Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Delonix regia
(flamboyant)

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Datasheet

Delonix regia (flamboyant)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 29 April 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Delonix regia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • flamboyant
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • D. regia, the flamboyant or flame tree, is a very popular and most beautiful ornamental tree that has been very widely introduced to tropical countries around the world. Recently, however, it has been observed to...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
A large tree in a garden of Zhangzhou, Fujian, China.
TitleMature tree
CaptionA large tree in a garden of Zhangzhou, Fujian, China.
Copyright©Li Jiyuan
A large tree in a garden of Zhangzhou, Fujian, China.
Mature treeA large tree in a garden of Zhangzhou, Fujian, China.©Li Jiyuan
TitleFlowering trees
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Flowering trees©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleYoung tree
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Young tree©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleNursery seedlings
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Nursery seedlings©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleFoliage
Caption
Copyright©Li Jiyuan
Foliage©Li Jiyuan
TitleFlowers
Caption
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Flowers©A.R. Pittaway

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Delonix regia (Bojer ex Hook.) Raf.

Preferred Common Name

  • flamboyant

Variety

  • Delonix regia var. flavida Stehle
  • Delonix regia var. regia

Other Scientific Names

  • Poinciana regia Bojer ex Hook.

International Common Names

  • English: fire tree; flambouyant; flame of the forests; flame tree; gold mohar; peacock flower; poinciana; read tree; royal gulmohur; royal peacock; royal poinciana
  • Spanish: arbol del fuego; clavelino; flamboyant colorado; flor de fuego; flor de pavo; guacamaya; guacamayo; josefina; malinche; morazan (Spain); tabuchín (America)
  • French: flamboyant

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: krishna chura; radha chura
  • Brazil: uaruna
  • Colombia: clavellino
  • Cook Islands: marumaru; patai; pu pi; puka kai; rakau tamarumaru
  • Cuba: flamboyán; framboyán; framboyán rojo
  • Fiji: sekoula
  • French Polynesia: pakai; puke; ra‘ar marumaru
  • Germany: Feuerbaum; Flammenbaum
  • India: alasippu; doddartnagrandhi; erraturyl; gulimohur; gulmohur; gultora; kattikayi; mayarum; mayirkonri; panjadi; peddaturyl; shima sunkesula
  • Kiribati: te kai te tua; te tau; te tua
  • Mexico: tabachín
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: fáyárbaw; meei flower; nfayarbaw; pilampwoia weitahta; sakuranirow
  • Nauru: bin
  • Niue: pine
  • Pakistan: gulmohur
  • Palau: nangiosákura; nangyo
  • Samoa: elefane; tamaligi
  • Sri Lanka: mayirkonri; panjadi
  • Tonga: ‘ohai; patai
  • Tuvalu: fuatausaga
  • USA/Hawaii: 'ohai 'ula
  • Venezuela: acacia roja

EPPO code

  • DEXRE (Delonix regia)

Trade name

  • gold
  • gold mohar

Summary of Invasiveness

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D. regia, the flamboyant or flame tree, is a very popular and most beautiful ornamental tree that has been very widely introduced to tropical countries around the world. Recently, however, it has been observed to be naturalizing in many countries, and has become invasive in Australia, and on Christmas Island and a number of Pacific islands. It has a tendency to form monocultures and prevent the regeneration of native species. It is possible that this species will exhibit invasive potential in other countries.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Delonix belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae), subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It includes 12 species, 9 of which are native to Madagascar (Puy et al., 1995), the others native to East Africa, Arabia and parts of India (Menninger, 1962). Three varieties are recognized, the type var. regia, var. flavida Stehle and var. genuina Stehle (ILDIS, 2008). However, there appears to be disagreement as to the naming authority, with (Bojer ex Hook.) Raf. maintained in this datasheet (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009), but also used are (Bojer) Raf. (USDA-ARS, 2009), and (Hook.) Raf. (ILDIS, 2008).

