Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Inga punctata
(ice cream bean tree)

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Datasheet

Inga punctata (ice cream bean tree)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 29 May 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Inga punctata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • ice cream bean tree
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Inga punctata is a fast-growing species native to the Americas, ranging from Mexico to northern South America and some Caribbean islands. The species can rapidly invade space once available. In forests it will...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Inga punctata (ice cream bean tree); flowering habit, showing leaves, flowers and developing seedpods.
TitleHabit
CaptionInga punctata (ice cream bean tree); flowering habit, showing leaves, flowers and developing seedpods.
Copyright©Cirilo Nelson/via Useful Tropical Plants - CC BY-SA-NC 3.0
Inga punctata (ice cream bean tree); flowering habit, showing leaves, flowers and developing seedpods.
HabitInga punctata (ice cream bean tree); flowering habit, showing leaves, flowers and developing seedpods.©Cirilo Nelson/via Useful Tropical Plants - CC BY-SA-NC 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Inga punctata

Preferred Common Name

  • ice cream bean tree

Other Scientific Names

  • Feuilleea leptoloba (Schltdl.) Kuntze
  • Feuilleea punctata (Willd.) Kuntze
  • Inga ierensis Britton
  • Inga leptoloba Schltdl.
  • Inga popayanensis Pittier
  • Inga salvadorensis Britton & Rose
  • Mimosa sericea Poir.

International Common Names

  • Spanish: cuajiniquil; guamo macho; guava del mono; miji; pepeto negro ; puih

Local Common Names

  • Belgium: high ridgr bribri
  • Bolivia: guava del mono
  • Chile: cuajiniquil
  • Colombia: guamo macho
  • Costa Rica: cuajiniquil
  • Cuba: charagüito
  • Guatemala: bitz; bri bri; cerel ; cerelillo; cuajinicuil
  • Honduras: brit brit ; guama negra; guamo; guano ; miji; puih
  • Mexico: acotope; cal-oni; chelele; pepeto negro; telle; tepexalahuit
  • Panama: bri bri; guaba; guaba del mono; guabita cansa-boca; guabito cansa-boca
  • Spain: cuje; cuje guamito; pepeto; pepeto guatimo; pepeto negro

EPPO code

  • INGPU (Inga punctata)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Inga punctata is a fast-growing species native to the Americas, ranging from Mexico to northern South America and some Caribbean islands. The species can rapidly invade space once available. In forests it will spread to occupy any gap whether it is natural or man-made and outcompete native species (González-Oliva, 2015). It has been introduced in Cuba where it is reported as invasive in the mesic forests of Sierra del Rosario. 

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Inga is a genus of small trees and shrubs of the Mimosoideae subfamily within the Fabaceae. It is an exclusively neotropical genus of about 300 species. Due to the large number of species, the genus Inga is subdivided into 14 taxonomic sections, characterized by shared morphological attributes (Encyclopedia of Life, 2017).

In addition to synonyms listed in the table above, Missouri Botanical Garden (2017) lists Feuilleea strigillosa, Feuilleea rufinervis and Inga strigillosa as synonyms of Inga punctata. However, ILDIS (2008), which The Plant List cites as its authority, disagrees and keeps them as separate taxa. ILDIS (2008) treats I.strigillosa as a synonym of I. leiocalycina, and treats I. salvadorensis and I. rufinervis as synonyms of I. sapindoides and I. leiocalycina, respectively.

Description

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The following description is from Croat (1978):

“Tree, to 15 m tall; branchlets sparsely strigose when young, glabrate in age, minutely lenticellate, minutely ribbed below petioles (at least when dried). Leaves stri­gose throughout, especially on axis and midrib of leaflets; petiole and rachis terete to narrowly margined; leaflets in 2 or 3 pairs, lanceolate to elliptic, long-acuminate, acute to rounded at base, the terminal pair 9-18 cm long, 3.5-7.5 cm wide. Spikes axillary, in groups of 1-7; pe­duncle and rachis strigose; peduncles 2-4 cm long; rachis much shorter, 1-2.5 cm long; bracts subulate, to ± 2 mm long; calyx puberulent, 3-5 mm long, the lobes ± 1 mm long; corolla moderately sericeous, 5-9 mm long, the lobes to 2 mm long; stamens and style to ca 2 cm long. Legumes flat, to 16 cm long and 2 cm wide, minutely puberulent, the margins raised.”

The seeds are covered by a white aril which is sweet and edible (Useful Tropical Plants, 2017).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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Inga punctata is very widespread and common in Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean. It is also known in Cuba (IUCN, 2017). Although IUCN list it as native in Cuba, a research project done by the Institute of Ecology and Systematics shows I. punctata as an introduced, invasive species in Cuba (González-Oliva, 2015), and it is listed as an invasive by Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012).

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: 07 May 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

North America

Costa RicaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
CubaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveGonzález-Oliva (2015); Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012); IUCN (2017)Introduced from Mexico in 1940
El SalvadorPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
GuatemalaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
HondurasPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
NicaraguaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
PanamaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
Trinidad and TobagoPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)

South America

BoliviaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
BrazilPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
ColombiaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
EcuadorPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
French GuianaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
GuyanaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
PeruPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
SurinamePresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)
VenezuelaPresent, WidespreadNativeIUCN (2017)

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Cuba Mexico 1940 Yes No González-Oliva (2015)

Habitat

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Inga punctata is common in moist forests from low elevations to the premontane zone. It prefers loamy soils in clearings, on forest margins and along steep grass-covered hill slopes at elevations from 120-1350 m (Useful Tropical Plants, 2017). It has been collected from a wide range of habitats but is most frequently found in disturbed vegetation along roads, in pastures and along riverbanks.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat
Natural grasslands Principal habitat
Riverbanks Principal habitat
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome count for I. punctata is 2n=26.

