Striga asiatica, Witchweed

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener February 09, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Striga asiatica, Witchweed

Witchweed is listed as a federal noxious weed. It is . It.  a parasitic plant that can infest agricultural crops and has been found in North Carolina and South Carolina. Plants are normally 6 to 12 in. (15.2 to 30.5 cm) tall but have grown to 24 in. (61 cm) tall. Leaves are linear and around 1 in. (2.5 cm) long. Flowers are small, less than 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) in diameter; occur in or on loose spikes; and can vary greatly in color from white to yellow, red, or purple. The flowers give way to swollen seed pods that contain thousands of microscopic seeds per pod. Witchweed can parasitize important agricultural crops, such as corn, sorghum, sugarcane, and rice. The host plant's nutrients are depleted, and energy is spent supporting the parasitic witchweed. Infestations reduce yields and contaminate crops. Witchweed is native to Asia and Africa and was first identified in the United States, in the Carolinas, in 1955.

What are invasive species, and why should we be concerned about them?


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Scrophulariales > Scrophulariaceae > Striga asiatica (L.) Kuntze

Synonym(s): Asiatic witchweed

Striga asiatica - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

witchweed - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way to report the occurrence of an invasive species?

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

County Extension Offices - Find your county Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Plant

Plants are normally 6 to 12 in. (15.2-30.5 cm) tall but have grown to 24 in. (61 cm) tall.

Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,  bugwood.org Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,  bugwood.org

Foliage

Leaves are linear and around 1 in. (2.5 cm) long.

 
Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,  bugwood.org bugwood.org

Flower

Flowers are small, less than 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) in diameter; occur in or on loose spikes; and can vary greatly in color from white to yellow, red, or purple.

 
Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,  bugwood.org bugwood.org

Fruit

The swollen seed pods contain thousands of microscopic seeds per pod.

 
Julia Scher, USDA APHIS PPQ, bugwood.org bugwood.org

Native Species That Resemble Witchweed

 

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for Witchweed

witchweed - Images at Invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for Witchweed

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your Land-Grant University's College of Agriculture, University Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

National Invasive Species Information Center - USDA

Fact Sheet - USDA APHIS PPQ

Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules of the U.S. - USDA-APHIS

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) - USDA Forest Service

Invasive Species Compendium (Beta) - cabi.org

Invasive Species Information - Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP)

Global Invasive Species Database - Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.