Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Calopogonium caeruleum



Calopogonium caeruleum (jicama)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Calopogonium caeruleum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • jicama
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. caeruleum is a vigorous woody vine widely introduced in agroforestry systems to be used as a cover crop (Cook et al., ...

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As cover crop in young rubber, Indonesia.
TitleC. caeruleum in young rubber
CaptionAs cover crop in young rubber, Indonesia.
Copyright©P.J. Terry/LARS
As cover crop in young rubber, Indonesia.
C. caeruleum in young rubberAs cover crop in young rubber, Indonesia.©P.J. Terry/LARS


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Calopogonium caeruleum (Benth) Sauvalle

Preferred Common Name

  • jicama

Other Scientific Names

  • Calopogonium coeruleum (Benth.) Sauvalle
  • Calopogonium coeruleum var. glabrescens (Benth.) Malme
  • Calopogonium sericeum (Benth.) Chodat & Hassl.
  • Calopogonium sericeum f. glabrescens Chodat & Hassl.
  • Calopogonium sericeum var. villicalyx Chodat & Hassl.
  • Stenolobium caeruleum Benth
  • Stenolobium caeruleum var. sericeum Benth.

International Common Names

  • English: calopo; calopogonium

Local Common Names

  • : bejuco de lavar; chorreque; falso pica-pica
  • Brazil: feijao-bravo; feijao-de-macaco; feijaozinho-da-mata
  • Cuba: ahorca perro; bejuco culebra; frijol boniato; jícama cimarrona; jíquima; mata potrero
  • Dominican Republic: haba de burro
  • Suriname: klein kau; namie napirang
  • Thailand: thua sealulium

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. caeruleum is a vigorous woody vine widely introduced in agroforestry systems to be used as a cover crop (Cook et al., 2005). It has escaped from cultivation and become a weed in pastures and disturbed areas in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. This fast-growing vine has a considerable weed potential and it often smothers desirable grasses and other understorey species in plantation crops. It has also invaded seasonally wet tropical environments (Cook et al., 2005; PIER, 2014). It is listed as invasive in Hawaii, Cuba, and Christmas Island (Swarbrick, 1997; Starr et al., 2003; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Genus: Calopogonium
  •                                 Species: Calopogonium caeruleum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Fabaceae is one the largest families of flowering plants. This family includes about 745 genera and 19,500 species which can be found throughout the world growing in a great variety of climates and environments (Stevens, 2012). Species within the subfamiliy Faboideae (also known as Papilionoideae) are trees, shrubs, and herbs that may be easily recognized by their classical pea-shaped flowers and the frequent occurrence of root nodulation (Stevens, 2012). The genus Calopogonium includes nine accepted species native to tropical continental America and widely naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. 


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Perennial, woody vine, twining, with many lateral branches, attaining 10 m in length. Stems slender, cylindrical, villous-pubescent on the younger parts. Leaves alternate, trifoliolate; leaflets chartaceous, 5-10.5 × 3-8 cm, the apex obtuse or less frequently rounded, the base of the distal leaflet cuneate, that of the lateral ones asymmetrical and obtuse-truncate, the margins undulate, revolute; upper surface dark green, dull, pubescent, especially on the sunken venation; lower surface pale green, pubescent, with the venation yellowish, prominent. Inflorescences of axillary pseudoracemes, 12-45 cm long, with 4-5 flowers grouped on small mounds along the rachis; rachis thick, cylindrical, pubescent; pedicels ca. 5 mm long, pubescent. Calyx campanulate, 5-7 mm long, appressed-pubescent, the sepals lanceolate, 2.5-4 mm long; corolla blue, the standard ca. 1 cm long, oblanceolate. Legume tomentose, 3-8 × 0.7-1.0 cm, flattened, with the margins compressed between the seeds and the calyx persistent at the base, 3-10 seeds per legume. Seeds almost square, reddish brown, shiny, 4-5 mm wide (Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2005).


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C. caeruleum is native to tropical America, from Mexico to Argentina and in the West Indies (USDA-ARS, 2014). However, for the West Indies, some authors consider that this species was introduced and later became naturalized (Graveson, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012).   

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


Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Swarbrick, 1997
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014South-eastern Mexico
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Starr et al., 2003

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
El SalvadorPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
GuatemalaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
HaitiPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
HondurasPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
NicaraguaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
PanamaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentILDIS, 2014
Saint LuciaPresentGraveson, 2012Probably introduced as a cover-crop and became naturalized on this island (Graveson, 2012)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
BoliviaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AcrePresentNativeLima, 2013
-AlagoasPresentNativeLima, 2013
-AmazonasPresentNativeLima, 2013
-BahiaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-CearaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeLima, 2013
-GoiasPresentNativeLima, 2013
-MaranhaoPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeLima, 2013
-ParaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-ParaibaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-ParanaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-PernambucoPresentNativeLima, 2013
-PiauiPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeLima, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeLima, 2013
-RondoniaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-RoraimaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeLima, 2013
-Sao PauloPresentNativeLima, 2013
-SergipePresentNativeLima, 2013
-TocantinsPresentNativeLima, 2013
ColombiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
EcuadorPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
French GuianaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
GuyanaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
ParaguayPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
PeruPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
SurinamePresentNativeILDIS, 2014


AustraliaPresentAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedHancock and Henderson, 1988

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. caeruleum has been widely introduced in agroforestry systems in Asia, Australia, Africa, and across America to be used as a cover crop and soil improver species (Cook et al., 2005). However, the dates of introduction are not reported in the literature. 

