Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Abutilon indicum
(country mallow)



Abutilon indicum (country mallow)


  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Abutilon indicum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • country mallow
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. indicum is a common weed, found in open, sunny and warm areas, from sea level to ca. 1600 m altitude. It is listed as an invasive mostly in Asia and Oceania (...

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Abutilon indicum (country mallow); habit. India. August 2016.
CaptionAbutilon indicum (country mallow); habit. India. August 2016.
Copyright©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); habit. India. August 2016.
HabitAbutilon indicum (country mallow); habit. India. August 2016.©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); flowering habit. August 2016.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionAbutilon indicum (country mallow); flowering habit. August 2016.
Copyright©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); flowering habit. August 2016.
Flowering habitAbutilon indicum (country mallow); flowering habit. August 2016.©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); close-up of flower. August 2016.
CaptionAbutilon indicum (country mallow); close-up of flower. August 2016.
Copyright©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); close-up of flower. August 2016.
FlowerAbutilon indicum (country mallow); close-up of flower. August 2016.©Vengolis-2016/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, showing unripe seed pods. India. February 2012.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionAbutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, showing unripe seed pods. India. February 2012.
Copyright©V.R. Vinayaraj-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, showing unripe seed pods. India. February 2012.
Fruiting habitAbutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, showing unripe seed pods. India. February 2012.©V.R. Vinayaraj-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, with mature seed pods. India. November 2009.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionAbutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, with mature seed pods. India. November 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Abutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, with mature seed pods. India. November 2009.
Fruiting habitAbutilon indicum (country mallow); fruiting habit, with mature seed pods. India. November 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Abutilon indicum (L.) Sweet

Preferred Common Name

  • country mallow

Other Scientific Names

  • Abutilon asiaticum (L.) Sweet
  • Abutilon badium S.A. Husain and Baquar
  • Abutilon cavaleriei H.Lév.
  • Abutilon cysticarpum Hance ex Walp.
  • Abutilon indica
  • Abutilon indicum var. microphyllum Hocr.
  • Abutilon indicum var. populifolium (Lam.) Wight and Arn.
  • Abutilon indicum var. populifolium Wight and Arn. ex Mast
  • Abutilon populifolium (Lam.) G.Don
  • Abutilon populifolium (Lam.) Sweet
  • Sida asiatica L.
  • Sida indica L.
  • Sida populiflora Lam.

International Common Names

  • English: Indian abutilon; Indian mallow; monkey bush; moon-flower
  • Spanish: Malva amarilla
  • French: fausse guimauve; gimauve; guimauve fausse satinee; herbe de douze heures; mauve du pays
  • Chinese: mo pan cao

Local Common Names

  • Cambodia: dok toc lai
  • Cuba: botón de oro; botoncillo de oro; buenas tardes; doce del día; malva blanca
  • Germany: Indische Schoenmalve
  • Haiti: mauve élantine
  • India: atibala; duvvena Kayalu; kanghi; kattooram; ooram; paniyaratutti; petari; potari; soluku poo; thuthi; tutththi gida; tutti; tuturabenda; velluram
  • Indonesia: belangan sumpa; cemplok; kecil
  • Italy: fiore di dodici ore
  • Laos: houk phao ton
  • Lesser Antilles: guimauve; mauve; monkey bush
  • Malaysia: bunga kisar; kembang lohor
  • Montserrat: burry bark
  • Philippines: dalupang; tabing
  • Puerto Rico: buenas tardes
  • Thailand: khrop fan see; ma kong khaao; phong phaang
  • Vietnam: coosi xay; dawfng xay

EPPO code

  • ABUIN (Abutilon indicum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. indicum is a common weed, found in open, sunny and warm areas, from sea level to ca. 1600 m altitude. It is listed as an invasive mostly in Asia and Oceania (PIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015). It is not considered a threat at high elevations (PIER, 2015). The species is used widely in its native range as a traditional medicinal plant (Mohite et al, 2012; Vadnere Gautam et al., 2013), and was probably introduced for cultivation outside its native range for medicinal purposes. For some of the countries where it is reported as invasive, it is also listed as cultivated, making it probable that the species escaped from cultivation into suitable habitats, as it is listed as found in disturbed areas near dwellings and roadsides (PIER, 2015). No published details are available about the extent of invasiveness or the impacts of the species in the regions where it is reported as invasive. 

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Abutilon is a genus of herbs, subshrubs, shrubs, or small trees of about 200 species, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). The common names for Abutilon indicum that are most used are country mallow, and for India Kanghi (Hindi) and Atibala (Sanskrit). The species may be truly native to India (PROTA, 2015), hence another widely used name of Indian mallow or Indian abutilon.


