- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Merremia peltata (L.) Merr. (1917)
Other Scientific Names
- Convolvulus peltatus L. (1753)
- Ipomoea nymphaeifolia Bl. (1825)
- Ipomoea peltata Choisy (1833)
- Merremia nymphaefolia (Bl.) Hall. F. (1895)
- Operculina peltata (L.) Hall. F. (1893)
International Common Names
- English: merremia
Local Common Names
- Malaysia: akar sambang
- Micronesia, Federated states of: big leaf; lol (Pohnpei)
- Niue: fue vao
- Samoa: fue lautetele
- Tonga: fue mea
- MRRPE (Merremia peltata)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Solanales
- Family: Convolvulaceae
- Genus: Merremia
- Species: Merremia peltata
DescriptionTop of page
M. peltata is a robust perennial vine with stems growing from a large subterranean tuber, climbing to 30 m. The stems have a milky juice. Leaves peltate, almost round, but with an abruptly acuminate or mucronate apex, up to 30 cm across, glabrous. Inflorescences axillary, up to 40 cm long with several to many flowers. Sepals 20 mm long, corolla funnel-shaped 5-7 cm long, usually white, but yellow-flowered forms occur in western. Malaysia (van Ooststroom and Hoogland, 1953). Capsule 4-celled, about 15 mm across.
DistributionTop of page
An Old World species ranging from East Africa through the Indian Ocean, South and South East Asia to many islands of the Pacific.
Distribution TableTop of page
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/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Thothathri et al., 1975|
|Indonesia||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Java||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Kalimantan||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Sulawesi||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Malaysia||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Sabah||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Sarawak||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Philippines||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Madagascar||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Seychelles||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Tanzania||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Northwest Territories||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|American Samoa||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Australia||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|-Queensland||Present||Van and Hoogland, 1953|
|Cook Islands||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Fiji||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|French Polynesia||Widespread||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Marshall Islands||Present||Introduced||Englberger, 2009|
|Micronesia, Federated states of||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Englberger, 2009||Invasive in Pohnpei. Also present in Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Thothathri et al., 1975|
|Samoa||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Introduced||Bacon, 1982; Chaplin, 1985; Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Tonga||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Vanuatu||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
|Wallis and Futuna Islands||Present||Introduced||Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009|
HabitatTop of page A plant of the humid tropics, favouring the edges of primary and secondary lowland rainforest, thickets and plantations. From sea level up to 700 m.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details|
|Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
M. peltata is a robust perenial climber with a large underground tuber, but also producing seeds (van Ooststroom and Hoogland, 1963; Bacon 1981, 1982). Flowering can occur year-round, but is greatest from May to September (Neil 1982a). The production of viable seed is thought to be favoured by the least shaded conditions. Viability is apparently at least one year in the field (Neil, 1982a), although Sankaran et al. (2013) note that low seed viability is compensated by vigorous vegetative reproduction.
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Paynter et al. (2006) explored the prospects of biological control. They noted limited published information about insects that attack M. peltata. However, the presence of several fungal pathogens, insects with no other recorded hosts, and the very wide geographic range of M. peltata indicate host-specific biological control agents may exist. A potential candidate for developing a mycoherbicide for M. peltata is Glomerella cingulata, as this fungus has already been recorded from M. peltata in the Pacific. Prospects for biological control of M. peltata in the Pacific region will likely hinge on whether M. peltata is native to the region, as its status has contradicting reports.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
M. peltata spreads by seed. The vine also has the ability to root from its nodes, with stem fragments (broken) also re-sprouting and rooting (Paynter et al., 2006).
It can be transported in machinery and by the movement of soil. Human activities have aided its movement unintentionally through transport of seeds in soil (Kirkham, 2005).
M. peltata is commonly planted as an ornamental and as a means of providing rapid ground cover, thus reducing erosion and nutrient losses following disturbance of land. It is thought to have been introduced to Vanuatu about the time of World War II, possibly by the US army for camouflage purposes (Bakeo et al., 2005).
