Family: Zygophyllaceae (Creosote-Bush Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Herb
Herbaceous perennial producing multiple shoots annually from a woody crown. Mature plants are globose and can reach a height of 50 cm. Mature stems are often decumbent resulting in a more prostrate, spreading habit. Leaves alternate, dark green, fleshy, and highly dissected. Flowers are showy white with 5 petals, green sepals and prominent yellow stamens borne on pedicels along the upper half of the stem. Seeds are medium-size and borne in a 2-celled or 4-celled green capsule that dries and burst open at maturity. Capable of reproducing by seed or vegetatively by lateral roots. The young seedlings are capable of growing during periods of extreme water deficits. This species appears to be drought tolerant, occurring in Saudi Arabia and the western Gobi desert that receives as little as 80 mm annual precipitation.
Biology & Spread:
History: Peganum harmala is native to Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia. This species has spread to North America, South Australia, and South Africa. It was initially introduced to North American at Deming, New Mexico in 1928. Generally, P. harmala inhabits regions characterized by hot summers, for example it is a co-dominant species in Central and Upper Jezira Plains of Iraq where the mean summer temperatures exceed 40oC. Peganum harmala is toxic to humans and livestock, so much that the wood cannot be burned do to the toxicity of the smoke. In Afghanistan the smoke is used to fumigate and rid houses of bedbugs and lice.
U.S. Habitat: Disturbed areas such as roadsides, right-of-ways, and abandoned cultivated fields. Also found near livestock watering facilities and travel routes.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Northern Africa, Middle East, and southern Asia
U.S. Present: AZ, CA, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, WA
Distribution: Southern New Mexico, southeast Arizona, and west Texas. Populations have also been found in California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
Abbott, L.B., T.B. Bettmann, and T.M. Sterling. 2008. Physiology and Recovery of African Rue (Peganum harmala) seedlings under water-deficient stress. Weed Science 56:52-57.
Abbott, L. B. and T.M. Sterling. 2006. African Rue (Peganum harmala) seedlings response to herbicides applied under water-deficient stress. Weed Science 54:198-204.
Abbott, L.B. and T.M. Sterling. 2003. Recovery of African rue seedlings from water stress: Implications for recruitment and invasion. Page 3 in Invasive Plants in Natural and Managed Systems: Linking Science and Management and 7th International Conference on the Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasion.
Decreane, L.P.R., J. Delaet, and E.F. Smets. 1996. Morphological studies of Zygophyllaceae 2. The floral development and vascular anatomy of Peganum harmala. American Journal of Botany 83:201-215.
Lee. R.D., 2004. New Mexico's invasive weeds. Las Cruces: New Mexico State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics and Cooperative Extension Service. Pp. 32-33.
Mahmoud, A., A. El-Sheikh, and S. Abdul-Basit. 1983. Gernimation of six desert species from Riyadh District, Saudi Arabia. J. Coll. Sci. King Suadi Univ. 14:5-22
Robinett, D., D. Miller, and D. Bedunah. 2008. Central Afghanistan Rangelands: A history of tribal rule, grazing, war, and rebuilding. Rangelands.30:2-12.
Thalen, D.C.P., 1979. Ecology and utilization of desert shrub rangelands in Iraq. Dr. W. Junk B.V. Publishers, The Haque, The Netherlands.
Walter, H. and E.O. Box. 1983. Caspian lowland biome. Pages 9-41 in N.E. West, ed. Ecosytems of the World 5: Temperate Deserts and Semi-Deserts. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Whitson, T.D., editor. 2000. Weeds of the west, ninth edition. University of Wyoming, Jackson.
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