Essential oils used for weed control

Author: Nicodemus Amboye
Category: Biological Sciences
Published on: 2021-05-24 13:48:00   Updated On: June-28-2021 11:37:56

Essential oils are compounds produced naturally by aromatic plants. They have a characteristic sweet smell and are thus termed aromatic. They contain numerous molecules that easily change state from liquid to gas hence they are said to be volatile.

Essential oils occur in specialized plant structures called glands and secretory vesicles. The oils may be found in the seeds, fruits, bark, gum, wood, or flowers of the plant. The oils are extracted from the plant organs using hydro-distillation or steam distillation methods.

Essential oils are comprised of two major components that are responsible for their biological properties, that is, terpenoids (monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes) and oxygenated compounds including alcohols, esters, aldehydes, and phenols. It is these compounds that give essential oils their antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, and herbicidal properties. As such, essential oils are used in diverse industries in the manufacture of cosmetics, perfumes, food additives, pesticides, herbicides, et cetera. 

In recent years, use of eco-friendly and healthy natural products has gained momentum in pursuit of wellness of both humans and the environment. As such, the use of biological control method for pest management has been on a steady rise. Given the antimicrobial properties of essential oils, they are seen as a safe alternative to synthetic chemical products in the management of crop pests and diseases.

Research shows that pests have developed resistance to synthetic products rendering them ineffective in the long run. Therefore, adoption of biological control methods is the other sure alternative to dealing with the pests menace.

Essential oils affect the growth of weeds in two main ways: by

  • preventing the process of seed germination in the weed species and
  • inhibiting growth and development of their seedlings/shoots.

This article highlights some of the essential oils that can be used for controlling weeds.   

Using Achillea gypsicola Hub-Mor and Achillea biebersteinii essential oils for weed control

Achillea gypsicola Hub-Mor and Achillea biebersteinii Afan. essential oils have shown the ability to inhibit seed germination and seedling growth of the following weeds found in cultivated areas: Cirsium arvense, Lactuta serriola, and Amaranthus retroflexus. This is according to the findings of a study conducted by Kordali et al. (2009). The herbicidal property exhibited by the two essential oils is attributed to the high amounts of camphor in the oils. 

Using Citrus aurantifolia (key lime) essential oil for weed control

Citrus aurantifolia essential oil has shown the ability to prevent seed growth and seedling germination of the following agricultural weeds: Phalaris minor, Avena fatua and Echinochloa crus-galli. These findings were established in a study done by Fagodia et al. (2017).

The herbicidal property exhibited by Citrus aurantifolia essential oil is attributed to the presence high amounts of two compounds in the oil: limonene and citral.

Using Lavender essential oil for weed control

Lavender essential oil shows high phytotoxic activity against ryegrass (Lorium rigidium). This is in accordance to a study that was conducted by Haig et al. (2009) in Australia.  The study established that lavender essential oil comprises coumarin as the main chemical constituent that makes the oil exhibit the herbicidal property.

Using Coriandrum sativum (coriander) essential oil for weed control

Coriandrum sativum L. essential oil has the ability to inhibit germination of seeds belonging to the following weeds Chenopodium album, Echinochloa crus-galli, and Amaranthus retroflexus. These are the findings of a study conducted by Sumalan et al. (2019). It was established that the herbicidal property was as a result of high quantities of in the essential oil.

Using Eucalyptus spp. (eucalyptus) essential oil for weed control

Eucalyptus spp. has shown the ability to inhibit seed germination and seedling development for the following weeds: Annual ryegrass, Echinochloa crus-galli, Lolium multiflorum, Nicotiana glauca, Parthenium hysterophorus, Phalaris canariensis, Phalaris minor, Portulaca oleracea, Sinapis arvensis, and Solanum elaeagnifolium (Singh et al., 2005; Batish et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2012; Ben et al., 2013; Li et al., 2019; Ibanez & Blazquez, 2019).

The herbicidal property of eucalyptus oil was attributed to the presence of two compounds in the oil: trans-pinocarveol and α-terpineol. 

Using Origanum acutidens (hand-mazz) essential oil for weed control

Origanum acutidens essential oil contains carvacrol, p-cymene, linalool acetate, borneol, and beta-caryophyllene which play a role in preventing seed growth and seedling germination of the following weeds: Rumex crispus, Amaranthus retroflexus, and Chenopodium album (Kordali et al., 2008).

