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Datasheet

Mikania micrantha (bitter vine)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mikania micrantha
  • Preferred Common Name
  • bitter vine
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. micrantha is a fast growing vine, native to Central and South America. It was intentionally introduced into a number of countries and has since become a major weed in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and is st...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Copyright©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
HabitMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Copyright©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
HabitMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, showing rampant growth inside and outside of a shade house. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, invading forest in India.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, invading forest in India.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, invading forest in India.
Invasive habitMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, invading forest in India.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); climbing shoots. Bhutan.
TitleHabit
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); climbing shoots. Bhutan.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); climbing shoots. Bhutan.
HabitMikania micrantha (bitter vine); climbing shoots. Bhutan.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); leaves simple, opposite, glabrous, thin, broadly ovate, shallowly or coarsely toothed, triangular or ovate, tip acuminate, blade 4-13 x 2-9 cm.
TitleLeaves
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); leaves simple, opposite, glabrous, thin, broadly ovate, shallowly or coarsely toothed, triangular or ovate, tip acuminate, blade 4-13 x 2-9 cm.
Copyright©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); leaves simple, opposite, glabrous, thin, broadly ovate, shallowly or coarsely toothed, triangular or ovate, tip acuminate, blade 4-13 x 2-9 cm.
LeavesMikania micrantha (bitter vine); leaves simple, opposite, glabrous, thin, broadly ovate, shallowly or coarsely toothed, triangular or ovate, tip acuminate, blade 4-13 x 2-9 cm.©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowering habit. Indonesia.
TitleFlowers
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowering habit. Indonesia.
Copyright©P.J. Terry/LARS
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowering habit. Indonesia.
FlowersMikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowering habit. Indonesia.©P.J. Terry/LARS
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit. A vigorous, fast-growing, perennial, creeping or twining plant with numerous cordate leaves, and numerous large, loose heads of white or cream-coloured flowers that produce many seeds.
TitleHabit
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit. A vigorous, fast-growing, perennial, creeping or twining plant with numerous cordate leaves, and numerous large, loose heads of white or cream-coloured flowers that produce many seeds.
Copyright©Matthew Cock
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit. A vigorous, fast-growing, perennial, creeping or twining plant with numerous cordate leaves, and numerous large, loose heads of white or cream-coloured flowers that produce many seeds.
HabitMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit. A vigorous, fast-growing, perennial, creeping or twining plant with numerous cordate leaves, and numerous large, loose heads of white or cream-coloured flowers that produce many seeds. ©Matthew Cock
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowers. Inflorescence a corymbose panicle with subcymose branches, 3-6 cm long by 3-10 cm wide; flowers small, white or cream coloured.
TitleFlowers
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowers. Inflorescence a corymbose panicle with subcymose branches, 3-6 cm long by 3-10 cm wide; flowers small, white or cream coloured.
Copyright©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowers. Inflorescence a corymbose panicle with subcymose branches, 3-6 cm long by 3-10 cm wide; flowers small, white or cream coloured.
FlowersMikania micrantha (bitter vine); flowers. Inflorescence a corymbose panicle with subcymose branches, 3-6 cm long by 3-10 cm wide; flowers small, white or cream coloured. ©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); florets white or greenish, fragrant; corolla mostly white, tubular, 2.5-4 mm long; involucral bracts 4, oblong to obovate, 2-4 mm long, acute, green, with one additional smaller bract 1-2 mm long.
TitleFlowers
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); florets white or greenish, fragrant; corolla mostly white, tubular, 2.5-4 mm long; involucral bracts 4, oblong to obovate, 2-4 mm long, acute, green, with one additional smaller bract 1-2 mm long.
Copyright©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); florets white or greenish, fragrant; corolla mostly white, tubular, 2.5-4 mm long; involucral bracts 4, oblong to obovate, 2-4 mm long, acute, green, with one additional smaller bract 1-2 mm long.
FlowersMikania micrantha (bitter vine); florets white or greenish, fragrant; corolla mostly white, tubular, 2.5-4 mm long; involucral bracts 4, oblong to obovate, 2-4 mm long, acute, green, with one additional smaller bract 1-2 mm long.©Colin Wilson
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
TitleHabit, seeding
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Copyright©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Habit, seedingMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
TitleHabit, seeding
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Copyright©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.
Habit, seedingMikania micrantha (bitter vine); habit, bursting into seed early in winter at an abandoned nursery. Homestead, Florida, USA. December 2010.©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); natural enemy of M. micrantha. Septoria leaf spot (Septoria mikaniae-micranthae), symptoms on leaves, showing patchy damage.
TitleNatural enemy
CaptionMikania micrantha (bitter vine); natural enemy of M. micrantha. Septoria leaf spot (Septoria mikaniae-micranthae), symptoms on leaves, showing patchy damage.
Copyright©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mikania micrantha (bitter vine); natural enemy of M. micrantha. Septoria leaf spot (Septoria mikaniae-micranthae), symptoms on leaves, showing patchy damage.
Natural enemyMikania micrantha (bitter vine); natural enemy of M. micrantha. Septoria leaf spot (Septoria mikaniae-micranthae), symptoms on leaves, showing patchy damage.©Andrew Derksen/USDA-APHIS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mikania micrantha Kunth

