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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Erect much branched, aromatic annual herb, rarely a short-lived perennial, up to 180 cm high. Stems green, rarely tinged red. Leaves mostly lanceolate, 3-14 cm long, green, with numerous yellow glands, especially below; margin, particularly of the lower leaves, with up to 10 irregular teeth. Minute flowers in sessile yellowish clusters or 'glomerules' along the ultimate branches, together forming large branched heads.
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Derivation of specific name

ambrosioides: resembling a species of Ambrosia, a genus in Asteraceae.
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Description

This introduced plant is a summer annual about 2-5' tall (in more tropical climates, it is a perennial). More or less erect, Mexican Tea branches occasionally to frequently; Small side branches frequently develop from the axils of the leaves. The stems are terete to slightly angular, hairless, conspicuously veined, and variably colored – often some combination of olive green, dull red, and cream. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 1½" across; they are ovate to narrowly ovate, medium green to yellow-green or red-green, and hairless. The bases of these leaves are always wedge-shaped and never rounded. The leaf undersides are never white-mealy. The leaf margins are highly variable, even on the same plant – smooth, undulate, bluntly dentate, or somewhat pinnatifid. The upper leaves are smaller in size than the moderate to lower leaves, and their leaf margins are more smooth. Both the stems and leaves have minute glands that secrete an aromatic oil; they exude a somewhat musky medicinal scent. The upper stems and smaller side stems terminate in spikes of sessile flowers (up to 1' long) that are interspersed with small leafy bracts. The small greenish flowers are arranged in dense clusters along these spikes. Each flower is a little less than ¼" across, consisting of 5 green sepals, a rather flat pistil with tiny styles, and 5 stamens with large white anthers. The small sepals are ovate in shape and curved inward; they are neither hairy nor white-mealy. The anthers are the most conspicuous part of the flower. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall and lasts 2-3 months. The bisexual flowers are wind-pollinated, although they can also self-pollinate themselves. Each flower is replaced by a single tiny seed (achene); a thin membrane surrounding the seed is rather loose and easily removed. The seeds are round, flattened, black, and shiny; they are small enough to be blown about by the wind. The root system consists of a taproot.
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722, C. anthelminticum Linn.sp. pl.320 . Bart.mat. med.ii . t. 44 . Röm. and Sch.vi . 961 . Torreyfl. am.i . 296 .

- Sandy fields in the United States. (Wormseed.)

A perennial Stem 1 1/2 - 2 feet high erect, much branched, often reddish, furrowed. Leaves oblong-lanceolate, nearly sessile, toothed, and somewhat sinnuate sprinkled beneath, with resinous atoms, Racemes long slender, axillary and terminal. Style 3-cleft, Torrey.- The whole plant a strong heavy, disagreeable odour. It yields from the seeds an abundance of the name of wormseed oil, is powerfully anthelmimtic. The expressed juice, or the leaves or seeds in powder, similar properties.

  • John Lindley (1838): Chenopodium. In: Flora Medica. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans, 347-349: 348-348, URL:http://un.availab.le
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Chenopodium anthelminticum L. 1753

. N ormemelde. S maskmålla .

- Similar to C ambrosioides (22); with pyriform glands but otherwise glabrous. Leaves regularly lobed; lobes almost entire. Inflorescence largely ebracteate.

D SjæKøbenhavn 1976. N Ak Nesodden 1920 (refuse tip). S Vg Borås 1913 (with wool). - N and C America.

  • Jonsell, B., Karlsson (2005): Chenopodiaceae - Fumariaceae (Chenopodium). Flora Nordica 2, 4-31: 29-29, URL:http://antbase.org/ants/publications/FlNordica_chenop/FlNordica_chenop.pdf
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1. Chenopodium ambrosioides L. , Sp. Pl. 219. 1753

