by Stephen Mifsud
   28 Feb 2021      ()
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Achyranthes sicula   (Devil's horsewhip)

Achyranthes sicula  (AMARANTHACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands at or after year 2000.

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Nomenclature and Basic Information Images
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Profile Date Oct-2010 (last update: 12-Jan-2019)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (Oct-2010) Achyranthes sicula retrieved from on 2021-Feb-28

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Achyranthes sicula(L.) Allioni
Published in Mélang. Philos. Math. Soc. Roy. Turin (Misc. Taur.) 5: 93 (1774)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Achyranthes aspera var. sicula L.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Amaranthaceae Juss. (The Amaranth Family)
42 species from the Amaranthaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Devil's horsewhip, Prickly chaff flower

Maltese name(s) :

Maltese name not known

Status for Malta :

Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 and spreads to form established, non-invasive populations. It may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common     Frequent     Scarce     Rare     Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE (annuals)
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection [link]:

Not Protected by Law (LN200/2011 or LN311/2006)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :


Colour of Flowers:

Purple or Inconspicuous

Remarks :

Found naturalised in a rocky and arid valley bed by Stephen Mifsud. Matthew Fenech observed a dense population in a yard at Floriana, possibly introduced from seed dispersal at a public garden in close vicinity. The species is native to Sicily and southwest Europe. Since only one population is found in natural habitat, the Maltese population is best considered as an introduction. However, if it is found elsewhere in similar habitat, this species can be safely assumed to be native.

Species Description and Distribution

Habitat in Europe:

Ruderal preferring disturbed areas

Preferred habitat in Malta:

Horticultural escape becoming invasive if habitat is suitable, forming extensive populations.

Botanical Description:

Perennial, woody below, stem only slightly pubescent to nearly glabrous. Leaves opposite, ovate to ovate-oblong, densely silvery-sericeous beneath. Inflorescence long, lax, spicate. Flowers erect, becoming deflexed. Perianth-segments 4 or 5, narrowly lanceolate, becoming indurate and ribbed, pedicellate, somewhat shining, green. Bracteoles glabrous, awned. Perianth about twice as long as the bracteoles. Stamens (2-)5; filaments connate below into a tube. Teeth alternating with stamens, entire at the apex. Fruits deflexed.

Distributional range:

Southern part of W. Mediterranean region

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):

Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):

Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta

Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(Euro+Med Checklist, 2017) - Country codes

Ag Ca Eg Hs(G) Ir It Jo LS Ma Md(M) Sa Sg Si(S) Tn [aAE nAg nAz(F M S) -Gr nHs(S)]

Images (7 images)
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-0.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-1.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-2.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-3.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-4.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-5.
   Achyranthes sicula   -   Image Code: AYASI-6.

Links & Further info

Google Web

Google Images

Yahoo Web

Yahoo Images




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



The Plant List


Vienna Virt. Hb.





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