ImpactTop of page Noted to be a dominant species in forest plantations in Western Polynesia, Solomon Islands and Indonesia (Whistler (1983), Neil (1982a) and Nazif and Pratiwi (1991), respectively).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Several other vigorous Merremia spp. occur as weeds, including M. umbellata, M. pacifica and M. bracteata, all included in this compendium, but none of these have peltate leaves.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Cover crops have been suggested as a possible method for control of Merremia species (including M. peltata) in forestry plantations on the Solomon Islands, although the economics of this are not discussed (Neil, 1982f). Merremia species can be palatable to livestock and may also be kept in check through grazing though there is evidence that cattle may also damage trees (Neil, 1982e). Regimes for managing both the weed and the emerging plantations have been documented (Neil, 1982e). The usual control practice is to cut the emerging Merremia using long-bladed knives but this practice is labour-intensive and can easily damage establishing plants. Fire has been traditionally employed for clearing gardens for food production in the Solomon Islands and so-called 'prescribed burning' has been recommended for clearing areas prior to forest plantation establishment (Neil, 1982d). In forestry plantations, tree spacing is thought to influence the rates of weed ingress and an integrated silvicultural approach can provide acceptable levels of control (Chaplin, 1985).
In work on the Solomon Islands, early reports indicated that species of Merremia (including M. peltata) showed some resistance to growth-regulating herbicides, but rigorous field testing has revealed that this is not the case (Bacon, 1981; Neil, 1982c). A wide range of inexpensive and widely available herbicides provide efficient control of Merremia. Those reported as giving best control include: 2,4-D and ioxynil; MCPA; 2,4-D butyl ester; 2,4-D dimethylamine salt; triclopyr; triclopyr + picloram; glyphosate; and dicamba. These herbicides provide effective control at a range of commercially recommended dose rates (Lamb 1975; Bacon, 1981; Neil, 1982c). Granular applications are not practical at field level but low volume applications have provided effective control (Neil, 1982b). Englberger (2009) recommends using triclopyr, as a foliar spray for young plants and as an undiluted stem application (by brushing) onto freshly-cut stems for larger plants.
ReferencesTop of page
Bacon PS, 1981. The biology and control of the weed Merremia in forest plantation areas of the Solomon Islands. MSc Thesis, Technology of Crop Protection, Reading, UK: University of Reading
Bakeo R, Qarani F, 2005. Country report on the forestry invasive species situation in Vanuatu. In: The unwelcome guests: Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasives Species Conference . Kunming, Yunnan Province, China: FAO. 130-136.
Englberger K, 2009. Invasive weeds of Pohnpei: A guide for identification and public awareness. Kolonia, Federated States of Micronesia: Conservation Society of Pohnpei, 29 pp
Kirkham WS, 2005. Valuing invasions: Understanding the Merremia peltata invasion in post-colonial Samoa. Austin, TX, USA: University of Texas at Austin.
Paynter Q, Harman H, Waipara N, 2006. Prospects for biological control of Merremia peltata. Landcare Research Contract Report: LC0506/177. Auckland, New Zealand: Landcare Research.
Sankaran KV, Suresh TA, 2013. Invasive alien plants in the forests of Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok, Thailand: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Thothathri K, Banerjee SP, Hazra PK, 1975. Merremia peltata (Linn.) Merr. (Convolvulaceae) - a new record to Indian flora from Great Nicobar Island. Current Science, 44(3):95
Van Ooststroom SJ, Hoogland RD, 1953. Convolvulaceae. Flora Malesiana, 4:439-454
Verdcourt B, 1963. Convolvulaceae. In: Hubbard CE, Milne-Redhead E, eds. Flora of Tropical East Africa. London, UK:Crown Agents
Waterhouse DF, 1997. The major invertebrate pests and weeds of agriculture and plantation forestry in the southern and western Pacific. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. 93 pp. [ACIAR Monograph No. 44]
Distribution MapsTop of page
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