Annual or perennial, taprooted herb. Stem 0.3-l.0(-1.5) m tall, strongly scented of mustard, ribbed, often somewhat woody, much-branched. Petiole 1-2 cm long; blade lanceolate, oblanceolate, oblong-elliptic, rhombic-elliptic or ovate, 0.6-12.5 x 1-5.5 cm, entire to shallowly dentate OI' sinuately pinnatifid, apex acute to obtuse, sometimes apiculate, base cuneate, sessile glandular resin dots, especially on lower surface, glabrous or sparsely puberulent above, or puberulent beneath especially on veins, yellowish-green. Inflorescence a single cyme Of spikes of cymes; flowers in glomerules of 4-6, along major axes, in groups of 1-3 on apical, minor axes; glomerules 1-bracteate, bract linear to (sub)foliaceous, to ca. 2.5 cm long; flowers sessile or subsessile. Tepals (3-)5, greenish, narrowly ovate, 0.7-1.3 mm long, glabrous OI' puberulent and usually gland-dotted, fused ca. half-way, cucullate and folded over fruit; stamens (3-)5; filaments about as long EIS tepals, anthers orbicular, 0.5 mm long; stigmas sessile or subsessile, spreading. Pericarp not adherent to seed, thin and decaying; seeds lenticularcochleate to ovoid, 0.6-0.8 mm in diam., horizontally or vertically oriented, smooth, lustrous, reddish-brown.

Fig . 15. Chenopodium ambrosioides L. : A, flowering branch, x 3/4; B, on left, complete pistillate flower, on right, pistillate flower longitudinally dissected, x 20; D, on left, complete bisexual flower, on right, bisexual flower longitudinally dissected, x 20; F, young fruit, x 20; G, achene, x 20. Drawing by P. Fawcett, reprinted from Correll, D.S. & H.B. Correll. 1982. Flora of the Bahama Archipelago.

Distribution: Possibly native to Mexico and Central America, now a cosmopolitan weed in Warm regions; 21 collections examined, all from the Guianas (GU: 6; SU: 1; FG: 14).

Selected specimens: Guyana: South Rupununi Savanna, Aishalton airstrip, Henkel 3467 (US); Rupununi Savanna, Cook 250 (NY, U); Ireng R. near Orinduik Falls, Essequibo County, Irwin et al. 474 (US). Suriname: Cultis, Focke 1395 (U). French Guiana: Cayenne, Jardin pnma, Kodjoed 91 (CAY); Commune de Remire, Ile de Cayenne, Wittingthon 59 (CAY).

Uses: Generally found as a Weed, sometimes cultivated as a medicinal plant for the leaves, which are used as an anthelmintic (vermifuge) in the Guianas (Cook 250; Ostendorf (1962); and Moretti 913). The French Guianans use an infusion of six leaves mixed with salt in a cup, which is reportedly very beneficial for the liver, and as a children's vermifuge (Oldeman B.3909). According to Henkel 3467, the plant is used as a malaria treatment by Wapishiana Amerindians of Guyana.

Vernacular names: Guyana: matouosh; mastruz (Portuguese Guyanese); metroshi (Macushi Amerindian). Suriname: tingi-menti; woron-menti (Creole). French Guiana: Woron-wiwiri (Boni); aapoa (Wayapi); zerba vers, poudre aux vers (Creole); semen contra.

  • DeFilipps, R. A., Maina, S. L. (2003): Chenopodiaceae. In: Jansen-Jacobs, M. J. (Ed): Flora of the Guianas. Kew: Royal Botanical Garden, 61-64: 62-64, ISBN:1842460692, URL:http://un.availab.le
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723 . C. ambrosioides Linn.sp. pi.320 . Röm. and Sch.ii . 260 . Torreyfl. amer.i . 295 .

- Common in waste places in the United States. (Mexican tea.)

An annual. Stem 1-2 feet high, much branched, often spreading, green, a little downy. Leaves lanceolate, 1§ inch long, on short stalks, acute at the base, remotely toothed; the upper ones almost linear. Racemes simple, axillary, leafy; about 2 inches long, erect. Flowers green. - All the plant has an agreeable penetrating smell. It has been used with advantage in the treatment of nervous diseases, and Plenck commends it in chorea.