Description

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D. regia is a tall tree reaching a height of more than 15 m and a girth of 2 m under favourable conditions. The bole is short. The trunk is buttressed and the stem form above the buttress is generally normal in taper (Webb et al., 1984). The trees are almost evergreen, with broad-spreading, open, umbrella-shaped crowns (Randhawa, 1965). It is deciduous in localities which experience long pronounced dry seasons (Streets, 1962; Yusuf and Sheikh, 1986). The bark is grey or brown, smooth or slightly rough, and exfoliating (Gamble, 1902; Sheikh, 1993).The compound leaves of D. regia are bipinnate and feathery, up to 60 cm long, pinnae 11-18 pairs, petiole stout. The leaflets are in 20-30 pairs on each pinna, oblong, 7.5-10 mm long, 3.4-5 mm wide (Gamble, 1902; Randhawa, 1965). At the base of the leaf, two stipules occur which have long, narrow comb-like teeth (Luna, 1996). The inflorescence of D. regia is a lax terminal or axillary raceme. The flowers appear in corymbs along or at the end of branches and are large, 10 cm across and bright red. They vary considerably in intensity of colouring, ranging from orange-vermillion to deep scarlet. Most of the common names for D. regia are derived from the colour of its flowers. The pods are 5 cm broad and 30-60 cm long, ending in a beak when mature (Luna, 1996). They are green and flaccid when young and are compressed, firm and rather thick when mature. Seeds are large, yellowish, oblong, arranged at right angles to the length of pod and transversely mottled (Parker, 1956; Hutchinson, 1964; Ali, 1973). The seeds have a hard, bony testa.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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D. regia is native to Madagascar but has been very widely planted in the tropics, though it is now very rare in its native range (Mabberley, 1997). In Madagascar, its latitudinal range is 12-25°S (Webb et al., 1984).

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

BangladeshPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
BhutanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
CambodiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
ChinaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-FujianPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-Hong KongPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-YunnanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
IndiaPresent Planted Mehrotra et al., 1988; ILDIS, 2009
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-AssamUnconfirmed recordMehrotra et al., 1988
-Indian PunjabUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
IndonesiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
-JavaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
IranPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
IsraelUnconfirmed record Planted Argaman, 1987
JapanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
LaosPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
MaldivesPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
MyanmarPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
NepalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
OmanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
PakistanPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
SingaporePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
TaiwanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
ThailandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
VietnamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009

Africa

AldabraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009Amirantes group, Coetivy Is., Aldabra
AngolaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
BotswanaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
BurundiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
CameroonPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
ChadPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
ComorosPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
DjiboutiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
EgyptPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
GabonPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
GhanaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
GuineaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
KenyaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
LibyaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
MadagascarPresentNative Natural ILDIS, 2009
MalawiPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Invasive CABI, 2005; Witt and Luke, 2017
MaliPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
MayottePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
MozambiquePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
NigerPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
NigeriaUnconfirmed record Planted Gbadegesin, 1993
RéunionPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
RwandaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
SeychellesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Sierra LeonePresent Planted CABI, 2005
SomaliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
South AfricaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
TogoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
UgandaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
ZambiaPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2009; Witt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009

North America

BermudaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
MexicoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
USALocalisedIntroducedILDIS, 2009
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
-TexasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
BahamasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola and Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
HaitiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
HondurasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedSaba, St. Martin, St. Eustatius, St. Barthelemy
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
PanamaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedGraveson, 2012Naturalized
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
BoliviaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
BrazilPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009
ColombiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009Also Galapagos
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2009
French GuianaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
GuyanaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
ParaguayPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009
SurinamePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009

Europe

PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
AustraliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2009
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Planted ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
GuamPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
NauruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2009
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
PalauPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009; PIER, 2012
SamoaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2009
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009
TongaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2009; PIER, 2009

History of Introduction and Spread

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D. regia is widely planted in warm, moist sites in the tropics as an ornamental or avenue tree along roads, in homesteads, in parks and in gardens. It has been planted in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent for more than 100 years and has also been introduced to many other countries in the Old and New World. The introductions to these countries have been largely successful, and it has become naturalized in those localities which do not experience frost during winter (Menninger, 1962; Streets, 1962; Webb et al., 1984).

