Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Caesalpinia decapetala
(Mysore thorn)

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Datasheet

Caesalpinia decapetala (Mysore thorn)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Caesalpinia decapetala
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Mysore thorn
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. decapetala is an adaptable, vigorous, scrambling, very prickly shrub, climber or tree with showy yellow flowers. C. decapetala is capable of swamping native vegetation, changing the composition of t...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Habit of a seeding plant. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleHabit
CaptionHabit of a seeding plant. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Habit of a seeding plant. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
HabitHabit of a seeding plant. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009 ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleFoliage
CaptionLeaves. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
FoliageLeaves. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009 ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Thorny branch. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleThorny branch
CaptionThorny branch. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Thorny branch. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Thorny branchThorny branch. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009 ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionLeaves and flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
Leaves and flowersLeaves and flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Close-up of flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
TitleFlowers
CaptionClose-up of flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Close-up of flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001
FlowersClose-up of flowers. Highway11, Kapapala, Hawaii. December 05, 2001©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and green seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleLeaves and green seedpods
CaptionLeaves and green seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and green seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Leaves and green seedpodsLeaves and green seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleLeaves and seedpods
CaptionLeaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Leaves and seedpodsLeaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleLeaves and ripening seedpods
CaptionLeaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Leaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Leaves and ripening seedpodsLeaves and ripening seedpods. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Close-up of ripe seedpods splitting open. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleSeedpods
CaptionClose-up of ripe seedpods splitting open. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Close-up of ripe seedpods splitting open. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
SeedpodsClose-up of ripe seedpods splitting open. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Dehisced seedpod with seeds. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleDehisced seedpod
CaptionDehisced seedpod with seeds. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Dehisced seedpod with seeds. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Dehisced seedpodDehisced seedpod with seeds. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Seeds in hand. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
TitleSeeds
CaptionSeeds in hand. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Seeds in hand. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009
SeedsSeeds in hand. Kakipi Gulch, Maui. June 17, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Caesalpinia decapetala (Roth) Alston

Preferred Common Name

  • Mysore thorn

Other Scientific Names

  • Biancaea scandens Tod.
  • Biancaea sepiaria (Roxb.) Tod.
  • Bianceae decapetala (Roth) O. Deg.
  • Caesalpinia benguetensis Elmer
  • Caesalpinia decapetala var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) H. Ohashi
  • Caesalpinia ferox Hassk.
  • Caesalpinia japonica Siebold & Zucc.
  • Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb.
  • Caesalpinia sepiaria var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) Gagnep.
  • Caesalpinia sepiaria var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) Hand.-Mzt.
  • Caesalpinia sepiaria var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) Makino
  • Mezoneuron benguetense (Elmer) Elmer
  • Reichardia decapetala Roth

International Common Names

  • English: cat’s claws; cat's-claw; Mauritius-thorn; thorny poinciana; wait-a-bit; wait-a-while; woody wait-a-while
  • Spanish: agarra ladrón; chembé bolé; chícara cimarrona; zarza de cercas
  • French: brésillet du Japon; césalpinie du Japon
  • Chinese: yun shi

Local Common Names

  • Australia: Mauritius thorn; shoofly; tiger stopper; whoa back
  • Germany: Cäsalpinie, Japanische; Mauritius-dorn
  • Haiti: chembe bolo; ti-janvier; tijavier
  • India/Indian Punjab: aila; chillari; gilo; karur; kurutu-gajjika; relan
  • Indonesia: areuy matahiyang gunung
  • Indonesia/Nusa Tenggara: secang lembut
  • Italy: cesalpinia giapponese
  • Japan: jaketsu-ibara
  • Lesser Antilles: arrête-boeuf; caniroc
  • Myanmar: sukyanbo
  • South Africa: kraaldoring (Afrikaans); ubobo-encane (Zulu); ufenisi
  • Thailand: kamchai
  • Vietnam: vu'ôt hùm

