Triffid weed

Triffid weed

Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae)

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

Additional Information

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

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