Terror of Parthenium Hysterophorus
Parthenium Hysterophorus Plant (Santa Maria)

Just a week ago one of the national newspaper of Nepal published about this plant. It attracted my attention. The title read “Badmash Number 1 Jhar”. This means the worst weed among all. The newspaper portrayed the plant in such a way that it created terror of Parthenium Hysterophorus. I saw the picture and realized that a huge amount of this plant was growing in my area. So I did some research about it and found a few interesting things.

Parthenium Hysterophorus is also called Safed Topi “White Top” in India and Santa Maria in other parts of the world. Its various parts contain heavily toxic substances such as Sesquiterpene Lactones, Hysteria. Other chemicals include Ambrosin, 3,7-dimethyl ether, 6-Hydroxyl Kaempferol 3-0 Arabinoglucoside, and Vanillic acid, etc. It is an invasive plant which can cover a large area very soon.

This is an obnoxious weed that is very harmful and even lethal in some cases. This has become threatening and an important issue. It is not a local plant so it is clear that it came from somewhere. This plant came to Nepal and India from Mexico. And since its arrival, this plant has been terrorizing Nepali land. Many activists and journalists have been posting and informing people about the plant.

Health Hazards

There are several health hazards of this plant. The pollen of this plant can cause allergy in the place of contact. Several dermatological problems can also be caused by this. Overexposure and contact with this plant can cause Asthma, skin inflammation, allergic rhinitis, burning and blisters around eyes. In India, some people have been reported to be dead due to this plant as well. These are pretty big concerning reasons.
Santa Maria Plants in field
Santa Maria Plants in field
Animals are also affected by this invasive weed. If animals like cow, buffalo, goat, etc eat them, they can also suffer. Their skin and milk are affected the most. The milk of the animals starts to smell bad. The consumer of the milk is also affected and this can start skin burn and other dermatology related problems.
In case of any side effects and negative impacts, it is advised to get medical help soon. During spring, people may also be affected by pollen allergy. This is common but if the allergy worsens then doctor’s help should be taken. People who have a URTI problem should stay away to be safe. It is better to wash your hands with soap and water after coming in contact with the Parthenium.

Effect on Biodiversity

Parthenium Hysterophorus can cover a vast area of land in a short interval. It has many harmful impacts on human and animals life including biodiversity. This plant reduces the growth of pasture grass. It also affects agricultural plants such as chickpeas, radish, and other winter crops. As a matter of fact, this plant grows exponentially in monsoon season. Reduced number of chlorophyll in plants, the problem in fruiting and lack of nutrition are major problems of Nepal due to this plant.

It has disturbed the whole grassland ecosystem of our country. Invasive plants are very dangerous to local life. They can damage the local plants, animals, and the ecosystem. The government should also take majors to control the spread. It needs controlling and ensuring that this plant doesn’t evade the agricultural land and destroy the crops.

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We advise everyone to be careful around this plant. It isn’t highly toxic plant but it is hazardous. Its pollen can be damaging for people with allergies. People with delicate and sensitive skin can get allergies. This plant has already made to top 20 of most dangerous plants in the world. In order to control the spreading, we can pluck them out and burn them. Plucking and leaving to dry can further increase their numbers.

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