Tropical Weed ID

Use this forum for identification of plants and flowers found in countries outside the UK. To allow us to help provide accurate identification we need clear pictures of the whole plant, where it is growing and close up pictures of flowers, buds or seed heads if any available. It would also be useful to see pictures showing the leaf attached to the stem.
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Jeloz
Posts: 5
Joined: 13 Jan 2021, 16:08

Tropical Weed ID

Post by Jeloz » 30 Mar 2021, 08:15

Hello!
First time posting here - does anyone know what this weed is, and whether it is safe for tortoise consumption?
My redfoot found a patch recently and absolutely loves eating it, to the point where he always actively searches for it on his walks now.

Some other info:
- I live in Malaysia, the climate is hot and humid all year long.
- I haven't seen any flowers on it, but there are some kind of buds underneath the leaves sometimes?
- The leaves and stems are covered in fine hairs

Let me know if more pics are required!
Attachments
photo_2021-03-30_15-05-56.jpg
photo_2021-03-30_15-05-55.jpg
photo_2021-03-30_15-05-55 (2).jpg

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Nina
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Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Nina » 30 Mar 2021, 12:51

Hi Jeloz and welcome to The Tortoise Table!.

Many thanks for the photos. It's a little hard for me to tell without a flower because many plants have leaves like this, so could you send a photo of the buds that you are seeing underneath the leaves? It looks to me like this is a plant in the Lamiaceae family (also called the Mint family, but there are loads of genera in that family, including the sages/salvias and many more). Some of the plants in that family are edble and a few aren't.

Just to confirm that it is in this family, can you look at the stem and let us know if it is square or round? You can usually easily see if it is square, just by looking, or you could cut through the stem and also see if that cross section is square. Also, could you crush some leaves between your fingers and let us know if they give off any kind of scent (maybe like mint or sage, or anything else)?

Nina

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lin
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Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by lin » 30 Mar 2021, 18:05

Do you think this could be one of the spermacoca, particularly this one. http://www.natureloveyou.sg/Spermacoce% ... /Main.html. Every time I do a search the S. exiles is always somewhere on the page.

Lin

Jeloz
Posts: 5
Joined: 13 Jan 2021, 16:08

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Jeloz » 31 Mar 2021, 07:39

Hi everyone! Thanks for the all replies!

@Lin
Close! I actually thought that might be it at first, if not for the fact that they ALSO grow in my yard alongside the mystery weed (My tortoise won't touch em' though). The leaves on the unidentified weed also have a more furry texture, similar to the stem whereas these have leathery leaves.

@Nina
I went out and took a whole bunch of new photos this morning, hopefully they're helpful.
The stem seems square to me, but I've included a picture of a cross section as well.
I also crushed some leaves but they don't give off a very strong scent - nothing I can identify at least.
Attachments
photo_2021-03-31_14-35-17.jpg
Blooming(?) Buds, this one has a browner stem too
photo_2021-03-31_14-35-20.jpg
Buds
photo_2021-03-31_14-34-41.jpg
Cross-section of the stem

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Nina » 31 Mar 2021, 08:28

Hi Jeloz,

Thanks so much for the latest photos. Yes, it is as I thought, in the Lamiaceae family, as it definitely has a square stem, and the flowers are carried below the leaves like many of the species in that family. The problem is that there are over 230 genera and 6,000 species in that family, and I don't know which one this is!

It is useful to know that the leaves and stem are covered in fine hairs, but there are a lot of species in that family that have hairy leaves and stems. Do those flowers ever open, or do they stay like buds?

It just occurred to me that there might be a local, native name for this plant. Do you know anyone who might have a common name for the plant? If so, then we could look up the scientific name and then let you know how safe it is for your tortoise.

Are you in Peninsular Malaysia or East Malaysia (the species differ in the two areas)? I've tried searching for the flora in the Lamiaceae family that grow in Malaysia, but most of the results focus on commercially useful species, medicinal species, or decorative/unusual species like the Pitcher plant or the giant Rafflesia, etc., and I can't find this one. .

The other thing I was wondering was if there is a university anywhere near you? If so, and if there is a Botany department, maybe you could send your photos there and they could identify the plant, and then we could tell you if it is safe for tortoises. I know this is a roundabout way of arriving at a plant ID, but at the moment I can't think of how to go about it.

Nina

Jeloz
Posts: 5
Joined: 13 Jan 2021, 16:08

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Jeloz » 31 Mar 2021, 09:52

Hi Nina,

I'm in Peninsular Malaysia.
About the buds, it's kind of hard to tell if they're open or not since they're so small - but I think I found one with flowers. I took a cutting and removed the leaves for a super-closeup pic (see attached).

There are some universities around my area, but I've never heard of any of them having a Botany dept., but I'll try ask around and see what I can find.

Not sure how accurate this is, but I found another potential lead by using Google lens to scan the photos I took; it identified them as: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parietaria_judaica
The flowers and leaves do look quite similar, what do you think?
Attachments
photo_2021-03-31_16-43-51.jpg
The ones closer to the camera appear to be open

Jeloz
Posts: 5
Joined: 13 Jan 2021, 16:08

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Jeloz » 31 Mar 2021, 12:00

Another potential lead:
I looked around on the site that Lin provided earlier under the Spermacoca genus and found one that seems to match the characteristics:
http://www.natureloveyou.sg/Spermacoce% ... /Main.html
This site is actually using a Singaporean domain (.sg), and since we're geographical neighbors this could be the one!

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Nina
Posts: 1473
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Nina » 31 Mar 2021, 12:58

Good detective work! I'm not sure about the Parietaria, as it doesn't appear to have square stems (although the stems do appear to have grooves in them, which can sometimes make them look square).

I think you (and Lin) might be on to something with the Spermacoce, and I've been looking into its nutritional properties. I've checked out various scientific papers on the chemical constituents of the plant and there are some tannins and oxalates present, but not in high enough quantities to make it dangerous for tortoises.

One of the species of Spermacoce (S. senensis) is listed in one source as being toxic to horses
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=d7C ... ic&f=false
but I can't find it listed anywhere else as being toxic and can't see that other species within the genus are toxic.

I looked up the Spermacoce latifolia that you found and here is an analysis of its components:
https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _Culicidae
It does mention that it contains coumarin. Here's a link to our harmful properties page on the website: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... GRiOz_TUZY and you can read what we say about Coumarin. I think this plant only posseses small quantities of coumarin and so should be no problem at all, but maybe feed it in moderation, rather than in large quantities, just to be on the safe side.

I think that the plant is probably OK for your tortoise (although it would be good to get a definite ID for it). Also, because tortoises live naturally in places were they are often in competition with mammals for scarce food, many species have developed a tolerance to some substances that would be toxic to mammals, and that is why they can survive in harsh conditions. There are, of course, lots of plants out there that are very toxic, and we hear of captive tortoises dying from eating toxic plants. My feeling is that your plant is probably not toxic, but it's would be wise to err on the side of caution and feed it in moderation only, and as part of a wide and varied diet.

Nina

Jeloz
Posts: 5
Joined: 13 Jan 2021, 16:08

Re: Tropical Weed ID

Post by Jeloz » 01 Apr 2021, 02:57

Thanks for the info, Nina!

Good to know it's not outright toxic, cause he's probably eaten quite abit of it by now :lol:

I'll keep checking for a way to get it ID'd and get back to you if I do!

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