Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Indigofera hirsuta
(hairy indigo)

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Datasheet

Indigofera hirsuta (hairy indigo)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Indigofera hirsuta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • hairy indigo
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • I. hirsuta is an herbaceous legume native to Africa, tropical Asia, and parts of the Indian subcontinent and Australia (Duke 1981, ...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Hairy Indigo (Indigofera hirsuta); non-native, florida, November, 2011, weed.
TitleFlower
CaptionHairy Indigo (Indigofera hirsuta); non-native, florida, November, 2011, weed.
Copyright©Bob Peterson - 2011 - CC BY-SA 2.0
Hairy Indigo (Indigofera hirsuta); non-native, florida, November, 2011, weed.
FlowerHairy Indigo (Indigofera hirsuta); non-native, florida, November, 2011, weed.©Bob Peterson - 2011 - CC BY-SA 2.0
Hairy Indigo pod (Indigofera hirsuta pod); May, 2005
TitleSeed pod
CaptionHairy Indigo pod (Indigofera hirsuta pod); May, 2005
Copyright©Harry Rose - 2005 - CC BY 2.0
Hairy Indigo pod (Indigofera hirsuta pod); May, 2005
Seed podHairy Indigo pod (Indigofera hirsuta pod); May, 2005©Harry Rose - 2005 - CC BY 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Indigofera hirsuta L.

Preferred Common Name

  • hairy indigo

Other Scientific Names

  • Anila hirsuta (L.) Kuntze
  • Indigofera angustifolia Blanco
  • Indigofera ferruginea Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Indigofera fusca G. Don
  • Indigofera hirsuta var. pumila Baker
  • Indigofera hirta Bojer
  • Indigofera indica Mill.

International Common Names

  • English: rough hairy indigo
  • Spanish: anil de pasto (Colombia)
  • French: indigotier herisse
  • Chinese: ying mao mu lan

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: anileira; anileira-do-pasto; anil-roxo; indigo
  • Germany: behaarter Indigostrauch
  • India: chota sirphonka (Hindi)
  • Indonesia: jukut lulut (Java); tebawang amjak (Sulawesi); tom-toman
  • Japan: tanuki-komatsunagi
  • Madagascar: famafasambo; patry; sarivoanjo; sarivongo; takotsifotra; tsiasotry
  • Malaysia: cermai burong
  • Papua New Guinea: tildjil; wiereka
  • Philippines: salain; tagom a bombolen; tagum (Bisaya); tayom (Iloko); tina-tinaan (Tagalog)
  • Portugal: falso-anil
  • Thailand: khram khon
  • Vietnam: caay; chafm; cor; loong; ma; sajc; sujc

EPPO code

  • INDHI (Indigofera hirsuta)

Summary of Invasiveness

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I. hirsuta is an herbaceous legume native to Africa, tropical Asia, and parts of the Indian subcontinent and Australia (Duke 1981, FAO 2013). It has been widely introduced as a cover crop and forage plant, and is now naturalized in many parts of the world including the Americas. It may compete with and dominate the native flora, as it is well adapted to a wide range of soil types. As a free-seeding annual without specific Rhizobium requirements, I. hirsuta can quickly spread and naturalize in suitable habitats (FAO, 2013). In Florida, the species has proven to be self-regenerating, even in fields that have been burned or disked (Djarwaningsih, 1997). 

I. hirsuta is listed as an ‘agricultural weed’, ‘cultivation escape’, ‘naturalised’ and ‘weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). It is classified as invasive to many parts of the Pacific, including French Polynesia, Palau, Nauru, the Philippines, Singapore, Diego Garcia Island (Chagos Archipelago), and Mayotte Island (PIER, 2013). Other places where it is a known weed include the United States (Florida), China, Puerto Rico, and Brazil (Forzza et al., 2010; Randall, 2012). In Australia, the species was officially declared a ‘noxious weed’ in the Northern Territory in 1918 as part of the Noxious Weed Ordinance of 1916 (Gilruth, 1918). 