EPPO code

  • CAEJA (Caesalpinia japonica)
  • CAESE (Caesalpinia sepiaria)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. decapetala is an adaptable, vigorous, scrambling, very prickly shrub, climber or tree with showy yellow flowers. C. decapetala is capable of swamping native vegetation, changing the composition of the flora and creating a barrier to the movement of people and animals. It has become invasive in several countries where it was introduced intentionally. It is a declared category 1 weed in South Africa where it is invasive in forest edges and clearings, in manged plantations and along roads and rivers/streams (Henderson, 2001). In Australia, it is classed as a noxious weed (category W2) in New South Wales, where legislation states that it must be completely controlled and destroyed, and is prohibited in Western Australia until a weed risk assessment has been completed.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  •                                 Genus: Caesalpinia
  •                                     Species: Caesalpinia decapetala

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Caesalpinia has undergone much taxonomic change, with numerous synonymous genera having been described and/or postulated. It is a pantropical genus of trees, shrubs, woody scandent, and prickly climbers comprising approximately 157 species distributed throughout the world principally in tropical regions (ILDIS, 2014; Stevens, 2012). The leaves of all Caesalpinia are bipinnate, some very large with numerous leaflets, the flowers are in spikes from the upper leaf axils and may be quite showy, mostly in shades of red and yellow with separate petals and often conspicuous stamens. The seeds are in typical leguminous pods (Starr et al., 2003).  

A variety of this species, var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) H. Ohashi has been described, based on the synonym Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb. var. japonica (Siebold & Zucc.) Gagnep., but it is uncertain whether this is widely accepted.

Description

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C. decapetala is a robust and sprawling shrub or climber 0.5-10 m tall, with numerous straight to hooked thorns on the stems. Bipinnately compound leaves are dark green above, paler beneath, up to 30 cm long, with deciduous stipules 8-20 mm long. The leaf rachis is armed with downwardly hooked prickles. Each leaf consists of 3-15 pairs of pinnae, each pinna having 5-12 pairs of leaflets, elliptic-oblong to ovate, rounded at the apex, 10-22 mm long, 4-11 mm wide. Flowers are pale yellow, 25-30 mm diameter, borne in axillary and terminal racemes 10-40 cm long, petals 10-15 cm long and 8-15 mm wide. Fruits are dehiscent pods 6-11 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, containing 4-9 black ellipsoid, flattened, black seeds 8-12 mm long and 6-8 mm wide (Weber, 2003).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vine / climber
Woody

Distribution

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C. decapetala is very widely distributed in South and East Asia, approximately from the equator to 40°N. This species grows naturally in tropical and temperate regions from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka, and the native range extends east to China, Korea and Japan. C. decapetala has been widely cultivated and is now naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and on several islands in the Pacific Ocean (see distribution table for details).  

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
BhutanPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
CambodiaPresentNative Natural
ChinaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2002
-AnhuiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-FujianPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GansuPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangdongPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuizhouPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HainanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HebeiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HenanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-Hong KongPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-HubeiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-HunanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-JiangsuPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-JiangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-ShaanxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-SichuanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-YunnanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-ZhejiangPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
East TimorPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
IndiaPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative Natural
-BiharPresentNative Natural
-ChandigarhPresentNative Natural
-DelhiPresentNative Natural
-GoaPresentNative Natural
-GujaratPresentNative Natural
-HaryanaPresentNative Natural
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Natural
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Natural
-KarnatakaPresentNative Natural
-KeralaPresentNative Natural
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Natural
-MaharashtraPresentNative Natural
-OdishaPresentNative Natural
-RajasthanPresentNative Natural
-Tamil NaduPresentNative Natural
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Natural
-West BengalPresentNative Natural
IndonesiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002
-JavaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-SulawesiPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-SumatraPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
JapanPresentNativeILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
Korea, DPRPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
Korea, Republic ofPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
LaosPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentNativePIER, 2002
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNative Natural
MyanmarPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
NepalPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
PakistanPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
Sri LankaPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2002
TaiwanPresentNativePlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2002
ThailandPresentNativeILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002
VietnamPresentNativeILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
BotswanaPresentIntroducedBuss, 2002
BurundiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
CameroonPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Teketay, 1996; ILDIS, 2002; Witt and Luke, 2017
KenyaPresentIntroducedBioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy; ILDIS, 2002
LiberiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2002; Witt and Luke, 2017
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002
MozambiquePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
NigeriaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
RéunionPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002; ILDIS, 2014
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014Naturalized
RwandaPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2002; Witt and Luke, 2017
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
South AfricaWidespreadIntroduced1904-1908 Invasive Cronk & Fuller, 1995; Wells et al., 1986; Henderson, 2001; ILDIS, 2002
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Casual alien
SudanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
SwazilandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedBioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy; ILDIS, 2002
UgandaPresentIntroducedBioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy; ILDIS, 2002
ZambiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedBuss, 2002; ILDIS, 2002