Preferred Common Name

  • bitter vine

Other Scientific Names

  • Eupatorium denticulatum Vahl
  • Eupatorium orinocense (Kunth) Gómez de la Maza
  • Eupatorium orinocense (Kunth) M.Gómez
  • Eupatorium orinocense var. batataefolium (DC.) M.Gómez
  • Eupatorium orinocense var. tamoides (DC.) M.Gómez
  • Kleinia alata G. Meyer
  • Mikania alata (G.Mey.) DC.
  • Mikania cissampelina DC.
  • Mikania denticulata (Vahl) Willd.
  • Mikania glechomifolia Sch.Bip. ex Baker
  • Mikania micrantha (Hieron.) B.L.Rob.
  • Mikania micrantha f. hirsuta (Hieron.) B.L.Rob.
  • Mikania micrantha var. micrantha
  • Mikania orinocensis Kunth
  • Mikania scandens var. cynanchifolia Hook. & Arn. ex Baker
  • Mikania scandens var. sagittifolia Hassl.
  • Mikania scandens var. subcymosa (L.) Wild., 1876
  • Mikania scandens var. umbellifera (Gardner) Baker
  • Mikania sinuata Rusby
  • Mikania subcrenata Hook. & Arn.
  • Mikania subcymosa Gardner
  • Mikania umbellifera Gardner
  • Mikania variabilis Meyen & Walp.
  • Willoughbya cissampelina (DC.) Kuntze
  • Willoughbya micrantha (Kunth) Rusby
  • Willoughbya scandens var. orinocensis (Kunth) Kuntze
  • Willoughbya variabilis (Meyen & Walp.) Kuntze

International Common Names

  • English: American rope; Chinese creeper; climbing hempweed; Mikania vine; mile-a-minute weed
  • Spanish: guaco; wappe
  • French: liane américaine

Local Common Names

  • American Samoa: fue saina
  • Cook Islands: po kutekute
  • Fiji: ovaova; usuvanua; wabosucu; wabutako; wambosuthu; wambosuvu; wandamele
  • Germany: Sommer-Efeu
  • India: Japani habi
  • Indonesia: sembang rambat
  • Malaysia: cheroma; ulam tikas
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: selmwadang; selmwadang
  • Niue: fou laina; fue saina
  • Palau: teb el yas
  • Peru: camotille
  • Saint Lucia: kacho
  • Samoa: fue saina
  • Solomon Islands: kwalo kalialo; kwalo kauburu

EPPO code

  • MIKMI (Mikania micrantha)

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. micrantha is a fast growing vine, native to Central and South America. It was intentionally introduced into a number of countries and has since become a major weed in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and is still extending its range. However, it has not yet been recorded in Africa. Once established, M. micrantha can quickly smother other vegetation, including native trees, plantation species and agricultural crops, killing plants and/or decreasing yield and biodiversity. In Nepal, the vulnerable greater one-horned rhinoceros is under threat as M. micrantha outcompetes plant species on which it browses. Control of this species is difficult as it produces are large number of seed, can readily shoot from runners and suckers and can regenerate from stem fragments. This species has been the target of a biological programme in many countries.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Mikania
  •                                 Species: Mikania micrantha

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Mikania is the largest genus in the tribe Eupatorieae within the family Asteraceae and contains species primarly native to tropical and temperate America (Day et al., 2016). 

M. micrantha is a New World species whose full distribution in the Old World has only recently been fully realised. In much of the earlier literature, it was mistakenly referred to as M. scandens or M. cordata. Although Holm et al. (1991) state that M. cordata is "by far the most important weed of the three", this reference is now known to be incorrect and many of the records for the distribution of M. cordata in early literature refer to M. micrantha.

Studies of karyotypes and chromosome morphology of M. micrantha, M. glomerata, M. trinervis (from Londrina and Parana, Brazil) and M. cordifolia, M. laevigata and M. viminea (from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil) have indicated that M. micrantha is a tetraploid with 2n=72, M. viminea a tetraploid with 2n=68, M. laevigata a diploid with 2n=38 and M. cordifolia a diploid with 2n=34. The other two species, M. glomerata and M. trinervis are also diploids. All species except M. micrantha had one long pair of chromosomes with a secondary constriction in the long arms, whereas M. micrantha had two pairs of long chromosomes. This suggested an evolutionary trend towards formation of aneuploid series and polyploidy (Ruas and Ruas, 1987).

Description

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M. micrantha is a vigorous, fast-growing, perennial, creeping or twining plant with numerous cordate leaves and numerous large, loose heads of white or cream-coloured flowers that produce many seeds. This plant can climb and smother Hevea brasiliensis (rubber) trees as tall as 25 m.

Much-branched, perennial, scrambling, twining, slender-stemmed vine; stems herbaceous to semi-woody, branched, ribbed, sparsely pubescent or glabrous; leaves simple, opposite, glabrous, thin, broadly ovate, shallowly or coarsely toothed, triangular or ovate, tip acuminate, blade 4-13 cm long, 2-9 cm wide, 3-7 nerved; at the junction of the petioles with the nodes, unusual nodal appendages, membranous, up to 5 mm long; petioles tendriliform, 2-9 cm long; inflorescence a corymbose panicle with subcymose branches, 3-6 cm long by 3-10 cm wide; flowers small, white or cream-coloured, actinomorphic, 4.5-6 mm long, in leaf axils or on terminal shoots; florets white or greenish, fragrant; corolla mostly white, tubular, 2.5-4 mm long; involucral bracts 4, oblong to obovate, 2-4 mm long, acute, green, with one additional smaller bract 1-2 mm long; pappus (calyx) of 32-38 barbellate, capillary bristles, 2-3 mm long; stamens attached by their anthers, these exserted, with a triangular-ovate apical appendage as long as broad or longer and rounded or rarely emarginate or subsagittate at base; ovary inferior, the style base glabrous; fruit an achene that is somewhat flattened, elliptic, 4-ribbed with short, white hairs along the ribs, with a tuft of white pappus at the summit, glandular, 1.2-1.8 mm long, dark grey to black (Parham, 1958; Parham, 1962; Adams et al., 1972; Nair, 1988; Holm et al., 1991).

