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Monday, October 12, 2009

Parthenium on a new platform

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Parthenium is a genus belonging to the family of plants known as Asteraceae.P.hysterophorus and P. guayule are common among several of its species. It is native to tropical America. However P.hysterophorus is commonly found in many parts of India as an aggressive weed which invades all types of land. Physical contact with Parthenium causes a number of allergic effects in humans including dermatitis and respiratory malfunctions.

Direct contact to the plant may cause dermatitis in cattle too. It is due to the fact that it contains a toxin known as Parthenin.Parthenium hysterophorus is an annual weed which grows up to 1m in height. Its stem remains green with longitudinal grooves. Leaves are alternate, sessile, irregularly dissected and pubiscent. The florets of Parthenium are white in colour. They are terminal or axillary, and peduncled. The plant bears flowers and fruits all through the year.

Parthenium hysterophorus : a closer view

Parthenium is also called as Congress Grass. It has acquired the status of invasive weed in many parts of the world including Australia and parts of Africa. Its outbreak has been observed in the epidemic proportion which causes adverse impact on crops, livestock and human health. It has also been found to be resistant to a number of herbicides like glyphosate.

A Jungle of Parthenium

In spite of its invasive nature and adverse impacts on crops, humans and cattle, Parthenium has been reported to contain some important medicinal properties also. The Jicarilla Apache people of North America have been reported to use it as medicinal herb for some ailments. The

Parthenium leaf extract is reported to be used in the synthesis of Silver nanoparticles by the Scientists at Nanophosphor Application Centre of Allahabad University, U.P., India. It can provide a new platform to this noxious weed in the field of nanotechnology based industries.

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