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Hairy Crabweed (Fatoua villosa)

Also known as mulberry weed.

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Hairy Crabweed

Summary

A weedy annual native from southeast Asia through Australia, and introduced in north America, where it has become invasive, especially in container nurseries.

USDA Plants Profile for Fatoua villosa

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Habitat

In North America, primarily found in anthropogenic habitats, including landscaping and suburban gardens, urban areas, and container nurseries. It can occasionally be found in wild forests, but is most common on disturbed sites.

It is found in moist, shaded habitats.

Life Cycle

This plant is a summer annual with a short life cycle.

Seeds germinate in response to exposure to light, and usually only germinate in the top half inch of soil. Seeds can germinate in mulch.

Flowering may begin as early as by the appearance of the third true leaf, and set fruit as soon as 12 days after the appearance of the second leaf. Seeds can germinate as soon as 30 days after maturing, and often germinate in the same season. The plant can complete multiple generations in one year, but established plants will continue growing and producing seed throughout the growing season.

Most seeds fall close to the parent plants, but some seeds are flung a distance of a few feet by explosive dehiscence. Long-distance distribution of the seed happens primarily through contaminated nursery stock, but this plant may also benefit from other seed-distribution mechanisms.

Faunal Associations

We have not located much information on insect relationships to this plant in North America; in its native habitat, two aphids of the Micromyzodium genus eat this plant.

This plant is thought to be wind-pollinated, although we have not found verification that this has been established. The flowers are showier than typical for species that are strictly wind-pollinated.

Uses

This plant has a number of uses in traditional medicine in its native range.

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