Monday, November 20, 2023

Tropical Chickweed


Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra

Description and Natural Distribution

Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra, is a diffuse prostrate herb, which roots at the nodes closely related to the common Chickweed Stellaria media in the pink carnation family Caryophyllaceae, which is native to moist habitats in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa. Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra is an indigenous plant in South Africa occurring naturally in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape.

See the natural distribution of Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra here on the SANBI website

Invasive weed

Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra is known as one of the most aggressive weeds of the tropical and subtropical parts of the world which has been introduced to many places in the tropics and subtropics, including the southeast US, the Caribbean, the Indian Subcontinent, southern China, Japan, and a number of islands.

Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra was not a problem plant in the Durban area until recently. This situation changed a few years ago, I first saw it invading lawns and flower beds at Westbrook Beach, on the KwaZulu Natal north coast, a year later it became a problem at Mount Moreland both north of Durban. It is now becoming a serious pest plant  invading lawns and flowerbeds in the central and greater Durban area.

The rapid invasion of Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra is aided by the production of vast numbers of  sticky seedpods that stick to shoes, clothing, pets, birds, lawn mowers and edging machines belonging to garden service companies.


Important medicinal plant

Apart from being a highly invasive weed Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra is one of the most important medicinal plants used by various tribes throughout India and the world. It is a traditional herbal medication that is used to treat peptic ulcers, female sterility, headaches, glomerulonephritis, sleeping problems, convulsions, and febrile illnesses in children as an ingredient in many local poly herbal formulations, as well as other major or minor ailments such as cold, headache, coryza, bronchitis, leprosy, tumors, and so on. Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra has been shown to contain a variety of secondary plant metabolites such as alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, phenols, and terpenoids which have been proved to show Anti-bacterial, analgesic and anti-pyretic, anti-tussive, anxiolytic, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, sinusitis and cytotoxic activities.


Drymaria cordata subspecies diandra can be controlled in lawns by the application of a selective herbicide formulated for use on lawns. Make sure to follow closely the instructions on the label.

In flower beds it needs to be hand weeded.

HLEM specializes in weed control

Written by Michael Hickman on 20.11.2023

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