  • John Lindley (1838): Chenopodium. In: Flora Medica. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans, 347-349: 349-349, URL:http://un.availab.le
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5. C. ambrosioidesL. ,

Sp. PI. 219 (1753);Bak. & C. B. CL in F.T.A. 6 (1): 79 (1909);Ulbr. in E. & P. Pf. ed. 2,16c: 491, Fig. 183 K-Q (1934);Aellen & Just in Amer. Midi. Nat. 30: 50-51 (1953);Hauman in F.C.B. 2: 2 (1951).

Type: Spain, Herb. Linnaeus (LINN, lecto.!)

Herb up to 120 cm. high, usually annual, rarely a short-lived perennial, polymorphic (principally in America),upright, much branched, green (? occasionally red-tinged), variably pubescent or hairy especially on stem, also with numerous yellowish sessile glands particularly on lower side of leaves, strongly aromatic. Leaves variable, lanceolate in outline to more rarely elliptic or obovate, mostly 1.5-10 cm. long and 0.4-4 3 cm. wide, entire to laciniate or pinnatifid; upper leaves and bracts smaller and narrower. Inflorescence an ample much-branched panicle with small sessile flower-clusters arranged spicately along the ultimate branches. Flowers greenish, 0-5-1-5 mm. in diameter. Sepals 3-5 (? flowers) 4-5 (? flowers), pubescent to glabrous, glandular, variably connate, smooth or very rarely keeled. Stamens 4-5. Pericarp easily removed. Seeds deep red-brown to blackish or shining, 0.5-1-25 (-1.5) mm. in diameter, bluntly keeled,testa under microscope almost smooth or shallowly and irregularly pitted, usually marked also with sinuose lines.

  • Brenan, J. P. M (1954): Chenopodiaceae (part: Chenopodium). Flora of Tropical East Africa 12, 2-14: 10-10, URL:http://antbase.org/ants/publications/FlEast_africa_Chenop/FlEast_africa_Chenop.pdf
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22. Chenopodium ambrosioides L.

- Type: Linnaean Herbarium 313.13 (LINN) lectotype, sei. by Brenan, Fl. Trop. E. Africa, Chenopodiaceae: 10(1954).

D Vellugtende Gåsefod . F sitruunasavikka. N sitronmelde.

S citronmålla .

Therophyte (summer-annual). Strongly aromatic, up to 60 cm, ± hairy and with subsessile glands especially on the lower leaf surfaces (almost absent on upper leaf surfaces); glands with pyriform head. Stem subangular, yellowish or striped with green, erect, branched. Leaves sessile or with a 0-5-1.5 cm long petiole; blade lanceolate to elliptic, 3-15 cm, coarsely serrate, sometimes incised or sinuate, pure green; base attenuate; apex obtuse to acute.

Inflorescences spike-like, bracteate or ebracteate; glomerules small. Flowers dimorphic. Terminal flowers bisexual, with 5 stamens; tepals 5, connate c. halfway. Lateral flowers female; tepals 5, united almost to the apex. Tepals glabrous to sparsely pubescent, often with subsessile glands, herbaceous. Stigmas 3-4, slender, c. 0.5 mm. Nut falling with the perianth; pericarp not adherent to the seed. Seed mostly horizontal, broadly ovate in outline, 0.7-0.9 mm; edge rounded; seed-coat brown, glossy, almost smooth. - Late summer to late autumn.

[2n=32]

Chenopodium hircinum

Chenopodium opulifolium

Distribution and habitat. Casual (ports, railway stations, warehouses, mills, factories, refuse tips, flower-beds); brought in e.g. with grain, wool, cork and seed of ornamentals. D NJy Alborg 1960, 0Jy Arhus 1963, 1969, 1971 and Vejle 1932 (mill), SjæKøbenhavn several records 1927-97, Sorø 1952, 1953 (with cork), LFM Nysted 1964. A report from NJy Frederikshavn (Hansen & Pedersen 1968) was based on a misidentification. N ST Skaun 1930 (mill; probably from South America). S Sk Lackalänga 1924-49 (wool refuse), Lund 1949, BhG Angered 1932, Backa 1936, Göteborg 1872, 1955-56, 1993, 1997, Tuve 1997, Mölndal 1931, Nödinge 1939, Upl Stockholm 1882 (ballast). Also reported from Hl Halmstad (Retzius 1774) but no specimens have been found. F U Helsinki 1937, 1938, EH Jokioinen 1961, Tampere 1973; probably with American grain.

