Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Sida repens
(Javanese fanpetals)



Sida repens (Javanese fanpetals)


  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sida repens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Javanese fanpetals
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Sida repens is a perennial herb native to Central America and parts of South America that grows as a weed in disturbed sites, wastelands, pastures and on roadsides. It has been classified as a weed in Cuba and...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sida repens Dombey ex Cav.

Preferred Common Name

  • Javanese fanpetals

Other Scientific Names

  • Sida chaetodonta Turcz.
  • Sida dombeyana DC.

International Common Names

  • English: fanpetals; sida
  • Spanish: escoba amarilla; escobilla

Summary of Invasiveness

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Sida repens is a perennial herb native to Central America and parts of South America that grows as a weed in disturbed sites, wastelands, pastures and on roadsides. It has been classified as a weed in Cuba and as invasive in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This weedy species produces prickly fruits that attach to animal fur or human clothing, facilitating seed dispersal.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Malvales
  •                         Family: Malvaceae
  •                             Genus: Sida
  •                                 Species: Sida repens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Malvaceae is a large family of flowering plants containing about 243 genera and 4225 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. Species in this family are largely tropical, but can also occur in subtropical and temperate regions of the world (Stevens, 2012). The genus Sida is one of the largest and most taxonomically difficult genera within the Malvaceae family. Over 1000 species have been published in this genus, although recent estimates suggest that only 150-200 of these are valid (Stevens, 2012; The Plant List, 2013). The genus Sida has historically been a “wastebasket taxon”, comprising many species that simply did not fit into other genera of the Malvaceae. Many species that were originally or were, at one time, placed within Sida have recently been transferred to other genera. However, the circumscription of Sida is still unclear (Fryxell, 1985; 2007; Stevens, 2012). For some authors, the species S. dombeyana appears to be a legitimate name, but for others this species is a synonym of S. repens. Here, S. dombeyana is included in the list of synonyms.


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The following description is from the India Biodiversity Portal (2017):

Prostrate herb; stems rooting at nodes, stellate-hairy. Leaves orbicular, cordate at base, rounded or obtuse at apex, 5 cm, sparsely pubescent with simple hairs above and stellate hairs beneath; petioles 1-5 cm long, stellate-hairy; stipules 3 mm long, hairy. Flower axillary, solitary; pedicel 7-12 mm long, accrescent to 20 mm, jointed above middle, sparsely hairy. Calyx campanulate, 7 mm long; lobes divided to middle, 3-angled, 3-5 x 4.5 mm, simple and stellate-hairy outside, glabrous inside except at margin. Corolla 10 cm across, yellow. Petals obovate, rounded at apex, 7 x 4 mm, glabrous. Ovary subpyramidal, 1.5 mm long, glabrous, yellowish green; five styles and stigmas. Schizocarps 3 mm long; five mericarps, 4-hedral with rounded angles, 2-awned, hairy. Seeds ovoid, 2-2.5 mm long; hilum hairy, brownish black.


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S. repens is native to Central America is probably native to Ecuador and Peru. It is naturalized in the Caribbean, India, Malaysia and Tanzania (Fryxell, 1985; 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; India Biodiversity Portal, 2017).

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


IndiaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2017Naturalized
-KeralaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2017
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007Naturalized


TanzaniaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007Naturalized

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentBroome et al., 2007Probably introduced
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2015Guana, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Costa RicaPresentNativeFryxell, 2007
CubaPresentIntroducedHerrera Oliver, 2006
GrenadaPresentBroome et al., 2007Probably introduced
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedFournet and Sastre, 2002
HondurasPresentNativeFryxell, 2007
MartiniquePresentIntroducedFournet and Sastre, 2002
Netherlands AntillesPresentBroome et al., 2007Probably introduced
NicaraguaPresentNativeFryxell, 2007
PanamaPresentNativeD'Arcy, 1987
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2015
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2015St John, St Croix, St Thomas

South America

EcuadorPresentKrapovickas, 2006Probably native
PeruPresentKrapovickas, 2006Probably native

History of Introduction and Spread

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This species was intentionally introduced to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where it was first collected in 1881 (Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2015). In Grenada, it was first collected in 1905 (US National Herbarium).

Risk of Introduction

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No economic uses are known for S. repens, which makes the risk of intentional introductions low. However, S. repens behaves as a weed and has very small seeds and prickly fruits that can be easily dispersed by attaching to animal fur and human clothing.


