Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Acacia decurrens
(green wattle)

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Datasheet

Acacia decurrens (green wattle)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 25 November 2021
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Acacia decurrens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • green wattle
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Acacia decurrens is a woody flowering shrub or tree native to Australia and introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental, shade and shelter, but mostly for its use in the tannin dye industry. The species has become a serious wee...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australia.
TitleTree in flower
CaptionAustralian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australia.
CopyrightG.F. Moran/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australia.
Tree in flowerAustralian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australia.G.F. Moran/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
South-west of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
TitleNatural stand
CaptionSouth-west of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
CopyrightG.F. Moran/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
South-west of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
Natural standSouth-west of Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.G.F. Moran/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Natural regeneration after fire, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
TitleSeedlings
CaptionNatural regeneration after fire, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
CopyrightStephen Midgley/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Natural regeneration after fire, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
SeedlingsNatural regeneration after fire, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.Stephen Midgley/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
TitleShade trees in tea plantation
CaptionNuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
CopyrightStephen Midgley/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Shade trees in tea plantationNuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.Stephen Midgley/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Acacia decurrens Willd.

Preferred Common Name

  • green wattle

Other Scientific Names

  • Acacia angulata Desv.
  • Acacia decurrens f. normalis Benth.
  • Acacia decurrens var. angulata (Desv.) Benth
  • Acacia mollissima var. angulata Walp.
  • Mimosa angulata (Desv.) Poir.
  • Mimosa decurrens Wendl.
  • Racosperma decurrens (Willd.) Pedley

International Common Names

  • English: acacia bark; black wattle; Brazilian tea; early black wattle; golden teak; golden wattle; queen wattle; Sydney wattle; tan wattle; wattle bark
  • French: acacie noire
  • Chinese: xian ye jin he huan

Local Common Names

  • Australia: bark wattle; Sydney green wattle
  • Brazil: acácia preta; acácia-da-austrália; acácia-negra; black acacia
  • British Indian Ocean Territory: semai velampattai
  • Germany: Schwarze Akazie
  • India: hara babul; peek jyali
  • Italy: acacia nera
  • Netherlands: zwarte rijswilg
  • Puerto Rico: aromo negro
  • South Africa: groenwattel

EPPO code

  • ACADC (Acacia decurrens)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Acacia decurrens is a woody flowering shrub or tree native to Australia and introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental, shade and shelter, but mostly for its use in the tannin dye industry. The species has become a serious weed problem in its native Australia, as well as elsewhere, including Hawaii, Colombia, New Zealand, Indonesia and South Africa. The species spreads rapidly via seed and root suckers; produces seeds that can remain viable for up to 5 years; benefits from fires and disturbances; and develops dense thickets which outcompete native biodiversity and obstruct water flow. The species is registered as a Category 2 invader in South Africa and on a list of invasive species in Colombia.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Mimosoideae
  •                                 Genus: Acacia
  •                                     Species: Acacia decurrens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The species A. decurrens belongs to the large flowering family of Fabaceae, which consists of over 19,500 species in 745 genera and currently three subfamilies (Stevens, 2016). The genus Acacia is in the Mimosoideae and the majority of its 1030 species are endemic to Australia. In 2005, many pantropical species were removed from Acacia and are now placed in the genera Vachellia (c. 31 species) and Senegalia (c. 66 species).

The species A. decurrens belongs to the section Botrycephalae of the subgenus Acacia (syn. Phyllodineae). This section has 44 species mostly arborescent species characterized by having bipinnate foliage and flower heads arranged in racemes (Orchard and Wilson, 2001). Members are mostly endemic to the relatively cool, temperate regions of southeastern Australia and have been introduced to many parts of the world including South Africa, where A. decurrens is known to be invasive (Randall, 2012), Asia and parts of North and South America (Orchard and Wilson, 2001; Hanelt et al., 2001; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

The species epithet decurrens refers to the decurrent, or ‘running down’ of angular ridges on the branchlet extremities from the bases of the bipinnate leaves (Hall and Johnson, 1993). Descriptions and illustrations are given in Maiden (1907), Morrison and Davies (1991), Whibley and Symon (1992) and Tame (1992). A number of varieties have also been described for A. decurrens but all are synonyms of related species.

