Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

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Calotropis procera
(apple of sodom)

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Datasheet

Calotropis procera (apple of sodom)

Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit, showing leaves, flowers, and fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleHabit
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit, showing leaves, flowers, and fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2013 - CC BY 3.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit, showing leaves, flowers, and fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
HabitCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit, showing leaves, flowers, and fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest & Kim Starr-2013 - CC BY 3.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); leaves and flowers. Maui Lani Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2007.
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); leaves and flowers. Maui Lani Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); leaves and flowers. Maui Lani Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2007.
Leaves and flowersCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); leaves and flowers. Maui Lani Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of flowers. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleFlowers
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of flowers. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of flowers. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
FlowersCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of flowers. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); flowers and an unripe fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleFlowers and fruit
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); flowers and an unripe fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); flowers and an unripe fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Flowers and fruitCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); flowers and an unripe fruit. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); mature seeds. Kanapou, Kahoolawe, Hawaii, USA. December, 2010.
TitleSeeds
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); mature seeds. Kanapou, Kahoolawe, Hawaii, USA. December, 2010.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); mature seeds. Kanapou, Kahoolawe, Hawaii, USA. December, 2010.
SeedsCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); mature seeds. Kanapou, Kahoolawe, Hawaii, USA. December, 2010.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); dried fruit case. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleFruit case
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); dried fruit case. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); dried fruit case. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Fruit caseCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); dried fruit case. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleHabit
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
HabitCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); habit of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
TitleHabit
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.
HabitCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); close view of mature plant. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. April, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); seedling.
TitleSeedling
CaptionCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); seedling.
Copyright©Kurt G. Kissmann
Calotropis procera (apple of sodom); seedling.
SeedlingCalotropis procera (apple of sodom); seedling.©Kurt G. Kissmann
C. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. It is a native of Africa, the Middle East and India, which has become an invasive in Australia, Mexico and South America. It is a major host of various Danaus species, including the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
TitlePlant in habitat
CaptionC. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. It is a native of Africa, the Middle East and India, which has become an invasive in Australia, Mexico and South America. It is a major host of various Danaus species, including the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
Copyright©George Fyson
C. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. It is a native of Africa, the Middle East and India, which has become an invasive in Australia, Mexico and South America. It is a major host of various Danaus species, including the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
Plant in habitatC. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. It is a native of Africa, the Middle East and India, which has become an invasive in Australia, Mexico and South America. It is a major host of various Danaus species, including the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).©George Fyson
C. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. Note person for scale.
TitlePlant in habitat
CaptionC. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. Note person for scale.
Copyright©George Fyson
C. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. Note person for scale.
Plant in habitatC. procera in typical habitat, Morocco. Note person for scale.©George Fyson

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Calotropis procera (Aiton) Dryand.

Preferred Common Name

  • apple of sodom

Other Scientific Names

  • Asclepias patula Decne.
  • Asclepias procera Aiton
  • Calotropis busseana K. Schum.
  • Calotropis gigantea var. procera (Aiton) P.T.Li
  • Calotropis heterophylla Wall Ex. Wight
  • Calotropis inflexa Chiov.
  • Calotropis persica Gand.
  • Calotropis syriaca Woodson
  • Calotropis wallichii Wight
  • Madorius procerus (Aiton) Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: auricula tree; cabbage tree; calotrope; camel tree; dead sea fruit; desert wick; French cotton; giant milkweed; Indian milkweed; mudar fibre; mudar plant; roostertree; rubber bush; rubber tree; sodom apple; Sodom's milkweed; swallow-wort
  • Spanish: algodon de seda; algodon extranjero; árbol de la seda; bomba; cazuela; malcascada; mata de seda; mata de seda; mudar; tula
  • French: arbre à soie; arbre a soie du Senegal; arbre de soie; boie canon; bois canon; coton soie; pomme de sodome
  • Arabic: dead sea plant; kisher; usar; usher
  • Chinese: bai hua niu jiao gua
  • Portuguese: algodao-de-seda; saco-de-velho

