Distribution of parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.), an alien invasive weed species threatening the biodiversity of Islamabad


  • Subsidized by the aid of the Weed Science Society of Japan for publication in Weed Biology and Management.

*Asad Shabbir, Department of Mycology and Plant Pathology, University of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, Lahore 54590, Pakistan.
Email: assadshabbir@yahoo.com


Biological invasion by alien invasive species is now recognized as one of the major threats to native species and ecosystems. Parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.), an alien invasive weed species, is spreading throughout Pakistan. Worldwide, it has been designated as one of the most troublesome weed species. The adverse effects of this weed on human beings, livestock, crop production, and biodiversity are well-documented. As a result of a lack of information on its spread in Pakistan since its invasion, a phytosociological survey, with special reference to parthenium weed, was carried out in Islamabad from August–October 2002. Six main sectors of Islamabad were selected for sampling. The phytosociological survey of these sectors of Islamabad revealed a total of 30 weed species to be associated with P. hysterophorus. The survey also showed a high relative frequency, relative density, and importance value of P. hysterophorus in general; however, the percentage relative frequency of the weed in these sectors ranged from 10.6–30.3%. This survey revealed that P. hysterophorus had an appreciable degree of sociability with Senna occidentalis (L.) Link, Malvastrum coromandelianum (L.) Garcke and Lantana camara (L.). The data on the association of L. camara with P. hysterophorus suggests that a transition phase of competition or succession is in progress between these two alien species. The population of many common medicinal plants growing in the wastelands of Islamabad might be rapidly declining because of the aggressive colonization by P. hysterophorus. The ever-increasing infestation of this weed in urban areas also poses a serious threat to the health of the inhabitants of Islamabad.