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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M. micrantha is native to South and Central America, where it is widespread but is not considered a weed (Holm et al., 1991; Barreto and Evans, 1995). This species was intentionally introduced into the Asia-Pacific region and has since been reported in 20 countries and/or territories in the South Pacific and most countries in Southeast Asia. However, in some countries including Australia, China and India, its distribution within the country is limited, most probably by climate and altitude.

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 ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshRestricted distribution2009Introduced Invasive Akter and Zuberi, 2009; EPPO, 2014
BhutanPresentIntroduced Invasive Parker, 1992
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse, 1993
CambodiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Day et al., 2016
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongWidespreadIntroduced1910 Invasive Zhang et al., 2004
-HainanWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Li et al., 2000
-Hong KongWidespreadIntroduced1884 Invasive Wang et al., 2003; Zhang et al., 2004
-YunnanWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Du et al., 2006
IndiaRestricted distributionIntroduced1918 Invasive Choudhury, 1972; Muniappan and Viraktamath, 1993; EPPO, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroduced Invasive Rawat, 1997
-AssamWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Evans, 1999
-KeralaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Sankaran, 1999; Ellison et al., 2017
IndonesiaRestricted distributionIntroduced1949 Invasive Holmes, 1975; Wirjahardja, 1976; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
MalaysiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1977; Waterhouse, 1993; Ismail, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentLim et al., 1987
NepalRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Murphy et al., 2013; Ellison et al., 2017
PakistanPresentIntroduced Invasive Holmes, 1975
PhilippinesRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Gunn and Ritchie, 1982; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse, 1993; Lee et al., 1997
Sri LankaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Evans, 1999; EPPO, 2014
TaiwanWidespreadIntroduced1970s Invasive Zhang et al., 2004; Tripathi et al., 2012; EPPO, 2014
TajikistanPresentHolm et al., 1991
ThailandRestricted distributionIntroducedWaterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014; PIER, 2015
VietnamPresentGunn and Ritchie, 1982

Africa

AngolaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
Côte d'IvoireAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
EthiopiaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
GhanaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
GuineaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
LiberiaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
MauritiusPresentHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
SenegalAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata
South AfricaAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014Records in mainland Africa refer to the indigenous Mikania cordata

North America

MexicoRestricted distributionNativeHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014; PIER, 2015
USAPresentIntroducedGunn and Ritchie, 1982
-FloridaRestricted distributionIntroducedWeaver and Dixon, 2010Miami-Dade County
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroducedEnglberger, 2009

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
Costa RicaPresentNativeCock, 1980; PIER, 2015
CubaPresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
DominicaPresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
Dominican RepublicRestricted distributionHolm et al., 1991; EPPO, 2014
El SalvadorPresentNative Natural PIER, 2015
GrenadaPresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
GuadeloupePresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
GuatemalaPresentNative Natural PIER, 2015
JamaicaPresentHolm et al., 1991
MartiniquePresentNative Natural Queensland Government, 2015
NicaraguaPresentNativePIER, 2015
PanamaPresentNativeCock, 1980; PIER, 2015
Puerto RicoPresentGunn and Ritchie, 1982
Saint LuciaPresentNative Natural Graveson, 2012; Queensland Government, 2015Indigenous and introduced germplasm
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeCock, 1980

South America

ArgentinaPresent Natural GBIF, 2015
BoliviaPresentHolm et al., 1991
BrazilPresentBarreto and Evans, 1995
-ParanaPresentRuas and Ruas, 1987
ColombiaPresentNativeCock, 1980; PIER, 2015
EcuadorPresentNativeHolmes, 1975; Cock, 1981; PIER, 2015
PeruPresent Natural Cock, 1981; PIER, 2015
VenezuelaPresentCock, 1979

Oceania

American SamoaWidespreadIntroduced1938 Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015Ofu, Olosega, Ta'u, Aunu'u and Tutuila islands
AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroducedAnon., 2003; EPPO, 2014
-QueenslandRestricted distributionIntroduced1998 Invasive Brooks et al., 2008; IPPC, 2010; EPPO, 2014
Cook IslandsWidespreadIntroduced1991 Invasive Holm et al., 1991; Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015'Atiu, Ma'uke, Miti'aro and Rarotonga islands
FijiWidespreadIntroduced1907 Invasive Knowles, 1907; Meyer, 2000; EPPO, 2014; PIER, 2015Kandavu, Lakemba, Ovalau, Taveuni, Vanua and Viti Levu islands
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Englberger, 2009
GuamWidespreadIntroduced1963 Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Englberger, 2009; PIER, 2015
KiribatiPresentIntroduced2012 Invasive Day et al., 2016
Marshall IslandsWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Englberger, 2009; PIER, 2015
Micronesia, Federated states ofWidespreadIntroduced2000 Invasive Cock, 1980; Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Englberger, 2009; PIER, 2015Kosrae island
New CaledoniaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987
NiueRestricted distributionIntroduced1943 Invasive Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015
Northern Mariana IslandsWidespreadIntroduced2000 Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; PIER, 2015Rota island
PalauWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Englberger, 2009; PIER, 2015Koror, Malakal, Ngerkebesang and Peleliu islands
Papua New GuineaRestricted distributionIntroduced1951 Invasive Rogers and Hartemink, 2000; ACP Forenet, 2006; EPPO, 2014
SamoaWidespreadIntroduced1924 Invasive Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015Savai'i and Upolu islands
Solomon IslandsWidespreadIntroduced1988 Invasive PIER, 2015
TokelauPresentIntroduced Invasive Waterhouse and Norris, 1987
TongaWidespreadIntroduced1979 Invasive Meyer, 2000; Englberger, 2009
TuvaluPresentPIER, 2015
VanuatuWidespreadIntroduced1943 Invasive Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer, 2000; PIER, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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M. micrantha is native to South and Central America, where it is widespread but is not considered a weed (Holm et al., 1991; Barreto and Evans, 1995). It was introduced into the Asia-Pacific region (although often it is mistakenly referred to as M. scandens or M. cordata) (Adams et al., 1972; Parker, 1972; Holm et al., 1991; Ismail and Mah, 1993). Most of the records in Holm et al. (1991) for M. cordata and M. scandens in Asia, almost certainly refer to M. micrantha, while those for M. cordata in West Africa are probably correct. Conversely, most of the records for M. micrantha in mainland Africa cited in EPPO (2015) probably relate to the indigenous M. cordata. The record of M. micrantha in Mauritius may also be correct. The occurrence of true M. micrantha in mainland Africa is yet to be confirmed.