Risk of Introduction

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It is likely that D. regia already exists in every tropical country of the world, and thus, being cosmopolitan, it cannot be introduced any further. Also, it registered the lowest score possible, of 1, in a weed risk assessment for the Pacific, indicating a very low risk.

Habitat

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It is naturally found in wet tropical forests in Madagascar from sea level up to 2000 m. Where introduced and invasive, it is found in arid lowlands and moist uplands in the Galápagos Islands, low elevation and dry to mesic disturbed sites in Hawaii, infrequently naturalized from near sea level to about 500 m in Fiji, almost monospecific stands around parent trees within disturbed marginal rainforest and along roadsides, although slow to spread on Christmas Island, and has invaded coastal monsoon vine thickets that have been damaged by cyclones in the Northern Territory, Australia (PIER, 2009).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
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)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics
 
D. regia trees raised from seed exhibit variable flower colour and trees raised from seed do not breed true to type as far as flower colour is concerned. A golden-yellow flowered form has been described as var. flavida (Kunkel, 1978). Chromosome number in D. regia is 2n=28 (Jarolímová, 1994).
 
Reproductive Biology
 
D. regia regenerates by seed, and the seed is able to germinate at a wide range of soil pH values (4.9-10.6), but take a long time to germinate and may lie dormant in the soil for 2-3 years or more.
 
Physiology and Phenology
 
D. regia is a light-demanding species and under shady conditions it grows slowly. It is almost evergreen and is only briefly deciduous during the dry season. It has an extensive superficial root system, which renders it vulnerable to windthrow during storms (Menninger, 1962). It grows quickly, reaching a height of up to 8 m in three years. It tolerates severe pruning (Streets, 1962) and salt winds (Menninger, 1962).
 
D. regia remains leafless in India from March to May; the new leaves appear at the end of the hot season in May or June (Luna, 1996). In moist localities, the trees begin to develop young foliage before the flowering season and then do not flower prolifically. The flowers generally appear in April and May when the tree is completely leafless and cover the crown completely. The trees start flowering at 4-5 years old. The flowers are usually less prolific on the shady sides of the trees. The fruit ripens in the rainy season and remains on the tree for a long time, often until the end of the next season. In regions with heavy rainfall, the change of season may not be enough to induce flowering. As a result, each tree appears to follow its own rhythm of shedding leaves and flowering, periodically throughout the year (Troup, 1921; Luna, 1996).
 
Environmental Requirements
 
D. regia is a tropical species. The mean annual rainfall in its range of occurrence (from Asia to Africa and Latin America) is 700-1800 mm, most of which is received in the summer. The dry season may extend over a period of up to 6 months. The mean maximum temperature of the hottest month varies from 22 to 35°C, mean minimum temperature of the coldest month from 6 to 18°C and mean annual temperature from 14 to 26°C (Webb et al., 1984).
 
Young plants of D. regia are fire-tender. It does not withstand frost or winter cold at any stage of seedling, sapling or tree growth.

D. regia has been planted up to an altitude of about 2000 m on alluvium, shale and limestone soils and on a wide range of other soil types. However, optimum growth is obtained on light, well-drained soils. It tolerates slight salinity (Troup, 1921; Webb et al., 1984).

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])
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
-12 -25 0 2000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) >6
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 26
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 22 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 12 18

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration16number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7001800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Notes on Natural Enemies

