Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Abelmoschus moschatus
(musk mallow)

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Datasheet

Abelmoschus moschatus (musk mallow)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 24 July 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Abelmoschus moschatus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • musk mallow
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Abelmoschus moschatus is an aromatic and medicinal plant that has been widely introduced across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world. This species is regarded as a weed outside its natural h...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Abelmoschus moschatus (muskmallow); flowering habit. Puerto Misahuallí, Napo, Ecuador. August 2016.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionAbelmoschus moschatus (muskmallow); flowering habit. Puerto Misahuallí, Napo, Ecuador. August 2016.
Copyright©Alexey Yakovlev/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Abelmoschus moschatus (muskmallow); flowering habit. Puerto Misahuallí, Napo, Ecuador. August 2016.
Flowering habitAbelmoschus moschatus (muskmallow); flowering habit. Puerto Misahuallí, Napo, Ecuador. August 2016.©Alexey Yakovlev/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.

Preferred Common Name

  • musk mallow

Other Scientific Names

  • Abelmoschus betulifolia Wall.
  • Abelmoschus chinensis Wall.
  • Abelmoschus ciliaris Walp.
  • Abelmoschus cryptocarpus Walp.
  • Abelmoschus cubensis Walp.
  • Abelmoschus cucurbitaceus Walp.
  • Abelmoschus haenkeanus C.Presl
  • Abelmoschus marianus C.Presl
  • Abelmoschus palustris Walp.
  • Abelmoschus pseudoabelmoschus (Blume) Walp.
  • Abelmoschus roseus Walp.
  • Abelmoschus sublobatus C.Presl
  • Hibiscus abelmoschus L.
  • Hibiscus collinsianus Nutt. ex Torr. & A. Gray
  • Hibiscus moschatus (Medik.) Salisb.

International Common Names

  • English: annual hibiscus; musk okra; musky-seeded hibiscus; native rosella; ornamental okra; tropical jewel hibiscus
  • Spanish: abelmosco; algalia; almisclillo; almisquillo; almizcle; ambarcillo
  • French: ambrette; gombo musqué; graine de musc; guimauve veloutée; ketmie des marais; ketmie musquée
  • Chinese: huang kui

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: ambarina
  • Dominican Republic: albalia; albangalia; algalia; medic
  • Germany: Bisamstrauch; Eibisch, Bisam-; Eibisch, Moschus-
  • Haiti: gombo marron; gumbo
  • India: jangli bhindi; kaattu kasturi; kalkasturi; kasturi-dana; latakasturi; mushakdan; mushkdana
  • Indonesia: gandapura; kakapasan; kasturi
  • Italy: ambretta
  • Lesser Antilles: gombo maudi; gombo modi
  • Malaysia: kapas hantu; kapas hutan
  • Myanmar: balu-wah; kon-kado; taw-wah
  • Netherlands: abelmos; amberbloem; muskuszaad
  • Philippines: dalupang; kastiokastiokan; kastuli
  • Puerto Rico: almizcle vegetal; caballo asi; malva almizclera
  • Thailand: chamot-ton; mahakadaeng; som-chaba
  • Vietnam: búp vàng; cây bông vàng

EPPO code

  • ABMMO (Abelmoschus moschatus)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Abelmoschus moschatus is an aromatic and medicinal plant that has been widely introduced across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world. This species is regarded as a weed outside its natural habitats. It has repeatedly escaped from cultivation to become naturalized, primarily in cultivated, ruderal and semi-natural areas. Once established, it often behaves as a weed, outcompeting and displacing native plant species. A. moschatus is spread by seeds, small tubers and stem fragments and is also adapted to grow in a wide range of climates and soils types. It is native to South East Asia and Northern Australia. It is listed as invasive in many areas across the Asia-Pacific region, where it is threatening the growth and survival of native flora and fauna. It is also listed as “widespread” and “potentially invasive” on many islands in the Caribbean and has been introduced to countries in South America.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Malvaceae is a large family of flowering plants containing 243 genera and approximately 4,225 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees distributed primarily across the tropics, but with some species also occurring in subtropical and temperate regions of the world (Stevens, 2017).