Acacia decurrens presents no significant taxonomic problems. It is related to A. dealbata, A. parramattensis, A. filicifolia and A. dangarensis. Natural hybrids are known between A. baileyana and A. decurrens (Burbidge and Gray, 1970), A. dealbata and A. decurrens and A. mearnsii and A. decurrens (BR Maslin, Western Australian Herbarium, pers. comm.). Hybrids also occur when these are cultivated in the same vicinity as A. decurrens.

Description

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Acacia decurrens is normally an erect tree 5-15 m tall but sometimes attains 20-22 m under favourable conditions (Boland, 1987; Pryor and Banks, 1991). Branching tends to be lateral and crown spread is up to 8 m across on the largest specimens. The bark is smooth, dark grey to almost black and may be fissured on mature plants. Branchlets are prominently angled with broad wing-like ridges (Whibley and Symon, 1992; Boland, 1987). The bipinnate leaves are dark green and glossy, consisting of 4-15 pairs of pinnae, 3-7 cm long on a rachis 4-12 cm long. Pinnae are 3-7 cm long, each with 15-35 pairs of pinnules or leaflets. Leaflets are linear to narrowly oblong, 5-14 mm long, 0.5-0.75 mm wide. There are 1-2 glands present on the petiole and jugary glands are present at the junction of each pair of pinnae (Tame, 1992). The foliage is delicately displayed and exhibits a diurnal rhythm of pinnule movement in which the leaves open by day and close by night (Boland, 1987). The inflorescence of A. decurrens is a raceme or panicle of globular flower heads each consisting of 15-30 flowers per head on terminal panicles or axillary racemes (Whibley and Symon, 1992). The pods are linear, brown, red-brown or dark brown to black, almost flat, 4-10 cm long by 4-8 mm broad, with thickened margins. The seeds are longitudinal in the pod on a short funicle/aril (Tame, 1992; Baker and Corringham, 1995). Other descriptions and illustrations are given in Maiden (1907), Morrison and Davies (1991), Whibley and Symon (1992) and Tame (1992).

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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The natural distribution of A. decurrens includes coastal hinterlands, coastal ranges and the lower tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, extending from scattered occurrences in the Hunter Valley south to the Ulladulla district (Tame, 1992). The species has been introduced to many parts of the world including Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America and the Caribbean and has since naturalized in many of these places.

Several discrepancies were found between sources for the species’ distribution in Australia and Java. The Flora of Australia (Orchard and Wilson, 2001) reports that ‘the ‘natural’ or native distribution is confused by naturalization caused by widespread plantings in the past in New South Wales, including the Australian Capital Territory where it is adventive’. ILDIS (2016) lists the species as native to Java, whereas Hanelt et al. (2001) and USDA-ARS (2016) list it as a cultivated introduction.

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.

Last updated: 28 Jul 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Planted Reference Notes

Africa

Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentIntroducedPlanted
Congo, Republic of thePresentIntroducedPlanted
EswatiniPresentIntroducedPlanted
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
KenyaPresentIntroducedPlanted
MoroccoPresentIntroducedPlanted
RéunionPresentIntroducedPlanted
RwandaPresentIntroducedPlanted
South AfricaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveInvades grasslands, roadsides and watercourses
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
UgandaPresentIntroducedPlanted
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedInvasive

Asia

BhutanPresentIntroduced2006
ChinaPresentIntroduced
-FujianPresentIntroducedPlanted
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedCultivated
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedCultivated
-GuizhouPresentIntroducedPlanted
-SichuanPresentIntroducedPlanted
-YunnanPresentIntroducedCultivated
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedCultivated
IndiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized and cultivated
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroduced
-AssamPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroduced
-KarnatakaPresentIntroduced
-KeralaPresentIntroducedPlanted
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedPlanted
-ManipurPresentIntroduced
-SikkimPresentIntroduced
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroduced
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroduced
-West BengalPresentIntroduced
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared a noxious weed because it spreads rapidly by seed and root suckers, crowding out other plants
-JavaPresentDifferent sources describe as native to Java or as a naturalised introduction
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedPlanted
JapanPresentIntroducedPlanted
MyanmarPresentIntroducedPlanted
NepalPresentIntroducedPlanted
PakistanPresentIntroduced
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedCultivated
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedCultivated
TaiwanPresentIntroducedPlanted
TurkeyPresentIntroducedPlanted
VietnamPresentIntroducedPlanted

