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20 common weeds in the Philippines and their scientific names

You’ll come across many weeds in the Philippines, either in your backyard or the rice fields in the rain-fed lowlands. Some are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, while others are a nuisance. 

Annoying weeds always seem to choke out or destroy good plants. They compete for sunlight and resources aggressively. 

Some grasses that grow in rice fields look similar to rice, which may make it harder for you to eliminate them. That is where this guide comes in handy.

We’ve listed the 20 most commonly occurring weeds in the Philippines to make it easier for you to identify them. We’ve also explained ways to eliminate them.

1. Asian Spiderflower – Cleome viscosa

Asian Spiderflower - Cleome viscosa
Asian Spiderflower – Cleome viscosa. Image:Flickr/Len Worthington
  • Local Name: sabila-sabilahan or kampanilya
  • Family: Cleomaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Asian Spiderflower is an annual weed that grows up to one meter. The plant is native to tropical Africa but is widely spread in warm and humid habitats across the Americas and Asia.

The Asian Spiderflower is mainly a broadleaf weed. You will find it mostly on disturbed sites, gardens, rice paddies, pastures, orchards, abandoned lands, and along roadsides in the Philippines.

The weed has a taproot system. Therefore, the best way of removing it is through hand pulling or spraying chemicals to kill its roots.

2. False Daisy – Eclipta prostrata

False Daisy - Eclipta prostrata
False Daisy – Eclipta prostrate. Image: Flickr/Sajin Raj
  • Local Name: takip-kohol
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

False Daisy is one of the many broadleaf weeds in the Philippines. It is an annual weed that can grow up to 50 metres tall.

False Daisy is characterised by cylindrical and greyish roots, with purplish stems and fine white hairs. It has serrated leaves that can be up to 12 centimetres long. 

False Daisy has a fibrous with a shallow taproot system. Therefore, hoeing is the best method for removing it, especially if it grows along moist, disturbed areas.

3. Jute – Corchorus aestuans

Jute - Corchorus aestuans
Jute – Corchorus aestuans. Image:Flickr/Dinesh Valke
  • Local Name: saluyot
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

Jute is another major weed in the Philippines. It is an annual plant native to tropical Asia and Africa.

Erect and sparingly branched stems characterise the weed. Furthermore, it can grow up to 40 centimetres, with the stem forming long hairs on one side.

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The Jute mainly grows in disturbed areas in the rainforests of the Philippines. You can also find it in a vine thicket, monsoon scrub, and wooded grassland.

You can remove the weed through hoeing.

4. Wiregrass – Eleusine indica

Wiregrass - Eleusine indica
Wiregrass – Eleusine indica. Image:Flickr/Ahmad Faud
  • Local Name: barit
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Wiregrass is also known as the yard grass or Indian goosegrass. It is one of the many grasses in the Philippines.

It grows in disturbed land, waste places, roadsides and riversides, beaches and open banks, and damp marshlands.

The Wiregrass is an annual weed that can grow up to one metre tall. It is native to tropical Asia but is commonly found in the Philippines.

The Wiregrass has a fibrous root system. Thus, you can eliminate it by applying a herbicide to decrease its growth.

5. Asthma Plant – Euphorbia hirta

 Asthma Plant - Euphorbia hirta
Asthma Plant – Euphorbia hirta. Image: Flickr/Rea
  • Local Name: tawa-tawa
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Asthma Plant is one of the most common weeds in the Philippines. Most people in the Philippines consider it a herb, and some consume it as a herbal tea for fevers.

The Asthma Plant is an annual plant native to the tropical regions of the Americas. It is also a broadleaf that grows in open grasslands, roadsides, and pathways.

The Asthma Plant has a taproot system with a distinct and well-developed primary root. You can remove it through hand pooling.

6. Bayhops – Ipomoea pes-caprae

Bayhops - Ipomoea pes-caprae
Bayhops – Ipomoea pes-caprae. Image: Flickr/Babish VB
  • Local Name: baging-baging
  • Family: Convolvulaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The Bayhops is a perennial weed native to tropical America. It can grow to a height of up to two metres.

The Bayhops is a broadleaf weed. It has small pink to lavender flowers with purple centres. You will find it growing on the upper parts of beaches.

It develops a long, thick, starchy root as it grows. You can remove it through hand pulling, hoeing, or chemical application.