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D. regia plants are susceptible to attack from termites and shoot borers (Webb et al., 1984; Salman et al., 1987). Pteroma plagiophleps is a serious pest of avenue plantings of this species. A severe outbreak of the bostrichid Sinoxylon anale was observed on D. regia in Israel in 1984 (Argaman, 1987). Similarly, larvae of the noctuid Pericyma cruegeri have been observed causing severe defoliation of trees in Nagaland, India (Reddy et al., 1985). Acanthopsyche reimeri is a bagworm of tropical Africa, with polyphagous larvae feeding on the leaves of various dicotyledonous trees, principally open-grown trees and ornamentals. It has caused severe defoliation of D. regia in Kenya (Gardner, 1957). Anoplocnemis curvipes is a bowlegged bug and is widely distributed in tropical Africa, with both the adults and nymphs being polyphagous, feeding on the sap of many agricultural and garden plants (Sweeney, 1961). In Malawi it has been recorded on D. regia, and is a pest of some importance as heavily infested shoots become disfigured and increment is considerably reduced; it has even been known to kill 1-year-old plants. Leptostylus praemorsus has been recorded in Antigua, Bermuda, Dominica and St. Lucia. A longhorn beetle, known principally as a pest of citrus, it also infests other trees, both dicotyledons and conifers, including D. regia (Parker, 1945; Duffy, 1960). Orthezia insignis is also very widely distributed in the tropics, subtropics and warmer parts of temperate zones. In Malawi, it is frequently injurious to D. regia and other trees, principally ornamentals, and often kills seedlings or even fully-grown trees if heavily infested. Oxyrhachis latipes is a tree-hopper, which feeds on the sap of D. regia in Malawi, though records of infestation are few and it is apparently unimportant. Injury from Schedorhinotermes lamanianus has been recorded on D. regia by Gardner (1957). The beetle and larvae of Poecilips sierraleonensis can bore into the pods of D. regia and damage the seed (Luna, 1996). During January 2001, a large scale outbreak of the giant looper, Boarmia selenaria [Ascotis selenaria], was observed on several trees of D. regia and Prosopis juliflora in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, causing severe defoliation (Rabindra et al., 2003).
 
Ganoderma tropicum was isolated from a D. regia tree in India, being parasitic to the tree and quite aggressive, killing the tree within 1-5 years (Aryantha et al., 2001), and an unidentified Ganoderma sp. has been observed attacking seedlings of D. regia in Australia (Hood et al., 1996). Root rot is caused by Fusarium oxysporum in the northern Guinea region of Nigeria (Gbadegesin, 1993), with root and butt-rot disease characterized by affected parts slowly enlarging and development of a thick, dark brown mycelial sheath around the bases of infected trees. Wilting and discoloration of the leaves and development of brown mycelial mats on roots and basal stems, followed by death of D. regia plants, has been reported by Chang (1992). A fungus, Pleiochaeta setosa, has been noticed on D. regia in India. This attacks the cotyledons of germinating seedlings and the leaves of young seedlings, causing shrivelling, leaf death and leaf shedding, but not mortality. The well known root rot fungus Armillaria mellea has a worldwide distribution and extensive host range, including D. regia (Spaulding, 1961). Thick, white mycelia form a felty sheet between bark layers and also between the dead bark and underlying wood. Sphaerostilbe repens, known as stinking root disease, affects D. regia. Infection is by waterborne spores through root contact, it produces dark brown or reddish rhizomorphs beneath the root bark, the inner surface of the root is bleached and a strong odour is produced due to the combined activity of fungus and bacteria (Browne, 1968).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
 
Pods can be spread by floodwaters (PIER, 2009).
 
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
 
Mice and small rodents in a forest in Mexico were important agents for removing the fruits and seeds of plants including D. regia. Mice appear to selectively remove and hoard fruits and seeds according to their energy and nutritional content and the presence of secondary metabolites, and from high-density food patches and preferred habitats (Briones-Salas et al., 2006).
 
Intentional Introduction
 
The exceptionally showy red and golden-yellow flowers make this an immediately popular ornamental tree species, one of many from Madagascar, and as such it was very widely introduced.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes PIER, 2009

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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D. regia is a beautiful tree when in flower and is generally grown as an ornamental in parks and gardens, as an avenue or roadsides tree, and also in residential and school compounds for shade and shelter (Webb et al., 1984). It can also be planted as a multipurpose tree on eroded sites for erosion control, and for soil rehabilitation and improvement through atmospheric nitrogen fixation. In alley cropping studies in the uplands of Sierra Leone, D. regia trees were very effective in conserving soil moisture and reducing soil temperature (Karim, 1987). D. regia is also planted in tea plantations to provide shade.
 