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedPlanted
PortugalPresentIntroducedNaturalized
RussiaPresentIntroducedPlanted

North America

Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedExotic
HaitiPresentIntroducedNaturalized
HondurasPresentIntroducedPlanted
MexicoPresentIntroducedPlanted
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedCultivated
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedCultivated
United StatesPresentIntroduced1930NaturalizedBecoming naturalized in the southwestern parts of the USA
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-FloridaPresentIntroduced
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared a noxious weed because it spreads rapidly by seed and root suckers, crowding out other plants

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNative and IntroducedBoth native and cultivated
-New South WalesPresent, WidespreadNative and IntroducedInvasiveNative from the Hunter Valley S to the ACT, naturalized elsewhere. Adventive
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasivePlantedOriginal citation: Department and Western (2002)
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-VictoriaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveQuite widespread and regarded as a significant environmental weed
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasiveSouthwestern parts beginning to invade disturbed woodlands
FijiPresentIntroduced
New ZealandPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized; adventive
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedPlanted

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedPlanted
BoliviaPresentIntroducedPlanted
BrazilPresentIntroduced1930
ChilePresentIntroducedPlanted
ColombiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOn list of invasive plants of Colombia
EcuadorPresentIntroduced
UruguayPresentIntroducedPlanted
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced

History of Introduction and Spread

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In Australia, A. decurrens has been widely cultivated as an ornamental species. It has become naturalized in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria (Burbidge and Gray, 1970; Stanley and Ross, 1983; Morrison and Davies, 1991; Whibley and Symon, 1992; Walsh and Entwisle, 1997; Orchard and Wilson, 2001; Weeds of Australia, 2016); similar adventive plants also occur near Perth, Western Australia. The Flora of Victoria includes A. decurrens on a list of invasive garden plants, noting that it is a significant weed in Victoria (Walsh and Entwisle, 1997) and is also reported weedy in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Australian Capital Territory. It is listed among the invasive or environmental weeds of New Zealand (e.g. Waitakere City Council, 2002).

In California, USA, A. decurrens was introduced around 1930 and has since naturalized in several areas (Hanelt et al., 2001). However, the extent to which the species is invasive or constitutes a threat remains unknown and it is, therefore, one of a number of species for which a need for more information has been identified (CalEPPC, 1999 . It is also known to be a serious weed problem in Hawaii (FloraBase, 2016).

In South America, the species has been introduced to Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia and has been included on a list of invasive plants in Colombia (Hanelt et al., 2001; Randall, 2012; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2016; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014. It is commonly planted as an ornamental (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014), but more information is needed on its spread beyond into the wild.

In the Caribbean, more information is needed on the extent to which A. decurrens has naturalized. The species is known to be cultivated both in Puerto Rico, where it was present by 1926, as well as in the Virgin Islands (Britton and Wilson, 1924; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012). It is known to be present in Haiti (Kairo et al., 2003; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012), but more research is needed on its current invasive status.

The species is known to have been introduced to various parts of Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, India and China, for use as an ornamental and tannin source (Hanelt et al., 2001; FAO, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016). The species has escaped cultivation and naturalized in most of these areas (Randall, 2012; Weeds of Australia, 2016) and has been declared as a noxious weed in Indonesia for its rapid growth and spread and its ability to outcompete native plants by forming dense ground cover (FAO, 2016).

Risk of Introduction

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Acacia decurrens is a fast-growing species with the ability to outcompete native flora and form dense thickets, which not only threatens native flora but also alters watercourses; in South Africa, the species is locally called ‘green cancer’ because it can spread quickly to transform native grasslands into exotic woodlands (FloraBase, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). The main risk of invasiveness is likely to be through the intentional introduction of this species to new countries or areas, as the multiple uses of this species have made it an attractive plant for many uses including agroforestry and as an ornamental. Considering many other members of the Acacia genus are invasive (PIER, 2016) and that A. decurrens is known to drastically alter native ecosystems in places beyond its native range (FloraBase, 2016), risk of introduction for A. decurrens is high.