M. micrantha was first reported in Asia in 1884 in Hong Kong where it was growing in the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (Wang et al., 2003). M. micrantha was reported in mainland China in 1910 (Zhang et al., 2004) and India in 1918 (Choudhury, 1972), although there are reports that M. micrantha was introduced into India again during World War II (e.g. Puzari et al., 2010). M. micrantha was later recorded in Indonesia in 1949 (Wirjahardja, 1976), Malaysia in the 1950s (Ismail, 2001) and Taiwan in the 1970s (Tripathi et al., 2012).

M. micrantha was first reported in the Pacific in Fiji, in 1907 (Knowles, 1907). It was later reported in Western Samoa in 1924, American Samoa in 1938, Vanuatu and Niue by 1943 (PIER, 2015), Papua New Guinea in 1951 (ACP Forenet, 2006), Guam in 1963 (PIER, 2015), Tonga in 1979 (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987), the Solomon Islands in 1988, the Cook Islands in 1991, Northern Mariana Islands pre 2000, the Federated States of Micronesia in 2000 (PIER, 2015) and in Kiribati in 2012 (A. Gunua, The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, personal communication, 2013). M. micrantha was first found in north Queensland, Australia in 1998 and is now the focus of a national cost-share eradication programme (Brooks et al., 2008).

M. micrantha was intentionally introduced into many of these countries. It was introduced into Taiwan for soil conservation, into India and Indonesia as ground cover and into Malaysia as a non-leguminous ground cover for plantations of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber) (Ismail, 2001).

Risk of Introduction

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M. micrantha produces vast quantities of seed which can be spread by wind and to a lesser extent, water. However, the plant can also be spread easily by vehicles and machinery, on animals and people, or on belongings, via stem fragments, root stocks or the light weight seed which contain a pappus. A piece of stem with a single node is sufficient to resprout. In Papua New Guinea, it is believed M. micrantha spread along forestry tracks by logging equipment (Holm et al. 1991; Day et al., 2012a).

Vehicles and equipment moving through infested areas should be cleaned before travelling to un-infested areas. M. micrantha is classified as a Federal Noxious Weed in the USA (Westbrooks, 1989) and border clearance personnel with the US Department of Agriculture have intercepted M. micrantha as a contaminant of medicinal herbs from Mexico. Seeds of species of Mikania have also been intercepted as a hitchhiker on a truck entering the USA from Mexico (Westbrooks, 1989). This species has been given a high risk score of 25 by a PIER risk assessment for the Pacific region (2016).

Habitat

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M. micrantha is a tropical vine that can grow in a wide range of habitats. It is usually found in damp, lowland clearings or open areas, where there is adequate temperate, light and rainfall. It also grows along streams and roadsides, along edges of forests and forest plantations, along fence-lines, in pastures and wastelands and on and among tree crops such as immature rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), oil palm (species of Elaeis), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), tea (Camellia sinensis), coffee (species of Coffea), fruit trees and cash crops such as taro (Colocasia esculenta), pineapples (Ananas comosus) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) (Parham, 1958; Parham, 1962; Adams et al., 1972; Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Day et al., 2012a). It may be common in areas affected by slash and burn agriculture (Rawat, 1997). In Singapore, it spreads on coastal reclaimed sand-filled areas (Lee et al., 1997). M. micrantha rarely penetrates undisturbed forests, where light may be a limiting factor (Holm et al., 1991).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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M. micrantha is a serious weed of agriculture, affecting over 20 species, including plantation trees such as species of Citrus,Theobroma cacao (cocoa), coffee (species of Coffea), Camellia sinensis (tea), Tectona grandis (teak), Hevea brasiliensis (rubber), Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm), Cocos nucifera (coconut) and Bambusa vulgaris (common bamboo). It is also a serious weed of species of Musa (bananas), Manihot esculenta (cassava), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Carica papaya (papaya), Ananas comosus (pineapple), Litchi chinensis (lychee), Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane), Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), Colocasia esculenta (taro) and species of Dioscorea (yams), especially in warm, moist locations or where soil fertility is high (Cock, 1982; Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Abraham et al., 2002a; Macanawai et al., 2010; Day et al., 2012a).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Ananas comosus (pineapple)BromeliaceaeMain
Bambusa vulgaris (common bamboo)PoaceaeMain
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeMain
Carica papaya (pawpaw)CaricaceaeMain
Citrus spp.Main
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeMain
Coffea (coffee)RubiaceaeMain
Colocasia esculenta (taro)AraceaeMain
Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm)ArecaceaeMain
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)ConvolvulaceaeMain
Litchi chinensis (lichi)SapindaceaeMain
Manihot esculenta (cassava)EuphorbiaceaeMain
Musa spp.MusaceaeMain
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain
Tectona grandis (teak)LamiaceaeMain
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)SterculiaceaeMain
Zingiber officinale (ginger)ZingiberaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Brazilian populations of M. micrantha show little morphological variation. However, there is much chromosome polymorphism. Of the 12 populations investigated, eight were diploid (2n=36 and 42) and four tetraploid (2n=72) (Maffei et al., 1999).

