Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Cassia grandis
(pink shower)

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Datasheet

Cassia grandis (pink shower)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cassia grandis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • pink shower
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The tree C. grandis is listed as an ‘environmental weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and i...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Cultivated in Campinas, Sao Paulo State, Brazil.
TitleMature tree habit
CaptionCultivated in Campinas, Sao Paulo State, Brazil.
CopyrightJuliana de Paula Souza
Cultivated in Campinas, Sao Paulo State, Brazil.
Mature tree habitCultivated in Campinas, Sao Paulo State, Brazil.Juliana de Paula Souza
TitleFlowering branch
Caption
CopyrightJuliana de Paula Souza
Flowering branchJuliana de Paula Souza
TitleMature fruit
Caption
CopyrightJuliana de Paula Souza
Mature fruitJuliana de Paula Souza

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cassia grandis L.f.

Preferred Common Name

  • pink shower

Other Scientific Names

  • Bactyrilobium grande Hornem.
  • Bactyrilobium molle Schrader
  • Cassia brasiliana Lam., nom. illeg.
  • Cassia brasiliensis Buc'hoz
  • Cassia mollis Vahl
  • Cassia pachycarpa de Wit
  • Cassia regia Standl.
  • Cathartocarpus brasilianus (Lam.) Jacq.
  • Cathartocarpus erubescens Ham.
  • Cathartocarpus grandis (L. f.) Pers.

International Common Names

  • English: appleblossom cassia; coral shower; horse cassia; liquorice tree
  • Spanish: árbol de fuego; cañadonga; cañafistula; capote; carámano; carao; sandal; sándalo
  • French: bâton casse; casse du Brésil

Local Common Names

  • : bucut; canafistula; carague; carao; mucut; santal
  • Belize: beef wood; bookoot; bookut; stinking toe
  • Brazil: acácia; acácia-nacional; canafístula; canafístula-grande; cássia; cássia rosa; cássia-grande; cássia-rosa; cássia-rósea; gecuna; jeneúna; jeneúna; mali-mari; mare-mari; mariimari-preto; marimari; marimari; marimariana; marimari-grande; marimarirana; marimari-sarro; mariseiro; marizeiro; sarro; seruáia
  • Cambodia: kreete; sac phle
  • Cuba: canafistola cimarrona; canandonga; canandonga comun; canandonga de masa; cassia de Brasil
  • Dominican Republic: canafistola; canafistula; chacara; chacaro; guayaba cimarrona
  • Germany: Kassie, Grossfrüchtige
  • Haiti: casse; casse espagnole
  • Italy: cassia a grandi fruti
  • Laos: brai xiem; may khoum
  • Malaysia: kotek; kotek mamak
  • Panama: cana fistula
  • Sweden: rosenkassia
  • Thailand: kanpaphruek
  • Vietnam: [oo] m[oo]i; b[oof] c[aj]p d[or]

EPPO code

  • CASGR (Cassia grandis)

Trade name

  • carao
  • pink shower

Summary of Invasiveness

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The tree C. grandis is listed as an ‘environmental weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and is an identified invasive species in Cuba (Oviedo-Prieto et al., 2012). The species is native to Central and South America and has now been widely distributed across both the New and Old World tropics as a result of cultivation as an ornamental and its uses for medicine, agroforestry, and as a wood product source (Toruan-Purba, 1999; Janick and Paull, 2008; ICRAF, 2014; PIER, 2014). The species reproduces by seeds, although it can be propagated vegetatively through cuttings and layerings (ICRAF, 2014). Although the species is currently considered to be a weed with low risk of invasiveness (PIER, 2014), it is naturalized in various parts of the tropics, including Ecuador (although this may be included in its native range) and New South Wales, Australia and is known to be an environmental weed in Queensland, Australia (Randall, 2012). It is known to have escaped cultivation in Malaysia, Java, and New Guinea (Toruan-Purba, 1999).