Habitat

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In its native Australia, A. decurrens occurs chiefly in eucalypt forests, woodlands, dry forests and heathlands, where it occupies hillsides, riverbanks and gullies. It reportedly poses invasive problems particularly in cooler temperate regions and highland areas (Weeds of Australia, 2016). In the Blue Mountains region, A. decurrens is found in dry sclerophyll forest or woodland in open undulating country (Baker and Corringham, 1995). It is also a component of tall Eucalyptus pilularis forests (Beadle, 1981). In South Africa, where the species is classified as a Category 2 Invader, it is particularly prominent in grasslands (Henderson, 2007). In Ecuador, the species has been reported to occur in the Andean region (Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Acacia decurrens is a diploid chromosome number of 26 (Huang et al., 1989) and haploid number of 13 (Singhal et al., 1990). Natural hybrids are known between A. decurrens and A. baileyana, A. dealbata and A. mearnsii, and A. mearnsii will hybridize in cultivation (New, 1984). Philp and Sherry (1946, 1949) reviewed the incidence of hybrids between A. decurrens and A. mearnsii with a view to improving forestry stock. Features of such hybrids are discussed by Moffett (1965a, b) and Moffett and Nixon (1958). Acacia baileyana and A. decurrens are known to hybridize quite frequently and the hybrids appear to be more susceptible to insect galls than either parent species (Burbidge and Gray, 1970). Moran et al. (1989) included A. decurrens in an allozyme study to estimate overall genetic diversity in species of Acacia relative to A. mangium. Based on plants from the Goulburn population, A. decurrens had similar levels of expected heterozygosity relative to the other Acacia species tested. The Australian Tree Seed Centre (ATSC), CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Canberra, Australia, supplies research seed lots for provenance or progeny trials which have been collected from throughout the natural range of A. decurrens. A list of other Australian government and private seed suppliers is also available from ATSC.

Reproductive biology

Like the seeds of many other Acacia species, those of A. decurrens remain viable for 5+ years in the soil and seed germination is stimulated by fire and disturbance (FloraBase, 2016; PIER, 2016). It also regenerates via root suckering and coppicing (Ruskin, 1983; FloraBase, 2016; PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). Due to its prolific seeding and root suckering, A. decurrens can become a serious weed under favourable conditions.

Physiology and phenology

Flowers are produced during winter and early spring (in the Southern Hemisphere July, August and early September; and January to April in the Northern Hemisphere) but may vary with seasonal conditions, locality and particularly altitude (Clemson, 1985). In Australia, Morrison and Davies (1991) indicate a longer flowering period extending from June to early December. The time between flowering and pod maturation is 5-6 months (Boland, 1987) but pods are not produced every year (Pryor and Banks, 1991). The foliage exhibits a diurnal rhythm of pinnule movement in which the leaves open by day and close by night (Boland, 1987).

Associations

Acacia decurrens occurs mainly in eucalypt forests and woodlands (Tame, 1992) and is recorded as a component of tall Eucalyptus pilularis forests (Beadle, 1981). Ectomycorrhizal associations improve growth by enhancing absorption of nutrients from the soil (Reddell and Warren, 1987). A. decurrens is a relatively promiscuous host for Rhizobia as 75-100% of Rhizobium strains tested successfully nodulated (Roughley, 1987).

Environmental requirements

Boland (1987) considered A. decurrens to have moderate frost tolerance and based on its natural occurrence recorded it as a species of the warm subhumid to humid climatic zone with mean annual rainfall of 900-1150 mm. The following data is representative of the natural distribution of A. decurrens and is derived from meteorological stations at Goulburn, Nowra, Singleton, Springwood in New South Wales (Hall et al., 1981): mean annual rainfall is 669-1153 mm; the 50 percentile rainfall is 627-993 mm, 10 percentile 447-686 mm; the mean maximum of the hottest month is 26-30°C and mean minimum of the coolest month is 1-5°C; the coolest part of natural range receives 25 frosts per year and it will tolerate temperatures as low as -6°C.

In its native Australia, the species is found chiefly on coasts and tablelands (Weeds of Australia, 2016). The species grows at mid altitudes and is often found around 1000-2000 m (FAO, 2016; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2016; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014). It requires well-drained, acidic to neutral soil types of light to medium texture.