7. Giant Calotrope – Calotropis gigantea

Giant Calotrope - Calotropis gigantea
Giant Calotrope – Calotropis gigantea. Image:Flickr/Veena Nair
  • Local Name: kapal-kapal baging
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The Giant Calotrope is a broadleaf weed native to many Asian countries, including the Philippines. The weed looks like a shrub and can grow up to four metres tall.

In some countries, the leaves of the Giant Calotrope are used in floral arrangements. But some can use it for ornamental purposes.

The Giant Calotrope is one of the many perennial local weeds in the Philippines that grow with a deep taproot system. 

Although people use it for beauty, the plant can be invasive. Therefore, the best way to remove it is through hand pulling.

8. West Indian Lantana – Lantana camara

West Indian Lantana - Lantana camara
West Indian Lantana – Lantana camera. Image: Flickr/Pordeshia
  • Local Name: Kantutay
  • Family: Verbenaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The West Indian Lantana is a broadleaf perennial weed native to the American tropics. The weed is common throughout the world and is considered invasive.

The West Indian Lantana grows to a height of between two and six metres. It grows to become a shrub and forms a dense thicket.

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The weed can grow in many areas, including agricultural zones, forest margins and gaps, riparian zones, grasslands, secondary forests, and beach fronts. 

You can remove it by cutting or applying chemicals to kill its roots.

9. Shameplant – Mimosa pudica

Shameplant - Mimosa pudica
Shameplant – Mimosa pudica. Image: Flickr/Apus Wd
  • Local Name: Makahiya
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Shameplant is an annual pantropical weed native to the Caribbean and South and Central America. 

It has an erect stem in young plants but becomes creeping or trailing several months after growth. It can reach a length of up to three metres.

The Shameplant is invasive and tends to attack hand-cultivated fields. Although it has a taproot system, the plant can affect good crops by forming a thicket around them.

The best way of removing the weed is through hand pulling or herbicide application.

10. Green Carpetweed – Mollugo verticillata

Green Carpetweed - Mollugo verticillata
Green Carpetweed – Mollugo verticillata. Image:Flickr/Dendroica cerulea
  • Local Name: Tangantangan
  • Family: Molluginaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Green Carpetweed is an annual broadleaf plant native to tropical America. It grows to a height of up to 50 centimetres.

The Green Carpetweed also has whorled leaves and flowers that turn into an egg-shaped fruit. The weed may grow in disturbed areas or climb over nearby plants and obstacles.

The Green Carpetweed has a taproot system. However, it grows by reseeding itself. Therefore, herbicide application is the best way of removing it.

11. Creeping Woodsorrel – Oxalis corniculata

Creeping Woodsorrel - Oxalis corniculata
Creeping Woodsorrel – Oxalis corniculata. Image: Flickr/hedera.baltica
  • Local Name: sorrel
  • Family: Oxalidaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Creeping Woodsorrel is an annual weed that grows up to 50 cm tall and is native to tropical Asia.

The weed is identified by its yellow trifoliate leaves. The leaves subdivide into three rounded leaflets.

The Creeping Woodsorrel grows by spreading at the roots to form a mat. Thus, it will spread easily on arable land and waste places.

Since it spreads at the root, you can eliminate the plant by hand pulling or hoeing.

12. Carabao Grass – Paspalum conjugatum

Carabao Grass - Paspalum conjugatum
Carabao Grass – Paspalum conjugatum. Image:Flickr/Ahmad Fuad
  • Local Name: talahib
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The Carabao Grass is a perennial weed native to the American tropics. The weed can grow to two metres high and spread through long stolons.

The Carabao Grass commonly grows in humid places on the island, at forest edges, on roadsides, and on plantation crops. However, many people use it as a lawn grass.

The Carabao Grass can withstand mowing. Therefore, you can eliminate it by applying herbicides or hoeing.

13. Gale of the Wind – Phyllanthus niruri

Gale of the Wind - Phyllanthus niruri
Gale of the Wind – Phyllanthus niruri. Image:Flickr/Raj
  • Local Name: tawa-tawa
  • Family: Phyllanthaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

Gale of the Wind is an annual broadleaf weed native to tropical America. The plant can grow to 70 centimetres tall and have ascending branches.

The weed is also characterised by smooth, light green bark with pale green flowers. Gale of the Wind grows with a dense fibrous root system, which can spread easily and make the weed drought resistant.