The risk assessment index is 8 (Reject for Import) for Australia and 13 (High Risk of becoming a serious invasive pest) for Florida (PIER, 2013).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Indigofera
  •                                     Species: Indigofera hirsuta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Indigofera L. is the largest genus of the tribe Indigofereae, in the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) family, containing over 700 species found in the tropics and subtropics (Puy et al., 2002). The genus was first described by Linnaeus in 1753 based on the three species of I. tinctoria, I. hirsuta and I. glabra (Mattapha and Chantaranothai, 2012). I. hirsuta sometimes includes I. astragalina DC., forming a single, polymorphic species (Djarwaningsih, 1997).

Two distinct cultivars of I. hirsuta are recognized from when the seeds were first offered for sale in Florida in 1945. One is large and late maturing, while the other is a smaller type that matures a month earlier and has smaller seed. Neither cultivar has been named (Duke, 1981).

Description

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An erect or spreading annual, up to 1 .5 m tall but generally shorter. Stems cylindrical or slightly ridged, densely clothed with long, fine, spreading, grey or reddish-brown pubescence. Stipules linear, setaceous, up to 1 cm long. Five to seven leaflets, occasionally nine, elliptical-oblong, up to 40 mm long and 25 mm wide, the terminal one rather longer than the lateral, pilose on both surfaces. Inflorescence a dense, many-flowered raceme, hirsute, 20 to 30 cm long, including a peduncle more than 25 mm long. Bracts linear-lanceolate, up to 25 mm long. Pedicels around 1 mm long, reflexed in fruit. Calyx stiff, brown and hirsute, about 4 mm long, divided almost to the base into linear, setaceous lobes. Corolla white pubescent outside, brick-red or rose inside. Pods straight, rather tetragonal, with well-developed sutures, 12 to 20 mm long about 2 mm wide, thickly hirsute; many of the hairs, especially the dorsal ones, usually brown. Six to nine seeds, cuboid, angular, strongly pitted (FAO, 2013). In China, flowers July-September and fruits between October and December (eFloras, 2013).

Plant Type

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Annual
Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Woody

Distribution

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I. hirsuta occurs naturally in Africa from Senegal to the Sudan and the Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola and Madagascar, into southern Asia, Asia, northern Australia and Queensland, Australia. It has now been widely introduced and naturalized in parts of tropical America and elsewhere (FAO, 2013; PIER, 2013). It grows as far south as 30°S in Argentina and as far north as southern Georgia (c. 32°N) in the United States (FAO, 2013). 

There are several disagreements between sources as to the native range. In the Philippines, I. hirsuta is listed as a native species according to USDA-ARS (2013); however, Elmer Merrill recorded the species as an introduced weed in 1923 (PIER, 2013). In Singapore, I. hirsuta is listed as native in ILDIS (2013), but Chong et al. (2009) reported it as a naturalized invasive species. In Malaysia, the species was Introduced as a green manure in 1913 according to Djarwaningsih (1997), but ILDIS (2013) lists it as a native species. In Brazil I. hirsuta is listed as native apparently by mistake (Forzza et al., 2010). The species is also mistakenly listed as native in Ecuador (Plants of Ecuador, 2014).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AngolaPresentNative
BeninPresentNative
BotswanaPresentNative
BurundiPresentNative
Cabo VerdePresentNative
CameroonPresentNative
Central African RepublicPresentNative
ChadPresentNative
Congo, Republic of thePresentNative
Côte d'IvoirePresentNative
Equatorial GuineaPresentNative
EthiopiaPresentNative
GabonPresentNative
GambiaPresentNative
GhanaPresentNative
GuineaPresentNative
Guinea-BissauPresentNative
KenyaPresentNative
LiberiaPresentNative
MadagascarPresentNativeFound in east, Sambirano, central, west. Common throughout lowland, not in south or central plateaux (Du Puy et al, 2002). As of 2006, found in the protected areas Ankarafantsika, Isalo, Manongarivo, Tsingy de Namoroka and Zahamena. Claimed native by USDA-ARS, 2013
MalawiPresentNative
MaliPresentNative
MozambiquePresentNative
NigerPresentNative
NigeriaPresentNative
SenegalPresentNative
Sierra LeonePresentNative
SudanPresentNative
TanzaniaPresentNative
TogoPresentNative
UgandaPresentNative
ZambiaPresentNative
ZimbabwePresentNative

