“From Plant to Pest: The Evolution of Parthenium Weed and its Threat to Pakistan’s Agriculture”

Qudrat Ullah1, Muhammad Waseem2, Sadia Mustafa3

Departmental of Environmental Sciences1, 2, 3

Government College University Fiasalabad1, 2, 3


A highly invasive plant species known as parthenium weed has grown quickly throughout Pakistan and poses a danger to the productivity of its agriculture. This weed can displace native plants and lower crop yields, resulting in substantial financial losses. Being able to reproduce without fertilization has caused parthenium weed to quickly adapt and mutate, making it even more challenging to manage. This weed persists in spreading throughout Pakistan despite numerous management attempts, endangering the nation’s ability to feed itself. Urgent action is required to take effective measures to stop further harm to Pakistan’s agricultural sector.


Parthenium hysterophorus L., a particularly poisonous and invasive weed, is seriously harming Pakistan’s agriculture, biodiversity, and public health. It is an annual herb that grows quickly and can reach a height of two metres. It is a member of the Asteraceae family. Although it originated in the Americas, the weed has already spread to more than 48 nations, including Pakistan. It is well known that parthenium weed may thrive in a variety of environments, including disturbed and marginal lands, wastelands, roadside ditches, and agricultural fields. Because of its quick spread and capacity to outcompete other plants for resources, it poses a significant danger to Pakistan’s ability to sustain its agricultural output (Dukpa et al., 2020; Rinzim & Tiwari, 2019; Yadav et al., 2016).

The parthenium weed produces a lot of seeds that are quickly spread by wind, water, as well as actions of both people and animals. It is challenging for crops and native vegetation to compete with the weed because of its ability to emit toxins that prevent the growth of other plants. In addition, Parthenium weed is hazardous to livestock if consumed and is known to trigger allergic reactions including skin rashes in both people and animals. Its effects on Pakistan’s agricultural output are thought to result in annual income losses of millions of dollars (Karim et al., 2018; Lalita, 2018; Mishra et al., 2013).

Parthenium weed control and management in Pakistan has proven difficult because of a number of issues, including poor farmer awareness and understanding, a lack of adequate resources and technical know-how, and the absence of efficient management measures. To stop the spread of Parthenium weed, the Pakistani government has taken a number of actions, including encouraging community-based initiatives, employing biological control agents, and implementing integrated weed management systems. The success of these efforts is still limited, and Pakistan’s agriculture, biodiversity, and public health are seriously threatened by the Parthenium weed’s continuous proliferation (Qasem & Foy, 2001; Rao et al., 2020; Yaduraju, 2012).

The Evolution of Parthenium Weed:

An invasive plant species that is native to the Americas called parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus) has spread throughout the world and is now considered a noxious weed in many countries, including Pakistan. Parthenium weed’s rapid growth rate, allelopathic traits, and adaptability to a variety of environmental situations are only a few of the reasons why it changed from a benign plant to a noxious weed (Adkins & Shabbir, 2014; Jabeen et al., 2015; Mahmoud et al., 2015).

Parthenium weed has become established and has expanded throughout Pakistan due to a number of factors, including human activity, climate change, and ineffective management techniques. The introduction and spread of parthenium weed in Pakistan have been aided by human activities like the importation of tainted seeds and agricultural equipment. A conducive environment for the growth and establishment of parthenium weed has also been produced by the expansion of agriculture and the usage of irrigation systems. In Pakistan, parthenium weed has grown and spread due to climate change, specifically the rise in temperature and rainfall (Khan et al., 2020; Shabbir et al., 2023; Shrestha et al., 2015).

Parthenium weed’s spread and domination in Pakistan were aided by ecological and environmental changes such as habitat destruction, degraded soil, and eviction of local plant species. Herbicide-resistant populations of the parthenium weed have also emerged as a result of the usage of pesticides and herbicides, further accelerating its growth and dominance in Pakistan. The ecological domination of parthenium weed is also a result of its allelopathic characteristics, which prevent the growth and development of native plant species (Bajwa et al., 2016; Koocheki et al., 2012).

Reduced biodiversity, increased soil erosion, and decreased crop yields are only a few of the ecological, environmental, and economic effects of parthenium weed’s expansion and domination in Pakistan. A comprehensive management strategy, including the creation of efficient control tactics, the promotion of sustainable agricultural practises, and the involvement of local communities in management and eradication activities, is needed to eradicate parthenium weed in Pakistan. As a result of the parthenium weed’s transformation from a benign plant to a noxious weed and subsequent expansion and domination in Pakistan, more awareness of the issue and proactive steps must be taken to stop the introduction and spread of invasive species (Strathie et al., 2021; Tanveer et al., 2015).

The Threat to Pakistan’s Agriculture:

The very invasive plant species known as parthenium weed sometimes referred to as congress grass or starvation weed, is seriously harming Pakistan’s agricultural industry. It has quickly spread across the nation and now poses a serious threat to cereal crops like wheat, rice, and maize. Parthenium weed has a severe and extensive effect on several crops (Asad Shabbir et al., 2019; Meena et al., 2017; Strathie et al., 2021).