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: St. Thomas bush; wild cotton; wild down
  • Brazil: hortência; saco de bode; seda
  • Cuba: algodón americano; algodón de judea; estrella de Holanda; estrella del norte
  • Dominican Republic: algodón extranjero
  • East Africa: mpamba mwitu
  • Ethiopia: akalo; dinda; ghinda; ghindae; quimbo; tobiaw
  • Gambia: kipapa
  • Germany: Mudarpflanze; Mudarstrauch; Oscherstrauch
  • India: aak; akada; akdo; alarka; chinnajlleedu; mandara; mar; oriya; orkho; rui; sans; vellerukku
  • Italy: calotropo
  • Jamaica: dumb cotton
  • Lesser Antilles: bwa kannon; bwa peta; cow heel; laswa; milk bush; monkey apple; puk puk; sprain leaf
  • Nigeria: tumfafia
  • Pakistan: ak
  • Senegal: faftan
  • Somalia: boah
  • Sudan: usher wood
  • Venezuela: gallito; palo de algodón

EPPO code

  • CTRPR (Calotropis procera)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Gentianales
  •                         Family: Apocynaceae
  •                             Genus: Calotropis
  •                                 Species: Calotropis procera

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Calotropis was formerly placed in the family Asclepiadaceae (the milkweed family), which is now considered a subfamily of the Apocynaceae (Stevens, 2012). The Apocynaceae is a large family of plants including 415 genera and about 4555 species distributed largely throughout the tropics but also in warm temperate climates. The specific name, procera, is Latin for 'tall' or 'high'. C. procera is most closely related to the ornamental plant C. gigantea, which is sometimes misidentified as C. procera.

Description

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A shrub or small tree, generally up to 2.5-4 m (max. 6) high. Stem round, usually simple (rarely branched), pale green, thickly covered with hoary pubescence which readily rubs off. Leaves decussate, obovate, acuminate 10-20 cm long and 4-10 cm wide. Inflorescence a dense, multiflowered, umbellate cyme arising from the nodes and appearing axillary or terminal. Corolla slightly campanulate, with 5 sepals that are 4-5 mm long; segments ovate, acute, rather concave, dull purple bordered with white on the upper side, silvery on the underside. Fruits sub-globose, ellipsoid or ovoid, recurved follicle, 7.5-10.0 cm. Seed light-brown, broadly ovate, flattened, 3.2 cm with silky hairs. A white milky sap is exuded from any wound on the plant.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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C. procera is native to tropical Africa and Asia and introduced to the Southern United States and Brazil (Crothers and Newbound, 1998). It is naturalized in Australia, many Pacific islands, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands.

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

AfghanistanPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
BangladeshPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
BhutanPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
CambodiaPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
ChinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
-GuangxiPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
-YunnanPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
IndiaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-AssamPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-BiharPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-ChandigarhPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-DamanPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-DelhiPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-DiuPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-GoaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-GujaratPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-HaryanaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-KarnatakaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-KeralaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-LakshadweepPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Invasive Natural Jain and Sahu, 1993
-MaharashtraPresent Natural
-ManipurPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-MeghalayaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-MizoramPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-NagalandPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-OdishaPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-RajasthanPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-SikkimPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Tamil NaduPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-TripuraPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
-West BengalPresentNative Invasive Natural Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990
IranPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
IraqPresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
IsraelPresentNative Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2003
MyanmarPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
NepalPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
OmanPresent Natural
PakistanPresentNative Invasive Natural Shinwari et al., 1988
QatarPresentNative Invasive Shaltout and Mady, 1993; El-Demerdash et al., 1994
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
Sri LankaPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
SyriaPresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
TaiwanPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
ThailandPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
United Arab EmiratesPresent Natural
VietnamPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
YemenPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative Invasive Natural Tennent, 1994
AngolaPresent Natural
Burkina FasoPresentNative Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
CameroonPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
Cape VerdePresent Natural
Central African RepublicPresent Natural
ChadPresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
CongoPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
Congo Democratic RepublicPresent Natural
Côte d'IvoirePresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
DjiboutiPresent Natural
EgyptPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
EritreaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
EthiopiaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
GambiaPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
GhanaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
GuineaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
Guinea-BissauPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
KenyaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
LiberiaPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
LibyaPresentNative Invasive Natural Leonard and Boulos, 1997
MadagascarPresent Natural
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MaliPresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
MauritaniaPresent Natural
MoroccoPresentNative Invasive Natural PIER, 2002
MozambiquePresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
NigerPresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
NigeriaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
SenegalPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
Sierra LeonePresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
SomaliaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
SudanPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
TanzaniaPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
TogoPresentNative Invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2003
TunisiaPresent Natural
UgandaPresent Invasive USDA-ARS, 2003; Witt and Luke, 2017There is some uncertainty as to whether this species is native or introduced
Western SaharaPresent Natural
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresentNative Invasive Natural World Agroforestry Centre, 2003