Reproductive Biology

Mature I. punctata plants produce many fruits with 6-12 seeds in each fruit. Seed germination can take place inside the fruits and before dispersal (González-Oliva, 2015).

Physiology and Phenology

Inga punctata flowers throughout the rainy season. (May-December). Mature fruits are seen late in dry season (Croat, 1978).

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])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
19°20'N 16°20'S

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Dysmicoccus texensis Herbivore Roots not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The mealybug Dysmicoccus texensis is often found feeding on the roots of I. punctata (Leathers, 2016).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Inga punctata can spread by seeds germinating after the fruits fall to the ground (González-Oliva, 2015).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seeds are dispersed by mammals, birds and humans (Estrada and Fleming, 2012; González-Oliva, 2015).

Pathway Causes

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Impact Summary

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

Impact: Biodiversity

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The riparian forest of Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosario (BRSR) in Western Cuba has been invaded by I. punctata. I. punctata threatens several endemic species in this forest, such as Zanthoxylum ekmanii, Gonzalagunia sagraeana, Piresiella strephioides, Hebestigma cubenese and Ardisia dentata. It was also found replacing Matayba apetala, a dominant species in the invaded forest. The invasion of I. punctata has led to a number of common endemic and endangered species becoming increasingly rare, and many of them have disappeared from the area. (González-Oliva, 2015).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Infrastructure damage
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Rapid growth

Uses

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Social Benefit

The wood of I. punctata is used for making chests and flooring. It is also used for fuel. The white aril surrounding the seeds in the pod is eaten as food (Useful Tropical Plants, 2017).

Environmental Services

Inga punctata is used for planting in degraded soils to restore their fertility (Useful Tropical Plants, 2017). I. punctata produces root nodules containing nitrogen fixing bacteria. Crops can benefit from the release of nitrogen and also from the nutrients of decomposing leaf mulch. The mulch plays a role in reducing the soil surface temperature to the levels found in natural forest. This helps in the germination of crop seeds. Inga roots form associations with mycorrhizal fungi by which these plants are able to recycle phosphorus which is not available to non-mycorrrhizal plant species on the same soils (Inga Foundation, 2017).

Because of its fast growth and heavily branched canopy it is used for ecological restoration in Panama and Cuba as its rapid growth can help in forest regeneration and the shade of its canopy slows down the growth of non-native grass. It is also often used to provide shade to coffee plantations (IUCN, 2017).

Uses List

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Fuels

  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Wood Products

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Furniture

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Flooring

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Inga punctata looks similar to Inga laurina but the leaflet of I. punctata is not as smooth and shiny as in I. laurina (Condit et al., 2010). Inga punctata and I. mortoniana are hard to distinguish when they are in their vegetative states (Naturalista, 2017).

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.

The control measures followed in western Cuba to control the invasion of I. punctata in Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosario (BRSR) riparian forest, at the upper stream of Bayate river and close to river San Miguel are outlined by González-Oliva (2015):

  • Promote public awareness for proper management of the seeds remaining after eating the fruit, and the prevention of intentional introduction.
  • Control or eradicate I. punctata by double girdling and tree cutting, to be followed by removing re-sprouts at 3, 6 and 9 months.
    • If double girdling new tissue should be removed.
    • If tree cutting is used gaps in the forest should be avoided in order to prevent further invasion.

References

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Condit R, Pérez R, Daguerre N, 2010. Trees of Panama and Costa Rica, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press.496 pp.

Croat, T. B., 1978. Flora of Barro Colorado Island, Stanford, California, USA: Stanford University Press.ix + 943 pp.

Encyclopedia of Life, 2017. Encyclopedia of Life. In: Encyclopedia of Life . http://www.eol.org

Estrada A, Fleming TH, 2012. Frugivores and seed dispersal, Berlin, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.392 pp.

González-Oliva, L, 2015. The alien invasive legume Inga punctata in mountain range Sierra del Rosario: current distribution, impact, invasion pathways and management recommendations. Research Report. London, UK: The Rufford Foundation.https://www.rufford.org/files/14746-1%20Detailed%20Final%20Report_0.pdf

ILDIS, 2008. International Legume Database and Information Service. In: International Legume Database and Information Service Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, Unversity of Reading.http://www.ildis.org/

Inga Foundation, 2017. The Inga Tree. Cornwall, UK: Inga Foundation.http://www.ingafoundation.org/the-inga-tree/

IUCN, 2017. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Cambridge, UK: IUCN.http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Leathers J, 2016. Dysmicoccus texensis (Tinsley): A Mealybug. In: Pest Rating Proposals and Final Ratings, California, USA: California Department of Food and Agriculture.https://blogs.cdfa.ca.gov/Section3162/?p=2164

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2017. Tropicos database. In: Tropicos database St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.tropicos.org/

Naturalista, 2017. Naturalista. Mexico City, Mexico: CONABIO.https://www.naturalista.mx/

Oviedo Prieto, R., Herrera Oliver, P., Caluff, M. G., et al., 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.

Useful Tropical Plants, 2017. Useful tropical plants database. In: Useful tropical plants database : K Fern.http://tropical.theferns.info/

Distribution References

González-Oliva L, 2015. The alien invasive legume Inga punctata in mountain range Sierra del Rosario: current distribution, impact, invasion pathways and management recommendations. Research Report., London, UK: The Rufford Foundation. https://www.rufford.org/files/14746-1%20Detailed%20Final%20Report_0.pdf

IUCN, 2017. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species., Cambridge, UK: IUCN. http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, et al, 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 6 (Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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26/04/17 Original text by:

Shruti Dube, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH

Distribution Maps

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