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Until the beginning of the 1980s, the Cassia genus was considered to be a very large genus of over 500 species. Bentham (1871) wrote that three groups within the Cassia genus were so distinct from one another that any species can always be unequivocally allocated to one of them; some main distinctions included fruit structure, stamen structure and arrangement, and nodulation (Lock, 1988). However, it was not until 1982 that Irwin and Barneby formally separated Cassia into three genera: Cassia L. emend. Gaertner, Senna Miller, and Chamaecrista Moench. Cassia now has only 20-30 species, whereas Senna and Chamaecrista comprise about equal numbers of species (about 260 and 270 respectively) (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; Toruan-Purba, 1999; Lock and Ford, 2004). These three genera are now largely accepted and together make up the subtribe Cassinae. Members of Cassia sens. strict. are mostly trees with relatively cylindrical and indehiscent fruits, and three large sigmoidally-curved filaments, many having showy flowers (Lock and Simpson, 1991; Lock and Ford, 2004). Cassia and Senna differ principally in stamen organization and in arid areas of Australia, taxonomic distinctions between and within the three genera are blurred by polyploidy, hybridization and apoximis (Lewis et al., 2005). In 1988, Lock presented new names and combinations for the Cassinae species in Africa, noting that “if Cassia were to continue to be used in its broad sense in Africa, there would be several species which would be consistently given different names in different continents” (Lock, 1988).

Cassia is thought to come from either the ancient Hebrew word quetsi’oth or the Greek word kasia or casia, for an aromatic or fragrant plant (Andreu et al., 2012, Royal Botanical Gardens, 2014). The name was first used by Dioscorides (40–90 AD), and Linnaeus was the first to use Cassia to signify members of this genus. The species name grandis refers to the great height of this tree, as C. grandis is one of the tallest Cassia species and can grow up to 30 m tall (Toruan-Purba, 1999; Andreu et al., 2012).

Description

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Deciduous or semi-deciduous tree, 15-25 (30) m tall, with a straight more-or-less cylindrical trunk up to 60 cm in diameter. The profuse, wide-spaced, dangling branching leads to a dense, umbrella-shaped canopy, and young branches and inflorescence are covered with rusty lanate indumentum. The bark is smooth, pale grey. The compound leaves are 30 cm x 10 cm, paripinnated and alternate with 8-20 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are ca. 6 x 1.5 cm, narrow and elliptical, downy beneath, green above and are pink when young. The coral pink flowers occur on long axillary racemes along the branches over the whole crown. Each flower is 3 cm, has five large, pinkish-lavender sepals and an equal number of rounded and peach-coloured petals not uniform in shape. The flowers are initially red, fading to pink and later orange, with the median petal red with a yellow patch. There are three large stamens flanked by various smaller staminal appendages and a long, curved pistil. The mature indehiscent, cylindrical pod is up to 90 cm long and 2-6 cm wide with transverse striations. The seed orientation is a unique feature of the Cassia genus, as the seeds are transversely oriented and separated in individual cells within the pod (Janick and Paull, 2008). Inside each septum, one round, flattened, tan-coloured (1.5 cm) seed is surrounded by the dark-brown, sticky, bittersweet and strong-smelling pulp (Toruan-Purba, 1999; Janick and Paull, 2008).

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Regarded as a potential weedy tree species, C. grandis is considered native to Central and South America and has now been widely distributed across both the New and Old World tropics as a result of cultivation as an ornamental and its uses for medicine, agroforestry, and as a wood product source (Toruan-Purba, 1999; Janick and Paull, 2008; ICRAF, 2014; PIER, 2014). The species is widely grown as an ornamental in Malesia and South Asia (Kumar and Sane, 2003; Lock and Ford, 2004), abundant in Cambodia and southern Vietnam, and a known cultivation escape in Malaysia, Java, and New Guinea (Toruan-Purba, 1999).

Differences in distribution status were found between sources. The species is an introduced species to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Montserrat according to Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong (2012) but cited as native by USDA-ARS (2014), and of uncertain status according to ILDIS (2014); Young (2008) lists the species as widespread in Montserrat. Vozzo (2002) states that the species' natural distribution cannot be accurately asserted, and only that the species ‘apparently originated from the Amazon’.

In the Guiana Shield, the species is known to occur in Bolivar, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname, where it is native according to ILDIS (2014) but unspecified by other sources (Boggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007). C. grandis is listed as an introduction to Florida, USA according to ILDIS (2014) while USDA-NRCS (2014) considers it native to the state. 