Asia

BangladeshPresentNative
CambodiaPresentNative
ChinaPresentNative
Cocos IslandsPresentNative
Hong KongPresentNative
IndiaPresentNative
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative
-AssamPresentNative
-BiharPresentNative
-GoaPresentNative
-HaryanaPresentNative
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative
-KarnatakaPresentNative
-KeralaPresentNative
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative
-MaharashtraPresentNative
-MeghalayaPresentNative
-OdishaPresentNative
-PunjabPresentNative
-RajasthanPresentNative
-Tamil NaduPresentNative
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative
-West BengalPresentNative
IndonesiaPresentNative
-JavaPresentIntroducedBogor: first introduced as a green manure in the 19th century; First reported: 1900s
JapanPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalised
LaosPresentNative
MalaysiaPresentNative
MyanmarPresentNative
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced
SingaporePresentIntroducedInvasive
Sri LankaPresentNative
TaiwanPresentNative
ThailandPresentNativeNORTHERN: Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Phrae Tak, Sukhothai and Phitsanulok; NORTH-EASTERN: Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin and Khon Kaen; EASTERN: Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Tatchathani; SOUTH-WESTERN: Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan; CENTRAL: Lop Buri, Ang Thong and Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; SOUTH-EASTERN: Prachin Buri and Chon Buri; PENINSULAR: Surat Thani and Songkhla
VietnamPresentNative

North America

Costa RicaPresentIntroduced
El SalvadorPresentIntroduced
GuadeloupePresent, WidespreadIntroduced
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced
MexicoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalised
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalised
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedCultivation escape, weed
Saint LuciaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
United StatesPresentIntroducedGulf Coast region, from Florida to Texas
-FloridaPresentIntroduced1908InvasiveIntroduced by USDA

Oceania

American SamoaPresentTutuila I.
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentNative
-Northern TerritoryPresentNativeDeclared a 'noxious weed' in 1918
-QueenslandPresentNative
-Western AustraliaPresentNative
Christmas IslandPresentNative
FijiPresentIntroducedCultivated on Viti Levu I.
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveBora Bora I.
NauruPresentIntroducedInvasive
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedIle Grande Terre
NiuePresentIntroducedCultivated on Niue Island
PalauAbsent, Eradicated2009Babeldaob Island. Eradication program underway as of June 2007; reported eradicated in 2009
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeIncluding Bismarck Archipelago and Eastern New Guinea I., (PIER, 2013)

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedWeed
-AlagoasPresentConsidered native to Brazil by the cited source
-BahiaPresent
-CearaPresent
-MaranhaoPresent
-Mato GrossoPresent
-Mato Grosso do SulPresent
-Minas GeraisPresent
-ParaPresent
-ParaibaPresent
-ParanaPresent
-PernambucoPresent
-PiauiPresent
-Rio de JaneiroPresent
-Rio Grande do NortePresent
-RoraimaPresent
-Sao PauloPresent
-SergipePresent
-TocantinsPresent
ColombiaPresent
EcuadorPresentNativeConsidered native to Ecuador by the cited source
GuyanaPresentIntroducedEscaped
ParaguayPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalised
PeruPresentIntroduced
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedEscaped

History of Introduction and Spread

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I. hirsuta is native to much of Asia and Africa. It was cultivated as a green manure in Bogor, Java in the nineteenth century and was likewise introduced for cultivation in Malaysia in 1913 (Djarwaningsih, 1997). A specimen collected by H. Cuming between 1836 and 1839 confirms the species was present in the Philippines by then (Seregin, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). The earliest specimen of this species housed in the US Herbarium was collected between 1853 and 1855 in Hong Kong (US National Herbarium). 

