Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Merremia peltata



Merremia peltata


  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Merremia peltata
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Flowering M. peltata.
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionFlowering M. peltata.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
Flowering M. peltata.
Leaves and flowersFlowering M. peltata.©Matthew Cock
M. peltata leaves.
CaptionM. peltata leaves.
CopyrightPhilip Bacon
M. peltata leaves.
LeavesM. peltata leaves.Philip Bacon
M. peltata, showing leaf size, Solomon Is.
TitleLeaf size
CaptionM. peltata, showing leaf size, Solomon Is.
Copyright©P.J. Terry/LARS
M. peltata, showing leaf size, Solomon Is.
Leaf sizeM. peltata, showing leaf size, Solomon Is.©P.J. Terry/LARS
M. peltata, flowering.
TitleGrowth habit
CaptionM. peltata, flowering.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
M. peltata, flowering.
Growth habitM. peltata, flowering.©Matthew Cock
M. peltata in forestry plantation.
TitleInvasive growth
CaptionM. peltata in forestry plantation.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
M. peltata in forestry plantation.
Invasive growthM. peltata in forestry plantation.©Matthew Cock
M. peltata infesting forest on the  Solomon Islands.
TitleInvasive growth
CaptionM. peltata infesting forest on the Solomon Islands.
Copyright©P.J. Terry/LARS
M. peltata infesting forest on the  Solomon Islands.
Invasive growthM. peltata infesting forest on the Solomon Islands.©P.J. Terry/LARS


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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

EPPO code

  • MRRPE (Merremia peltata)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Convolvulaceae
  •                             Genus: Merremia
  •                                 Species: Merremia peltata


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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.


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An Old World species ranging from East Africa through the Indian Ocean, South and South East Asia to many islands of the Pacific.

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


IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentThothathri et al., 1975
IndonesiaPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-JavaPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-KalimantanPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-SulawesiPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
MalaysiaPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-SabahPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-SarawakPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
PhilippinesPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953


MadagascarPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
SeychellesPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
TanzaniaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ZanzibarPresentVerdourt, 1963

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953


American SamoaPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
AustraliaPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
-QueenslandPresentVan and Hoogland, 1953
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
FijiPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
French PolynesiaWidespreadIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
GuamPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedEnglberger, 2009
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Englberger, 2009Invasive in Pohnpei. Also present in Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
NiuePresentWaterhouse, 1997
PalauPresentIntroducedEnglberger, 2009
Papua New GuineaPresentThothathri et al., 1975
SamoaPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedBacon, 1982; Chaplin, 1985; Waterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
TongaPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
VanuatuPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009


Top 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 List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

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M. peltata is noted to be a dominant species in forest plantations in western Polynesia, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia by Whistler (1983), Neil (1982a) and Nazif and Pratiwi (1991), respectively.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)MusaceaeMain
Swietenia macrophylla (big leaved mahogany)MeliaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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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 Enemies

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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 Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

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).

Accidental Introduction

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).

Intentional Introduction

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).


Top 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).


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M. peltata is used by some people for healing skin burns (Englberger, 2009).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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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 Control

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Cultural Control

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).

Chemical Control

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 1975Bacon, 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.


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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

Bacon PS, 1982. The weedy species of Merremia (Convolvulaceae) occurring in the Solomon Islands and a description of a new species. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 84(3):257-264

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.

Chaplin GE, 1985. An integrated silvicultural solution to weedy climber problems in the Solomon Islands. Commonwealth Forestry Review, 64(2):133-139

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.

Lamb D, 1975. Weed control in tropical forest plantations using glyphosate. PANS [Pest Articles and News Summaries], 21(2):177-181

Nazif M, Pratiwi, 1991. An ecological study of weeds of industrial forest plantations in South Kalimantan. Buletin Penelitian Hutan, No. 534:15-26; [With English figures and tables]; 5 ref

Neil PE, 1982. Application techniques when using herbicides for Merremia. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 2/82:8 pp

Neil PE, 1982. Herbicides and Merremia species control. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 1/82:8 pp

Neil PE, 1982. Merremia species and other weedy climbers. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 3/82:6 pp

Neil PE, 1982. The use of cattle for Merremia species control. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 5/82:5 pp

Neil PE, 1982. The use of cover crops in Merremia species control. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 6/82:5 pp

Neil PE, 1982. The use of fire for Merremia species control. Forest Research Note, Forestry Division, Solomon Islands, No. 4/82:4 pp

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]

Whistler WA, 1983. Weed handbook of Western Polynesia. Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft fnr Technische Zusammenarbeit, 157 pp

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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