Ruskin (1983) notes that A. decurrens prefers deep, light to medium, free-draining soils and that it occurs naturally on moderately fertile soils which include acid and neutral yellow earths, acid-bleached red duplex soils, podzols and brown earths. They are mainly derived from shales but some are derived from basalt. A. decurrens has also been noted on shales, where its best growth is on deep, well-drained soils (Beadle et al., 1982; Baker and Corringham, 1995), on riverbanks and rises (Morrison and Davies, 1991) and on relatively heavy soils (Tame, 1992). The natural altitudinal range is 25-1000 m where native in Australia, commonly 100-700 m (Boland, 1987) and 1000-2500 m where introduced (Webb et al., 1984).
 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
-33 -37 1000 2500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -6
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 16 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 2 10

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration23number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7503000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Eurytoma Herbivore Plants|Seeds

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A minor pest is Trichilogaster trilineatus [Perilampella hecataeus], which lays eggs in flower buds of A. decurrens and other bipinnate acacias. The plant then produces spherical galls around each egg; these may replace most of the flowers on a tree (New, 1984). In New Zealand, seeds of A. decurrens were heavily infested with the phytophagous chalcid, Eurytoma acaciae [Bruchophagus acacia] (Cameron, 1910) and in Hawaii, USA, A. decurrens is attacked by four species of native Cerambycidae (Davis, 1953). Some 127 Coleopteran beetle ‘morphospecies’ were recorded on A. decurrens by New (1979). Ruskin (1983) notes that A. decurrens as susceptible to the defoliator Acanthopsyche junodi [Kotochalia junodi] and the rust fungus Uromycladium sp. In Australia, the wood of A. decurrens is susceptible to attack by borers reducing tree longevity (Pryor and Banks, 1991; Wrigley and Fagg, 1996).

Diseases known to attack A. decurrens are Corticium salmonicolor [Phanerochaete salmonicolor] in Malaysia (Singh, 1973) and gummosis (Ceratocystis fimbriata) in Brazil (Ribeiro et al., 1988); and Ganoderma lucidum root rot in Madhya Pradesh, India (Harsh et al., 1993). Lee (1993) lists the following diseases known to cause significant damage to acacias: powdery mildew (Erysiphe acaciae), acacia gall rust (Uromycladium notabile), root rots (Ganoderma spp. and Phellinus spp.); heart rot (Phellinus sp.) and various wood decay hymenomycetes.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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The species is known to be dispersed by biotic and abiotic means, both intentionally and accidentally. It is dispersed naturally by water and wind, as well as biotic means, particularly by birds and ants (FloraBase, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). It has been intentionally introduced by humans to certain Asian, American, African and European countries for use as an ornamental, agroforestry and tannin source and since escaped from cultivation, naturalized and in places such as South Africa, Indonesia, Hawaii and Colombia, become invasive (Orchard and Wilson, 2001; Randall, 2012; FAO, 2016; PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from old forestry plantations in many parts of Australia, as well as other countries Yes FloraBase (2016); Weeds of Australia (2016)
ForestryUsed in paper, charcoal (wood), and tanning production in Asia and America Yes Hanelt et al. (2001); FloraBase (2016); Weeds of Australia (2016)
Garden waste disposalSpread in dumped garden waste and contaminated soil Yes Weeds of Australia (2016)
Hedges and windbreaksPlanted as a wind barrier in Indian tea plantations and in South Africa Yes Yes Hanelt et al. (2001); Henderson (2001)
Industrial purposesIntroduced to other parts of Australia and other countries, e.g. South Africa, Hawaii and Indonesia, for tanning bark industry Yes Yes Orchard and Wilson (2001); Weeds of Australia (2016)
Ornamental purposesCultivated as ornamental trees Yes Hanelt et al. (2001); Henderson (2001)

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesKnown to be a garden and cultivation escape Yes Yes Randall (2012); FloraBase (2016); Weeds of Australia (2016)
Soil, sand and gravelSpread in dumped garden waste and contaminated soil Yes Weeds of Australia (2016)
WaterSeeds may be dispersed by ants, wind and water Yes Henderson (2001); Weeds of Australia (2016)
WindSeeds may be dispersed by ants, wind and water Yes Henderson (2001); Weeds of Australia (2016)