Date of introduction to the Neotropics is uncertain, but it was originally introduced to the tropics as a forage plant (Liogier et al., 2000). The species was introduced to Florida, USA by the USDA in 1908 (Wallace, 1957), but records show the species was already present in the West Indies (St. Vincent and adjacent islets) by 1893 (Kew Bulletin, 1893), and in Guyana by 1923 (Rydberg, 1923). In the West Indies this species has been recorded for a few islands; it was cultivated, has escaped, and is now considered a weed (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012). In Puerto Rico it seems to be a recent introduction as the first record comes from a specimen collected by Liogier in 1981 (US National Herbarium).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction for this species is very high. The species’ adaptability to various soil types and usefulness in erosion control and as a cover crop has led to its widespread cultivation and use across tropical regions around the world (FAO 2013, USDA-ARS, 2013). The species spreads by seeds, which are numerous, viable, and easily dispersed; the pods of I. hirsuta split into two twisted halves upon drying, expelling the seeds short distances (Puy et al., 2002; PIER, 2013).

Habitat

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I. hirsuta occurs as a weed in cultivated and waste areas, in grassland, savanna, dry and deciduous forest, on river banks and beaches, at altitudes within 0-1500 m (PIER, 2013). In China and Taiwan, the species is found in open slopes, alongside trails, in grasslands near rivers, and sandy ground near shores, at altitudes below 100 m (PIER, 2013). In Madagascar, I. hirsuta is found mainly in disturbed and cultivated areas, especially in more humid localities, at altitudes up to 900 m (Puy et al., 2002). Specimens from Puerto Rico have been collected from roadsides, second-growth forest and open areas on white sand (US National Herbarium). In Papua New Guinea, it is found in grassland and at roadsides, while in the Philippines it is common in waste places in and about towns (PIER, 2013). As a cover crop and green manure species, I. hirsuta is also found in orchards, grazing fields and plantations (Duke 1981, Djarwaningsih, 1997, PIER, 2013).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome count is 2n=16 (eFloras, 2013). 

Reproductive Biology

In China, I. hirsuta flowers from July to September and fruits between October and December (eFloras, 2013). In Sri Lanka, I. hirsuta flowers and fruits from September to February and in the United States it flowers late in the growing season, producing a good green manure or forage crop before seed maturation (Djarwaningsih, 1997). Pollination is by insects (Duke, 1981). 

Associations

I. hirsuta is capable of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with cowpea-type rhizobia (Djarwaningsih, 1997). In Florida, it has been estimated that the presence of I. hirsuta in mixtures is the equivalent to applying 126 kg per hectare of nitrogen per year on pure grass pastures (FAO, 2013). 

Environmental Requirements

I. hirsuta occurs as a weed in cultivated and waste areas, in grassland, savanna, dry and deciduous forest, on river banks and beaches, between altitudes of 0-1500 m (PIER, 2013). In Africa, the species is grown at altitudes between sea level and 1350 m (FAO 2013); in China and Taiwan, altitudes below 100 m (PIER, 2013); and in Madagascar, up to 900 m (Puy et al., 2002). 

It does not tolerate frost or waterlogging. A dry season stimulates flowering and seed production. Although generally fairly tolerant to shade, growth under heavy shade in an established stand of pine trees in Costa Rica was poor. The species is economically adaptable to poor sandy loamy soil conditions within a pH of 5.0-8.0, thus being useful for soil improvement. It requires, however, moderately to well-drained soils, and is best adapted to mildly acidic soils and fertile sandy loams with little lime (Duke, 1981; Djarwaningsih, 1997; FAO 2013). 