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The following description is from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2015):

Herbs to subshrubs, annual or perennial, erect, many branched, 1-2.5 m, entire plant gray puberulent. Stipules subulate, 1-2 mm, curved outward; petiole 2-4 cm, gray puberulent and sparsely hairy, hairs silky, ca. 1 mm; leaf blades ovate-orbicular or nearly orbicular, 3-9 × 2.5-7 cm, densely gray stellate puberulent, base cordate, margin irregularly serrate, apex acute or acuminate. Flowers solitary, axillary, 2-2.5 cm in diam. Pedicel ca. 4 cm, articulate near apex, gray stellate puberulent. Calyx green, disk-shaped, 6-10 mm in diam., densely gray puberulent, lobes 5, broadly ovate, apex acute. Corolla uniformly yellow; petals 7-8 mm. Staminal column stellate scabrous. Ovary 15-20-loculed. Fruit black, flat topped, ca. 1.5 cm in diam.; mericarps 15-20, apex acute, slightly awned, long stellate scabrous. Seeds reniform, sparsely stellate.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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A. indicum is distributed mainly in the tropics, subtropics and into warm temperate areas of the New and Old Worlds; from sea level to about 1600 m elevation (PROTA, 2015). It is reported to be native to Africa, Asia and Australasia, although it has been argued to be truly native only to Asia (PROTA, 2015). It has also been reported to be native in some countries of the New World (Esteves and Takeuchi, 2015; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015). 

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


AfghanistanPresentNativePROTA, 2015
BangladeshPresentHanif et al., 2009Chittagong Hills Tracts Region
BhutanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015; PROTA, 2015
CambodiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993; PIER, 2015
Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Diego Garcia Island (also listed as cultivated)
ChinaPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-FujianPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuizhouPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-Hong KongPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-JiangsuPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-JiangxiPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-SichuanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-TianjinPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-YunnanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentNativeFosberg, 1943; PROTA, 2015Reported by Ridley in 1891
Cocos IslandsPresentNativePROTA, 2015Keeling
IndiaPresentNativeRajwar, 1984
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeDagar and Dagar, 1991
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Weed of cultivable lands and orchards
-MaharashtraPresentDeccan College Research Institute, 1988-89Pune
-RajasthanPresentSharma, 1981
IndonesiaPresentWaterhouse, 1993; PROTA, 2015
-JavaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativePROTA, 2015
-SulawesiPresentNativePROTA, 2015
IraqPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
IsraelPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
JapanPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands; rasoko, Mikayo
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNativePROTA, 2015Nansei Soto
JordanPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
MalaysiaPresentNativeCurtis, 1894Dwarf shrub. Open places near the coast.
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeHenderson, 1939
-SabahPresentNativePROTA, 2015
MaldivesLocalisedNative Not invasive PIER, 2015Malè Atoll (Occasional in coconut plantation)
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993; PROTA, 2015
NepalPresentNativePROTA, 2015
OmanPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
PakistanLocalisedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015; PROTA, 2015Common in Sindh and Punjab, rare in N.W.F.P
PhilippinesPresentWaterhouse, 1993; PIER, 2015
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
SingaporePresent Invasive PIER, 2015Uncertain if introduced
Sri LankaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
TaiwanPresentNativePIER, 2015
ThailandPresentWaterhouse, 1993; PIER, 2015
VietnamPresentWaterhouse, 1993; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
YemenPresentNativePROTA, 2015


AngolaPresentNativeFlora Zambesiaca, 2015
ComorosPresentNativePROTA, 2015
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
EthiopiaPresentCufodontis, 1959
MadagascarPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015Toliara, Anosy; Réserve Naturelle Intégrale d'Andohahela Androy, Road from Ambovombe to Tsiombe
MalawiPresentFlora Zambesiaca, 2015
MauritiusPresentNativePROTA, 2015
MozambiqueFlora Zambesiaca, 2015Gaza, Chibuto, between Maniquenique and Licilo; Sabie, Moamba; Chemba
RéunionPresentNativePROTA, 2015
Rodriguez IslandPresentNativeBalfour, 1879Common weed
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentNativeFlora Zambesiaca, 2015
SeychellesPresentNativeRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 1983; PIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015
South AfricaPresentNativeFlora Zambesiaca, 2015Transvaal; Zululand
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedMoreau and Moreau, 1931Open bush formation that apparently established itself after being used for cultivation
UgandaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
ZimbabwePresentFlora Zambesiaca, 2015Lower Sabi; West Nicholson