Tropical America; cultivated for use as vermifuge and naturalized throughout the tropical and subtropical zones, also in Europe in the Mediterranean and locally in the central part.

Biology. Flowering, but probably not able to set seed in Norden.

Similar taxa. Chenopodium ambrosioides is similar to C. anthelminticum and C. multifidum (rare casuals).

  • Jonsell, B., Karlsson (2005): Chenopodiaceae - Fumariaceae (Chenopodium). Flora Nordica 2, 4-31: 27-28, URL:http://antbase.org/ants/publications/FlNordica_chenop/FlNordica_chenop.pdf
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats & Eastern Ghats, Naturalized, Native of Tropical America"
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Brief

Flowering class: Dicot Habit: Herb Distribution notes: Exotic
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Distribution

Worldwide distribution

Throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly in South America
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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Mexican Tea is occasional in the southern half of Illinois, becoming uncommon or absent in the northern half of the state. It was introduced from tropical America as a medicinal herb. Habitats include fields, roadsides, vacant lots, and waste areas. Mexican Tea is still cultivated in gardens, from where it occasionally escapes and manages to reseed itself. Disturbed habitats of a relatively open character are strongly preferred.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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"Maharashtra: Pune, Raigad, Satara Karnataka: Chikmagalur, Coorg, Hassan, Mysore Kerala: Idukki, Kannur, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta Tamil Nadu: Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Nilgiri, Salem, Theni, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruchchirappalli"
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"
Global Distribution

Native of Tropical America; widely introduced elsewhere

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: Palakkad, Kottayam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Wayanad

"
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Ont., Que.; Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.; native to North America and South America, widely naturalized throughout the tropics and warm-temperate regions of the world.
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Almost cosmopolitan; weed and relic of cultivation.
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Distribution: Probably originating from tropical America. Earlier cultivated as medicinal plant and introduced in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, where it is commonly naturalized.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs annual or perennial, 50-80 cm tall, with strong odor. Stem erect, much branched, striate, obtusely ribbed; branches usually slender, pubescent and articulated villous, sometimes subglabrous. Petiole short; leaf blade oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, abaxially with scattered glands, slightly hairy around veins, adaxially glabrous, base attenuate, margin sparsely and irregularly coarsely serrate, apex acute or acuminate; lower leaves ca. 15 × 5 cm, upper ones gradually reduced and margin subentire. Flowers borne in upper leaf axils, usually 3-5 per glomerule, bisexual and female. Perianth segments (3 or)5, usually nearly closed in fruit. Stamens 5; anthers ca. 0.5 mm. Style obscure; stigmas 3(or 4), filiform, exserted from perianth. Utricle enclosed by perianth, depressed globose. Seed horizontal or oblique, black or dark red, sublustrous, ca. 0.7 mm in diam., glabrous, rim margin obtuse. Fl. and fr. over a lengthy period.
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Description

Plants annual. Stems erect to ascending, much-branched, 3-10(-15) dm, ± glandular-pubescent. Leaves aromatic, distal leaves sessile; petiole to 18 mm; blade ovate to oblong-lanceolate or lanceolate, proximal ones mostly lanceolate, 2-8(-12) × 0.5-4(-5.5) cm, base cuneate, margins entire, dentate, or laciniate, apex obtuse to attenuate, copiously gland-dotted (rarely glabrous). Inflorescences lateral spikes, 3-7 cm; glomerules globose, 1.5-2.3 mm diam.; bracts leaflike, lanceolate, oblanceolate, spatulate, or linear, 0.3-2.5 cm, apex obtuse, acute, or attenuate. Flowers: perianth segments 4-5, connate for ca. 1/2 their length, distinct portion ovate, rounded abaxially, 0.7-1 mm, apex obtuse, glandular-pubescent, covering seed at maturity; stamens 4-5; stigmas 3. Achenes ovoid; pericarp nonadherent, rugose to smooth. Seeds horizontal or vertical, reddish brown, ovoid, 0.6-1 × 0.4-0.5 mm; seed coat rugose to smooth.
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Elevation Range