Physiology and Phenology

According to some studies, seedlings of M. micrantha reach 1.1 cm and have a leaf surface area of 0.3 cm² by 30 days after germination. By 54 days after germination, the plants average 6.6 cm in height and have a leaf surface area of 17.2 cm². M. micrantha will grow all year round if temperatures, light and moisture are adequate. Growth rates for M. micrantha vary in different countries. For example, 8-9 cm/day in India (Choudhury, 1972), 6-7 cm/day in China (Zhang et al., 2004), 3.3 cm/day in Papua New Guinea (Day et al., 2012b) and 2.7-3.8 cm/day in Fiji (Macanawai et al., 2012a).

M. micrantha takes about five days to develop from flower bud to full-flower, five days from flower to anthesis and another five to seven days to produce mature seed (Hu and But, 1994). Flowering occurs during the dry season (from September to October in most Pacific island countries) and seed production takes place from November to February. In the Dongguan region flowering has been recorded from October to December and fruiting from November to December (Zhang et al., 2004). Flowers tend to be self-incompatible and require pollination by wind or insects (Day et al., 2016). In Fiji, Apis mellifera (honeybees) have been reported as the most prolific vistor of M. micrantha flowers. 

Reproductive Biology

Sexual reproduction of M. micrantha is by seeds. During the period of sexual reproduction the biomass of the flowers is 38.4-42.8% of the total plant biomass. The seeds (achenes) are very small (1000 seeds weigh 0.0892 g) and are extremely suitable for wind dispersal (Hu and But, 1994). Each plant can produce about 40,000 seeds, which are dispersed by wind, water and animals. Seed germination rates are high (up to 96%), although the percentage germination is affected by temperature, the optimum temperature being 25-30°C. Germination rate of seeds in spring is slightly higher than in autumn (80%, vs 70%) suggesting that M. micrantha seeds may have an after-ripening requirement (Zhang et al., 2004).

M. micrantha can readily shoot from runners and suckers and can regrow from stem fragments after manual or mechanical slashing (Dutta, 1977; Day et al., 2012a; Macanawai et al., 2015).

Environmental Requirements

M. micrantha has a wide altitudinal distribution, as it may grow at an elevation of 2000 m or more. In Bolivia, it has been observed at 3000 m (Holm et al., 1991). It is found between sea level and 1100 m in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (Ismail, 2001; Day et al., 2012a) while it has been found up to 1000 m in Fiji, Vanuatu and Taiwan.

In southern China, M. micrantha can grow in a range of soil types, from acidic to alkaline (pH 4.1-8.3) and from infertile to highly fertile (organic material 2.29-32.85) (Ye and Zhou, 2001). It has been reported that it can grow in a range of soil types from rocky, gravelly, calcareous to sandy, loamy and clay soils from 3.6-6.5 pH (Day et al., 2016).

In China, it grows best where the annual average temperature is higher than 21°C and soil moisture is over 15% (Zhang et al., 2004). This species can grow in a range of soil types from sandy loam to gravelly coarse soil and can tolerate areas of free drainage, saturated and moist areas.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
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 Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated 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)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
27 20 1500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 23
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 13 16
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 27 33

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall1000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral
  • very acid

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acalitus sp. Herbivore Leaves/Whole plant Cock, 1982
Actinote sp. Herbivore Leaves Desmier de Chenon et al., 2002
Apion luteirostre Herbivore Inflorescence Cock, 1982
Asperisporium mikaniigena Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Basidiophora montana Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Cercospora mikaniicola Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Desmogramma conjuncta Herbivore Leaves Cock, 1982
Liothrips mikaniae Herbivore Leaves/Whole plant to species Cock, 1982
Mycosphaerella mikania-micranthae Pathogen Leaves to species Barreto and Evans, 1995
Omoplata marginata Herbivore Leaves to genus Cock, 1982
Omoplata quadristilla Herbivore Leaves to genus Cock, 1982
Passalora mikaniigena Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Physimerus pygmaeus Herbivore Leaves not specific Cock, 1982
Pseudocercospora plunketii Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Pseudoderelomus baridiiformis Herbivore Inflorescence not specific Cock, 1982
Puccinia spegazzinii Pathogen Leaves to species Ellison et al., 2008
Septoria mikaniae-micranthae Pathogen Leaves Barreto and Evans, 1995
Teleonemia sp. nr. prolixa Herbivore Leaves to species Cock, 1982

Notes on Natural Enemies

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M. micrantha has been the target of a biological programme for many years. As a result, most reports of natural enemies have been with this in mind. Numerous species of arthropods and pathogens have been found attacking M. micrantha in Kerala State, India. However, all the species found were either polyphagous or not sufficiently damaging to control the weed (Teoh et al., 1985; Abraham et al., 2002). Over 30 species of insects, mites and pathogens have been found on M. micrantha in China (Han et al., 2001) but no assessments on their potential as biological control agents have been conducted. In peninsular Malaysia, the fungus Rhizoctonia solani [Thanatephorus cucumeris] has been found to be pathogenic on M. micrantha. However, it should be noted that this is a serious crop pest (Lim et al., 1987).