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Yucatán, Izamal
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Oahu. As cultivated, occasionally naturalized
-TexasPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015Matagorda County; Zapata County

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Antigua
BahamasPresentIntroduced1903Harshberger, 1903Great Inagua: Mattewtown
BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Tortola
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GrenadaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Marie Galant Grande-Terre. St. François, on the way to Pointe des Châteauxe
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
JamaicaPresentIntroducedPrevious to 1891Lagereim, 1891
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
MontserratPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedUPPRP, 2016St. Eustatius. Disturbed areas
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; PROTA, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 1983
Sint EustatiusPresentIntroducedUPPRP, 2016
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced1819Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015St. Thomas

South America

BrazilPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-AmazonasPresentNativeEsteves and Takeuchi, 2015Reported as native, endemic based on Flora of Brazil from 1891
French GuianaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
PeruPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015; PROTA, 2015Cusco, disturbed areas.
SurinamePresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015


AustraliaPresentNativeChaluopka and Domm, 1986Present on all Coral Cays
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativePIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015
-QueenslandPresentNativePIER, 2015
-Western AustraliaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
Cook IslandsPresentPIER, 2015Manihiki Atoll; Pukapuka Atoll
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015Introduced and invasive on Vanua Mbalavu Island
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Tahiti Island (also reported as cultivated); Rangiroa (Rairoa) Atoll; Toau (Tovau) Atoll; Ruturu Island
GuamPresentIntroduced1902 Invasive PIER, 2015Reported by Safford in 1902
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Banaba (Ocean) Island; Kiritimati (Christmas) Atoll (as invasive); Tarawa Atoll
Marshall IslandsPresentPIER, 2015Jaluit (Jãlwõj) Atoll
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015Yap (Waqab) Island
NauruPresentNativePIER, 2015; PROTA, 2015
New CaledoniaPresentNativePROTA, 2015Loyalty Islands
NiuePresentNativePROTA, 2015
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015Listed as native for Farallon de Medinilla (Marpi Medinilla) Island; as introduced on: Maug Island, Rota Island, Saipan Island, Sarigan Island and Tinian Island
PalauPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015Listed as introduced on the main island group; Sonsorol Island
Papua New GuineaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
SamoaPresentNativePROTA, 2015
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015Barker Island; Jarvis Island
VanuatuPresentNativePROTA, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. indicum was probably introduced into the Americas in the 1800’s or early 1900’s (Lagerheim, 1891; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, 1893; Hasherger 1903; Arthur and Johnston, 1918; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015), although it is sometimes listed as native for some of the countries of this region. For the West Indies it is reported as introduced in the early 1800’s, but in some databases is also reported as native for some of the islands. It is reported as invasive for Cuba (Oviedo-Prieto et al., 2012). The region where A. indicum is most listed as an invasive is Oceania, on Kiribati, Guam, French Polynesia, the US Minor Outlying Islands and Fiji. For some of these islands the species is also reported as cultivated. Although it is reported as invasive for Hawaii, it is noted as mainly cultivated and occasionally naturalized (PIER, 2015).

There is almost no information available on how A. indicum was introduced to various regions or how it has spread. Since it has been used extensively in ethnobotany for centuries in its native range, it can be assumed it was mainly introduced into other areas as a medicinal plant, as it is reported to be used by natives in countries outside its probable original range (Mitchell, 1982; Mohite et al., 2013; PIER 2015). Also outside its native range, there are reports of the use of its fibres for rope-making (Maiti and Chakravarty, 1977; Fuentes Fiallo, 1999; Brussell, 2004). 

Risk of Introduction

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The species is sold over the internet and in nurseries as an ornamental. Although there is almost no documented information on the impact of A. indicum at introduced sites, caution should be exerted until more information is available on the invasiveness of the species.


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A. indicum is found in open, ruderal places in the tropics and subtropics. Reported from roadsides, low bushes, savannas, lakesides, beaches, dunes and roadsides (PROTA, 2015). It is reported near dwellings, disturbed sites and roadsides in some of the countries where it is listed as invasive (Mohite et al., 2013; PIER 2015). Tolerates droughts (PROTA, 2015) and saline environments (Allaway et al., 1984). 

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Leaf residue extracts of A. indicum have been evaluated for their effect on the germination and growth of the wheat cultivars, Sind-81, Sind-83 and Sarsabz, and chickpea cv. CM-72. The extracts did not inhibit germination, but stimulated the shoot length of all the cultivars. Root inhibition was found for all, except Sind-81 and chickpea (Alam and Azmi, 1990). 

