Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Senna alata
(candle bush)

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Datasheet

Senna alata (candle bush)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Senna alata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • candle bush
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. alata is a shrub or small tree that is used as an ornamental and a cultivated plant throughout its range (Irwin and Ba...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Senna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Molokini and Kahoolawe, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Molokini and Kahoolawe, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Molokini and Kahoolawe, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
Flowering habitSenna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Molokini and Kahoolawe, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
HabitSenna alata (candle bush); flowering habit. Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); habit. Hana Hwy Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
TitleHabit
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); habit. Hana Hwy Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); habit. Hana Hwy Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
HabitSenna alata (candle bush); habit. Hana Hwy Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); flowers, mature fruits and leaves. Tree Top Park, Florida, USA. November 2003.
TitleFlowers, fruits and foliage
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); flowers, mature fruits and leaves. Tree Top Park, Florida, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2003 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); flowers, mature fruits and leaves. Tree Top Park, Florida, USA. November 2003.
Flowers, fruits and foliageSenna alata (candle bush); flowers, mature fruits and leaves. Tree Top Park, Florida, USA. November 2003.©Forest & Kim Starr-2003 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); roadside infestation. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2004.
TitleInfestation
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); roadside infestation. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2004.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2004 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); roadside infestation. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2004.
InfestationSenna alata (candle bush); roadside infestation. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2004.©Forest & Kim Starr-2004 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); leaves and mature seedpods. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2009.
TitleLeaves and seedpods
CaptionSenna alata (candle bush); leaves and mature seedpods. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0
Senna alata (candle bush); leaves and mature seedpods. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2009.
Leaves and seedpodsSenna alata (candle bush); leaves and mature seedpods. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. July 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Senna alata (L.) Roxb.

Preferred Common Name

  • candle bush

Other Scientific Names

  • Cassia alata L.
  • Cassia bracteata L.f.
  • Cassia herpetica Jacq.
  • Cassia rumphiana (DC.) Bojer
  • Herpetica alata (L.) Raf.
  • Herpetica alata O.F.Cook & G.N.Collins

International Common Names

  • English: candelabra bush; candlestick plant; candlestick senna; carrion crow bush; Christmas-candle; craw-craw plant; empress-candle plant; golden candelabra tree; king of the forest; ringworm bush; ringworm senna; ringworm shrub; seven-golden candles; winged senna
  • Spanish: bajagua; guajavo; macoté; talentro
  • French: bois dartre; buisson de la gale; casse ailée; casse de java; catépen; catpan; dartres; dartrier; epis d’or; fleur dartre; fleur St. Christophe; plante des cros-cros; quatre épingle
  • Portuguese: café-beirão; cortalinde; dartial; fedegosao; fedegoso-gigante; fedegoso-grande; mangerioba-do-Pará; mangerioba-grande