Abelmoschus is a small genus comprising approximately 10-14 species native to South Asia, Australia and the Southwest Pacific (The Plant List, 2018). Several subspecies have been described in India, regions of Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands, but the delimitation of species and other infraspecific taxa is still problematic within this genus. The species Amoschatus, A. manihot, and A. esculentus comprise wild and cultivated forms, while the remaining species are truly wild (Patil et al., 2015).

Abelmoschus moschatus is a very variable species with sub-classifications. At least three subspecies are recognized: A. moschatus ssp. moschatus, ssp. biakensis and ssp. tuberosus (Ravindran, 2017).

Description

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Muskmallow is an annual or biennial erect shrub, 1–2 m tall that has a taproot or tuberous root. The whole plant is hairy and the stem is usually solid, sometimes hollow; the shoot tip and petioles have many sharp bristles, rarely sparsely hairy or glabrous. The leaves are simple, alternate, hairy, very variable in size and shape, 6–22 cm × 8–24 cm; the lower leaves are orbicular to elliptical, with a cordate base and are palmately lobed or parted; higher leaves are usually narrower, hastate or sagitate with oblong– lanceolate lobes. The petiole is 6–30 cm long; stipules are linear–filiform and with simple hairs. Flowers are large, showy, axillary and solitary; the pedicel is 2–19 cm long. The epicalyx segments are 4–10 and may go up to 16, free, persistent, linear– lanceolate or oblong, not enveloping the entire fruit, usually acute and hairy. The calyx is spathaceous, apex five-toothed, splitting on one side during expansion of the corolla, adnate to and falling with the corolla; outside is stellate–tomentose and inside sericeous. Petals are five, obovate, yellow or rarely white to red with a crimson centre. They are scattered with gland-hairs or glabrous, apex rounded, base fleshy and ciliate with simple hairs. The staminal column is much shorter than the petals, glabrous, covered with anthers throughout, usually yellow with a dark purple base. The ovary is superior, ovoid, five-celled and hirsute, with a single style, which branches out and ends in discoid stigmas. The fruit is a dry, dehiscent capsule, many seeded, ovoid or globose, with stiff hairs, black or dark brown when dry. Seeds are reniform, 3–4.5 mm long, mostly glabrous, concentrically ribbed and somewhat warty. They are black–brown and often smell of musk (Ravindran, 2017).

Distribution

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A. moschatus is native to South East Asia and Northern Australia. It has been introduced, and can be found naturalized, across tropical Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Madagascar, Europe, and on many islands in the Pacific region (Orwa et al., 2009; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013; PROSEA, 2016; GRIIS, 2018; PIER, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018). It is cultivated in Java, India, Madagascar and in parts of South America. In India the area under cultivation is increasing and seeds are exported to France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Spain for oil extraction, which is highly valued in perfumery and in aromatherapy (Ravindran, 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

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
CambodiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
ChinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
-GuangdongPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
-GuangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
-GuizhouPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
-Hong KongPresentNativeWu, 2001
-HunanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
-JiangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
-YunnanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2018
IndiaPresentSankaran and Suresh, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2018Has been listed as both native and introduced/invasive
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
-KarnatakaPresentIndia Biodiversity, 2018
-KeralaPresentIndia Biodiversity, 2018
IndonesiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
-JavaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2018
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Sankaran and Suresh, 2013
-Bonin IslandPresentIntroducedKato, 2007
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedGISD, 2018
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
MaldivesPresentIntroducedPIER, 2018
MyanmarPresentKress et al., 2003
PhilippinesPresentSankaran and Suresh, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2018Has been listed as both native and introduced/invasive
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
TaiwanPresentWu et al., 2010; USDA-ARS, 2018Has been listed as both native and introduced/invasive
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2018

Africa

MadagascarPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2018
SeychellesPresentIntroducedGRIIS, 2018

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedFryxell, 1988Naturalized/ cultivated
USAPresentIntroducedPresent based on regional distribution
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018; USDA-NRCS, 2019