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2002; Weber, 2003; USDA-NRCS, 2004; ILDIS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2004; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Naturalized

South America

PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014Casual alien

Europe

SpainPresentPresent based on regional distribution.

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002; Weber, 2003; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive NWSEC, 2002; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
FijiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002; PIER, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1965 Invasive Weber, 2003
-Kermadec IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk & Fuller, 1995; ILDIS, 2002
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2002; PIER, 2002; PIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. decapetala was introduced around the world as an ornamental, hedge and erosion control species, and has been reported to tend towards weediness in some situations such as in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. It is known to have been introduced to New Zealand in 1965 and has subsequently become invasive (Haley, 2003). ). In Hawaii, C. decapetala was first recorded in 1888 (Starr et al., 2003). In The West Indies, C. decapelata was first recorded in Puerto Rico in 1900 (US National Herbarium). In South Africa C. decapetala was introduced around 1904, and by 1961 it is reported as invasive in the Kruger National Park (Foxcroft et al., 2007). 

Risk of Introduction

Top of page The vigorous growth of this species and its history of invasion in countries such as South Africa, New Zealand and Australia suggest that the introduction of this species to other regions carries a risk of invasion. Bingelli (1999) classed this species as highly invasive. Due to the perceived risk, some recent reports (e.g. in Botswana, Buss, 2002) have suggested that the use of this species should be avoided without further evaluation of the risks in different locations.

Habitat

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Weber (2003) reports that C. decapetala is typically associated with woodland and grassland in its native range. In exotic locations it occurs in riparian habitats, in grassland and on forest edges or clearings (Weber, 2003). In South Africa, Wildy (2001) links invasion with high rainfall areas along disturbed woodland edges, and degraded or overgrazed veld, watercourses and indigenous forests. Geldenhuys et al. (1986) names it as a problem in both plantations and natural forests in South Africa. C. decapetala is naturalized in Hawaii and found along roads, around derelict buildings and on other disturbed ground (PIER, 2002).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for C. decapetala varies from 2n = 22 to 2n = 24 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014).

Reproductive Biology

C. decapetala produces large numbers of yellow flowers which are visited by insects including bees, butterflies and ants. In Hawaii, C. decapetala is visited by Xylocopa sonorina, Lampides boeticus, Apis mellifera and Technomyrmex albipes (Starr et al., 2003).

Physiology and Phenology

In Australia, flowering occurs mostly during winter and spring (i.e. from June to November). In Hawaii, plants produce flowers during the winter and spring (Starr et al., 2003) and in Puerto Rico the species flowers and fruits from September to June (Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2005). 

C. decapetala regenerates from seed. These seeds may be eaten and dispersed by birds, small mammals, and cattle and they may also be transported abiotically by water. The branches may root where they touch the ground and the plant resprouts vigorously when cut (Wildy, 2001). C. decapetala does not fix nitrogen (Weber, 2003).

Environmental Requirements

C. decapetala prefers sub-humid to humid conditions, though will also tolerate drier environments and up to a six month dry season, with annual rainfall in the range 300-3000 mm. It tolerates a range of soils including shallow soils, and is found at altitudes from sea level up to 1700 m altitude.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 0 0 1700

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3003000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Summer
Winter

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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There is limited information available on the natural enemies of C. decapetala, although Henderson (2001) reports that biocontrol has been attempted in South Africa, where seed feeders have been released.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. decapetala seeds may be dispersed by water, birds, small mammals and livestock, notably cattle in South Africa (Dean et al., 1986; Weber, 2003). The species has been widely introduced to form a security barrier against people or wild animals, and is also regarded as a striking ornamental. For these and other reasons it has been widely introduced by man outside its native range and has subsequently become invasive in several tropical countries.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Human health None
Livestock production Negative
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel Negative

Economic Impact

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C. decapetala is one of a number of species that can impede forestry operations in managed plantations, and constitute a fire hazard (Geldenhuys et al., 1986).

