Conyza canadensis

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Conyza canadensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Astereae
Genus: Conyza
Species: C. canadensis
Binomial name
Conyza canadensis
(L.) Cronquist
Canadian fleabane (Conyza canadensis) essential oil in a clear glass vial

Conyza canadensis (formerly Erigeron canadensis L.) is an annual plant native throughout most of North America and Central America. Common names include horseweed, Canadian horseweed, Canadian fleabane, coltstail, marestail and butterweed.


It is an annual plant growing to 1.5 m tall, with sparsely hairy stems. The leaves are unstalked, slender, 2–10 cm long and up to 1 cm broad, with a coarsely toothed margin. They grow in an alternate spiral up the stem and the lower ones wither early. The flowers are produced in dense inflorescences 1 cm in diameter. Each individual flower has a ring of white or pale purple ray florets and a centre of yellow disc florets. The fruit is a cypsela tipped with dirty white down. [1]

C. canadensis can easily be confused with C. sumatrensis, which may grow to a height of 2 m, and the more hairy C. bonariensis which does not exceed 1 m. C. canadensis is distinguished by bracts that have a brownish inner surface and no red dot at the tip, and are free (or nearly free) of the hairs found on the bracts of the other species.[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Horseweed originated in North America but has spread to inhabited areas of most of the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere.[1] It is much the most common of the alien Conyza species in Britain, and is found from northern Scotland to Cornwall. It is the only one of the British Conyza species that grows as a weed of arable land: the others are casuals of waste and disturbed ground in towns and by roads and railways. It is not invasive of any natural or semi-natural habitats.

Weed status[edit]

Horseweed is commonly considered a weed, and in Ohio it has been declared a noxious weed.[4] It can be found in fields, meadows, and gardens throughout its native range. Horseweed infestations have reduced soybean yields by as much as 83%. It is an especially problematic weed in no-till agriculture, as it is often resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides. Farmers are advised to include 2,4-D or dicamba in a burndown application prior to planting to control horseweed. However, evidence exists that horseweed may be able to develop resistance to 2,4-D.[5]


The Zuni people insert the crushed flowers of the canadensis variety into the nostrils to cause sneezing, relieving rhinitis.[6] It is valued by Native Americans for assisting in the clotting of the blood and it has also been used to treat rheumatic complaints and gout. A tincture is made from the dried flowering tops of the plants. Horseweed is a preferable material for use in the hand drill method of making friction fire.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Canadian Fleabane: Conyza canadensis". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  2. ^ Conyza sumatrensis, International Environmental Weed Foundation
  3. ^ Green, Deane. "Horseweed, Marestail". Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  4. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Conyza canadensis
  5. ^
  6. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (p.55)
  • A. Davis, K. Renner, C. Sprague, L. Dyer, D. Mutch (2005). Integrated Weed Management. MSU.
  • Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press.  ISBN 0-89672-614-2

External links[edit]