Local Common Names

  • American Samoa: fa’i lafa; lā‘au fai lafa
  • Angola: dartrier; mangerioba-branca
  • Argentina: taperibá guazú
  • Belize: bajero pim
  • Bolivia: cara de caballo; kota-kota; yunka mutuillu
  • Brazil: mata-pasto
  • Brunei Darussalam: paal-ul; raun sukuk; tarump
  • Burkina Faso: kasia
  • Cambodia: dang het; dang het khmoch
  • Cameroon: ngom-ntangan
  • Central African Republic: dodo; dotarate; foudoto; gbado; ihina gbwe ; molo; ngalafo; odo; zolo
  • China: chi jai jue ming
  • Colombia: cacaona; conequeri; martin galvis; ükoñü
  • Comoros: moegné
  • Côte d'Ivoire: akiaki akiagon; djorouba-brou; nialouba
  • Cuba: guacamaya francesa; guacamayón; palo santo; yerba de los empeines; yerba de los herpes
  • Dominican Republic: guajava; guajavo
  • East Africa: makuwa; upupu wa mwitu
  • Ecuador: cola de caballo; palo de abejón
  • Fiji: bai nicagi; mbai ni thangi
  • Ghana: asentin; osempe
  • Guam: acapulco; akapuku; andadose; candelaria; take-biha
  • India: dadmurdan; dadrughna; datkapat; seemaiagathi; senamukhi; simayakatii; vilayati-aghatea
  • Indonesia: daqun kupang; katèpeng badak; ketepeng
  • Laos: khi let ban
  • Madagascar: andrabay; anjananjana; katirepengla; quatre epingles
  • Malaysia: alub alub; daun kurap; daun solok; dunsun labuk; gelenggang; ludanggan; mangarut; manggarut geling; terong suluk; urckap
  • Mali: jaramaa; kontaba; kotaba
  • Mauritius: cattiping; katepin; quatre epingles
  • Mexico: flor del secreto; tulipán
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: arakak; arekak; flay-n-sabouw; geking sepan; rakau honuki; raku hunukiri; salai; srakito; tirakahonuki; tuhkehn kilin wai; yarakaak
  • Nicaragua: Christmas blossom; kislin; qanabisi; red head; soroncontil; sus saika; sus tara saika; sus waha tara
  • Nigeria: akoria ovbi ore; asunron; asunwon; asurin oyinbo; ndaya okon; ogala; okpo ndichi; ufu uguma
  • Niue: mulamula
  • Palau: kerula besokel; yult
  • Papua New Guinea: kabaiura; levoanna; orere; rari
  • Peru: retama
  • Philippines: acapulco; adadisi; katanda; palochina; sonting
  • Puerto Rico: talantala; talantalán; talantro
  • Réunion: catréping; dartrier; quatre épingles
  • Rodriguez Island: katrepen
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: roman candle
  • Senegal: dartier; mbâta
  • Seychelles: Cat pan; catépen
  • Sierra Leone: aiyani; Njepa
  • Solomon Islands: bakua
  • Tanzania: mchingu; mgalula; muambangoma
  • Thailand: chum het tet; chumhet yai; kheekhaak; khirkak
  • Togo: kakoka; kitchingtchig'a; madonsohomé
  • Uganda: mpologoma tekiika
  • Venezuela: mocote; ypoty
  • Vietnam: muông

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. alata is a shrub or small tree that is used as an ornamental and a cultivated plant throughout its range (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; PROTA, 2016). The species is reported as escaping from cultivation and becoming a weed in pastures, disturbed areas, orchards, plantations and shrublands (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; ILDIS, 2016). Livestock do not eat it, so the species has the potential to spread rapidly without control (ILDIS, 2016). It is reported as invasive in Asia (Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore), East Africa and Oceania (Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Galapagos Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga) (PIER, 2016). It is regarded as a significant environmental weed in the Northern Territory of Australia (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Risk assessments prepared for both Australia and the Pacific classed it as high risk (PIER, 2016).

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: Senna alata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Senna Mill. (Caesalpiniaceae) is represented by 350 species, of which about 80% are from the New World (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; Rahman et al., 2013). The genus name is derived from the Arabic “sana”, which refers to the laxative leaves and pods (National Parks Board, 2016). Senna is characterised by having cylindrical or flattened, irregularly dehiscent pods, the longest stamens having the anthers facing each other to deposit pollen on the sides of visiting bees and the seeds being usually areolate (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). Senna species were originally included by Linnaeus in his concept of Cassia, and until 1982, when Irwin and Barneby split the subtribe Cassiinae into three genera, many authors included Senna and Chamaecrista species in a broadly circumscribed Cassia.

The common name of S. alata, candle bush, refers to the raceme inflorescence resemblance to a candle with the buds covered with orange bracts that look like a flame. It is also sometimes called ringworm bush due to its fungicidal properties. The epithet alata refers the winged pods (National Parks Board, 2016).

