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(Alternanthera pungens, fam. Amaranthaceae)

Alternanthera pungens Alternanthera pungens Alternanthera pungens Alternanthera pungens Alternanthera pungens
Prostrate herb, perennial root system with large woody taproot. Stems annual, silky hairy, rooting at nodes.
Form or habit: Herb
Leaf:Simple Opposite

Obovate to circular, 8-60 x 6-27mm, tapering into short stem 2-10mm long, glabrous to sparsely hairy, margins entire.

Flower conspicuous: Inconspicuous
Flower colour: Whitish or straw-coloured
Flower description:Small whitish or straw-coloured tufts of barbed hairs at base, apex with very sharp spines, borne in dense chaffy clusters in axils of most leaves.
Fruit conspicuous: Inconspicuous
Fruit colour: Brownish
Fruit: Dry
Fruit description: Indehiscent; broadly obovate about 1-1.5mm, held within the old flower parts, 1-1.5mm long. Seeds vertical, 1mm diameter, brownish, globe-shaped.
Food source for:
Toxicity:Toxic or irritant to domestic pets,Toxic to native animals
Origin:Tropical America
Weed status:Environmental/garden escapee
Notes:Spread by: Contact - spines penetrate ‘everything’, will adhere to tyres, clothing and animals; water; vegetatively from nodes.

Invades/threats: Colonises and forms a dense mat on bare ground and disturbed areas like lawns, overgrazed and wasteland areas.

Spines are a problem with dogs and stock but are particularly troublesome to humans and readily penetrate skin. Reported to cause hay fever, asthma, dermatitis and is believed to be poisonous to animals.
Information sources:

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