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
USAPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2002
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Planted Austin, 1998According to the USDA Plant Database, Calotropis procera is not listed for Florida
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Planted Wagner et al., 1999; PIER, 2002

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
ArubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2002
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Jost van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
Costa RicaPresent Planted
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
HaitiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
HondurasPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
MartiniquePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
MontserratPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
NicaraguaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
PanamaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
BoliviaPresentIntroducedKiew, 2001
BrazilPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Brandao, 1995
-AmapaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-BahiaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-CearaPresentIntroduced Planted Forzza et al., 2012
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Brandao, 1995; Forzza et al., 2012
-Fernando de NoronhaPresent Planted
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Brandao, 1995; Forzza et al., 2012
-ParaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-ParanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Brandao, 1995
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-PiauiPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Brandao, 1995; Forzza et al., 2012
-SergipePresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-TocantinsPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
ColombiaPresent Planted
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
French GuianaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
GuyanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
PeruPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
UruguayPresentIntroduced Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted World Agroforestry Centre, 2003

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Forster, 1992
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Planted PIER, 2002
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992Weed
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992Weed
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992Weed
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Welsh, 1998
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Fosberg et al., 1979
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Fosberg et al., 1979
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Fosberg et al., 1979
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Space et al., 2003
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Space et al., 2003
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. procera was probably introduced into Australia as a garden plant or in the packing of camel saddles brought from India in the early 1900s (Crothers and Newbound, 1998). It became established in the Katherine area and spread along the Roper river in the 1950s. It is now a widespread weed in the Northern Territory. It has also become naturalized in the semi-arid north of Queensland (Land Protection, 2001).

In the West Indies, this species was reported as early as 1864 by A.H.R. Grisebach as “naturalized and common” in Jamaica and Antigua (Grisebach, 1864). In 1879, H.F.A. Eggers reported it as “naturalized in dry localities” on the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John; Eggers, 1879). In 1881, this species was reported by Bello Espinosa as naturalized in southern Puerto Rico (Bello Espinosa, 1881). In 1898, C. procera is described as a “culta et quasi spontanea” by I. Urban for the islands of Cuba, Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique (Urban, 1898). Between 1910 and 1914, the species is listed as naturalized and very common for the islands of Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba, St. Eustatius, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, Tobago, Aruba, and Curaçao (Urban, 1910; Boldingh, 1914).  

Risk of Introduction

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In Australia, C. procera is a class B and C noxious weed, hence it is controlled within the area where it is declared noxious and further introduction prevented.

As the species is considered as a medicinal plant there is a possibility of deliberate introduction in different parts of the world. It can be introduced through travellers and baggage. In India, it is considered to be ornamental.

Establishing the weed has been advocated for environmental protection and as a nurse crop for more valuable species (Campolucci and Paolini, 1990).

Habitat

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C. procera favours open habitat with little competition (Francis, 2002), such as overgrazed pastures and rangelands. It is also found in coastal dunes, roadsides, watercourses and disturbed urban areas. It is often dominant in areas of abandoned cultivation, especially on sandy soils in areas of low rainfall. It can be used as an indicator of over-cultivation.

While normally found in dry habitat (150-1000 mm rainfall), it is also present in excessively drained soils in areas of higher precipitation. It is deep-rooted, and so rarely grows in shallow soils over unfractured rock. Soils of all textures and derived from most parent materials are tolerated. In India it is found at up to 1000 m altitude (Parrotta, 2001).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Deserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details
Coastal dunes Present, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

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C. procera is a serious weed in pastures, overgrazed rangelands and poorly managed hay fields.

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number is x=11 (2n=22). Progeny are genetically divergent and different from the parents. They are highly cross pollinated through insects such as monarch butterflies.

Physiology and Phenology

Seeds in a Puerto Rican collection germinated to 89% at 7-64 days after sowing (Francis, 2002). C. procera usually reaches up to 2 metres high (even more in favourable conditions), with stem diameter up to 25 cm (Little et al., 1974). Growth is about 1 m in the first year after sprouting in Puerto Rico (Francis, 2002) and the plant lives about 12 years. Competition with tall weeds, brush and especially grass weakens existing plants and being overtopped and shaded by trees soon eliminates them. The life-history of C. procera has been described by Ismail (1992).