Description

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The following description is from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2016):

Shrubs, 1.5-3(-5) m tall. Branches greenish, thick, pubescent. Leaves 30-60 cm; stipules persistent, triangular, 6-10(-15) mm; petiole and rachis with 2 longitudinal ribs and narrow wings; petiolar glands absent; petiolules very short or leaflets subsessile; leaflets 6-12(-20) pairs, oblong or obovate-oblong, 6-15 × 3.5-7.5 cm, thinly leathery, glabrous, base obliquely truncate, apex obtusely rounded and cuspidate. Racemes axillary, dense, many flowered, or sometimes several racemes forming a terminal panicle, 10-50 cm; peduncles 7-14 cm; bracts caducous, strobilaceous, oblong to broadly ovate, 2-3 × 1-2 cm, at first enveloping flowers. Flowers ca. 2.5 cm in diam. Sepals orange-yellow, oblong, unequal. Petals bright yellow, tinged with conspicuous purple veins, ovate-orbicular, 16-24 × 10-15 mm, shortly clawed. Stamens 10, fertile stamens 7, opening with apical pores, lower 2 with stout filaments ca. 4 mm and larger anthers, 4 with filaments ca. 2 mm and smaller anthers, reduced stamens 3 or 4. Ovary puberulent, sessile; ovules many. Legume winged, sharply tetragonal, 10-20 × 1.5-2 cm, glabrous, with a broad, membranous wing down middle of each valve; wings 4-8 mm wide, papery, crenulate. Seeds 50-60, compressed, deltoid.

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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According to Irwin and Barneby (1982), S. alata is only native to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas and Brazil. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental and for medicinal purposes in tropical and subtropical regions of the world; reported as naturalised in Asia, Indonesia, Africa, south of North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America and Oceania (see Distribution Table for details; ILDIS, 2016; PIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). It is probably more widespread in the areas reported, as cultivated species are usually under-collected. It is treated as an annual in temperate regions of the USA (Irwin and Barneby, 1982).

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 ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
BhutanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
CambodiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
ChinaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Also cultivated
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced​Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-HainanPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
-YunnanPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)Present only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2016Cultivated, garden remnant
IndiaPresentIntroduced1832Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroduced1889Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-AssamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-BiharPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-DelhiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-GoaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-GujaratPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-HaryanaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Indian PunjabPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-KeralaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-ManipurPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-MeghalayaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-MizoramPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-NagalandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-OdishaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-SikkimPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-TripuraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-West BengalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
IndonesiaPresentIntroduced1913Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
-Irian JayaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-JavaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-KalimantanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-SumatraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
JapanPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
LaosPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced1917Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
-SarawakPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
MyanmarPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
NepalPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
PakistanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Athar and Siddiqi, 2004Sometimes cultivated.
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced1890PIER, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
TaiwanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
ThailandPresentIntroduced1899Neamsuvan et al., 2012; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Bangkok
VietnamPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
BeninPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
BurundiPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
CameroonPresentIntroduced1913Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
ChadPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
ComorosPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
CongoPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroduced1900JSTOR Global Plants, 2016
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroducedVirtual Herbaria Austria, 2016
GabonPresentIntroducedJSTOR Global Plants, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Moyen-Ogooue
GhanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
GuineaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
LiberiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Antsiranana, Toamasina. In forests and disturbed areas. At 0-499 m elevation
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
MaliPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
NigerPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
NigeriaPresentIntroduced1859JSTOR Global Plants, 2016
RéunionPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; Royal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
SenegalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
SeychellesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2016
Sierra LeonePresentIntroduced1857JSTOR Global Plants, 2016
SudanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden , 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
-ZanzibarPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016
TogoPresentIntroducedRoyal Museum for Central Africa, 2016
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of Zimbabwe, 2016

