Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract Full Text

The invasive alien tree Falcataria moluccana: its impacts and management.


Falcataria moluccana (Miq.) Barneby and Grimes is a large tree that has become invasive in forests and developed landscapes across many Pacific islands. A fast-growing nitrogen fixing species, it transforms invaded ecosystems by dramatically increasing nutrient inputs, suppressing native species and facilitating invasion by other weeds. Individuals rapidly reach heights of 35 m, and their massive limbs break easily in storms or with age, creating significant hazards in residential areas and across infrastructure corridors such as roads and power lines. Their management is extremely costly for landowners, utilities, and local governments, since removal of hazardous trees can cost several thousand dollars apiece. Although efficient mechanical and chemical controls are being used with some success against incipient invasions of F. moluccana, biological control is needed to manage spread of populations and the massive seedling recruitment that occurs once mature individuals have been killed. The benefits of a biological control program for F. moluccana would likely extend to tropical islands throughout the Pacific, helping prevent further loss of native forest biodiversity and saving many millions of dollars in damage and maintenance associated with these trees growing near utilities, roads, homes and workplaces.