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Synedrella nodiflora (L.) Gaertn. 1791
pronounced: sy-nee-DRELL-uh no-dee-FLOR-un
(Asteraceae – the daisy family)
synonym: Verbesina nodiflora L. 1755
pronounced: verb-ess-SIGH-nuh no-dee-FLOR-uh
common names: Cinderella Weed, Nodeweed, Pig Grass
Synedrella derives from the Greek word συνεδρια (synedria), a sitting together, a council, or perhaps, by association, a bench; -ella is a Latin suffix meaning 'little'; I believe that this refers to the receptacle of plants in the genus. Nodiflora is from two Latin words, nodus, a knot, and flora, a flower – flowers from nodes. In the synonym, Verbesina means ‘resembling leaves of Verbena’, verbena being Latin for ‘a leafy twig, sacred bough’. The verbena, or vervain, was long thought to have magical powers. The reason for the ‘Cinderella’ in the common name will be obvious, if you try to pronounce the name of the genus.
This native of tropical America is now a pan-tropical weed. It has local names in pretty well all tropical and sub-tropical countries. The one I like best is the Tongan pakopako, but I can’t resist giving you the name in Marshallese, bwilbwilikkaj. Intrigued by this word, I did a Google search, and came up with an online Marshallese – English dictionary. Sure enough, it was the correct word for Synedrella nodiflora. Not content with that, I did a breakdown of the word to try to find its literal meaning. As far as I could tell with a few minutes’ study, the word means something like ‘slang word for coming together covered with gum’. This would suggest that the plant might be sticky. Is it? I don’t know, as I photographed it without handling the plant, and the meagre literature I was able to turn up doesn’t mention the fact. I must say that, from the photographs, it looks sticky!
Cinderella Weed is usually found in frequently disturbed areas, in flower beds, along roadsides and in crops and plantations. It grows best where the soil is moist and fertile, and where there is plenty of light. It is adapted to many environments. It is particularly well-adapted to the partial shade found under jute and plantation crops like tea, coffee, bananas, cacao and rubber. It is quite palatable to livestock, and so is not a problem in pasture. In some countries it is fed to pigs.
The plant is an erect annual herb to 50–90 cm tall, branched into two equal stems, with the opposite leaves ovate or elliptic, mostly 5–15 cm long and 2–9 cm wide, serrate, acute, abruptly narrowed at the base to the 1–5 cm long petiole. They are mostly pubescent on both surfaces.
The tiny yellow flower-heads are in small clusters between the leaves, and are surrounded by bracts at the base of the inflorescence. The outer bracts are green, the inner ones thin and dry. The seed has a pappus of short awns.
Cinderella Weed is propagated by seeds.
Caterpillars of the Blue Moon Butterfly Hypolimnas bolina use this as a food plant.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2010
Page last updated 21st February 2017