Using Origanum vulgare (oregano) essential oil for weed control

Origanum vulgare essential oil shows herbicidal activity against monocot plant species. Grulova et al. (2020) established that Origanum vulgare essential oil has the ability to prevent seed growth and seedling germination of Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare.

The herbicidal property of Origanum vulgare essential oil was due to high content of the compound thymol (76%) in the oil.

Using Peumus boldus (molina) essential oil for weed control

Peumus boldus essential oil has shown herbicidal properties against Portulaca oleracea L., commonly known as duckweed, pursley or little hogweed. According to Blazquez and Carbo (2015), Peumus boldus essential oil contains limonene, β-pinene, and γ-terpinene, all of which play a key role in the prevention of seed germination of Portulaca oleracea L. in both soilless and soil cultures.

Using Pinus nigra (European black pine) essential oil for weed control

Pinus nigra essential oil shows herbicidal effects against Sinapis arvensis, Trifolium campestre Schreb. and Phalaris canariensis, by preventing their germination and seedling growth (Amri, et al. 2014).

The herbicidal property of Pinus nigra essential oil was attributed to the presence of high amounts of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (41.4%) and oxygenated diterpenes (38.5%) (Amri, et al. 2014).

Using Pinus pinea (stone pine) essential oil for weed control

Amri et al. (2017) studied the antifungal and phytotoxic effects of Pinus pinea essential oil on selected fungi and three plant weed species, that is, Lolium rigidum Gaud., Sinapsis arvensis L., and Raphanus raphannistrum L. The findings indicated that Pinus pinea essential oil significantly inhibited seed germination and seedling growth in the target weed species.

The herbicidal property exhibited by the oil was attributed to the high quantities of monoterpene hydrocarbons (73.1%) present in the oil (Amri et al., 2017).   

Using Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) essential oil for weed control

According to Alipour et al. (2019), Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil greatly decreases germination rate of the seeds of Amaranthus retroftexus and Rhaphanus sativus. This means that the oil can be used to develop safer and eco-friendly herbicides to control the weeds in cultivated areas.

The herbicidal property of Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil was attributed to the high amounts of monoterpenes present in the oil (Alipour et al., 2019).

Using Tagetes erecta (African marigold) essential oil for weed control

Laosinwattana et al. (2018) evaluated the herbicidal property of Tagetes erecta essential oil. The findings revealed that Tagetes erecta strongly inhibited seed growth and seedling development in Echinochloa cruss-galli (L.). The researchers attributed this property to the presence of high amounts of monoterpenes in the essential oil.

Using Tanacetum aucheranum and Tanacetum chiliophyllum essential oils for weed control

Salamci et al. (2007) examined the herbicidal property of Tanacetum aucheranum and Tanacetum chiliophyllum essential oils against the following weed species: Rumex crispus, Amaranthus retroflexus and Chenopodium album. The Findings revealed that Tanacetum aucheranum and Tanacetum chiliophyllum essential oils had totally inhibited seed germination and seedling development in all the targeted weeds.

The herbicidal property of Tanacetum aucheranum was due to the presence of high amounts of 1,8-cineole in the oil, while Tanacetum chiliophyllum had high content of camphor (Salamci et al., 2007).

Using Tetraclinis articulata (Sictus tree) essential oil for weed control

Tetraclinis articulata essential oil herbicidal properties were investigated by Ghnaya et al. (2015). The researchers sought to establish the effect of Tetraclinis articulata essential oil on seed germination and seed development in two weed species, that is, Sinapis arvensis L. and Phalaris canariensis L. The results showed that the essential oil completely prevented seedling germination of the two weeds, with the effect being more on Sinapsis arvensis L. species. The herbicidal property of Tetraclinis articulata essential oil was attributed to high amounts of monoterpene hydrocarbons in the oil.

 

Cited sources

Alipour, M., Saharkhiz, M.J., Niakousari, M., Seidi Damyeh, M. (2019). Phytotoxicity of encapsulated essential oil of rosemary on germination and morphophysiological features of amaranth and radish seedlings. Scientia Horticulturae, 243, 131-139.

Amri, I., Gargouri, S., Hamrouni, L., Hanana,, M., Fezzani, T., Jamoussi, B. (2012). Chemical composition phytotoxic and antifungal activities of Pinus pinea essential oil. Journal of Pest Science 85(1), 199-207.

Batish, D.R., Singh, H.P., Setia, N., Kohli, R.K., Kaur, S. and Yadav, S.S. (2007). Alternative control of littleseed canary grass using eucalypt oil. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 27, 171-177. 