Biology and Ecology

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The IPCN reports vary from 2n=72, 42 or 36 and n=21 (PROTA, 2015).

Reproductive Biology

The following information is from Abid et al. (2010): A. indicum is facultatively autogamous and the flowers are slightly protandrous. Buds take about 18-20 days to open. Flowering is temperature and light dependent, anthesis occurring at 25-30°C and at 1-2:00 pm; on cloudy days opening at 4:00 pm. Flowers remain open for about 6-7 hours, withering after 2 to 5 days. Butterflies (Lepidoptera) and bees (Hymenoptera) are the regular flower visitors. Butterflies do not take any part in pollination; Apis sp. and Bembix sp. have been reported as pollinators.

Physiology and Phenology

Flowering can occur all year (PROTA, 2015). Temperatures below 20°C or higher than 40°C have a negative impact on pollen production and its viability; also on fruit and seed set (Kumar et al., 2012).

Gupta et al. (2001) report that freshly harvested seeds show over 92% of hardseededness in germination experiments and that a hot water treatment at 70°C for 10 minutes is the most effective method for breaking it. Seeds from exhibition cases in a museum in India had 70% germination after 17 years of storage. Seeds were soaked in cold water and filed prior to germination tests (Dent, 1942). These seeds were stored in glass capsules without any special conservation measures.


A. indicum is reported as a plant host of the fungus Puccinia heterospora, which attacks species of Sida and Abutilon in tropical and subtropical regions (Lagerheim, 1891; Arthur and Johnston, 1918). 


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (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])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 7
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 43
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aularches miliaris Herbivore Leaves not specific
Dysdercus koenigii Herbivore not specific
Dysdercus nigrofasciatus Herbivore Fruits/pods not specific
Earias insulana Herbivore Fruits/pods/Leaves not specific
Earias vittella Herbivore Fruits/pods/Inflorescence not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A. indicum is one of the host plants for the moths Earias insulana and E. vitella, which are considered as pests of cotton and okra plants (Saini and Singh, 1999; Syed et al., 2011). The species is reported to become heavily infested by mealybugs (Coccidohystrix sp.) in India (Hayat et al. 2007). Hexomyza abutilonicaulis, Urentius euonymus and Trachys herillus are reported in Pakistan as natural insect enemies of the genus Abutilon (Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control Pakistan Station, 1980; Pajni and Nanda, 1992)

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagationIn vitro propagation, for reintroduction to areas in India where is over-harvested Yes Rout et al., 2009
DisturbanceCommon weed in disturbed sites Yes PROTA, 2015
Escape from confinement or garden escapePossibly escaping from cultivation and becoming naturalized Yes Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015; PIER, 2015
Internet salesSeeds available for sale at various sites that will ship locally or internationally Yes Yes
Medicinal useUsed for traditional medicine in various countries Yes Pandikumar et al., 2011; Rout et al., 2009
Ornamental purposesSold an ornamental plant on Internet and nurseries Yes Yes
Seed trade Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
GermplasmPlants propagated in vitro for reintroduction purposes Yes Yes Rout et al., 2009

Impact Summary

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

Economic Impact

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In India, A. indicum is one of the hosts for the red cotton bug, Dysdercus koeniggii, which is considered to be a minor pest on cotton, eggplant, okra and Hibiscus (Wadnerkar et al., 1979). A. indicum plants infested with Earias insulana and E. vitella near cotton fields could carry the infestation into the crops (Saini and Singh, 1999; Syed et al., 2011).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Pest and disease transmission


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Mohite et al. (2012) and Vadnere Gautam et al. (2013) give detailed reviews on the microscopic, phytochemical and pharmacological properties and uses of A. indicum. This includes: hepatoprotective, wound healing, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antimalarial, antimicrobial and hypoglycemic activity, among others. Almost all the parts of this plant are documented as being used. It is used by natives of India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indochina. In India it is also reported as used by the Santals tribe to treat convulsions, cramps, colic pain, spermatorrhoea, dysentery, tuberculosis, coughs, bronchitis and menorrhagia in humans and bone fracture in cattle (Jain and Tarafder, 1970). Similar uses are reported for the Nicobarese tribe in India (Dagar and Dagar, 1991). Mathur and Sundaramoorthy (2013) report 18 pharmacological properties and nine body systems treated by the use of this species. Seetharam et al. (2002) report that extracts from A. indicum administered to rats stimulate insulin production causing blood glucose levels to drop. Men in Gujrat, India use the species as an aphrodisiac (Prabhuji et al., 2010). A. indicum is one of the sources of the drug “Bala”, sold in markets in India and used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine to treat various ailments (Deokule and Patale, 2002).