By competing with them for nutrients, sunlight, and water, parthenium weed damages cereal crops in one of the main ways. The weed is a notorious resource hog, and as it spreads and grows, it may deplete the soil of vital nutrients and moisture that crops require to thrive. As crops struggle to survive in the presence of weeds, this competition may cause reduced agricultural yields and poor crop quality (Bajwa et al., 2019b; Ekwealor et al., 2019).

The effects of parthenium weed infestations on the economy, society, and health are also considerable. The inability to control the weed may cause farmers to lose a lot of crop production, which could put them in a difficult financial situation or even lead to bankruptcy. The weed is also known to induce allergies and respiratory issues, which can have an effect on the health of farmers and their families. The weed may also lower the quality of animal feed, which may have an effect on the production and well-being of animals that eat crops (Chidawanyika et al., 2023; Choudhary et al., 2023).

Furthermore, because parthenium weed can cause soil erosion and land degradation, which affects the long-term viability of agriculture in affected areas, it can also have societal repercussions. It may also result in the eradication of native plant species, which would have an adverse effect on biodiversity and ecological balance (Dogra et al., 2010; Kumar et al.; Masum et al., 2013).

Parthenium weed has a huge and complicated impact on Pakistan’s agriculture industry overall. Herbicide spraying, human weeding, the introduction of natural predators, and other techniques are being used to try to control the spread of the weed. However, there is still more to be done to lessen the harm wrought by this invasive species and safeguard Pakistan’s crucial agricultural resources (Bajwa et al., 2019a; Lalita, 2018).

Control and Management of Parthenium Weed:

The invasive plant species known as parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.) is now a serious danger to Pakistan’s agricultural and natural environments. This weed has been managed and controlled using a variety of methods, including biological, chemical, cultural, and mechanical ones. Using natural enemies like fungi and insects to stop the growth of parthenium weed is known as biological control. The stem-galling weevil, Listronotus setosipennis, has been reported to reduce the biomass and seed production of the weed by up to 85%, making it the most efficient biological control agent for parthenium weed in Pakistan. However, a number of variables, such as the availability and compatibility of the natural enemy, the density and spread of the weed, and the environmental circumstances, affect the effectiveness of biological control (Bajwa et al., 2016; Bashar et al., 2021; Jayasuriya, 2021).

Another method for managing parthenium weed is chemical control, which involves using herbicides to eradicate the weed. Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in Pakistan, has been shown to be efficient in controlling parthenium weed. Herbicide use, however, has the potential to harm the environment, harm human health, and breed weeds that are resistant to the chemicals. Aside from that, excessive pesticide use has the potential to alter ecological processes and destroy beneficial plant species (Bashar et al., 2021; Weyl et al., 2020).

In order to slow the growth and spread of parthenium weed, management techniques like crop rotation and intercropping are used. Intercropping can help build a more competitive and diverse agricultural system that is less vulnerable to invasion by parthenium weed, while crop rotation can help break the life cycle of the plant and minimise its development and spread. However, a number of variables, such as the type of crop, the timing and frequency of management measures, and the environmental circumstances, affect the effectiveness of cultural control (Singh et al., 2003; Singh et al., 2022).

Parthenium weed is physically removed under mechanical control by hand weeding, mowing, or cutting. Small-scale or isolated infestations may respond well to this strategy, although it is frequently time- and labour-consuming. Furthermore, mechanical management may cause soil disturbance and the dispersal of weed seeds (Araujo Junior et al., 2015; Love et al., 2009; Sanbagavalli et al., 2020).

IPM is a strategy that integrates various approaches of parthenium weed control in order to achieve long-term and sustainable management. In order to effectively and sustainably control the weed, IPM employs a variety of techniques, including biological, chemical, cultural, and mechanical control. Less reliance on a single technique of control, improved efficiency and efficacy of control, and fewer detrimental effects on the environment and human health are all advantages of IPM. The availability and suitability of control measures, the timing and frequency of management practise, and the environmental conditions are only a few of the variables that affect IPM’s effectiveness (DiTomaso et al., 2010; Gvozdenac et al., 2022; Kaur et al., 2014; Laizer et al., 2019; Mohan et al., 2014; Vincent et al., 2003; Wahab, 2009).


In conclusion, parthenium weed is a very invasive plant species that endanger Pakistan’s environment and agriculture. Because of the decreased crop yields, elevated production costs, and deteriorated livestock health, it might result in severe economic losses. Furthermore, due to its allergic qualities, it presents a serious health risk to both people and animals. Due to the parthenium weed’s adaptability, strong growth, and lack of natural predators, it has spread quickly throughout Pakistan. Hence, quick action is needed to manage and eradicate this weed, including notifying authorities of sightings, maintaining excellent farm cleanliness, and raising public consciousness and educating the public. If this threat is not addressed, Pakistan’s ecosystem, biodiversity, and food security may suffer irreparable harm. Hence, cooperation between all parties is necessary to stop the spread of parthenium weed and lessen its negative effects on the environment, agriculture, and public health.


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