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

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Impact on habitats:

The introduction of A. decurrens to non-native habitats can negatively alter the ecology of the area, as if benefits from fires and grows rapidly and if allowed to establish, will crowd out other plants by forming dense ground cover (Ruskin, 1983; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Impact on biodiversity:

Acacia decurrens is one of the invasive species in South Africa that not only threatens native flora but obstructs watercourses and reduces water flow. The species is locally known as ‘green cancer’ because it is known to transform South African grasslands into non-native woodlands (Hill et al., 2000; Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Holocarpha macradenia (Santa Cruz tarplant)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened speciesCaliforniaCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service (2014)

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • 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 accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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The species A. decurrens has been introduced to various countries for cultivation for use as an ornamental, soil improver, shade and shelter tree, tannin source, paper fibre source, fuelwood and charcoal (Wiersema and Leon, 1999; Hanelt et al., 2001; Henderson, 2001; FAO, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2016; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014).

As a deep rooted, drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing tree, the species is widely planted to shade crops (MacMillan et al., 1991). It has been used for windbreaks, shelterbelts, as a shade crop and for soil stabilization. In Sri Lanka, it was introduced by tea planters around the 1870s and widely used above an altitude of 1000 m for hedges, shelterbelts and windbreaks, as a shade tree, for green manure and fuelwood production (Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987). It was a major component in the Sri Lankan government fuelwood plantations until 1936 (Champion, 1935; Streets, 1962) and is still used in ornamental plantings (Clemson, 1985; Midgley and Vivekanandan, 1987). A. decurrens was included in an investigation of stabilization techniques to control wind erosion of an ash disposal site at Port Kembla, Australia, where salinity of the ash, exposure to winds and high erodibility were particular problems (Junor, 1978). It established and grew well and along with various methods of a bituminous emulsion seal, grass sowing, strip sodding and addition of an earth layer, enabled the site to be developed as a recreational area.

Ruskin (1983) notes the wood of A. decurrens has been used for building poles, mine props, fence posts and hardboard production. In India, A. decurrens has been considered a valuable timber species (Gamble, 1972) where, according to Maiden (1889), it was grown extensively. This species is one of the several species reported by Clark et al. (1994) as having kraft pulp yields within the range of commercial pulpwoods. Kraft pulping and bleaching studies of plantation-grown eucalypts and acacias, which included A. decurrens, pulped to relatively high yields and their pulps bleached readily to high brightness (Hannah et al., 1977). A. decurrens was amongst the species that showed low bulk, high bursting strength and high breaking length and was considered suitable for fine paper furnishes. Pulp from A. decurrens was readily bleached to high brightness levels and the bleached pulp properties would be suitable for end products such as writing and printing papers (Logan and Balodis, 1982). The species is still cultivated for paper and charcoal production in certain parts of Asia and America (Hanelt et al., 2001).

Acacia decurrens has the potential to be an excellent source of fuelwood. Maiden (1889) notes that the wood of A. decurrens provides an excellent fuel even when green. Individual farm woodlots of A. decurrens and A. mearnsii are an important source of woody biomass production in Swaziland (Allen et al., 1988; Allen, 1990).

In the past, A. decurrens was used in Australia for the tanning of hides when the industry was locally viable (Clemson, 1985), however, its bark is much thinner and inferior in quality to A. mearnsii (Maiden, 1889). The bark of A. decurrens yields 35-40% good quality tannin but contains an excessively red-coloured tannin extract (Ruskin, 1983; Luyt et al., 1987). Thus, its tannin is considered to reduce the value of leather, and tannin from species such as A. mearnsii is preferred. Ruskin (1983), however, notes that this problem with tannin from A. decurrens could be overcome by changing the tanning process or by the addition of additives. A. decurrens is still the main tannin producing species exploited in Indonesia (Prayitno, 1982), where the addition of 5-10% of tannin-formaldehyde, made from the tannin from A. decurrens bark, is used to manufacture fibreboard from mixed wood species (Silitonga et al., 1974). Tannin-formaldehyde from A. decurrens significantly improves the strength, water-absorption and thickness-swelling properties of the boards and the cost of its production is reduced by the addition of urea to the tannin (Santoso and Sutigno, 1995). Dyes extracted from the leaves of A. decurrens have also been used to colour wool yellow or green depending on the mordant used (Martin, 1974). The species was first introduced to South Africa, where it is now known to be highly invasive, for its use in the tannin dye industry (Orchard and Wilson, 2001). It is still cultivated for its bark across south and southeast Asia (Hanelt et al., 2001).

