Striga gesnerioides (weed)

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Striga gesnerioides in Burkina Faso (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Marco Schmidt
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Striga gesnerioides seeds (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Julia Scher, USDA APHIS PPQ
Source: IPM Images

Striga gesnerioides (weed) (Willd.) Vatke - (cowpea witchweed)

This weed is an important and common parasite of leguminous crops in western Africa. However it has been also recorded from other parts of Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. It has been further introduced into North America, but has so far not caused larger infestations there.

The most common host is cowpea. S. gesnerioides is one of the economically more important witchweeds and severe infestations can result in complete yield losses. Crop rotation and resistant cultivars are the main management options.

The plants grow to a height of 12 to 30 cm, with small, 5-10 mm long, oval leaves and small blue, pink or violet flowers. One plant produces as many as 200,000 tiny seeds, which can persist in the soil for decades.