- Chaff flower,
- Devil's horsewhip,
Achyranthes aspera L.
Achyranthes - achyro meaning chaff or husk; anthos meaning flower. Aspera meaning rough
Achyranthes aspera is an erect, sometimes sprawling, long-lived herb which can grow up to 2 m tall, with stems becoming woody at the base. Its short-stalked leaves are opposite, simple and egg-shaped; they can be densely to sparsely hairy and are dark green above and paler below, with young leaves often silvery. The small greenish-white flowers, often tinged with purple-red, form terminal spikes, dense at first but elongating up to 60 cm long. As the flowers age, they bend downwards and become pressed closely against the stem. The fruits are small one-seeded capsules, orange to reddish purple or straw-brown; with their pointed tips, they readily adhere to animals and clothing.
Cotyledons are elliptical to linear, 20 mm long by 3 mm wide, and the petiole is 5 mm long. Cotyledon attenuates to an acute angle at the leaf base and tip.
Simple, opposite, and oval in shape. Margins are entire. The upper sides are green and pubescent while the lower sides are silvery and pubescent.
This is a slender, erect, and multi-branched herb up to ~2 m.
It has a taproot.
Stems are square with swollen nodes. The surfaces of the stem have longitudinal grooves.
Leaves are simple, opposite and sessile. Oval to elliptic in shape (sometimes almost circular). They are 4 to 9 cm long by 2 - 4 cm wide. The margins are entire. Both surfaces are covered in short hairs although older leaves can be smooth. Each leaf has 4 to 9 arching veins.
Long upright, terminal spikes. 10 to 50 cm in length.
Flowers are scaly, very small and numerous. They are mostly green, but can contain purples and pinks. They have no petals but instead have two sharp and pointed scales. Flowers are pitched upwards when in bud, spread whilst flowering and then fold down to form fruits. The flowers start opening from the base of the inflorescence.
Straw-coloured utricule, surrounded by the spiky perianth, 2.5-2.8 mm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, rounded at the base, with truncate or depressed apex; pointed downwards and pressed against the flowering stalk; indehiscent, 1-seeded, thin-walled; enclosed by persistent perianth and bracts,detaching easily from rachis.
Seed 2 to 3 mm long, 1 to 1.5 mm wide, truncate above, reddish to dark brown and shiny, enclosed in chaffy calyx parts that remain attached.
This annual weed reproduces by seed. The seeds are dispersed by hooking into the fur of animals.
Commonly found in disturbed areas. Prefers moist soil but can grow well in dry areas.
Native to southern Asia, Australia, and some Pacific Islands.
Widespread in the tropics.
Wide spread across South Africa except in the Northern Cape.
Fruits are eaten by birds. It is traditionally used to treat chest pain and stomach ache.
-Blanfort, V., F. Desmoulins, J. Prosperi, T. Le Bourgeois, R. Guiglion and P. Grard (2010). AdvenPaC V.1.0 : Adventices et plantes à conflit d'intérêt des Pâturages de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Montpellier, France, IAC, Cirad
|Chaff flower||English||Foxcroft, 2003|