Acacia decurrens is also known for the production of wattle gum. According to Maiden (1889), the tree yields copious gum during the summer months and was used to make jelly-like confection. Its gum has also been used as a substitute for gum arabic (Macmillan et al., 1991). A. decurrens produces medium to abundant quantities of pollen during good flowering seasons as a potential source of bee forage (Clemson, 1985). Seeds have a high oil content with potential for use as a 'drying oil' (Rao, 1959). Leaves have also been used for green manure production (Webb et al., 1984), though A. decurrens is not known for its fodder value in Australia.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

Materials

  • Dye/tanning
  • Wood/timber

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Wood Products

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Charcoal

Roundwood

  • Building poles
  • Posts

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences

Wood-based materials

  • Fibreboard
  • Hardboard

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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It may be confused with A. dealbata, A. parramattensis, A. filicifolia and A. dangarensis. The main character distinguishing A. decurrens from these species is its decurrent winged ridges on the stems below the petioles.

Prevention and Control

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

Henderson (2001) reports that research work in South Africa is currently investigating the potential of seed feeding insects as biological control agents. ARC (2003) reports that Melanterius maculatus (Curculionidae) was released in South Africa in 2003 as a biological control agent against A. decurrens, however, the degree of control provided is unknown. Hill et al. (2000) provide details of trials in New Zealand using Bruchophagus acaciae (Hymenoptera: Eurytomidae). Seed destruction of A. decurrens by this species was less successful than in A. dealbata and A. baileyana.

FloraBase (2016) suggests the following physical and chemical methods of management and control: ‘Hand pull seedlings. Fell mature plants. Young plants may occasionally resprout. Apply 250 ml Access® in 15 L of diesel to basal 50 cm of trunk (basal bark) or cut and paint with 50% glyphosate or drill and fill. Older plants can be ringbarked. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides.’

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Considering that many Acacia species are highly invasive, ‘all Acacia should be suspect’ of being invasive (PIER, 2016). More research is needed on the extent of this species’ weediness and potential invasiveness in places where it is known to be common and naturalized, such as the Caribbean, as well as methods of identification, prevention and control.

References

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Wiersema, J. H., León, B., 1999. World economic plants: a standard reference, Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.749 pp.

Wrigley JW, Fagg M, 1996. Australian Native Plants. 4th edition. Australia: Reed Books

Yang MQ, Zeng YT, Zhang XJ, Zhang XS, 1994. Effect of low temperatures on Acacia. In: Brown AG, ed. Australian Tree Species Research in China: Proceedings of an International Workshop held at Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China, 2-5 November 1992. ACIAR Monograph No. 48:176-179

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

CABI, 2021. CABI Distribution Database: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Calflora, 2016. Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research, and conservation. In: Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research, and conservation. Berkeley, California, USA: Calflora Database. http://www.calflora.org

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FAO, 2016. Eco-Crop Online Database. Land and Water Development Division, Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO). http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/cropView?id=2695

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016. Flora of China. In: Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Flora of Pakistan, 2016. Flora of Pakistan/Pakistan Plant Database (PPD). Tropicos website. In: Flora of Pakistan/Pakistan Plant Database (PPD). Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/Pakistan

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Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435. http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14435

Septiadi L, Wahyudi D, Rachman R S, Syafrudin, Alfaruqi N T S, 2018. The invasive plants species along the hiking track of Mount Panderman Nature Tourism, Batu, East Java. Journal of Indonesian Tourism and Development Studies. 6 (1), 55-62. http://jitode.ub.ac.id/index.php/jitode/article/view/244/241

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USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

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Weeds of Australia, 2016. Weeds of Australia, Biosecurity Queensland Edition., http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/search.html?zoom_query=

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.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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01/03/2017 Updated by:

Christopher F. Puttock, Department of Botany - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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