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In Central America, S. repens grows in disturbed sites, on cliffs, in pastures and along roadsides. It occurs in wet and moist forests at elevations from 550 to 1300 m (Fryxell, 2007). In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it grows on sandy banks and on rocky limestone at low to mid elevations (Liogier and Martorell, 2000). In India, it grows in disturbed sites in semi-evergreen forests (India Biodiversity Portal, 2017). S. repens has been listed as a weed of farms, coffee plantations and pastures (Herrera Oliver, 2006).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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There is no information on the chromosome number of S. repens. However, studies for other species in the genus Sida have reported basic chromosome numbers of n = 7, 8, 9, 11 and 17 (Aguilar et al., 2003; Venkatesh et al., 2015).

Reproductive Biology

The flowers of S. repens are hermaphroditic and, based on their morphology, are probably pollinated by insects. Studies evaluating the breeding system of other Sida species (e.g. S. acuta, S. cordata and S. cordifolia) have shown that plants display functional autogamy and allogamy. In these species, delayed autonomous selfing occurs through the curling of styles, enabling the stigmas to touch the anthers, and also through the bending of the stamens causing the anthers to collide with the stigma (Raju and Rani, 2016).

Physiology and Phenology

In Central America, S. repens has been reported to flower and fruit throughout the year. In India, it flowers and fruits from October to January (India Biodiversity Portal, 2017).

Environmental Requirements

S. repens  grows in sand, loams and sandy loams. In Central America, this species grows at low to middle elevations in areas receiving approximately 700 mm to 3000 mm of mean annual precipitation. It thrives in disturbed habitats and tolerates dry conditions (Fryxell, 1985; D’Arcy, 1987; Fryxell, 2007).


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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)
23 10 550 1300

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 20 27


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7003000mm; lower/upper limits

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Sida seeds are small (<2.5 mm) and can be dispersed by wind and water (Raju and Rani, 2016).

Accidental Introduction

The hairy and prickly mericarps of S. repens can be spread by adherence to clothing and livestock, via mud on vehicles and farm machinery, and as contaminants in soil and seed crops.

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative


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Currently, S. repens is only listed as invasive in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where it is a common weed of disturbed sites, wastelands, pastures and roadsides. Once established, this species is highly competitive and can occur scattered across sites or in monospecific patches (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2015). In Cuba it is listed as a weed affecting agricultural lands (Herrera Oliver, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is little information about S. repens. Further research on the following four subjects would enable the development of appropriate management and control strategies:

  1. Reproductive biology and breeding system;
  2. Environmental requirements for establishment;
  3. Impact on native communities in areas where it is invasive;
  4. Natural enemies and pests affecting populations of S. repens.


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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the seed plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Aguilar JF, Fryxell PA, Jansen RK, 2003. Phylogenetic relationships and classification of the Sida generic alliance (Malvaceae) based on nrDNA ITS evidence. Systematic Botany, 28(2), 352-364.

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online Database. Barbados: The University of the West Indies.

D'Arcy WG, 1987. Flora of Panama. Checklist and Index. Part 1: The introduction and checklist. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden, Volume 17. St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 328 pp

Fournet J, Sastre C, 2002. Progrès récents dans la connaissance de la flore de Guadeloupe et de Martinique [Recent advances in the knowledge of the flora of Guadeloupe and Martinique]. Acta Botanica Gallica, 149(4):481-500

Fryxell PA, 1985. Sidus sidarum—V. The North and Central American species of Sida. Contributions to Botany, 11(1):62-91

Fryxell PA, 2007. Malvaceae. In: Hammel BE, Grayum MH, Herrera C, Zamora N, eds. Manual de plantas de Costa Rica. St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 313-373

Herrera Oliver PP, 2006. Sistema de clasificación artificial de las magnoliatas sinántropas de Cuba. PhD Thesis. Alicante, Spain: Universidad de Alicante

India Biodiversity Portal, 2017. Online Portal of India Biodiversity Portal.

Krapovickas A, 2006. Las especies argentinas y de países vecinos de Sida secc. [The species of Argentina and neighbouring countries in the genus Sida secc.] Nelavaga (Malvaceae, Malveae). Bonplandia, 15:5-45

Liogier HA, Martorell LF, 2000. Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: a systematic synopsis, 2nd edition revised. San Juan, Puerto Rico: La Editorial, University of Puerto Rico, 382 pp

Raju AS, Rani DS, 2016. Pollination ecology of Sida acuta, S. cordata and S. cordifolia (Malvaceae). Phytologia Balcanica, 22:363-376

Rojas-Sandoval J, Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2015. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Biological Invasions, 17(1), 149-163. doi: 10.1007/s10530-014-0712-3

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm phylogeny website.

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Venkatesh KH, Dinesh B, Venu N, Munirajappa, 2015. Chromosome numbers and karyotype studies of few members of Malvales. American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics, 3(2):178-184


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28/04/17 Original text by:

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

Distribution Maps

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