Falcataria moluccana (batai wood)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- 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
- Falcataria moluccana (Miq.) Barneby & J. W. Grimes
Preferred Common Name
- batai wood
Other Scientific Names
- Adenanthera falcata L.
- Adenanthera falcatoria L.
- Albizia eymae Fosberg
- Albizia falcata (L.) Backer
- Albizia falcata auct.
- Albizia falcataria (L.) Fosberg
- Albizia falcatoria (L.) Fosberg
- Albizia fulva Lane-Poole
- Albizia moluccana Miq.
- Paraserianthes falcataria (L.) I. C. Nielsen
- Paraserianthes falcatoria (L.) I. C. Nielsen
International Common Names
- English: Molucca albizzia; peacock's plume; sau
Local Common Names
- Bangladesh: koroi; malacarma
- Brunei Darussalam: puah
- Cook Islands: 'arapitia
- Cuba: albizia
- Indonesia: albesia-wood; belalu; jeungjing; mara; parasiante; sengon
- Indonesia/Java: sengon laut; sika
- Malaysia: batai; bataiwood; kayu machis; Molucca albizia; Moluccan sau
- Malaysia/Sarawak: kayu macis
- Palau: ukall ra ngebard
- Papua New Guinea: white albizia
- Philippines: falcate; Mollucan sau
- Samoa: tamaligi; tamaligi pa'epa'e; tamaligi palagi
- USA/Hawaii: peacock's plume
- ALBFA (Albizia falcataria)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Native to parts of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, F. moluccana has been widely introduced throughout the tropics as a very fast growing plantation tree (7 m in the first year), for shade and also as an ornamental. Still widely cultivated and exploited, it has escaped and become invasive especially in natural lowland humid forests on Pacific and also Indian Ocean islands, where it alters ecosystem function through nitrogen fixation and eliminates native species. This tendency could also occur in other countries where it is present but not yet widespread, such as tropical America and Africa, and the dangers of possible invasion should be highlighted prior to making any further introductions.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Subfamily: Mimosoideae
- Genus: Falcataria
- Species: Falcataria moluccana
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Falcataria moluccana has undergone considerable changing in its nomenclature over the years, previously placed in the genus Paraserianthes. It has two or three subspecies, subsp. falcataria (L.) I.C.Nielsen and subsp. fulva (Lane-Poole) I.C.Nielsen (ILDIS, 2009), and subsp. solomonensis has also been described for the Solomon Islands (Nielsen et al., 1983). The species name ‘falcata’ comes from the sickle-shaped pods. It should not be mistaken with Aleurites moluccanus, sometimes incorrectly known as A. moluccana, which is a different distinct species.
DescriptionTop of page
F. moluccana is a medium to fairly large-sized tree up to 40 m high with a small buttress. The bole is branchless up to 20 m and up to 100 cm or more in girth and in dense stands is generally straight and cylindrical. When grown in the open, trees form a large canopy, which is umbrella shaped. In plantations of 1000-2000 trees per ha the crowns become narrow. The bark is light grey with warts, inner bark smooth and pink though young parts may be densely reddish brown tomentose or puberulent. Leaves alternate, bipinnately compound and 20-40 cm long with 4-(10-12)-15 pairs of pinnae, each pinnae 5-10 cm long containing 8-(15-20)-25 falcate leaflets 10-20 mm long and 3-6 mm wide, pubescent, dull green above, paler below, obliquely elliptic, falcate, midrib strongly excentric near one of the margins. Leaves each have a large nectary below the lowermost pair of pinnae and smaller ones between or below most pairs of pinnae. Flowers are large, branched, bell-shaped, in paniculate axillary racemes ca 20 cm in diameter, often with 2 serial branches from 1 bract scar; calyx 1-1.5 mm long, silky pubescent, the teeth 0.5 mm long. The flowers are bisexual, regular and 5-merous. The corolla is creamy-white to greenish-white and sericeous 3-4.5 mm long (excl. stamens); stamens 10-17 mm long, numerous and extend beyond the corolla. Pods are narrow and flat, densely pubescent or glabrous, green turning brown and splitting on maturity, 10-13 cm long and 1.5-2.5 cm wide, winged along ventral suture with many (ca. 20) transversely arranged, ellipsoid, flat dark brown seeds, 5-7 mm long, 2.5-3.5 mm wide.
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
It is native only to parts of Indonesia (Moluccas and Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands according to USDA-ARS (2009), whereas ILDIS (2009) give a wider native range, also encompassing Java and Sumatra (Indonesia), Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia (Malaysia) and Bougainville island (Papua New Guinea), and note it of uncertain nativity in the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago (Papua New Guinea). The larger native range is accepted in this datasheet.