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

BhutanPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
CambodiaWidespreadIntroducedToruan-Purba, 1999
IndiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-West BengalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-JavaPresentIntroduced Planted Toruan-Purba, 1999; Lock and Ford, 2004; ILDIS, 2014Common cultivation escape
LaosPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedToruan-Purba, 1999Common cultivation escape
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
ThailandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
VietnamPresent Planted Toruan-Purba, 1999; ILDIS, 2014

Africa

Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
Sierra LeonePresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
UgandaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentNative Natural Janick and Paull, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2014North, central, southeast
USAPresent Planted
-FloridaPresentILDIS, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2014
Costa RicaPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2014
CubaPresent Natural Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresent Natural Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
El SalvadorPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2014
GuatemalaPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2014
HaitiPresentILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
HondurasPresent Natural
JamaicaPresent Natural ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
MontserratPresent Natural Broome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Netherlands AntillesPresent Natural
NicaraguaPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2014
PanamaPresentNativeCondit et al., 2011; ILDIS, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St Thomas, Tortola

South America

BoliviaPresentNative Natural Bolivia Checklist, 2014Native and cultivated. Santa Cruz.
BrazilPresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010Distrito Federal; Amazonia; cenado; Mata Atlantica; Pantanal
-AcrePresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-AlagoasPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-AmapaPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-AmazonasPresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010
-BahiaPresentNative Planted Forzza R et al, 2010
-CearaPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-GoiasPresent Natural
-MaranhaoPresent Natural
-Mato GrossoPresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-ParaPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010; USDA-ARS, 2014
-ParaibaPresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010
-ParanaPresent Planted
-PernambucoPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-RondoniaPresent Natural
-RoraimaPresentNativeForzza R et al, 2010
-Sao PauloPresentNative Planted Forzza R et al, 2010
-SergipePresentNative Natural Forzza R et al, 2010
-TocantinsPresent Natural
ColombiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014
EcuadorPresentNativeVascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014Native and cultivated. Province of Esmeraldes, Guayas, Los Rios, Manabi
French GuianaPresent Natural Boggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
GuyanaPresent Natural Boggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
PeruPresent Natural ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SurinamePresent Natural Boggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
VenezuelaPresent Natural ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014

Oceania

Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
FijiPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2014
French PolynesiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationWagner et al., 2014Fatu Hiva I
Papua New GuineaPresent Planted Toruan-Purba, 1999; Lock and Ford, 2004; ILDIS, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. grandis occurs in rainforests in riverine and roadside situations of Central and South America and the West Indies, and was dispersed by man from the Neotropics to Asia, West Africa, and other tropical regions (JSTOR Global Plants, 2014). C. grandis was present in Puerto Rico by 1881, as it was included in Bello’s flora along with its vernacular name, cañafistula cimarrona (Bello Espinosa, 1881). The species was observed growing in cultivation in Bermuda in 1918 (Britton, 1918), and by 1924 Britton & Wilson reported the species was not only cultivated and growing on the hillsides of southwestern Puerto Rico, but naturalized on St. Thomas, St. Croix, Cuba, Jamaica, and tropical continental America (Britton and Wilson, 1924). Although the species has been a long time resident in Puerto Rico, it seems to occur only as a cultivated plant as reported by Little et al. (1974)

Risk of Introduction

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Risk of introduction for C. grandis is currently low, but further evaluation is needed. The species received a very low risk of potential invasiveness score of -5 in its PIER Risk Assessment (PIER, 2014), but this report considered the species as not weedy, not naturalized, and not highly domesticated. The species is a known widespread cultivation as an ornamental, is classified as an environmental weed in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012), is an identified invasive species in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012) and has been reportedly naturalized in Ecuador (although this species may be native to Ecuador), New South Wales, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Cuba, and Jamaica (Randall, 2012). Traits that do lower the species’ risk of invasiveness include its slow maturity rate, as this tall-growing species takes several years from sowing to flower, and difficulty in natural dispersal, as its pods are indehiscent and its large seeds are not easily spread by water or wind (Lock and Ford, 2004; ICRAF, 2014). However, the seeds of C. grandis can remain viable for several years, with unscarified seeds shown to live at least 8 years (Janzen, 1971). The species also produces seeds profusely with 10-90 (average of 40-55) seeds per pod, and a single tree is capable of bearing up to 700 pods per crop (Janzen, 1971). The edible fruit pulp of the species, which is the main cause for widespread dispersal via animal vectors, can be toxic to humans; if eaten in excess, it has abortifacient and certainly laxative effects, and citations for this are included in the FDA’s Poisonous Plant Database (Duke et al., 2009; FDA, 2014). Considering this potential toxicity, and the species’ widespread use and cultivation across both the Old and New Tropics as an ornamental, C. grandis should be monitored especially in cultivated areas, and further evaluation of its risk of introduction is recommended.