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced1894Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz, Yucatán
USAPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2016
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2016
-CaliforniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedJepson Flora Project, 2016Not naturalized
-FloridaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Wilder and McCombs, 2006Occasional at disturbed sites
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Big Island, Kauai Island, Lanai Island, Maui Island, Molokai Island, Oahu Island
-LouisianaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Dutton and Dale Thomas, 1991Escaped from cultivation, rare; at roadsides
-MississippiPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2016
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2016
-TexasPresentIntroducedNatureServe, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Stann Creek
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Tortola
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Alajuela, Guanacaste, Heredia, Puntarenas. In humid and very humid forests, and plains. Frequent at river margins and temporary flooded areas. Sometimes cultivated
CubaPresentIntroduced1860Méndez Santos et al., 2000; Pérez Montesino et al., 2010; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Cienfuegos
DominicaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016Barahona, Peravia, San Cristóbal, San Pedro de Macorís
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016La Libertad, San Salvador
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; New York Botanical Garden, 2016
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced1894Broome et al., 2007; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Huehuetenango
HaitiPresentIntroduced1892Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; New York Botanical Garden, 2016
HondurasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Cortés, Francisco Morazán, Isla de la Bahía
JamaicaPresentIntroduced1890Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
MartiniquePresentIntroduced1880Broome et al., 2007; New York Botanical Garden, 2016Champ Flore, Lamentin
MontserratPresentIntroduced1907Broome et al., 2007; New York Botanical Garden, 2016North of stream banks
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Saba, St. Eustatius
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedCoe, 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Atlántico Norte, Atlántico Sur, Boaco, Carazo, Chontales, León, Managua, Río San Juan. Common at river margins and areas seasonally flooded. Also cultivated
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Canal Area, Chiriquí, Coclé, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, Panamá, Veraguas. From 0-1000 m elevation
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Not invasive Perkins, 1907; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Wild and cultivated, near Bayamón, in gardens; near Coamo, in the valley of El Fuerte River; near Maricao, on the bank of the river near Mayagüez
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNativeAlexander, 1901; Broome et al., 2007
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007; New York Botanical Garden, 2016
Sint EustatiusPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016North Caicos
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedFosberg, 1976; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016St. John, St. Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedKeller, 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Corrientes, Misiones
BoliviaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Beni, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Tarija. From 0-2000m. In humid forests, Semi deciduous forests, savannas, dry valleys and closed fields
BrazilPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016In disturbed forest, dry forests, open areas, dense forests, semi deciduous forest, forests with high temperature and precipitation, forests in open areas near shores
-AcrePresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-AlagoasPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-AmapaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-AmazonasPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-BahiaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-CearaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-GoiasPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-MaranhaoPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-ParaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-ParaibaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-ParanaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-PernambucoPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-PiauiPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-RondoniaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-RoraimaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Sao PauloPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
-TocantinsPresentNativeFlora do Brasil, 2016
ColombiaPresentNativeTrujillo and Correa, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Used by the Coreguaje Amerindians in the Colombian Amazon.
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Carchi, Esmeraldas, Guayas. Los Ríos, Manabí, Morona-Santiago, Napo. Pastaza, Sucumbíos, Tungurahua. Also as cultivated
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
French GuianaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
GuyanaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016East Demerara, Essequibo, Rupununi
ParaguayPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016Caazapá, Canindeyú, Central, Concepción, Cordillera, Itapúa, Paraguarí
PeruPresentIntroduced1890Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016Amazonas, Cusco. At disturbed areas, riversides and seasonally inundated areas
SurinamePresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Paramaribo
VenezuelaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Amazonas, Apure, Bolívar, Cojedes, Táchira, Trujillo, Zulia

Oceania

American SamoaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2016Ofu Island, Touila Island
AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedWeeds of Australia, 2016
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Also cultivated
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Ovalau Island, Viti Levu Island. Also cultivated
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Maupiti Island, Raiatea Island. Invasive in: Fatu Hiva Island, Nuku Hiva Island, Ua Huka Island, Moorea Island< Tahiti Island, Rurutu Island, Tubuai Island. Also cultivated
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Kwajalein Atoll
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Chuuk Islands, Dublon Island, Fefan Island, Puluwat Atoll, Satawan Atoll, Tol Island, Weno Island, Kosrae Island (cultivated and invasive), Kaoingamarangi Atoll, Pohnpei Island (cultivated and invasive), Yap Island
NauruPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Nauru Island, Ile Grande Terre. Also cultivated
NiuePresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Also cultivated
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Agrigan Island (cultivated), Rota Island, Saipan Island, Tinian Island
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016As invasive in: Babeldaob Island and Koror Island. Ngerkebasang Island Peleliu Island. Also cultivated
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Bismark Archipelago. Invasive in Eastern New Guinea Island
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Savaii Island, Upolu Island
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Guadalcanal Island, Ndeni Island, Solomon Islands
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Lifuka and Foa Islands; Tongatapu Island, Vavau Island. Also cultivated.