Ben Ghnaya A., Amri I., Hanana, M., Gargouri, S., Jamoussi, B., Romane, A. and Hamrouni, L. (2015). Tetraclinis articulata (Vahl.) Masters essential oil from Tunisia: Chemical characterization and herbicidal and antifungal activities assessment. Industrial Crops and Products, 83, 113-117.

Ben Ghnaya, A., Hanana, M., Amri, I., Balti, H., Gargouri, S., Jamoussi, B. and Hamrouni, L. (2013). Journal of Pesticide Science, 86, 571-577.

Blazquez, M.A. and Carbo, E. (2015). Control of Portulaca oleracea by boldo and lemon essential oils in different soils. Industrial Crops and Products, 76, 515-521.

Fagodia, S.K., Singh, H.P., Batish, D.R. and Kohli, R.K. (2017). Phytotoxicity and cytotoxicity of Citrus aurantifolia essential oil and its major constituents: Limonene and citral. Industrial Crops and Products, 108, 708-715.

Grulova, D., Caputo, L., Elshafie,, H.S., Baranova, B., De Martino, L., Sedlak, V., Gogalova, Z., Poracova, J., Camele, I., De Feo, V. (2020). Thymol Chemotype Origanum vulgare L. essential oil as a potential selective bio-based herbicide on monocot plant species. Molecules, 25(3), 595.

Haig, T.J., Haig, T.J., Seal, A.N., Pratley, J.E., An, M., and Wu, H. (2009). Lavender as a source of novel plant compounds for the development of a natural herbicide. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 35(9), 1129-1136.

Ibanez, M.D. and Blazquez, M.A. (2019). Phytotoxic effects of commercial Eucalyptus citriodora, Lavandula angustifolia, and Pinus sylvestris essential oils on weeds, crops, and invasive species. Molecules, 24, 2847.

Kordali, S., Cakir, A., Akcin, T.A., Mete, E., Akcin, A., Aydin, T. and Kilic, H. (2009). Antifungal and herbicidal properties of essential oils and n-hexane extracts of Achillea gypsicola Hub-Mor. And Achillea biebersteinii Afan. (Asteraceae). Industrial Crops and Products, 29(2-3), 562-570.

Laosinwattana, C., Wichittrakarn, P. and Teerarak, M. (2018). Chemical composition and herbicidal action of essential oil from Tagetes erecta L. leaves. Industrial Crops and Products, 126-129-134.

Li, A., Wu, H., Feng, Y., Deng, S., Hou, A., Che, F., Liu, Y., Geng, Q., Ni, H. and Wei, Y. (2020). A strategy of rapidly screening out herbicidal chemicals from Eucalyptus essential oils. Pest Management Science, 76(3), 917-927.

Salamci, E., Kordali, S., Kotan, R., Cakir, A., Kaya, Y. (2007). Chemical compositions, antimicrobial and herbicidal effects of essential oils isolated from Turkish Tanacetum aucheranum and Tanacetum chiliophyllum var. chiliophyllum essential oils. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 35(9), 569-581.

Singh, H.P., Batish, D.R., Setia, N. and Kohli, R.K. (2005). Herbicidal activity of volatile oils from Eucalyptus citriodora against Parthenium hysterophorus. Annals of Applied Biology, 146, 89-94.

Sumalan, R.M., Alexa, E., Popescu, I., Negrea, M., Radulov, I., Obistioiu, D. and Cocan, I. (2019). Exploring ecological alternatives for crop protection using Coriandrum sativum essential oil. Molecules. 24, 2040.

Zhang, J., An, M., Wu, H. and Liu, D.L. and Stanton R. (2012). Chemical composition of essential oils of four Eucalyptus species and their phytotoxicity on silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav.) in Australia. Plant Growth Regulation 68(2), 231-237. 

About the Author

Nicodemus is an MBA (strategic management) graduate of Egerton University (Kenya). He also holds a BSc degree in botany, zoology and chemistry, from the University of Nairobi (Kenya). He is proficient in the following computer programming technologies - HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Bootstrap, PHP, MySQLi and Python. He is an experienced researcher and writer in the fields of business management, information technology, biological sciences, and social sciences. He enjoys developing computer programs and web applications that address diverse user needs.

*Available for article writing and web design/development projects*
(contact: +254 723 753820, email: [email protected])

Disclaimer

ResearchTechie is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn revenues by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Pages on this site may include affiliate links to Amazon and its affiliate sites on which the owner of this website will make a referral commission.