300-2600 m
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Description

Strongly aromatic, annual to short-lived perennial, variously pubescent especially on stem, and with sessile yellow glands especially on lower leaf surfaces. Stem to 80(-120) cm, ± erect, branches long, ascending. Leaves with 1 cm long petiole; blade 5-10 cm, lanceolate to elliptic, irregularly coarsely serrate, sometimes shallowly sinuate to almost entire, attenuate at base, acute to obtuse at apex; bracts entire, linear - lanceolate - narrowly obovate, uppermost very small. Inflorescence paniculate, flowers sessile in small, dense glomerules usually subtended by bracts and arranged spicately. Terminal flowers bisexual, perianth deeply 5-lobed, lobes cucullate, stamens usually 5; lateral flowers female, perianth connate, 5-toothed; teeth roundish on back; perianth herbacous, glabrous to sparsely pubescent. Stigmas usually 3-4, long, slender. Fruits falling with perianth. Pericarp free. Seeds mostly horizontal, sometimes oblique or vertical, brown, 0.6-0.8 mm in diameter, somewhat ovate to circular in outline, margin obtuse; testa almost smooth, sometimes with obscure shallow pits.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Erect pungent smelling herbs, profusely branching. Leaves alternate, to 8 x 3 cm, elliptic to lanceolate, entire to deeply lobed, base attenuate, glabrous, membranous; upper leaves smaller. Flowers bisexual, minute, sessile, clustered in terminal and axillary cymes; perianth 5-lobed, herbaceous, green; stamens 5, free; ovary 1-celled, with solitary ovule; styles 3; stigmas 3. Fruit a utricle enclosed by the persistent perianth."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Synonym

Chenopodium ambrosioides Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 219. 1753; Ambrina ambrosioides (Linnaeus) Spach, nom. illeg.; Atriplex ambrosioides (Linnaeus) Crantz; Blitum ambrosioides (Linnaeus) G. Beck.
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Synonym

Chenopodium ambrosioides Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 219. 1753; C. ambrosioides var. suffruticosum (Willdenow) Ascherson & Graebner; Teloxys ambrosioides (Linnaeus) W. A. Weber
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Synonym

Ambrina ambrosioides Spach in Hist. Nat. Veg. 4: 297. 1836; Chenopodium integrifolium Vorosch., Bot. Zhurn. 27: 42. 1942; Chenopodium suffruticosum Willd., Enum. Pl. Hort. Berol.: 290. 1809.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Mexican Tea is occasional in the southern half of Illinois, becoming uncommon or absent in the northern half of the state. It was introduced from tropical America as a medicinal herb. Habitats include fields, roadsides, vacant lots, and waste areas. Mexican Tea is still cultivated in gardens, from where it occasionally escapes and manages to reseed itself. Disturbed habitats of a relatively open character are strongly preferred.
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General Habitat

Degraded forests and wastelands
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River bottoms, dry lake beds, flower beds, waste areas; 0-700m.
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Habitat & Distribution

Naturalized; often cultivated for medicine in N China. Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [native to tropical America; now widely naturalized in tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate regions of the world].
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Field margins, gardens, yards, roadsides, stream sides.- s.l. 1430 m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Information that is specific to Mexican Tea is lacking (except for grazing mammals), therefore faunal-floral relationships for Chenopodium spp. in general will be presented. I suspect that some insects are deterred by the toxicity of the floral oil, and don't feed on this species to same extent as other Chenopodium spp. The caterpillars of two skippers, Pholisora catullus (Common Sootywing) and Staphylus hayhurstii (Hayhurst's Scallopwing), feed on the leaves of Chenopodium spp. Other insect feeders include moth caterpillars, flea beetles, leaf beetles, plant bugs, and aphids (see the Insect Table for a listing of these species). The tiny seeds are eaten by many small songbirds, particularly sparrows (see the Bird Table); some upland gamebirds (e.g., Bobwhite, Hungarian Partridge, & Ring-Necked Pheasant) also eat the seeds or seedheads. Small rodents eat the seeds, including the Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel, White-Footed Mouse, and Prairie Deer Mouse. Because the foliage is toxic and probably distasteful, it is not eaten by grazing mammals; even goats refuse to eat this plant (see Georgia, 1913).
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: March-April
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Flowering/Fruiting