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. alata has been planted principally as an ornamental and for medicinal purposes where it is reported as introduced, becoming naturalised in most of these areas (PROTA, 2016). Irwin and Barneby (1982) report the introduction and spread of the species as follows: cultivated in warm temperate United States, especially on the Gulf Coastal Plain and in south California, locally spontaneous in peninsular Florida; fully established by mid-seventeenth century in Java and becoming widespread through equatorial Africa, south of India, Sri Lanka to south of China and the Philippines, thence extending through Malaysia into the north of Australia and east through Micronesia into the Society and Hawaiian Islands.

The species was introduced to Tonga late in the eighteenth century by Europeans (O’Rourke, 1995). Whistler (2006) reports S. alata with an early introduction to tropical Asia and present in the twentieth century in Samoa for cultivation, from where it has escaped into wet places. There are collections of the species in the early 1800’s from India, late 1800’s from the Philippines and Thailand and early 1900’s from Indonesia and Malaysia (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016). The species appears as collected in Africa by the mid 1800’s (JSTOR Global Plants, 2016). It is reported as present from the mid to late 1800’s in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016).

In Galapagos, Ecuador, the species was recorded in 1986 as cultivated in a farm on San Cristobal Island. By 2004, it was detected on 16 properties of Puerto Villamil and in one farm of Isabela Island (Guézou et al., 2007).

Risk of Introduction

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S. alata is a shrub to small tree with a medium to high likelihood of further introduction in the tropics and subtropics because of its usage as an ornamental and a medicinal plant. Although reported as short-lived, it is a fast grower with the capability of colonising open areas. It can escape from cultivation and become a weed in nearby areas with the potential to spread rapidly (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; ILDIS, 2016). The pods can float considerable distances in water, and are also dispersed in mud attached to vehicles and animals (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Risk Assessments have given it a score of 20 (Reject) in Australia and 10 (High Risk) in the Pacific (PIER, 2016).

Habitat

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S. alata prefers open, disturbed areas that are not too dry; being able to grow in seasonally flooding shrublands (Vieira Fragoso, 1999; PROSEA, 2016). It is reported as a coloniser species growing in roadsides, river banks, waterways, forest edges, shrublands, overgrazed pastures, margins of lakes, ponds and ditches, open forest, orchards, plantations and around settlements where is cultivated for ornamental and/or medicinal purposes (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; PROTA, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). It is one of the ethnospecies identified as an indicator of secondary forests on anthropogenic soils in Amazonas, Brazil (Fraser et al., 2011). It is found from near sea level to 2100 m altitude; most abundant at elevations below 500 m (PROSEA, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides 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
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number for S. alata is reported as 2n = 24, 28 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

Most of the species of Senna are self-incompatible and have specialised floral traits for buzz pollination (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). Reported pollinators for Senna species are bees from Xylocopa, Bombus, Centris, Epicharis, and Melipona (Marazzi et al., 2007). S. alata reproduces by seed; which is reported as having 94-100% germination and viability (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, 2016). According to Floridata (2016) the seeds can be dormant for a year. In vitro micropropagation protocols have been developed by Anis et al. (2012) in order to establish an in vitro germplasm bank to reproduce important medicinal plants for developing countries. In temperate zones, plants will die back in winter and regenerate vegetatively in the spring (Floridata, 2016).

Physiology and Phenology

S. alata is a fast growing perennial shrub to small tree that flowers in North and South America from September to March and throughout the year in equatorial latitudes (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). It flowers in Pakistan from October to December (Athar and Siddiqi, 2004). In Australia, flowering occurs mainly from late autumn to spring (May to November) (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Longevity

S. alata is a perennial species but is often grown as an annual in temperate climates until the first frost (Floridata, 2016).

Environmental Requirements

S. alata grows best in full sun and is drought tolerant. It grows well on heavy to sandy, acid to slightly alkaline, well-drained soils; with the pH ranging from 5.6 to 7.8. It is reported to grow in areas with annual rainfall of 600-4300 mm and average annual temperatures of 15-30°C. It does not tolerate frosts (Floridata, 2016) or shade.