In terms of nutrient requirements, “being well-adapted to low-fertility soils, I. hirsuta has not shown major responses to applied fertilizer. In Panama, Silvey and Carlisle (1972) obtained no dry-matter-yield response to the application of up to 30 kg/ha Zn or up to 100 kg/ha P, although forage content of both elements was increased. Liming at up to 2000 kg/ha Ca depressed extractable Zn and P in the soil and increased forage yield but not crown or root yields” (FAO 2013).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
32 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15.8 27.8

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8702670mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Notes on Natural Enemies

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I. hirsuta exhibits some tolerance to most diseases and pests. The following fungi have been reported as occurring on I. hirsuta but without causing serious diseases: Colletotrichum dematium, Thanatephorus cucumeris, Diplodia sp., Oidium sp., and Athelia rolfsii (Duke 1981, Djarwaningsih, 1997). 

The species has shown extensive tolerance to root-knot and sting nematodes, but the following have been isolated: Aphelenchus avenae, Meloidogyne marioni, Hoplolaimus tylenchiformis, Meloidogyne javanica, Pratylenchus brachyurus, and Radopholus similis (Duke 1981). 

Experiments indicate that growing I. hirsuta in a rotation markedly reduces the numbers of several root nematodes of the genus Meloidogyne. Genetic variation in tolerance and antagonistic effects to nematodes is considerable (Djarwaningsih, 1997).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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I. hirsuta is easily dispersed via vectors, accidental introductions, and intentional introduction, as well as self-propelling its seeds.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionUsed as a cover crop and as 'green manure' Yes Yes Djarwaningsih, 1997
Escape from confinement or garden escapeCultivation escape Yes Yes PIER, 2013
ForageIntroduced by the USDA as a forage plant Yes Yes Wallace, 1957
Habitat restoration and improvementErosion control Yes Yes Duke, 1981; USDA-ARS, 2013

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Machinery and equipmentFarming equipment Yes Yes Duke, 1981
Soil, sand and gravel Yes Yes Duke, 1981

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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I. hirsuta is possibly poisonous (Duke 1981). Cattle must adapt to grazing I. hirsuta, as they do not graze it readily (PIER, 2013), and the plant can reportedly severely irritate the hooves of animals if grazing for extended periods (Duke, 1981). I. hirsuta was also included in a 2008 international poisonous plants checklist (Wagstaff, 2008). However, USDA-NRCS reports no toxicity (PIER, 2013), and FAO (2013) reports, “early references such as Bailey (1906) refer to suspected poisoning of stock, but these suspicions apparently have not been sustained.”

Environmental Impact

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Given its invasiveness in a multitude of countries, adaptability to poor-quality soils, and ease of naturalizing to a variety of habitats, I. hirsuta demonstrates high risk potential to compete for and dominate space and resources over local and native biodiversity. This is reflected by the species’ Risk Assessment scores of 8 (Reject for Import) for Australia and 13 (High Risk of becoming a serious invasive pest) in the USA (Florida) (PIER, 2013).

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Soil accretion
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value

I. hirsuta is a valuable green manure and cover crop, used especially in tea, coffee and rubber plantations. It is grown as an annual fodder in Florida and Brazil and in mixtures with grasses as a forage crop. In West Africa it has occasionally been used as a dye (Djarwaningsih, 1997). 

Social Benefit

I. hirsuta is used in folk medicine. In the Philippines a decoction made from the leaves is used against stomach problems (diarrhea and as a stomachic), and in Ghana (Gold Coast) the leaves are used as a lotion for yaws (Duke, 1981). This species has also been used as a minor source of indigo dye. 