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of C. caeruleum is moderate to high. This species has been widely introduced in agroforestry systems around the world and it has demonstrated that it has the potential to escape from cultivation and become naturalized and invasive in many habitats. In addition, it spreads by seeds which can remain viable for several years in the soil (Swarbrick, 1997). 


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C. caeruleum is a common element in agroforestry systems (Cook et al., 2005). It also grows in moist pastures, plantations, and in disturbed sites at lower and middle elevations (Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2005).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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C. caeruleum is a weed of tropical plantation crops, often smothering desirable grasses and other understorey species (Cook et al., 2005). 

Biology and Ecology

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Physiology and Phenology

In the West Indies, C. caeruleum has been recorded flowering from November to February and fruiting from February to April (Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2005).


C. caeruleum is planted as a cover crop in Southeast Asian plantation agriculture, often in a species mixture with one or more of the following species: (1) C. mucunoides, (2) Centrosema molle, (3) Pueraria phaseoloides, and (4) Desmodium ovalifolium. It is also planted with Guinea grass Megathyrsus maximus in pastures and in coconut and oil palm plantations (Middleton and Mellor, 1982; Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental Requirements

C. caeruleum is adapted to humid conditions and grows best in areas with mean annual temperatures ranging from 18ºC to 25ºC and mean annual rainfall ranging from 1000 to 3000 mm, but it can survive in habitats with 700 mm of annual rainfall.  It grows on a wide range of soil types and with pH as low as 4.0. It grows best on well-drained soils. This species is tolerant of heavy shade (Cook et al., 2005). 


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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])

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7003000mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Cercospora Pathogen Adults not specific
Rhizoctonia Pathogen Adults not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The fungal pathogens Cercospora leafspot, anthracnose, and Rhizoctonia foliar blight have been identified on C. caeruleum in Colombia (Cook et al., 2005).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. caeruleum spreads mostly by seeds. However, under favourable conditions, it can also spread from stolons and rooting at the nodes (Cook et al., 2005). Seeds are ejected short distances from the pods which twist upon drying and can viable for several years in the soil (Swarbrick, 1997).

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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C. caeruleum is a weed of tropical plantation crops. In pastures, it often smothers desirable grasses and becomes the dominant species, aided by companion grasses being grazed in preference to this unpalatable legume (Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental Impact

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C. caeruleum is a weed with the potential to form dense mats that smother native vegetation as well as crops. It has become invasive in seasonally wet tropical environments, as well as in natural areas in Hawaii, Christmas Island, and Cuba (Starr et al., 2003; Cook et al., 2005; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2014). 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • 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
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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C. caeruleum has been widely cultivated as a cover-crop and green manure crop. It is also planted as a pioneer species and as a nitrogen fixing species to reduce erosion and improve soil fertility (Cook et al., 2005).  

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

On C. caeruleum growing as a weed, poor control was achieved when mature plants were sprayed with various rates of metsulfuron, glyphosate, paraquat, or paraquat + diuron. Combinations of metsulfuron + glyphosate or paraquat, however, have achieved effective control four weeks after application (Cook et al., 2005). The herbicide fosamine also provides excellent suppression of C. caeruleum for 8-12 weeks when applied to reduce competition in planting sites for rubber and oil palm. Efficacy depends on vigour of the weed at application (Cook et al., 2005). 


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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

Atlas of Living Australia, 2015. Atlas of Living Australia.

Choe YK, 1983. Establishment of Legume cover crops on flat land. Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia. Planters Bulletin, 177.

Choe YK, 1985. Vegetative propagation of Caloposonium caeruleum. Proceedings of International Rubber Conference, Kuala Lumpur.

Choe YK; Chin TV; Rashid A, 1979. Legume seeds in rubber cultivation. Proceedings. Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia Planters Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 1979.

Choe YK; Liu S; Rosley A, 1981. Legume cover crops and weed control in rubber smallholdings. Proceedings Smallholders Social and Economic Conference, University of Agriculture, Serdang, Malaysia.

Cook BG; Pengelly BC; Brown SD; Donnelly JL; Eagles DA; Franco MA; Hanson J; Partridge IJ; Peter M; Schultze-Kraft R, 2005. Tropical Forages: an interactive selection tool. Brisbane, Australia: CSIRO, DPI&F, CIAT, ILRI.

FAO, 2014. Grassland species profiles.

Graveson R, 2012. The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean). The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean).

Hancock IR; Henderson CP, 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. Research Bulletin - Dodo Creek Research Station, No. 7. Honiara, Solomon Islands ii + 203 pp.

ILDIS, 2014. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading.

Jewtragoon P; Topak-Ngam A, 1985. Factors effecting growth and seed production of Calopogonium caeruleum. Proceedings of International Rubber Conference, Kuala Lumpur.

Lima HC, 2013. Calopogonium in Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil ([English title not available]). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro.

Middleton CH; Mellor W, 1982. Grazing assessment of the tropical legume Calopogonium caeruleum. Tropical Grasslands, 16(4):213-216.

Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.

PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp.

Starr F; Starr K; Loope LL, 2003. New plant records from the Hawaiian Archipelago. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2001-2002. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 74:23-34.

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.

Swarbrick JT, 1997. Environmental weeds and exotic plants on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Report to Parks Australia. J.T. Swarbrick, Weed Science Consultancy, 131 pp.

Tan KH; Pusharajah E, 1976. Calopogonium caeruleum on shade-tolerant leguminous cover for rubber. Proceedings of Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia Planters Conference, Kuala Lumpur.

USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.


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25/11/14 Original text by:

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

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

Distribution Maps

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