Associations

Ants protect the plant from caterpillars and are rewarded by nectar produced by extrafloral nectaries (National Parks Board, 2016).

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])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
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)
35 -42

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 7
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall6004300mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amblycerus submaculatus Herbivore Seeds not specific
Cercospora canescens Pathogen Leaves not specific
Meloidogyne javanica Herbivore Roots not specific
Passalora simulata Pathogen Leaves not specific
Phomopsis cassiae Pathogen Fruits/pods/Leaves not specific
Sennius albopygus Herbivore Seeds to genus
Sennius bondari Herbivore Seeds not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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S. alata is a host of the nematodes Helicotylenchus dihystera, Pratylenchus loosi and Meliodogyne javanica (Lenné, 1990; PROTA, 2016). Amblycerus submaculatus,Sennius bondari and Sennius albopygus are reported as feeding on its seeds (Ribeiro-Costa, 1998; Viana and Ribeiro-Costa, 2014). The larvae of various butterflies have been seen feeding on the species (Naturia, 2016).

The fungi Cercospora canescens, Phaeoisariopsis simulata [Passalora simulata], Phomopsis cassiae and Phomopsis sp. are pathogens of the leaves and pods of S. alata (Lenné, 1990).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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S. alata has been introduced into various countries as an ornamental and for medicinal purposes (PROTA, 2016). It is reported as being naturally dispersed by water (PIER, 2016). This dispersal mechanism is aided by the pods ability to float considerable distances (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Pods can also be dispersed in mud attached to vehicles, machinery and animals (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoos Yes Rankin Rodríguez, 1992
Breeding and propagationIn vitro propagation protocols developed in India Yes Yes Anis et al., 2012
Digestion and excretionSeeds reported as surviving passage through the gut Yes PIER, 2016
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Dutton and Dale Thomas, 1991
Garden waste disposalIt is highly probable that seeds could be transported locally through garden waste from cultivation as an ornamental Yes
Habitat restoration and improvementReported as used for erosion control. Yes USDA-ARS, 2016
HitchhikerReported as likely to be dispersed unintentionally Yes PIER, 2016
Internet salesSeeds and plants available locally at on internet sites. Yes Yes
Medicinal useUsed for medicinal purposes in many of the countries where it occurs. Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Nursery tradePlants sold locally and over the internet for ornamental purposes Yes Yes
Off-site preservation In vitro germplasm bank of important medicinal plants in India; seed storage at the Millennium Seed Bank for conservation Yes Yes Anis et al., 2012; Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, 2016
Ornamental purposesPlanted as an ornamental in gardens and cultivated plots near houses Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
GermplasmSeed collections and germplasm available for long term storage. Long-term storage at IITS Genebank Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016
Water Yes PIER, 2016

Environmental Impact

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S. alata is considered as a noxious weed in disturbed and overgrazed areas in Australia, but further details on its impact on those habitats are not given (Guézou et al., 2007). It is reported as poisonous to livestock and fish (Guézou et al., 2007; Weeds of Australia, 2016) and can impede access to waterways (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value

S. alata is cultivated in India for export (for example, to Japan to be used for Bonsai). Chemical extracts from the species are commonly used as ingredients in soaps, shampoos and lotions in the Philippines (Flowers of India, 2016). Patent applications have been made for using S. alata in cosmetics, for protection against UV radiation, and treatments of beri-beri and athlete's foot (Hennebelle et al., 2009). The species is one of the constituents of “Dano”, an herbal hair oil used to treat dandruff in India (Krishnamoorthy et al., 2006). It is one of the components of “Saye”, a traditional medicine to treat malaria, available in local markets in Burkina Faso (Yerbanga et al., 2012). Extracts from S. alata have been proposed as a non-toxic option to manage the tomato rot because its fungitoxic activities against Fusarium verticilliodes and Macrophomina phaseolina (Enikuomehin and Oyedeji, 2010).