Reproductive Biology

Carpenter bees Xylocopa pubescens and Xylocopa fenestrata visit this weed (Bhatnagar and Mishra, 1987) and have been reported as the main pollinators of C. procera subsp. hamiltonii (Ali and Ali, 1989), with workers of Apis florea minor pollinators. The pollen/ovule ratio is low (6.14) (Ali and Ali, 1989).

Flowering and fruiting take place throughout the year (Little et al., 1974). Hundreds to thousands of seeds may be produced per plant every year. The average seed weight is approximately 0.01 g/per seed or 100,000 seeds/kg. (Francis, 2002). The seeds achieved 89% germination within 7-64 days after sowing in a potting mix.

Environmental Requirements

C. procera is a plant of arid and semi-arid climates, and can tolerate very low annual rainfall (150 mm) and a dry season of up to 10 months. Mean annual monthly temperatures where C. procera is found are generally in the range 20-30°C. It is not frost tolerant. It will grow on a wide variety of soil types and will survive on alkaline and saline soils though prefers free-draining sandy soils. It is found at a range of altitudes from exposed coastal sites to medium elevations up to 1300 m.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
32 -22 200 1300

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 0 5
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 20 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 15 21

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration810number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall1501000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light

Special soil tolerances

  • saline
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Dacus longistylus Herbivore

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In Australia, no natural enemy of this weed is present. Colletotrichum dematium, Danaus chrysippus and Aphis nerii have been reported attacking C. procera (Little et al., 1974; Tahir and Jamaluddin, 1993; Kapoor and Gautam, 1994; Shukla and Bhatnagar, 1995; Samraoui, 1996; Barreto et al., 1999). Dacus longistylus has been reported to assist in the natural control of C. procera in Sudan (Venkatraman and El-Khidir, 1967).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Seeds are dispersed by wind and by animals. The seeds are partially or fully covered with hairs, which help in wind dispersal. Seeds may be moved several hundred yards in gentle breezes (Francis, 2002). The plant can spread rapidly from the base of plants, and can regrow from the root system in favourable conditions even if the aboveground plant has disappeared (Land Protection, 2001). Seeds float on water and the species therefore spreads via irrigation and drainage channels (Brandao, 1995).

Pathway Vectors

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Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Leaves
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Impact Summary

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

Economic Impact

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C. procera is a serious weed in pastures, overgrazed rangelands and poorly managed hay fields. It successfully competes with desirable pasture species and is capable of forming dense thickets that interfere with stock management, particularly mustering activities. It is reported to contain a bitter principle called calotropin which is a cardiac poison. In western Africa, the plant has been suspected of causing ill-effects and sometimes death in sheep and goats (El-Badwi et al., 1998). In Northern Territory, Australia, no such ill-effects have been detected (Crothers and Newbound, 1998). It is considered a toxic plant in South Florida, USA (Austin, 1998). This species is very difficult to control and eradicate mainly because seeds are wind-dispersed and plants are fire resistant.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Materials

  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Pesticide
  • Poisonous to mammals
  • Rubber/latex

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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Charcoal

Wood gas (and other hydrocarbons

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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C. procera is most often confused with C. gigantea. C. gigantea grows taller (4.5 m and above) and has smaller leaves borne on thicker leaf-bearing stems up to 6 cm in diameter compared with 1 cm in diameter on C. procera (Crothers and Newbound, 1998). C. gigantea flowers are more open and have petals with a uniform mauve-pink colour.

Prevention and Control

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Once established, C. procera is difficult to eradicate as the deep roots survive almost any treatment. It is susceptible to regular cultivation and to some herbicides. The maintenance of a dense pasture sward will assist in preventing invasion (Crothers and Newbound, 1998). In India, mechanical weeding is a popular method of control.

Brandao (1995) in Brazil reported that chemical control of the weed is unknown, and that manual control presents problems because of the high costs incurred and because the weed can re-establish itself with vigour after cutting. Control of C. procera in Queensland is discussed by March (1995) and Biosecurity Queensland (2013). Several herbicides are effective as foliar spray, cut stump or basal bark methods of control (Biosecurity Queensland, 2013).

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18/07/13 Updated by:

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

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

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