Habitat

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C. grandis can be found in lowland and riparian, semideciduous forests, mixed tree systems, and roadsides, occurring naturally from Mexico to South America (ICRAF, 2014; JSTOR Global Plants, 2014). The species tends to establish itself in river and stream banks and can grow in periodically flooded areas (Janick and Paull, 2008). It has also been widely grown in urban and disturbed areas and cultivated land as an ornamental and agroforestry plant, and as a wood source in tropical regions around the world (ICRAF, 2014).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The gametophytic chromosome count is 14; sporophytic count is 28 (IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2014).

Reproductive Biology

According to Janzen (1971): As with many other lowland deciduous trees in Central America, C. grandis bears its pink flowers in the early part of the dry season, late January through February for most sites and most trees. Ten to thirty flowers are produced for each fruit that is set, and 200-600 for each fruit that is matured. Flowers are borne on 5- to 20-cm branchlets distributed along a sexual branch up to 50 cm long. The ratio of flowers to fruits seems to stay constant over flower crops ranging from five to a hundred thousand flowers; it is likely that the floral excess is primarily to attract pollinators. When in flower the trees are very conspicuous, but would not be if bearing a number of flowers equal to the number of pods set. Fruits require 11-12 months to mature. The pattern of attrition of immature fruits during the maturation period appears related to the total reproductive strategy of the plant.

Physiology and Phenology

If the seed coat has been scarified by passage through a mammal or by other means, seeds of the species can germinate at the beginning of the wet season. Based on germination of seeds from herbarium sheets, unscarified seeds can live at least 8 years (Janzen, 1971).

Associations

According to ICRAF (2014): the roots of C. fistula and C. javanica are known to lack nodulating ability, but for C. grandis this is not clear.

Environmental Requirements

C. grandis is a common tree of lowland and riparian, semi-deciduous forests (ICRAF, 2014). In Colombia the species grows in premontane and tropical humid forests, and tropical dry forest (Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014). The species has agroforestry potential for dry zones, especially in Central America, and is recommended for intercropping with perennial crops and pastures, as the fruits are eaten by cattle (ICRAF, 2014). The species is drought tolerant, but will flower and fruit best in well-watered situations (Janick and Paull, 2008). The species grows well in clayey and seasonally waterlogged soils but has low tolerance for salty soils, and annual rainfall should be above 1000 mm for best growth (Janick and Paull, 2008; ICRAF, 2014). The species prefers exposure to full sun and has moderate wind tolerance, and average temperatures are usually around 24°C (21-26°), although the mature tree is able to withstand -2°C, and moist and warm climates and lower altitudes, 0-1000 m, are preferred (Janick and Paull, 2008; ICRAF, 2014). In Antioquia, Colombia, C. grandis grows at altitudes of 0-1500 m, while in Nicaragua it occurs at altitudes of 0-600 (-1100) m (Flora of Nicaragua, 2014; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014). In Peru, the species is reportedly found in forests at altitudes of 0-500 m, and in Panama it grows at altitudes up to 1000 m (Panama Checklist, 2014; Peru Checklist, 2014).

Seedling survival is influenced by fire, length of the dry season, cattle grazing, insect defoliation, shading by other early successional species, as well as occasional natural gaps in the forest canopy, as seedlings and saplings grow extremely slowly in heavy shade (Janzen, 1971). 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 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])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 21 10 600

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -2
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 21 26
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 24 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 17 25

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration6number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall10002800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. grandis has spread largely by intentional and occasionally by accidental introductions, as it is widely valued as an ornamental and agroforestry tree as well as a medicinal and wood source. The species can be propagated by seed and vegetatively through cuttings and layering, but its seeds are very large and not easily abiotically dispersed by wind or water (ICRAF, 2014). The species thus relies primarily on human and animal vectors to disperse its seeds, as its pods with sweet, edible pulp remain on the tree for 4-5 months until blown down or taken by dispersal agents (Janzen, 1971; Toruan-Purba, 1999). Such agents include white-tailed deer (Odocoileusvirginianus), which swallow the seeds and pass them intact, squirrels (Sciurusvariegatoides), agoutis (Dasyproctapunctata), and pacas (Cuniculuspaca); all four animals chew through the hard pod wall with ease, and these animals, and perhaps some others, usually remove or chew up the entire pod crop within 1-3 months (Janzen, 1971). In agricultural settings cows often eat the pods but this leads to germination of the seeds in open pastures, where they hardly ever survive to maturity (Janzen, 1971).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionUsed as live fence, re-vegetation pioneer, and for intercropping systems Yes Yes ICRAF, 2014
Digestion and excretionAnimals consume edible pods and excrete the seeds Yes Yes Janzen, 1971
Escape from confinement or garden escapeWidely cultivated as an ornamental in urban and garden areas Yes Yes Toruan-Purba, 1999
Hedges and windbreaksUsed in agricultural settings as live fence, re-vegetation pioneer, and for intercropping Yes Yes ICRAF, 2014
Landscape improvement Yes Yes ICRAF, 2014
Medicinal useUsed extensively for local medicine in Latin America and Asia Yes Duke et al., 2009; Toruan-Purba, 1999
Ornamental purposesWidely cultivated as an ornamental in urban and garden areas Yes Yes Toruan-Purba, 1999

