Common name:Triffid weed
Scientific name:Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae)
Alternative common names:
Paraffin weed; Armstrong’s weed; Eupatorium; Chromolaena; Siam weed (English); paraffienbos (Afrikaans); usandanezwe (isiZulu)
Scrambling, sparsely hairy shrub up to 4m or higher, often forming dense thickets with wide-spreading branches. Light green leaves, often yellowish which smell strongly of turpentine or paraffin when crushed. White or pale blue cylindrical flowers appear from June to July. It produces straw-coloured, bristly fruits and this plant is poisonous.
Invades: Forest margins, savanna, plantations, wooded kloofs, water courses, roadsides
Where does this species come from?North, Central and South America (south-eastern United States to northern Argentina), as well as the West Indies
What is its invasive status in South Africa?CARA 2002 – Category 1 NEMBA – Category 1b
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Common throughout the lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal and into Swaziland, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
How does it spread?Produces vast amount of wind-blown seeds
Why is it a problem?It completely smothers and suppresses indigenous vegetation and known to replace up to 100% of indigenous vegetation in some regions. It is also highly flammable contributing to fires
What does it look like?General description: A scrambling, sparsely hairy shrub growing up to 4m or higher and can form very dense impenetrable stands. Leaves: Light green, often yellowish, smell strongly of turpentine or paraffin when crushed. Flowers: White or pale blue in terminal, surrounded by speckled bracts. Fruit/Seeds: Straw-coloured, bristly achenes, mostly dispersed by wind.
Does the plant have any uses?Planted as an ornamental plant but has now become a troublesome weed