Environmental Services

I. hirsuta has been widely cultivated as a cover crop or green manure, as well as assisting in erosion control. In Florida the species is often considered a weed in row-crop fields, but in citrus plantations it is grown as a cover crop (Duke, 1981; Djarwaningsih, 1997; USDA-ARS, 2013).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Soil improvement

Materials

  • Dyestuffs
  • Green manure

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Indigofera astragalina is sometimes included in I. hirsuta, forming a single, polymorphic species. I. astragalina usually has more leaflets than I. hirsuta, often whitish hairs, a shorter peduncle and paler flowers. It occurs in the Sudano-Sahel zone, south-eastern Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar). Where both species occur in the same region, I. hirsuta occupies the wetter areas.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Exceptionally large plants may be cut with a mowing machine and handled as other common hay crops with ordinary farm equipment. In Florida row-crop fields, I.hirsuta is considered a weed and controllable with 2.2 kg/ha napropamide before sowing watermelon (Duke, 1981). 

In groundnut and soyabean fields, I. hirsuta can be controlled with acifluorfen and, in maize, with atrazine and 2,4-D (PIER, 2013).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further research is required regarding the toxicity of the species, as I. hirsuta is now a prevalent weed across the globe, often persisting in grazing habitats. More data or research is also needed regarding invasive prevention and control, particularly in countries where this species has long been recognized as a noxious weed or invasive species, for example Australia. Better understanding of methods of movement and dispersal would provide data with which to formulate and implement appropriate control and, if necessary, eradication, measures. A thorough risk/benefit analysis of using I. hirsuta as a cover crop and green manure would benefit those in the agricultural and meat industry as well as those tasked with monitoring native biodiversity.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Broome R; Sabir K; Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Chong KY; Tan HTW; Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Djarwaningsih T, 1997. Indigofera hirsuta L. Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No. 11: Auxiliary plants:159-161. http://proseanet.org/prosea/e-prosea_detail.php?frt&id=3018

Duke JA, 1981. Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. New York, USA: Plenum Press, 345 pp.

eFloras, 2013. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

FAO, 2013. Indigofera hirsuta. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/gbase/data/pf000045.htm

Flora Mesoamericana, 2014. Flora Mesoamericana. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FM

Flora of Taiwan Editorial Committee, 2014. Taiwan Plant Names. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=101

Forzza RC; Leitman PM; Costa AF; Carvalho Jr AA, et al. , 2012. List of species of the Flora of Brazil (Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2012/

Funk V; Hollowell T; Berry P; Kelloff C; Alexander SN, 2007. Checklist of the plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 584 pp.

Gilruth JA, 1918. G.N. 5.18 Noxious Weeds Ordinance. Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 12 January, 1918. 18. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3287248

ILDIS, 2013. International Legume Database & Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, Unversity of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

ITIS, 2013. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution/NMNH. http://www.itis.gov/

Kew Bulletin, 1893. Flora of St. Vincent and Adjacent Islets. Kew Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, 81:231-296.

Kumar S; Sane PV, 2003. Legumes of South Asia: A check-list. Richmond, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, 536 pp.

Liogier HA, 1988. Descriptive flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent Islands: Spermatophyta-Dicotyledoneae., Puerto Rico: Ed. de la Univ. de Puerto Rico.

Liogier HA, 2000. Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent Islands. A systematic synopsis, edition 2, Puerto Rico: Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Madagascar Catalogue, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar. St. Louis, Missouri, USA and Antananarivo, Madagascar: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/project/mada

Mattapha S; Chantaranothai P, 2012. The genus Indigofera L. (Leguminosae) in Thailand. Tropical Natural History, 12(2):207-244.

McKaughan HP; Macaraya BA, 1965. Maranao Plant Names. Oceanic Linguistics, 4(1/2):48-112.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Peru Checklist, 2014. The Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/PEC

PIER, 2013. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Plants of Ecuador, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/CE

Puy DJdu; Labat JN; Rabevohitra R; Villiers JF; Bosser J; Moat J, 2002. The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Richmond, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, 737 pp.

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Rydberg PA, 1923. Fabaceae-Indigofereae, Galegeae (pars). North American Flora, 24(3):137-200.

Seregin AP, 2010. Collection of Hugh Cuming in the Moscow University Herbarium (MW). Komarovia, 7(1/2):69-88.