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
BelizePresentIntroducedBalick et al., 2000
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007Naturalized, cultivated
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo- Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo- Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupeWidespreadIntroducedFournet, 2002Naturalized. Potentially invasive
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamerica, 2019
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo- Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamerica, 2019Naturalized, cultivated
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo- Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MartiniqueWidespreadIntroducedFournet, 2002Naturalized. Potentially invasive
Netherlands AntillesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
PanamaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamerica, 2019Naturalized, cultivated
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo- Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2019
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedJørgensen et al., 2014Naturalized
ColombiaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
EcuadorPresentIntroducedJørgensen and León-Yánez, 1999
French GuianaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007
PeruPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007
SurinamePresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedFryxell, 2007

Europe

DenmarkPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
FrancePresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
GermanyPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
ItalyPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedGRIIS, 2018
SpainPresentIntroducedArgüelles et al., 2006Naturalized

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
AustraliaPresentNativeANPSA, 2010A. moschatus subsp. moschatus introduced in New South Wales and A. moschatus subsp. moschatus native to New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativeANPSA, 2010; USDA-ARS, 2018A. moschatus subsp. tuberosus
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedANPSA, 2010A. moschatus subsp. moschatus
-QueenslandPresentNativeANPSA, 2010; USDA-ARS, 2018A. moschatus subsp. tuberosus
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeANPSA, 2010; USDA-ARS, 2018A. moschatus subsp. tuberosus
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive GRIIS, 2018
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Smith, 1981
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2000
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive Miles, 2015
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedGRIIS, 2018
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2018
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Sankaran and Suresh, 2013; PIER, 2018
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2018

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. moschatus has been extensively introduced across tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world mostly as an ornamental and medicinal herb. It is also cultivated for the musk-like oil contained in its seeds, which is valued for perfume and for use in the cosmetic industry (PROSEA, 2016; GRIIS, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

In the Caribbean, A. moschatus was first reported as "naturalized” in Jamaica in 1864 (Grisebach, 1864). On the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, this species has been listed as naturalized and cultivated since 1897 (Duss, 1972; Grenand et al., 2012).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of A. moschatus being introduced into new regions is very high. Worldwide, this species has been intentionally introduced as an ornamental plant, a medicinal herb and for the extraction of ambrette oil from its seeds. It has repeatedly escaped from cultivation and has the potential to become naturalized in many different habitats. Currently, the international demand of essential oils, including ambrette oil, is increasing due to the growing market for natural and organic products and advances in the use of essential oils in medical therapies (OECD-FAO, 2017). It is therefore likely that further introductions, and the expansion of areas of cultivation, will occur. For example, in India, where A. moschatus has been cultivated for centuries on a small scale as a medicinal herb, the increasing demand of ambrette oil has led to farmers expanding the cultivated area of this important medicinal crop (Oudhia, 2015; Lokesh and Prajapati, 2017).

Habitat

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A. moschatus prefers open forests in moist and wet habitats and seasonal rainforests, behaving as a weed in open and disturbed areas. It is common in agricultural areas, paddy fields, open and disturbed sites, roadsides, open forests, and urban areas and gardens, but also in monsoon forest, woodlands, grasslands, scrublands on slopes, valleys, riversides, swamps and wetlands. It often grows on rocky hillsides and occasionally on flat lands at elevations from sea level to around 1650 m (Smith, 1981; FAO, 2007; ANPSA, 2010; Florabank, 2018; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013, PROSEA, 2016; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; PIER, 2018).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of A. moschatus is 2n=72 (Cheng and Tsai, 1999; PROSEA, 2016). The main centre of diversity for Abelmoschus is India where A. esculentus, A. manihot, A. moschatus and several other related wild species occur (Patil et al., 2015; PROSEA, 2016). 

Reproductive biology

A. moschatus is an autogamous species with bisexual flowers. Flowering is prolific with flowers opening in the morning and lasting for only one day. Flowers are scented and are visited and pollinated by insects (Orwa et al., 2009; ANPSA, 2010; PROSEA, 2016).