Fruiting summer-fall.
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Flower/Fruit

Fl. & Fr. Per.: April - January.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dysphania ambrosioides

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dysphania ambrosioides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chenopodium ambrosioides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: TNR - Not Yet Ranked

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: TNR - Not Yet Ranked

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

Mexican Tea prefers full to partial sun and moist to slightly dry conditions. Growth is more robust in fertile loamy soil with abundant nitrogen, but it will adapt to other kinds of soil.
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Uses

Medicinal
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Wikipedia

Dysphania ambrosioides

Epazote, wormseed, Jesuit's tea, Mexican tea, Paico or Herba Sancti Mariæ (Dysphania ambrosioides, formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides) is an herb native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico.

Growth[edit]

It is an annual or short-lived perennial plant (herb), growing to 1.2 m (3.9 ft) tall, irregularly branched, with oblong-lanceolate leaves up to 12 cm (4.7 in) long. The flowers are small and green, produced in a branched panicle at the apex of the stem.

As well as in its native areas, it is grown in warm temperate to subtropical areas of Europe and the United States (Missouri, New England, Eastern United States),[2] sometimes becoming an invasive weed.

Taxonomy[edit]

The generic name Dysphania traditionally was applied in the 1930s to some species endemic to Australia. Placement and rank of this taxon have ranged from a mere section in Chenopodium to the sole genus of a separate family Dysphaniaceae, or a representative of Illicebraceae. The close affinity of Dysphania to "glandular" species of Chenopodium sensu lato is now evident.[3]

Etymology[edit]

The common Spanish name, epazote (sometimes spelled and pronounced ipasote or ypasote), is derived from Nahuatl: epazōtl (pronounced /eˈpasoːt͡ɬ/).

Usage[edit]

Culinary uses[edit]

Epazote is used as a leaf vegetable, an herb and an herbal tea for its pungent flavor. Raw, it has a resinous, medicinal pungency, similar to anise, fennel, or even tarragon, but stronger. Epazote's fragrance is strong but difficult to describe. A common analogy is to turpentine or creosote. It has also been compared to citrus, savory, or mint.

Although it is traditionally used with black beans for flavor and its carminative properties (less gas), it is also sometimes used to flavor other traditional Mexican dishes as well: it can be used to season quesadillas and sopes (especially those containing huitlacoche), soups, mole de olla, tamales with cheese and chile, chilaquiles, eggs and potatoes and enchiladas.

Medicinal uses[edit]

Epazote is commonly believed to prevent flatulence. It has also been used in the treatment of amenorrhea,[4] dysmenorrhea, malaria, chorea, the now discredited diagnosis of hysteria, catarrh, and asthma.[5]

Some of its chemical constituents have been shown in the laboratory to affect certain cancer cell lines,[6] and it has also been reported to be highly carcinogenic in rats.[7] A Nigerian group, however, concluded in 2007 that it is neither mutagenic nor cytotoxic.[8]

Oil of chenopodium is derived from this plant. Merriam-Webster defines it as "a colorless or pale yellow toxic essential oil of unpleasant odor and taste, ... formerly used as an anthelmintic".[9]

In the early 1900s it was one of the major anthelmintics used to treat ascarids and hookworms in humans, cats, dogs, horses, and pigs. Usually, oil of chenopodium was used. It was sometimes referred to as Baltimore Oil, because of the large production facility in Baltimore, Maryland[10] that specialized in extracting the oil from the plant. Chenopodium was replaced with other, more effective and less toxic anthelmintics in the 1940s.