Social Benefit

All parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine (Amiguet et al., 2005; PROSEA, 2016). The chrysophanic acid found in its leaves or sap has antifungal properties making it effective against ringworm and some skin diseases caused by fungi (PROTA, 2016). In Central America, a lotion is prepared from its leaves called “soroncotil” to treat skin infections (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). Studies have shown antifungal activity against the following dermatophytic fungi: Aspergillus flavus, Blastomyces dermatitidis, Candida albicans, Malassezia furfur, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum, Microsporum canis and M. gypseum (Damodaran and Venkataraman, 1994; Ibrahim and Osman, 1995; Makinde et al., 2007).

The species has antibacterial activity reported for: Actomyces bovis,Dermatophilus congolensis, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Somchit et al., 2003; Makinde et al., 2007; Saito et al., 2012). It has also antimicrobial activity against Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis, both bacteria that are involved in the development of acne (Chomnawang et al., 2005).

S. alata contains saponin, which is used as a laxative and to expel intestinal parasites (PROTA, 2016). As a medicinal plant, it is used to treat high blood pressure, stomach problems, fever, asthma, bronchitis, dyspnoea, snake bites, venereal diseases, psoriasis, impetigo, malaria, rash, itching, scabies, dysentery, haemorrhoids, convulsions, heart failure, oedema, jaundice, headache, hernia, one-sided weakness and paralysis (Asase and Asafo-Agyei, 2011; Hanelt and IPK, 2016; PROTA, 2016). It is also reported as having abortifacient effects (Barrett, 1994; Yakubu et al., 2010; Neamsuvan et al., 2012). Antioxidant properties are also reported for the species, which have been under study for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (Okoro et al., 2010; Feitosa et al., 2011). Leaf extracts have shown antitumor properties with low or no toxicity on non-cancer cells (Olarte et al., 2013).

S. alata is used in veterinary medicine for skin problems and against external parasites such as mites and ticks (Ravindran, 2012; PROTA, 2016). Other uses of the species include as a source of gum, as a vegetable, as a coffee substitute, for tanning leather, tattooing, for fish poisoning, as an ornamental and for shade (Hanelt and IPK, 2016; PROTA, 2016).

Environmental Services

S. alata flowers attract insects, including butterflies, bees and fire ants and the plant is used for bee forage (Floridata, 2016). In Florida, flowers are visited by Centris nitida bees (Pemberton and Liu, 2008).

Extracts of the leaves have fungicidal properties against Leucocoprinus gongylophorus, an obligate symbiont of Acromyrmex octospinosus, one of the species of leaf-cutting ants which is an agricultural pest (Boulogne et al., 2012).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Landscape improvement

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Research model

Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable

Materials

  • Cosmetics
  • Gums

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore
  • Veterinary

Ornamental

  • Potted plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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S. alata can be confused with S. reticulata, which is a small tree usually taller than S. alata and more pubescent. The first pair of leaflets in S. reticulata is longer, 3.5 cm from the pulvinus, while in S. alata it is less than 3.5 cm (Irwin and Barnaby, 1982). S. alata can be recognised from other Senna species by the upright spikes of golden yellow flowers and by having four-winged pods (Perkins, 1907; PROTA, 2016).

In Australia, it is similar to popcorn senna (Senna didymobotyra) and some closely related native species which all have yellow flowers arranged in relatively dense elongate clusters, but can be distinguished from all these species by its larger winged pods that are four-angled in cross-section (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Prevention and Control

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Based on its invasiveness in other countries, S. alata is recommended as one of the species for eradication in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (Guézou et al., 2007). In Australia it is declared under legislation in the Northern Territory (to be controlled outside of town areas and not to be introduced to the Territory) and Western Australia (trade and sale prohibited, and to be eradicated throughout the state except in towns) (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Chemical Control

Cutting stems close to the ground and applying picloram + 2,4­D to the cut surfaces is suggested for the control of large infestations of the species. In Western Australia, where the plant is a declared weed, the use of triclopyr + picloram is recommended.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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More information about its impacts, especially its effects on habitats and biodiversity, is needed. Research is also needed on the control of the species.

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Floridata Plant Encyclopediahttp://www.floridata.com/
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.
Mansfeld's World Database of Agriculture and Horticultural Crops, 2016http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/apex/f?p=185:3:

Contributors

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31/07/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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