, and in dry and warm river valleys, at 100-1900 m (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides 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
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number n = 26 and 2n = 52 (Virendra Kumar and Subramaniam, 1986).

According to Nadkarni (1976), there are two types of B. diffusa, one with white flowers and the other with pink flowers; the former is used in medicine. The sizes of the leaf, petiole and fruit show a high degree of variation from region to region, probably due to ecological factors (Nadkarni, 1976). 

B. diffusa propagates by root stocks and by seed, although seeds only account for 21% of reproduction. It flowers and fruits throughout the year (Mathur and Bandari, 1983). The first flowers may appear 4 weeks after germination of the seeds (Muzila, 2006). 

Environmental Requirements 

B. diffusa grows as a weed in ruderal areas, preferring sunny sites, sandy soils and a slightly seasonal climate, from sea-level up to 1900 m altitude. It is also a weed in cultivated land and grazing pasture. It prefers soils with pH ranging from 6.6 to 7.8 (Muzila, 2006).

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Punarnavomyia boerhaaviaefoliae Parasite Growing point/Leaves

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Several host-specific diseases have been identified in India on B. diffusa: (1) Passalora diffusa causing chlorotic leaf spots, and (2) Colletotrichum boerhaviae causing brown necrotic spots. Also in India, B. diffusa is recorded as a host for the virus causing aubergine mosaic disease (EMV), and in Costa Rica as a host of zucchini yellow mosaic potyvirus (ZYMV). In Cameroon B. diffusa is an alternative host for the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), and in Nigeria caterpillars of Aegocera rectilinea [Aegoceropsis rectilinea] and Hippotion celerio were found feeding on B. diffusa (Muzila, 2006). B. diffusa is also reported as an alternate host for rice nematode (Kumar, 1990). Mani (1973) reported a cecidomyiid insect natural enemy but could not specify the species.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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The small fruit of B. diffusa are very sticky and grow close to the ground. They can therefore attach to human clothing or to animals and birds, enabling wide dispersal. Because this species grows as a weed, its seeds can also be dispersed accidentally as a contaminant (Wagner et al., 1999; Muzila, 2006; PIER, 2015).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionWeed on agricultural land Yes Yes Muzila, 2006
Disturbance Yes Yes Muzila, 2006
Medicinal usePlant parts used medicinally in Asia Yes Yes Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSticky fruits adhere to clothing Yes PIER, 2015
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesWeed in pastures and agricultural land Yes Yes Muzila, 2006
LivestockSticky fruits adhere to animal fur Yes PIER, 2015

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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B. diffusa is reported as one of the predominant weeds of cassava in Venezuela (Quiñones and Moreno, 1995). It is also recorded associated with Xylella fastidiosa in grape in Venezuela (Hernández-Garboza and Ochoa-Corona, 1994). It is the most common principal weed of date palm orchards in India (Josan et al., 1993) and is one of the most problematic weeds in mustard in India (Rajput et al., 1993), where it is also recorded as a weed in tobacco, pearl millet and groundnut (Singh and Prasad, 1987Murthy et al., 1991; Singh and Prasad, 1991; Kennedy et al., 1992). In Nigeria it is also recorded as a main weed in upland rice (Kehinde and Fagade, 1986). In Hawaii this species is a common weed spreading rapidly principally in coastal areas, disturbed places, and disturbed forests (Wagner et al., 1999).

B. diffusa indirectly limits crop production by serving as an alternative host to crop pests; the weed provides food, shelter and reproductive sites for insects, nematodes and pathogens (Kumar, 1990). B. diffusa is recorded as an alternative host for Aproaerema modicella (groundnut leaf miner) (Kennedy et al., 1992). Yield losses attributed to these factors are difficult to determine.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • 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
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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The whole plant or its specific parts (leaves, stem, and roots) have a long history of use by indigenous and tribal people in India. The leaves of B. diffusa are eaten as a pot-herb and the root is employed in medicine to cure diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera (Kirtikar and Basu, 1975). Aqueous extracts of B. diffusa possess strong antiviral activity (Nagarajan et al., 1990). The roots contain a quinolone alkaloid which is the main medicinally active compound. The whole plant of B. diffusa is a very useful source of the drug punarnava, which is documented in Indian Pharmacopoeia as a diuretic.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Host of pest

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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B. diffusa has a habit similar to Boerehavia repens, but B. repens differs by its flowers less than 1 mm across and leaves mostly less than 2.5 cm long. B. erecta is similar in habit but lacks the sticky fruits of B. diffusa. Confusion is most likely with B. coccinea which also has sticky fruits, but its flowers are in denser clusters, 4-12 per umbel (versus 2-4 in B. diffusa), paler (pink or mauve versus rich magenta or crimson in B. diffusa) and the inflorescence is more shortly branched, more leafy and less diffuse (Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1954). 

Prevention and Control

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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.


The choice of control method depends upon the value of the crop and the severity of the weed.

Methods that are commonly used to control perennial herbs and that can be used for B. diffusa include preparation of a clean seed bed, crop rotation, tillage methods and physical methods (hand weeding and spade digging).

Chemical Control

Seedlings are relatively susceptible to 2,4-D and some control of established plants can also be expected (Ivens, 1967). There is little other direct information on susceptibility of B. diffusa to herbicides, but those which have been noted to give good control of mixed weed populations, including B. diffusa, include fluchloralin and oxyfluorfen in tobacco (Murthy et al., 1991) and atrazine in fodder maize (Singh and Prasad, 1988).

Hand Weeding

Hand weeding of B. diffusa resulted in a yield increase compared to the control in mustard (Rajput et al., 1993).

In chewing tobacco, yield without weed control yield was 1.39 t/ha and after controlling the weeds, including B. diffusa, by hand weeding and spade digging or by herbicides the yield was 2.83-2.99 t/ha (Murthy et al., 1991).

Yields were considerably improved by hand weeding 30 days after sowing in fodder maize (Singh and Prasad, 1988).


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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.

Azevedo DNP de; Beltrao NE de M, 1984. Weed control and herbicide selectivity in perennial cotton associated with maize and cowpea. Pesquisa Agropecuaria Brasileira, 19(5):583-590

Bramadhayalaselvam A, 1991. Revision of South Indian Nyctaginaceae, M.Phil. dissertation submitted to University of Madras, Tamilnadu, India.

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Henry AN; Kumari GR; Chitra V, 1987. Flora of Tamil Nadu, India. Vol. II. Coimbatore, India: Botanical Survey of India.

Hernandez Garboza L; Ochoa Corona F, 1994. Diagnosis of Xylella fastidiosa in grape and weeds associated with this crop. Manejo Integrado de Plagas, No. 33:7-10

Holm LG; Pancho JV; Herberger JP; Plucknett DL, 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, 391 pp.

Hooker JD, 1885. Flora of British India. Ist edn. Vol. IV. Kent, UK: L. Reeve & Company Limited.

Hutchinson J; Dalziel JM, 1954. Flora of West Tropical Africa, Volume 1, Part 1 (revised by Keay RWJ). London, UK: Crown Agents.

IABIN, 2015. List of Alien Invasive Species occurring in Jamaica. The United States Node of the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Net (IABIN). ttp://

Ivens GW, 1967. East Africa Weeds and their Control. Nairobi, Kenya: Oxford University Press.

Josan JS; Thatai SK; Monga PK, 1993. Principal weeds of date palm orchards. Punjab Horticultural Journal, 33(1-1):93-95; 6 ref.

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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06/03/15 Updated by:

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

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