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activities Yes Yes Toruan-Purba, 1999
Land vehicles Yes Yes ICRAF, 2014
LivestockCattle feed on pods and seeds germinate, although they rarely survive in open pastures Yes Janzen, 1971
Machinery and equipment Yes Yes ICRAF, 2014; Toruan-Purba, 1999

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Environmental Impact

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C. grandis has been valued primarily as an ornamental and used for medicinal, agroforestry, and timber purposes, resulting in its widespread cultivation in tropical regions of America, Africa, and Asia (Toruan-Purba, 1999; PIER, 2014). However the species has already been reported to be invasive to Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012) and an environmental weed in Australia (Randall, 2012), and given its wide distribution range could have a negative environmental impact. Although considered a species with very low risk of introduction (PIER, 2014), the species possesses several traits that pose threat to native flora, including repeated introductions outside of its native range, invasiveness outside its native range, profuse production of seeds which can remain viable for more than a year, and vegetative propogation by cutting and layering (Janzen, 1971; Toruan-Purba, 1999; Andreu et al, 2012; ICRAF, 2014). This species also forms part of the canopy, and so it may compete with native flora by shading. More research is needed on the species’ invasiveness and its potential negative impact on the environment. 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - shading
  • Poisoning
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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C. grandis has been widely introduced for ornamental purposes, but has also been found useful for agricultural purposes; it is recommended for revegetation in especially periodically flooded areas, can be planted as a live fence, and is recommended for dry zone intercropping with perennial crops and in pastures, as cattle feed upon the plant’s fruit pods (ICRAF, 2014).

The species has also been used as food, as its fruit pods are edible to humans; in Central America, the membrane surrounding seeds is used as a chocolate substitute (ICRAF, 2014).

Economically, C. grandis is considered good for charcoal and fuelwood, and reported to give strong multipurpose wood, used in joinery, carpentry, and beams among other uses (Toruan-Purba, 1999). The seeds of C. grandis are also a potential commercial source of gums (seed gum is a potential binder for the pharmaceutical industry) (ICRAF, 2014).

The species has also been valued for a wide range of medicinal uses. The fruit pulp is used as a laxative similar to C. fistula, well known for its medicinal properties; apparently C. grandis is reported to be more powerful, and a decoction of the leaves is also used as a laxative, as well as in the treatment of lumbago (Toruan-Purba, 1999). Fresh juice of the leaves of C. grandis is used externally in the treatment of ringworm (ICRAF, 2014). Duke et al. (2009) provides an extensive list of the species’ medicinal uses in Latin America. 

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Ornamental
  • Revegetation

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Fruits

Materials

  • Carved material
  • Gums
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Wood Products

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Boats

Furniture

Pulp

  • Short-fibre pulp

Roundwood

  • Posts

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Beams
  • Bridges
  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • Engineering structures
  • Flooring
  • For heavy construction
  • For light construction

Woodware

  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Tool handles

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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C. grandis is often confused with C. fistula, which is also known in Central and South America as ‘casia fistula’, but which has yellow flowers and a thinner pod than C. grandis (Janzen, 1971).

Cassia regia Standley is listed as a synonym of C. grandis, although it differs in degree of pubescence and several other minor ways, and examination of the type number (Pittier 2532) indicates gradation towards C. moschbata; Standley's type may have been a hybrid between C. grandis and C. noschata, a putative hybridization that seemingly has not again occurred (i.e. not represented by a second collection) (Flora of Panama, 2014).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Recommended areas for further research include a review of the species’ invasiveness and potential negative impact on the environment, especially in light of the current PIER Risk Assessment’s exclusion of data on the species’ invasiveness, weed and naturalization status in countries across the tropics, and on methods of detection, diagnosis and control. Further pharmacological research is also needed to investigate both the medicinal risks and benefits of consuming C. grandis, considering the potential toxicity of the species.

References

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Links to Websites

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Contributors

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04/4/2014 Updated 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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