Physiology and phenology

Under favourable conditions, germination starts 4-15 days after sowing and is complete after 15-30 days. The optimum temperature for germination is approximately 30°C. The germination rate of commercial seeds is approximately 85% (PROSEA, 2016; PROTA, 2018). In India, plants start producing flower buds 25-39 days after germination. Flower buds take 22-25 days to reach full bloom and flowering continues for 45-80 days. Anthesis occurs in the morning and the stigma is receptive on the day of anthesis. The fruit takes approximately 25 days from setting to maturity (PROSEA, 2016).

In Australia, A. moschatus flowers between October and April. It seems that the length and timing of the wet season is important in regulating the flowering activity of this species within Australian forests (ANPSA, 2010; Florabank, 2018). In China, it has been recorded flowering from June to October (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). Across tropical Asia, it flowers from July to September and the seeds ripen from August to October. In India it has been recorded flowering and fruiting from August to December (Orwa et al., 2009; India Biodiversity, 2018).

Longevity

A. moschatus is an annual to perennial herb. Life span is approximately 15 years or less. It dies back to an underground tuber in the dry season, usually resprouting when the rains return during the wet season (ANPSA, 2010; Florabank, 2018).

Associations

A. moschatus is the host of Dysdercus cingulatus (Heteroptera: Pyrrhocoridae), an important pest of cotton plantations (Kohno and Ngan, 2004; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013).

Environmental requirements

A. moschatus is a plant species of the tropical and subtropical regions, but can also grow in temperate sites. It prefers a mean temperature in the range of 20-30°C, but can tolerate temperatures ranging from 7-35°C. It cannot withstand temperatures of greater than 45°C or frost conditions. It is well adapted to areas with a mean annual rainfall in the range of 1000-1400 mm (but tolerates 700-2750 mm). It thrives in well-drained loamy and sandy soils with a pH ranging from 5.5-7.8, but can also grow on heavy clays. It cannot grow in heavily shaded areas but it is moderately drought tolerant and can regenerate foliage after damage by fire (FAO, 2007; Orwa et al., 2009; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013; PROSEA, 2016; Florabank, 2018).

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])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
55 30 0 1650

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 35
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 27 45
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 7 18

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration7002750number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall9001500mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alternaria alternata Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
Anomis flava Herbivore Other/All Stages not specific
Colletotrichum hibisci Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
Fusarium chlamydosporum Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific Khare et al., 2015
Hibiscus yellow vein mosaic disease Pathogen Other/All Stages not specific
Pectinophora gossypiella Herbivore Seeds not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A. moschatus is affected by several diseases, the most important of which are Hibiscus mosaic virus (HMV) [Hibiscus yellow vein mosaic virus], anthracnose and Hibiscus leaf spot. Anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum hibisci, affects all plant parts and may start in the seedling stage. Alternaria leaf spot and Phytophthora leaf blight can also cause damage, especially under humid conditions. In India, Earias insulana (spotted bollworm) attacks the crop during vegetative growth and the fruiting stage. Pectinophora gossypiella (pink bollworm) causes some damage to pods and seeds, and the caterpillars of Anomis flava feed on A. moschatus during the rainy season (PROSEA, 2016). Stem canker caused by Fusarium chlamydosporum was identified in A. moschatus during the rainy season in India (Khare et al., 2015). Many infected seedling girdled at the site of infection which led to their subsequent death; the fungus was found to be highly pathogenic to members of the Malvaceae family (Khare et al., 2015).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. moschatus spreads by seeds and vegetatively by small tubers and stem fragments or cuttings (ANPSA, 2010; Florabank, 2018). Fruits are capsules containing numerous small seeds (less than 4 mm) that are easily dispersed when dried and split open. Seeds can also be dispersed by waterways, animals and by humans (India Biodiversity, 2018; PROSEA, 2016).