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You will find the weed growing in disturbed areas and landscape beds. The best way to eliminate it is through herbicide application.

14. Common Purslane – Portulaca oleracea

Common Purslane - Portulaca oleracea
Common Purslane – Portulaca oleracea
  • Local Name: kulitis
  • Family: Portulacaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Common Purslane is an annual succulent native to tropical America. The plant grows to a height of one metre with smooth, reddish stems.

It also has clustered leaves at stem joints and ends. The plant grows with a thick taproot and many fibrous secondary roots.

The Common Purslane will grow on flower beds, cultivated fields, roadsides or other disturbed or waste places. You can remove it through hand pulling or chemical application.

15. Arrowleaf Sida – Sida rhombifolia

Arrowleaf Sida - Sida rhombifolia
Arrowleaf Sida – Sida rhombifolia. Image: Flickr/Dustin Ivander
  • Local Name: buri-buri
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Arrowleaf Sida is a perennial or annual weed native to tropical America. It has an erect stem that can grow up to 120 centimetres tall.

The Arrowleaf Sida also has dark green leaves shaped like a diamond. The plant grows on waste ground, including rocky areas and roadsides.

The Arrowleaf Sida is considered a subshrub plant. Therefore, removing its roots is the best way of preventing it from regrowing.

16. Black Pigweed – Trianthema portulacastrum

Black Pigweed - Trianthema portulacastrum
Black Pigweed – Trianthema portulacastrum. Image: Flickr/cpmkutty
  • Local Name: papait
  • Family: Aizoaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Black Pigweed is an annual weed native to Africa, North and South America. It mostly grows in disturbed and cultivated land and interferes with good crops.

The stems of Black Pigweed can grow to a height of up to one metre. You can also identify the weed by its green-to-red colour.

Also, its leaves are small and round or oval blades. You can pull the weed by hand since it grows through its taproot system.

17. Billygoat Weed – Ageratum conyzoides

Billygoat Weed - Ageratum conyzoides
Billygoat Weed – Ageratum conyzoides. Image: Flickr/Forest and Kim Starr
  • Local Name: bukal-bukal
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual

The Billygoat Weed is an annual weed native to tropical America. However, it is now considered an invasive weed because it destroys good crops that come into contact with it.

The Billygoat Weed can grow to a height of up to one metre. Its leaves are ovate and produce white flowers.

The Billygoat Weed thrives in garden and agricultural soils and is common in disturbed sites. You can remove it by hoeing or chemical application.

18. Alligator Weed – Alternanthera philoxeroides

Alligator Weed - Alternanthera philoxeroides
Alligator Weed – Alternanthera philoxeroides. Image: Flickr/Randy Waters
  • Local Name: kangkong-lupa
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The alligator weed is a perennial plant native to South America. It is considered an invasive weed and has spread in many countries globally, including the Philippines.

The alligator weed mostly thrives in dry and aquatic environments. You can identify it with its whitish, papery flowers and short stalks.

Its stem is also irregular and hollow and can sprout up to a length of ten metres. As an invasive species, chemical application is the best way to control the alligator weed.

19. Punarvana – Boerhavia diffusa

Punarvana - Boerhavia diffusa
Punarvana – Boerhavia diffusa. Image: Flickr/Scamperdale
  • Local Name: sambong
  • Family: Nyctaginaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The Punarvana is a creeping perennial weed with an unclear native range. 

However, the weed is widely dispersed throughout India, the Pacific, and the southern United States. It is also naturalised in the Philippines.

You can identify it by its purplish stems, thickened at the nodes. Also, the weed has ovate or rounded leaves with a slightly pinkish colour.

Most people in the Philippines consider the weed a herb because of its medicinal properties. 

Since the weed occupies disturbed land, you can remove it by hand pulling.

20. Nut Grass – Cyperus rotundus

Nut Grass - Cyperus rotundus
Nut Grass – Cyperus rotundus. Image: Flickr/Navida Pok
  • Local Name: baray-baria
  • Family: Cyperaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial

The Nut grass is a perennial grass considered to be an invasive weed. It is native to Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The Nut grass can grow to a height of up to 140 centimetres. You can identify the plant by its tubers that look like nuts.

Nut grass grows with an extensive underground network of basal bulbs, fibrous roots, and thin, wiry rhizomes.

You can eliminate it through herbicide application, hoeing, or the other steps we covered in our nut grass removal guide.

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