D. regia wood is whitish-grey, straight- and loose-grained, light to medium density (440 kg/cubic metre), weak, soft and durable, but it polishes well and is used for making small implements, such as cutlery and toys (Gamble, 1902; Streets, 1962; Watt, 1972; Sheikh, 1993). Branches and stemwood can be used as fuelwood.
 
D. regia bark produces large amounts of a granular, yellowish- or reddish-brown gum, soluble in water forming a thick opalescent mucilage and containing a large quantity of calcium oxalate (Watt, 1972; Luna, 1996). The seeds can be made into necklaces; and they contain a gum which can be used in the textile and food industries. Immature pods are edible and have good potential as a dietary protein source for humans and livestock (Webb et al., 1984; Grant et al., 1995). The leaves (with 39.5% protein) provide nutritious fodder and browse for livestock. In the Virgin Islands, the annual dry matter yield of forage from D. regia has been estimated as 13.45 t/ha and protein as 1.45 t/ha (Oakes and Skov, 1962). The aqueous extracts of D. regia contain allelopathic compounds, including phenolic acids, alkaloids and flavonoids; these can be used as natural herbicides and pesticides to increase the productivity of agricultural crops (Chou et al., 1995). An extract of D. regia leaves has been found to disrupt insect growth and development (Saxena and Yadav, 1986).

Environmental Impact

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D. regia is also an aggressive colonizer, occupying blank areas to the exclusion of other species, and it can form dense canopies that can exclude native species. Seedlings germinate thickly under parent trees and rapidly form monospecific stands which compete strongly with other plants, possibly assisted by allelopathic exudations (PIER, 2009). Due to its spreading root system, other plants are killed through competition, thus rendering the surrounding ground bare. There are also impacts on soil fertility, with a 13% increase in soil N was observed with the application of D. regia prunings to a calcareous soil after five years, also higher organic C and higher mineralization and turnover rates as compared to the control (Isaac et al., 2003).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value
 
Leaves and flowers of D. regia showed strong phytotoxicity against Mikania micrantha, with mulching 1-2 g of leaf or flower powder on soil surface caused 75-90% mortality of M. micrantha seedlings within 3 weeks. Spreading a 4% aqueous extract of leaves of D. regia on leaves of M. micrantha seedlings also resulted in high mortality, revealing a potential control measure of using allelochemicals in leaves and flowers of D. regia as an herbicide to control this invasive climber (Kuo et al., 2002). Allelopathic potential of leguminous plant species towards Parthenium hysterophorus was tested by using aqueous foliar leachates, and was strongest with leachates from D. regia (Dhawan et al., 2000, 2001).
 
D. regia wood ash induced up to 78%, 81% and 89% reduction in the mycelial growth of Helminthosporium sativum, Curvularia lunata and Fusarium graminearum, respectively (Enikuomehin and Kehinde, 2007). Effects were also found against insects (such as coleopteran storage pests), nematodes, etc.
 
Social Benefit
 
As one of the most beautiful ornamental trees in the tropics it has a very high aesthetic value.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Landscape improvement
  • Ornamental
  • Revegetation
  • Soil improvement

Fuels

  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits
  • Gum/mucilage

Materials

  • Beads
  • Carved material
  • Gum/resin
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Pesticide
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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Woodware

  • Cutlery
  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Musical instruments
  • Tool handles
  • Toys

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The large and characteristic pods, 30-60 cm (1-2 ft) long, that are retained on the tree for long periods, make this species unmistakable for most of the year.

Prevention and Control

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Larger trees can be cut and the stumps treated with glyphosate to prevent resprouting. Systemic herbicides such as glyphosate can be used, either as a foliar or basal spray on smaller plants in full leaf, or on saplings and trees either as cut stump treatments, stem injections or basal bark treatments (PIER, 2009).

References

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Mabberley DJ, 1997. The plant-book: a portable dictionary of the vascular plants. Ed. 2: xvi + 858 pp. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
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.

Contributors

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10/07/13 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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