It is extremely thorny and aggressive. It climbs on vegetation, has a smothering habit, and makes walking impossible. In Hawaii, C. decapetala presents a huge problem for ranches and has the capability to take over large areas of land, which may make pasture unavailable to grazing animals and restrict movement through forests. In addition, C. decapetala can engulf native forest and water delivery systems (Starr et al., 2003). 

Environmental Impact

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C. decapetala is regarded as a 'transformer' species in South Africa, Australia, and Hawaii for its ability to alter the environmental conditions of areas it has invaded. It is able to climb over and outcompete other vegetation, so changing the composition of the vegetative assemblage. C. decapetala can form dense thickets, and when it climbs over indigenous species its weight in the canopy may cause the physical collapse of the tree it grows over (Geldenhuys et al., 1986). In Australia, C. decapetala is listed as an environmental weed of subtropical rainforest and remnant and can engulf fences, sheds, bridges and other infrastructure. It is difficult and dangerous to remove due to its covering of sharp recurved thorns. Its dense thickets can restrict water flows and modify waterways (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). In South Africa, this species invades riverine habitats, forest margins, and savannas, shading out native vegetation and causing the collapse of adult trees.  

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Nototrichium humile (kaala rockwort)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesNational Tropical Botanical Garden, 2007; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008

Social Impact

Top of page The thorns are sharp and can cause injury. The species can be a barrier inhibiting the movement of people and animals (Wildy, 2001).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page

C. decapetala forms dense thickets and hedges useful for pasture demarcation and boundaries, and it is also used as a shade tree. The bark has tanning properties, while the seeds are locally important for medicinal uses including anthelminthic, antipyretic, analgesic and possibly contraceptive properties. This species is also used to treat dysentery, malaria and neuraligia. In South Africa, where it has become invasive, it is used for security hedging (because of the thorns) and as an ornamental (Henderson, 2001). It has been introduced and used in forestry in Botswana, but owing to its invasiveness in nearby South Africa, it has been recommended that production of this species should stop in Botswana until the risk has been evaluated (Buss, 2002).

Uses List

Top of page

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Soil improvement

General

  • Ornamental

Materials

  • Dye/tanning

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

Geldenhuys et al. (1986) report that confusion between C. decapetala and indigenous South African species which has led to some invasions of this species in going undetected.

Prevention and Control

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Mechanical Control

Weber (2003) reports that mechanical control is problematic due to the sharp thorns. However, seedlings and saplings may be dug up or pulled up manually (Wildy, 2001), as rootstocks will coppice if roots are not removed.

Chemical Control

According to Weber (2003), herbicides may be sprayed onto the leaves. Wildy (2001) describes foliar and stalk immersion approaches. PIER (2002) cite other information on the use of foliar applications of glyphosate and triclopyr, and soil applications of tebuthiuron. The herbicide treatment has to be repeated intervals to gradually reduce coverage and gain control of the plant as ensuring that the spray contacts sufficient parts of the plant is difficult when the plant has established large thickets.

Biological Control

Henderson (2001) reports that biocontrol has been attempted in South Africa where seed feeders have been released. A species that has recently been released as a biological control agent is the bruchid beetle Sulcobruchus subsuturalis (Coetzer, 2000). A further species under evaluation is the leafmining moth Acrocercops hyphantica (Anon, 2002).

Integrated Control

Wildy (2001) recommends that mechanical and chemical methods of control are used in combination. Due to the fact that cut plants are likely to coppice, Wildy (2001) recommends removing the entire rootstock or using herbicide after cutting operations. PIER (2002) note that it is the subject of an eradication programme on Raoul (Kermadec Islands).

References

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Contributors

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20/05/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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

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