Host interactions, pathology, economic impacts and management of the facultative parasitic weed Rhamphicarpa fistulosa

Jonne Rodenburg*, Lammert Bastiaans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rhamphicarpa fistulosa (Hochst.) Benth., is a facultative parasitic plant causing persistent weed problems in smallholder rice crops across Africa. It was first identified as a rice weed in the 1990's in West Africa. The objective of this review was to comprehensively inform the crop protection research community and extension services on the newly gained insights on R. fistulosa since the last review in 2014. Following a systematic literature search in Web of Science on papers published after September 2014, the cut-off date of the last review, the resulting publications are reviewed. Parasitizing Rhamphicarpa fistulosa plants gain considerably in biomass and reproductive output, compared to independently growing plants. The host incurs severe reductions in photosynthetic efficiency and biomass production. Host-plant assimilates primarily benefit parasite growth and reproduction. Rice yield losses caused by R. fistulosa infestations range from 24 to 73% depending on infestation density and cultivar. Annual crop losses in sub-Saharan Africa were estimated at 204,000 tons of milled rice, with associated annual economic losses of US $82M, affecting >140,000 rural households. Rice cultivars NERICA-L-40 and -31 were identified as resistant and high yielding under R. fistulosa infested conditions. Early sowing decreases R. fistulosa infection. Contrary to the obligate parasitic weed Striga spp., the facultative R. fistulosa is not controlled by fertilisers. The past decade of research generated valuable insights in the genetics, germination biology, environmental and ecological contexts, distribution and impacts on crop yields and economies, and disclosed feasible management options.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106688
JournalCrop Protection
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • Africa
  • Facultative parasitism
  • Parasitic weed
  • Rice
  • Rice vampireweed


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