Silvey MW; Carlisle VW; 1971, publ. 1972. Influence of Zn, P, and Ca on yield and chemical composition of hairy indigo in eastern Panama. Proceedings, Soil and Crop Science Society of Florida, 31:26-31.

Stevens WD; Ulloa UC; Pool A; Montiel OM; Arbala´ez AL; Cutaia DM; Hollowell VC, 2001. Flora de Nicaragua. Monographs in Systematic Botany, 85:946-1910.

USDA-ARS, 2013. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2013. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Wagstaff DJ, 2008. International poisonous plants checklist: An evidence-based reference. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press, 464 pp.

Wallace AT, 1957. Hairy Indigo. A summer legume for Florida. Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Circular, S-98.

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean., Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Djarwaningsih T, 1997. Indigofera hirsuta L. In: Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No. 11: Auxiliary plants, 159-161. http://proseanet.org/prosea/e-prosea_detail.php?frt&id=3018

Duke J A, 1981. Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. New York, USA; London, UK: Plenum Press. xi + 345pp.

Flora Mesoamericana, 2014. Flora Mesoamericana., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FM

Forzza RC, Leitman PM, Costa AF, Carvalho Jr AA et al, 2012. List of species of the Flora of Brazil. (Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil)., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2012/

Funk V, Hollowell T, Berry P, Kelloff C, Alexander S N, 2007. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, Washington, USA: Department of Systematic Biology - Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. 55, 584 pp.

Gabuin T G, Abdul S D, Sawa F B, 2014. Preliminary observations on weeds of maize (Zea mays L.) and rice (Oryza sativa L.) fields in Bauchi. Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science. 9 (11), 385-388. http://www.arpnjournals.com/jabs/research_papers/rp_2014/jabs_1114_690.pdf

Gilruth JA, 1918. G.N. 5.18 Noxious Weeds Ordinance. In: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 18. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3287248

Liogier HA, 2000. Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent Islands A systematic synopsis., Puerto Rico: Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Madagascar Catalogue, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar., St. Louis, Missouri and Antananarivo, USA, Madagascar: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/project/mada

Mattapha S, Chantaranothai P, 2012. The genus Indigofera L. (Leguminosae) in Thailand. In: Tropical Natural History, 12 (2) 207-244.

Myers L, Wang K H, McSorley R, Chase C, 2004. Investigations of weeds as reservoirs of plant-parasitic nematodes in agricultural systems in Northern Florida. In: Proceedings of the 26th Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, 8-9 June, 2004. [ed. by Jordan D L, Caldwell D F]. Raleigh, USA: North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, North Carolina State University. 256-265. http://www.ag.auburn.edu/aux/nsdl/sctcsa/Proceedings/2004/2004_SCTCSA.pdf

Peru Checklist, 2014. The Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/PEC

PIER, 2013. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk., Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Plants of Ecuador, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/CE

Puy DJdu, Labat JN, Rabevohitra R, Villierhttp://s JF, Bohttp://shttp://ser J, Moat J, 2002. The Leguminohttp://sae of Madagahttp://scar., Richmond, UK: Royal Botanic Gardenhttp://s. 737 pp. http://s

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds., Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Stevens WD, Ulloa UC, Pool A, Montiel OM, Arbala´ez AL, Cutaia DM, Hollowell VC, 2001. (Flora de Nicaragua). In: Monographs in Systematic Botany, 85 946-1910.

USDA-ARS, 2013. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

Wallace AT, 1957. Hairy Indigo. A summer legume for Florida. In: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Circular, S-98,

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm
eFlorashttp://www.efloras.org
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
International Legume Database and Information Servicehttp://www.ildis.org/
JSTOR Global Plantshttp://plants.jstor.org/
Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Familieshttp://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
PIERhttp://www.hear.org/pier/index.html
Plants of the Eastern Caribbeanhttp://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Contributors

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27/2/2014 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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