Euphorbia hirta L. - EUPHORBIACEAE - Dicotyledon

Common name : asthma plant, hairy spurge, garden spurge.

Hairy stems - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006 Inflorescence - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006 Latex - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006 Asymmetric leaf base  - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006 Inflorescence in cymes - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006 Fruits are small capsules - © Pierre GRARD - CIRAD 2005 - 2006

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Botany Biology Phenology Ecology Distribution Cultural control Biological control Chemical control

Botany :

Description : Terrestrial, annual, erect herb, up to 60 cm tall. Taproot white or brown. Stem rounded, solid, hairy, with abundant milksap. Stipules present. Leaves simple, not lobed or divided, opposite, sessile or stalked, elliptic, less than 2 cm long/wide, hairy on both sides, denser pilosity along the veins in the lower face, more scattered on the upper side; leaf base asymmetric, margin finely dentate, apex acute, base acute, 3-veined not to the top. Flowers unisexual, solitary or grouped together in an axillary cyme, stalked, petals absent. Fruit a capsule opening with 3 valves.
Seeds : Seeds are Oblong, 4-sided prismatic, tiny and reddish in color.
Seedling : Cotyledons shortly petiolated, elliptic, 2mm long 1mm wide, sessile and hairless. First leaves simple, opposite and sub-sessile, elliptic, with asymmetric lamina in the base, and finely toothed margin.

Biology :

It is an annual prostrate weed which multiplies only by seed; up to 3000 seeds per plant; dispersed in an active way by projection or in a passive way by ants. A high percentage of seed germination full sun or partly shade, grows on all types of soil.

Phenology :

Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.

Ecology :

E. hirta is a weed of waste places and in crops, occurring up to 2,000 m altitude. It is an invasive plant which spreads very quickly. It is a species of much brightened environment that meets so well on dry grounds as in the wetter zones. However, it is not present in altitude. It prefer the sandy grounds or with gravels. Sunny to lightly shaded, not too moist, grassy sites; along roads, premises, often between stones; locally common. Early colonize of bare land.

Distribution :

Pantropical, partly sub-tropical, originating in Central America. Introduced into Southeast Asia a long time ago; has since spread throughout. Prefer dry condition, found in roadsides and waste lands as cultivated areas. .

Cultural control :

E. hirta is easily controlled by hand or hoe and by cultivation.

Biological control :

There are very few records of natural enemies attacking E. hirta, and those that do are highly polyphagous.

Chemical control :

1.1 kg MSMA + 0.45 kg 2.4-D + 2.3 kg of sodium chlorate in 182 1 of water; spot-spray 5 week later, if necessary. Post-emergence: atrazine 2.4-3.2 kg/ha; ametryn 2.4-3.2 kg/ha; asulam 3.6 kg/ha in combination with 2.4-D. In papaya plantations pre-emergence control with attrazine, simazine or prometryn 3-4 kg/ha gives satisfactory results. Also recommended: attrazine plus urea in post-emergence application. Used in rice: oxadiazon.

Uses :
The latex of the plant is used to cure some wounds. The stalks and leaves are used to prepare a drink flavoring the milk of young mothers. It is also popular remedy for coughs, coryza, hay fever, bronchial infections and respiratory disorders. In traditional Cambodian medicine, it is given to expel worms, bowel complaints and as a paste for gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases. A tincture is suitable for spasmodic dyspnoea due to asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and pulmonary, cardiac disorders.

Remarks :
The plant may be slightly poisonous. E. hirta is sometimes used in medicines; the leaves and latex against intestinal diseases, ulcers and bronchitis, and the latex for conjunctivitis. It may have slightly poisonous properties and is useless as fodder for livestock.

References :
-Le Bourgeois T., Jeuffrault E., Grard P., Carrara A. 2001. AdvenRun V.1.0. Les principales mauvaises herbes de La Réunion. CD-ROM. Cirad, SPV. France.
-Holm L. G., Plucknett D. L., Pancho J. V., Herberger J. P. 1991. The world’s worst weeds. Distribution and Biology. East-West Center by the University Press. Hawaii.
-Galinato M., Moody K., Piggin C. M. 1999. Upland rice weeds of South and Southeast Asia. IRRI. Philippines.
-Waterhouse D. F. 1994. Biological control of weeds: Southeast Asian prospects. ACIAR Monograph No. 26, 302pp.

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