Surveys of natural enemies were conducted by CABI in the late 1970s in Central and South America and throughout the Caribbean (Cock, 1982). Natural enemies found included an eriophiid mite Acalitus sp., the seed-feeding weevil Apion luteirostre, the flower midge Neolasioptera sp., the inflorescence-inhabiting lace bugs Teleonemia spp., the cassids Omoplata spp., the weevil Pseudoderelomus baridiiformis and the thrip Liothrips mikaniae which was considered the most promising as a biocontrol agent (Cock et al., 1982). An additional 20 species causing minor damage to M. micrantha were also recorded (Cock et al., 1982).

Surveys of pathogens on M. micrantha were conducted by CABI in southern Brazil from 1988-1989 and 1996-1999 found 11 species, including Basidiophora montana, Mycosphaerella mikaniae-micranthaeSeptoria mikaniae-micranthae, Asperisporium mikaniae [Passalora mikaniigena], A. mikaniigena, Pseudocercospora plunketii, Cercospora mikaniicola and the rust Puccinia spegazzinii (Barreto and Evans, 1995; Evans and Ellison, 2005). Due to it’s the high level of damage caused and its wide climatic range, P. spegazzinii was thought to be the most promising as a biocontrol agent (Barreto and Evans, 1995).

Waterhouse and Norris (1987) and Waterhouse (1994) have provided detailed reviews of the natural enemies of M. micrantha.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Dispersal of M. micrantha is mainly by wind, but water dispersal is possible.

Vector Transmission

It is possible for the seeds of M. micrantha to be dispersed into new locations by adhering to animals.

Intentional Introduction

M. micrantha was intentionally introduced into a number of countries, for example, it was introduced into Taiwan for soil conservation, into India and Indonesia as ground cover and into Malaysia as a non-leguminous ground cover for plantations of Hevea brasiliensis (Ismail, 2001).

Accidental Introduction

The seeds of M. micrantha may be carried on any article that is transported through an area where the weed grows. Vehicles and equipment moving through areas infested with M. micrantha are likely carriers that should be cleaned before travelling long distances to avoid spread of the weed.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal production Yes
Crop production Yes Yes
Disturbance Yes
Garden waste disposal Yes
Habitat restoration and improvement Yes Yes
Hitchhiker Yes Yes
Horticulture Yes Yes
Medicinal use Yes Yes
Military movements Yes Yes
People sharing resources Yes Yes
Self-propelled Yes Yes
Timber trade Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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

Economic Impact

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M. micrantha is an agricultural weed where it can rapidly grow and smother a large number of crops. This can result in large economic losses through a reduction in yields and an increase in costs for control of this species. 

In Malaysia, the girth of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber) trees in plantations with M. micrantha was found to be 27% smaller than of trees in plantations with leguminous ground cover (Watson et al., 1964). The yield of Elaeis guineensis (oil palm) infested with M. micrantha was estimated to be 20% less than crops without M. micrantha (Teoh et al., 1985). In India, M. micrantha growing over large Camellia sinensis (tea) plantations, caused a decrease in yield of 41%, through competition and disrupting the harvesting of new leaves (Puzari et al., 2010) and M. micrantha in Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) fields in Fiji interfered with the slashing of cane (Holm et al., 1991; A. Macanawai, Department of Agriculture, personal communication, 2012).

The annual cost of controlling M. micrantha was estimated at US$9.8 million for H. brasiliensis, E. guineensis and Theobroma cacao (cocoa) crops in Malaysia (Teoh et al., 1985). Similar impacts were reported in Fiji where approximately, Aus$31/ha and Aus$21/ha was spent controlling M. micrantha in root crop and S. officinarum areas respectively (Macanawai et al., 2012b). In extreme cases, small blocks in Samoa have been abandoned, after being smothered by M. micrantha (ISSG, 2005). In Papua New Guinea, M. micrantha was found to cause yield losses of greater than 30% in nearly half of survey respondents (Day et al., 2012a).

In addition, M. micrantha has been reported to have a negative impact upon species of Musa (bananas), Manihot esculenta (cassava), species of Citrus, Cocos nucifera (coconut), species of Coffea (coffee), Psidium guajava (guava), Piper methysticum (kava), Litchi chinensis (lychee), Zea mays (maize), Morinda citrifolia (noni), Carica papaya (papaya), Ananas comosus (pineapples), Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), Colocasia esculenta (taro), Tectona grandis (teak) and species of Dioscorea (yams) (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987; Holm et al., 1991; Abraham et al., 2002a; Abraham and Abraham, 2005; Macanawai et al., 2010; Puzari et al. 2010; Day et al., 2012a; Day et al., 2012b; Macanawai et al., 2012b).

M. micrantha can also compete with pastures, causing a decrease in livestock production (PIER, 2015). A study by Widjaja and Tjitrosoedirdjo (1991) found that the climbing habit of M. micrantha enabled it, over a number of other weeds, to cover a bamboo plantation (Bambusoideae subfamily), suppressing their growth and in some cases killing them (Widjaja and Tjitrosoedirdjo, 1991). Numerous forest species such as Dalbergia sissoo (Indian rosewood) and Bombax ceiba (cotton tree) have also suffered economic loss from M. micrantha (Sapkota, 2007).

For further information, see Ellison et al. (2017).

Environmental Impact

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Once established M. micrantha can have a major impact on natural ecosystems, in particular forest communities. This species can smother native vegetation, eventually killing many plants including trees, decreasing biodiversity. M. micrantha also produces allelochemicals which have been shown to inhibit the germination of a number of agricultural seeeds (Day et al., 2016).