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Impact

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A. moschatus is regarded as weedy outside its natural habitats. It has repeatedly escaped from cultivation and has the potential to become naturalized and to colonize different habitats in cultivated, ruderal and semi-natural areas (ANPSA, 2010; PROSEA, 2016; Florabank, 2018). Once established, this species may behave as a weed exhibiting competitive and aggressive behaviour resulting in competition with, and displacement of, native plant species. It has become invasive in many areas across the Asia-Pacific region where it is threatening the growth and survival of native flora and fauna (ISGG, 2006; ANPSA, 2010; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013; GISD, 2018; GRIIS, 2018; PIER, 2018).

A. moschatus is also harmful because of its role as a host for the insect Dysdercus cingulatus, which is a severe pest of cotton crops (Kohno and Ngan, 2004; ISSG, 2006; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013).

Economic Impact

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A. moschatus is sometimes commercialized as an ornamental for its colourful and attractive flowers. Ambrette oil is used in luxury perfumery, cosmetics and as an additive in the preparation of some kinds of chewing tobacco, baked products, sweets, alcoholic (e.g. vermouth and bitters) and non-alcoholic drinks (Orwa et al., 2009; PROSEA, 2016). Worldwide, India, Colombia, Ecuador and Martinique are the main producers of ambrette oil. In India, the area cultivated with A. moschatus is rapidly increasing (Oudhia, 2015). 

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
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Productive Uses and Management

A. moschatus is a multipurpose plant, valued especially for its essential oil, but also as a source of food, medicines and a range of commodities. It is often planted as an ornamental, aromatic and medicinal herb. The oil extracted from the seeds, known as ambrette oil, has a strong musky odor and is used in both the perfume industry and in aromatherapy. Seeds are used to flavour coffee, burned as incense and used in making incense sticks (agarbattis). Extracts of the fruit and upper parts of the plant have insecticidal qualities, and in India and Malaysia seeds are placed between clothes to deter insects (Orwa et al., 2009; Sankaran and Suresh, 2013; Fern, 2014; PROSEA, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Social benefit

As a spice A. moschatus is not widely used, although there are still many dishes where seed powder and oil are incorporated. Its most widespread use is in flavouring coffee and tea, mainly in Islamic countries of the Middle East and adjoining regions. In Saudi Arabia, seeds are also used to flavour soups. Young leaves and shoots are used as a vegetable in soups; unripe pods are used just like okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). Seeds are fried and roasted and used to flavour various dishes. Essential oil is used in baked goods, ice cream, sweets, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks. A. moschatus is used in many western dishes such as: caramel musk muffins, musky honey wings, musk-vanilla ice cream, musk waffles, ginger cinnamon and musk tea, golden cinnamon and musk brioche loaves, iced cinnamon and musk rolls, orange musk French toast, red musk candy, cinnamon syrup, musk apple cake, muscadine comfits and alcoholic drinks like hippocras with musk.

A. moschatus plants and seeds are regarded as medicinal in South Asia, China and in other countries where it is grown. A. moschatus is used in traditional and Ayurveda herbal medicine. Its uses range from being used as an antidote for snakebites to a decoction of the roots and leaves being taken as a remedy for gonorrhea and rheumatism. Seeds (known commonly as musk daana in India) are described as diuretic, anti-spasmodic, stomachic, nervine (curative for nervous disorders) and are used externally for skin diseases and itching. Root and leaf paste and mucilage are indicated in venereal diseases, urinary discharges and painful micturition. Seeds steeped in water are used against colds, flu and asthma. It is used as antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-anxiety drug, aphrodisiac, appetite stimulant, cardiotonic, carminative, deodorant, anti-depressant, anti-diabetic, antidiarrhoea, digestive, diuretic, anti-dyspepsia, hyperglycaemic, ophthalmic (Orwa et al., 2009; Grenand et al., 2012; Oudhia, 2015; PROSEA, 2016; Ravindran, 2017). It is also used in the treatment of respiratory and skin disorders; however, most of these actions have not been confirmed through rigorous experimentation.

Seed oil is widely employed in aromatherapy. Seed-oil massage is used for relieving stress, fatigue and anxiety. It is also used for cramps, muscle aches, depression and nervous complaints (Ravindran, 2017).

References

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