Chenopodium is still used to treat worm infections in humans in many countries. In Honduras, as well as other Latin American countries, the whole plant or the leaves are ground and added to water. This mixture is then consumed. In a few areas in Latin America, the plant also is used to treat worm infections in livestock.[11]

Epazote essential oil contains ascaridole (up to 70%), limonene, p-cymene, and smaller amounts of numerous other monoterpenes and monoterpene derivatives (α-pinene, myrcene, terpinene, thymol, camphor and trans-isocarveol). Ascaridole (1,4-peroxido-p-menth-2-ene) is rather an uncommon constituent of spices; another plant owing much of its character to this monoterpene peroxide is boldo. Ascaridole is toxic and has a pungent, not very pleasant flavor; in pure form, it is an explosive sensitive to shock. Allegedly,[citation needed] ascaridole content is lower in epazote from Mexico than in epazote grown in Europe or Asia.[12]

Toxicity[edit]

Overdoses of the essential oil have caused human deaths (attributed to the ascaridole content),the symptoms including severe gastroenteritis with pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.[13]

Agricultural use[edit]

The essential oils of epazote contain terpene compounds, some of which have natural pesticide capabilities. A study from the University of California[14] found that the compound ascaridole in epazote inhibits the growth of nearby plants, so it would be best to relegate this plant at a distance from other inhabitants of the herb garden. Even though this plant has an established place in recipes and in folklore, it is wise to use only the leaves, and those very sparingly, in cooking. [15]

Companion plant[edit]

Epazote not only contains terpene compounds, it also delivers partial protection to nearby plants simply by masking their scent to some insects, making it a useful companion plant. Its small flowers may also attract some predatory wasps and flies.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tropicos
  2. ^ A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, FRHS. pg. 854. ISBN 0-486-22798-7
  3. ^ (Flora of North America)
  4. ^ The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Ph.D. pgs. 51-53. ISBN 1579541844
  5. ^ A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve, FRHS. pg. 855-856. ISBN 0-486-22798-7
  6. ^ Nascimento, Flávia R.F.; Cruz, Gustavo V.B.; Pereira, Paulo Vitor S.; MacIel, Márcia C.G.; Silva, Lucilene A.; Azevedo, Ana Paula S.; Barroqueiro, Elizabeth S.B.; Guerra, Rosane N.M. (2006). "Ascitic and solid Ehrlich tumor inhibition by Chenopodium ambrosioides L. Treatment". Life Sciences 78 (22): 2650–3. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.10.006. PMID 16307762. 
  7. ^ Kapadia, GJ; Chung, EB; Ghosh, B; Shukla, YN; Basak, SP; Morton, JF; Pradhan, SN (1978). "Carcinogenicity of some folk medicinal herbs in rats". Journal of the National Cancer Institute 60 (3): 683–6. PMID 625070. 
  8. ^ Sowemimo, A.A.; Fakoya, F.A.; Awopetu, I.; Omobuwajo, O.R.; Adesanya, S.A. (2007). "Toxicity and mutagenic activity of some selected Nigerian plants". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 113 (3): 427–32. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.06.024. PMID 17707603. 
  9. ^ "chenopodium oil". Mirriam-Webster. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  10. ^ "Alpasotis / Chenopodium ambrosioides / wormseed : Philippine Medicinal Herbs / Philippine Alternative Medicine". GODOFREDO STUART. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  11. ^ Cornell Univ., Dept. of Animal Sciences. "Chenopodium ambrosioides". Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  12. ^ . Laferrière, Joseph E. 1990. Nutritional and pharmacological properties of yerbaníz, epazote, and Mountain Pima oregano. Seedhead News 29:9.
  13. ^ Tampion,John "Dangerous Plants" published by David and Charles,Newton Abbot 1977 pg. 64 Chenopodium ambrosioides L. ISBN 0 7153 7375 7
  14. ^ J. Jimenez-Osorio, Am. J. Bot. 78:139, 1991
  15. ^ Texas A & M University, Cynthia W. Mueller. "Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides)". Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
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Notes

Comments

Dysphania ambrosioides s.l. is a taxonomically complicated aggregate of several closely related segregate “microspecies” and/or infraspecific taxa. Judging from the herbarium material available, there are several entities naturalized in China. However, their taxonomy and distribution in the Flora area are not well understood, and because of that they are not discussed here.
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Comments

Southern populations of Dysphania ambrosioides are native while those populations in the northern part of the flora area are introduced.
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