In southern China M. micrantha is considered to be a major threat to the local biodiversity (Xie et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2004). M. micrantha was first observed in the Neilingding Island (Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China) in 1997, yet two years later it has covered 40-60% of the total land decreasing biodiversity and altering habitats. This site is famous for its large population of Rhesus macaques, Macaca mulatta which are now under threat in this area (Xie et al., 2001).

In Chitwan National Park in Nepal, the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicorni) is also under threat as M. micrantha is outcompeting plant species on which it browses (Sapkota, 2007; Murphy et al., 2013; Ellison et al., 2017).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Macaca mulatta (rhesus macaque)No DetailsChinaCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringXie et al., 2001
Rhinoceros unicornisVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)NepalCompetition - monopolizing resources; Rapid growthMurphy et al., 2013; Sapkota, 2007
Eua zebrina (Tutuila tree snail)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesAmerican SamoaEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014a
Ostodes strigatus (sisi snail)USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesAmerican SamoaEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2014b

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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In India, Malaysia and Taiwan, M. micrantha was introduced or has been used as a cover crop, for soil improvement or to prevent soil erosion. It has also been used as fodder for sheep and cattle in India, Malaysia and Fiji (Wirjahardja, 1976; Zhang et al., 2004; Puzari et al., 2010; Macanawai et al., 2012b; Tripathi et al., 2012; PIER, 2015). However, it was also shown to cause hepatotoxicity when consumed (Sankaran, 2007; PIER, 2015).

M. micrantha has been reported to increase the growth and yield of rice in India when used as green manure (Abraham and Abraham, 2006; Sankaran, 2007; PIER, 2015). However, it is not particularly suitable for mulching and composting due to its high water content and rapid rate of decomposition (Sankaran, 2007).

M. micrantha has also been used as a medicinal herb in various countries as the plant is known to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. In India, the gum of the leaves is used by some tribal people for treating snake, insect and scorpion bites. In Fiji, Samoa and, to a lesser extent, Papua New Guinea, M. micrantha is used as a medicinal plant to treat cuts and nausea (Day et al., 2012a; Macanawai et al., 2012b). The leaves can be used as a topical ointment for eliminating discomfort of hornet, bee and ant stings (Parham, 1958; Sankaran, 2007; PIER, 2015). In Ecuador, it is reportedly used as a rat poison (Holmes, 1975).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Landscape improvement
  • Soil improvement

Materials

  • Green manure

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Mikania is a genus of vines, with most of the 430 species being native to tropical America. The three most common species are M. cordata, M. scandens and M. micrantha and are often misidentifed as each other. These species may be generally distinguished by the following characteristics (Holm et al., 1991).

M. micrantha: pappus bristles 32-38, white, corolla white, head length 4.5-6 mm, nodal appendages membranous. Distributed throughout tropical and central America.

M. cordata: pappus bristles 40-45, reddish, corolla white, head length 7-7.5 mm, nodal appendages form furry ridges not membranous. Distributed throughout South-East Asia and Africa.

M. scandens: pappus bristles 30-35, usually whitish, corolla pale purple, head length 5-7 mm. Distribution eastern North America.

In Taiwan M. micrantha is difficult to distinguish from the native M. cordata and a molecualr technique has been developed to differentiate between the two species (Chen et al., 2002).

M. micrantha possesses unique semi-translucent enations between the petioles at the nodes of young vegetative shoots (similar to stipules). These structures are very unusual in Compositae. They wither on older shoots and are not seen on flowering branches (Adams et al., 1972). Differences in the form of these enations can help to distinguish M. micrantha from M. cordata.

Prevention and Control

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Control

Cultural Control

In Malaysia, it was found that the use of Dorset horn sheep to graze infestations of M. micrantha and several other weeds resulted in cost savings of 15-25% for the overall weed control programme in Hevea brasiliensis (rubber) plantations (Arope et al., 1985).

In China, it is suggested that the establishment of a herb layer in managed orchards, forests, perennial crops (tea and tree plantations), parks and on newly developed areas should somewhat hinder M. micrantha seed germination and by increasing understorey shade in forests it should make growing conditions unsuitable for the vine (Zhang et al., 2004).

In some parts of Asia field dodder or Cuscuta campestris, a parasitic plant has been used to control M. micrantha. However, this species is also considered a pest of over 25 other species so its use is limited (Yuncker, 1932; Parker, 1972; Dawson et al., 1994; Lian et al., 2006).

Mechanical Control

Ismail (2001) reported that traditionally, manual control of newly infested crop areas have been carried out by rolling, drying and burning the plants but this proved to be unsustainable. In India manual methods (sickle weeding or uprooting) have been used but these are more expensive than chemical options (Sankaran, 1999).

When the vines of M. micrantha are cut near to the ground once a month for three consecutive months in summer and autumn and then in winter and spring, 90% of the plants can be eliminated. Hand-pulling in southern China is most effective before the end of October, i.e. prior to seed maturity, or during the March rainy season. A hand-pulling campaign by thousands of citizens was initiated by the Shenzhen government (Guangdong Province) in 2000 and proved quite effective, as many dying trees damaged by M. micrantha subsequently recovered (Zhang et al., 2004).

However, slashing can also result in damage to desirable species and is not feasible for when M. micrantha is growing in the canopy (Zhang et al., 2004). In addition, slashing is also inefficient as plants can readily regrow from broken stems if left lying on the ground and not burnt or buried (Holm et al., 1991).

In Fiji, taro farms which utilised machinery to plough fields to control M. micrantha prior to sowing, had lower densities of M. micrantha than farms where hand-pulling and slashing were practiced. This is because M. micrantha plants are usually destroyed and/or buried, whereas manually slashed plants are usually left on ground where they can reshoot (Macanawai et al., 2010).