Due to its importance as a medicinal plant in India, studies had been made on A. indicum to establish the protocols for regenerating large number of plantlets in vitro from leaf derived callus cultures. These protocols are the first steps to establish large scale propagation of this species (Rout et al., 2009). In Pakistan, where rearing livestock accounts for 30-40% of income, A. indicum is one of the native species suggested for planting and/or reseeding to improve grazing lands for goats and sheep (Rafiq et al., 2010).

In Australia, A. indicum is used as food, timber and reported to have demulcent properties (Mitchell, 1982). It is also used for its fibres in various countries (Maiti and Chakravarty, 1977; Fuentes Fiallo, 1999; Brussell, 2004).

A. indicum has been studied for the development of botanical pesticides and extracts from the leaves are a feeding deterrent to the tomato fruit borer, Helicoverpa armigera (Elumalai et al., 2008). Prabhuji et al. (2010) report a steroidal compound isolated from the stems of A. indicum with fungicidal and fungistatic properties against various Aspergillus species.

Mathur and Sundaramoorthy (2013) assessed the economic impact and conservation priorities of 123 medicinal plants from the Thar Desert in India. For A. indicum they reported the species not being in cultivation and being highly harvested from the wild due to its medicinal importance. They propose that the species needs to have an immediate conservation priority.

Social Benefit

In India where fluoride contamination related diseases occur in near to 62 million people, A. indicum stems are used to prepare nitric acid activated carbon to remove fluoride ions from contaminated water (Suneetha et al., 2014).

Environmental Services

A. indicum has been suggested as a potential candidate species to be used for the phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated soils (Varum et al., 2015).

A. indicum is reported as one of the plants which the nymphs of Aularches miliaris feed on. Although this grasshopper is reported as a pest for some crops, it is also listed as a near-threatened species in South India and its conservation is recommended (Josephrajkimar et al., 2011).

Rahuman et al. (2008) tested the larvicidal activity on Culex quinquefasciatus and found high larval mortality when using petroleum ether extract from A. indicum. They also report the presence of β-sitosterol for A. indicum as a new natural mosquito larvicidal agent. Hexane leaf extracts are reported to be effective against the larvae of Aedes aegypti (Tennyson et al., 2012). Previous studies in Thailand showed that A. indicum extracts show potential larval toxicity for Aedes aegyptii and high toxicity to guppy fishes (Promsiri et al., 2006).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage


  • Research model
  • Ritual uses
  • Sociocultural value

Genetic importance

  • Test organisms (for pests and diseases)

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Fruits
  • Leaves (for beverage)
  • Seeds


  • Bark products
  • Beads
  • Chemicals
  • Fibre
  • Gums
  • Oils
  • Pesticide
  • Resins
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore
  • Veterinary


  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. indicum, A. abutiloides and A. hirtum are all found in similar habitats and have similar growth forms. Abutilon abutiloides has 5-7 mericarps (segments in the fruit), while A. hirtum and A. indicum have 15-25 mericarps. A. hirtum has an orange corolla with a purple centre, while A. indicum has a uniformly yellow corolla (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). 

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control

Musthafa and Potty (2001) studied the effect of cowpea green manures to control weeds, including A. indicum in semi-dry rice fields. Broadleaf weeds, including A. indicum, were reduced because of the smothering effect of the cowpea.

Chemical Control

The herbicide pendimenthalin, supplemented with hand weeding 6 weeks after seed sowing in rice fields has been effective in controlling A. indicum (Shelke et al., 1986). High doses of the herbicides MCPA, 2,4-D and 2,4-DB are effective for the eradication of the species; however, plants persisting in low populations have an increase in the reproductive potential with a higher flower and fruit production (Mukherjee, 1993).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Most of the information available on A. indicum is related to its pharmacological properties, its phytochemistry or the ethnobotanical uses. Although literature reports it as a weed and/or as invasive for some countries or regions, not much information is available about its negative impacts. No information is available on the impacts on the native species or the habitats where it is reported as invasive. On the contrary, it is reported as being threatened because it is over-harvested in some countries. There is also conflicting information about it being native or introduced for some countries, as it is listed as both in different sources for a country. Information about the environmental requirements, reproductive biology, habitats and impacts is scarce or lacking, and needed for a thoughtful evaluation of the invasiveness of the species. 


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13/04/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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