- Native to the West Indies and tropical America, this plant prefers fertile soils and moderate to high rainfall (1,400 mm/year). Invades rainforest edges, and smothers healthy, thick pastures.
- The detachable fin white hairs on the seed may cause skin irritation.
- Slender, fast growing herb, 30-150 cm, with an erect stem and fibrous root system.
- Oblong or oval-shaped leaves (10-20 cm long and 2-5 cm wide) mostly towards the base of the plant, upper surface rough with fine hairs, undersurface densely-haired and resinous, leaf stalks are winged.
- Seedlings grow as a rosette of leaves.
- Small (about 4 mm long), white flowers (rarely, pink) in clusters at the tips of the stems and branches.
- Many dry fruits each with 3 mm long brown to grayish-black seeds, with 5 fine, straight, white, bristle-like hairs.