Chemical Control

Young M. micrantha is susceptible to standard post-emergence herbicides such as 2,4-D, paraquat and glyphosate and these are the basis for chemical control in most plantation crops. M. micrantha is associated particularly with rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) and oil-palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations and weed competition was greatest in immature crops and declined plants matured. Complete eradication of M. micrantha from immature oil palm is important to ensure normal growth of the trees.

In Malaysia applying paraquat and/or 2,4-D amine was the preferred method of control in these plantations. A field trial compared the efficacy of three treatments (grazing by sheep, mechanical slashing and the use of glyphosate+picloram) for the control of M. micrantha (and several other weeds) in a 2-year-old H. brasiliensis plantation. Two months after treatment, over 90% of the weeds had regrown in plots that had been grazed or slashed, compared to <10% weed regeneration in chemically treated plots (Ahmad-Faiz, 1992). A commercial preparation of a mixture of glyphosate and dicamba was evaluated for several years for weed control in >1-year-old oil palms on two plantations in Malaysia. This treatment resulted in a 90% weed control by 30 days after application and 40% by 120 days. Comparable treatment with a mixture of paraquat + diuron produced 95% control by seven days and 0% by 120 days (Teng and The, 1990).

In Indonesia, field experiments were conducted to determine the effectiveness of four translocated herbicides to control M. micrantha in immature oil palm. In all cases, the initial application was followed by a second. The best control was observed on plots that received 2,4-D amine, 2,4-D-sodium and ioxynil, applied six weeks apart, hexazinone + diuron at four weeks apart and 2,4-D-sodium followed six weeks later by glyphosate (Mangoensoekarjo, 1978). In a similar study, picloram + 2,4-D gave the best control of M. micrantha but glyphosate gave only moderate control after four weeks. Regrowth of M. micrantha and phytotoxic symptoms on oil palm were not observed on any plots up to six weeks after treatment (Hutauruk et al., 1982).

Triclopyr + picloram showed the best results in control trials of the weed in Indian forest plantations (Sankaran, 1999). The use of herbicide in China has been reviewed by Zhang et al. (2004).

Biological Control 

Biological control of M. micrantha was first attempted in the late 1970s, with surveys conducted by CABI in Central and South America (Cock, 1982). Nine arthropod natural enemies were found, of which Liothrips mikaniae (Priesner) (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) was considered the most promising. L. mikaniae was found only in sunny exposed areas in Colombia, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Peru and Venezuela. During host specificity tests against 37 species, including 12 other species from the Asteraceae, development to the adult stage occurred only on M. micrantha (Cock, 1982). The thrips were subsequently released in to the Solomon Islands (1988) and Malaysia (1990) but failed to establish in either country. They were also sent to Papua New Guinea in 1989 but the insect died out before field releases were conducted (Cock et al., 2000).

A survey of pathogens on M. micrantha conducted by CABI in Brazil from 1988-1989 and 1996-1999 found 11 species, with the rust Puccinia spegazzinii de Toni (Pucciniaceae) thought to be the most promising as a biocontrol agent (Barreto and Evans, 1995; Evans and Ellison, 2005). P. spegazzinii was found in numerous countries and prioritised because it was observed infecting both old and young leaves and petioles, causing premature senescence (Barreto and Evans, 1995; Ellison et al., 2004). Strains of P. spegazzinii were collected from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Trinidad and tested against M. micrantha from numerous countries in the introduced range to determine the most virulent strain for each population of M. micrantha. For southeast India, the strain from Trinidad was considered to be the most suitable (Ellison et al., 2004; Ellison et al., 2007), while for the South Pacific, the strain from eastern Ecuador was the most damaging (Day et al., 2013a). Host-range testing of P. spegazzinii was conducted against 175 species, including 46 from the family Asteraceae, in trials in the UK, India and China and found this species to be highly specific; pustules developed only on M. micrantha. P. spegazzinii was released in India around Assam, in October 2005 and March 2006 and Kerala in August 2006 (Ellison et al., 2008) however, it failed to establish at any site (Ellison and Day, 2011). In 2006, the rust was introduced into mainland China but also failed to establish (Fu et al., 2006). It was also introduced into Taiwan in 2008, where it established at numerous sites (Ellison and Day, 2011).

In 2008, the strain from eastern Ecuador was imported into Fiji and Papua New Guinea, following additional host-range testing conducted by CABI, on 11 species important to the South Pacific region. The rust established in both countries and has spread over 40 km from some sites. Both glasshouse and field studies have shown that the rust can significantly reduce growth rates and reduce the percent cover of M. micrantha by about 50% (Day et al., 2013a; Day et al., 2013b). The rust has since been introduced into Vanuatu (2012) where it has established on six islands (S. Bule, Biosecurity Vanuatu, Vanuatu, personal communication, 2014).

The butterfly Actinote anteas was released into Indonesia as part of a biocontrol programme on Chromolaena odorata but was also found to feed on M. micrantha in the field. The young instar caterpillars scrape the epidermis on both sides of the leaf but do not appear to attack the petiole. Instead they bind several leaves together with silk threads to form a shelter that may contain thousands of caterpillars (Desmier de Chenon et al., 2002). In Sumatra, this species has controlled M. micrantha in a number of lowland areas (Julien et al., 2012).

References

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Abraham M, Abraham CT, 2005. Biology of mile - a minute weed (Mikania micrantha H. B. K.), an alien invasive weed in Kerala. Indian Journal of Weed Science, 37(1/2):153-154.

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