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.Last updated: 17 Dec 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||Present||Introduced|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Malaysia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present||Introduced||Invasive|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Native||Native to the mainland, Bougainville and the Bismark Archipelago|
|Wallis and Futuna||Present||Introduced||Invasive|
|Chile||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
In the humid tropics there has been widespread planting of F. moluccana for fuelwood and charcoal, for alley farming and intercropping in forest plantations, and as an ornamental tree. It was introduced into Hawai‘i in 1917 by Joseph Rock from North Borneo and Java as an ornamental and for reforestation (Little and Skolmen, 1989; Wagner et al., 1999), with 138,000 trees were planted for reforestation between 1910 and 1960 (Skolmen, 1960) including aerial sowing of seeds (Smith, 1998) and has since naturalized (Motooka et al., 2003). In French Polynesia, 3300 ha of F. moluccana and Casuarina equisetifolia were planted by the Forest Service between 1960 and 1970 on almost all high islands, to reforest areas subject to soil erosion or which had been destroyed by bushfires, and F. moluccana was also used as a windbreak and shade tree in coffee plantations, but quickly naturalized and became invasive in natural forests (Meyer, 2007). It is likely to be present in more countries than included in the distribution table, especially in tropical Africa and the Americas.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
It was rated with a ‘high’ score of 8 in a risk assessment for the Pacific (PIER, 2014), and it was included in a decree in French Polynesia in 2006 as one of 35 invasive plants declared to be ‘species that threaten biodiversity’, subject to a ban on new imports, propagation and planting, and prohibition of transfer from one island to another of any whole plant, fragment of plant, cutting, fruit or seed (Meyer, 2007). Being valued as a shade tree, for plantation forestry and as an ornamental, it is likely to be further introduced and could prove to be a risk in many other tropical countries where it is not yet recorded as present, especially in tropical America and Africa.
HabitatTop of page
F. moluccana grows from sea level to 1500 m elevation but is most common in mesic, lowland areas. It is most commonly found in national secondary forests, the primary deciduous forests and mountain forests, but it also found in planted forests, disturbed areas, and river flood terraces. The abundance of growth of wildings in the forest only occurs when the soil is cleared from the undergrowth and the canopy opened (Soerianegara and Lemmens, 1993). In Hawaii, it has established naturally in abandoned sugarcane fields as well as in the forest wherever there are seed trees (Little and Skolmen, 1989), and it is also spreading on pasture land (Starr et al., 2003).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
F. moluccana thrives on comparatively poor soils as long as they are well drained and survival is poor on seasonally waterlogged sites (Hocking and Islam, 1995). It also grows on both acidic and alkaline soils although it does better on alkaline soils (Ruskin, 1983). The most important indicator of site quality for F. moluccana is the depth of top soil, and it grows best with 19-26 cm of well drained topsoil with 3-8 % organic matter and exchangeable potassium of 0.36 meq/100 g soil (Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, 1989).
ClimateTop of page
|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]))|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||5|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||22||29|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||30||34|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||20||24|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||2||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||2000||4000||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Seedlings in nurseries are prone to damping-off caused by the fungi Sclerotium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, Phytophthora and Pythium. Leaf-eating caterpillars and aphids are also occasional problems to seedlings and trees in plantations. Other fungal diseases include pink canker caused by Corticium salmonicolor and red root caused by Ganoderma pseudoferreum. The stem borer Xystrocera festiva (longicorn beetle) and red borer Zeuzera coffea (cossid moth) are amongst the pests found in plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines (Natawiria, 1973). Pellicularia salmonicolor and P. filamentosa were found to be parasitic on F. moluccana in Assam, India (Agnihothrudu, 1962). See the Natural Enemies table for a complete list of pests recorded on F. moluccana.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
F. moluccana was originally dispersed long distances intentionally for forestry, landscaping or other purposes, before spreading to nearby forests, pastures, and open areas.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Environmental ImpactTop of page
On the very nutrient-poor soils of the granitic Seychelles, some pioneer invasive species produce more decomposable litter and therefore have the potential to alter rates of nutrient cycling. However, the small differences in soil fertility beneath native tree and the invasive F. moluccana and Cinnamomum verum suggest that impacts of these invasive species on nutrient cycling are more complex and less predictable in nutrient-poor ecosystems, where several nutrients may be co-limiting, and native and alien species coexist (Keuffer et al., 2008).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Highly mobile locally
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Has high genetic variability
- Altered trophic level
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Increases vulnerability to invasions
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Pruning is required as there is a tendency for stems to fork. Trees grown for timber have a harvest cycle of 12-15 years while for pulp production the cutting cycle is approximately 8 years. In agroforestry systems with annual crops in the first year and grazing animals in subsequent years, the cutting cycle for F. moluccana is 10-15 years (Soerianegara and Lemmens, 1993).
The narrow crown of F. moluccana provides partial shade to tea, cacao and coffee. However, the importance of this species as a shade tree for these crops is rather limited, as solitary trees are prone to wind damage. When planted in rows they are also suitable as a windbreak for bananas (NFTA, 1989), but F. moluccana is easily damaged by wind and is therefore not suitable to be planted in areas prone to strong winds, and it also not suitable for steep slopes (Ruskin, 1983).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Land reclamation
- Shade and shelter
- Soil improvement
Human food and beverage
- Bark products
- Green manure
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Long-fibre pulp
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
- For light construction
- Composite boards
- Gypsum board
- Laminated veneer lumber
- Laminated wood
- Medium density fibreboard
- Wood cement
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Musical instruments
- Wood carvings
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
A related species that was widely planted in Hawaii from 1910-1960 is Paraserianthes lophantha subsp. montana, and other species planted in lesser numbers include Albizia acle, A. caribaea, A. chinensis, A. katangensis, A. lebbekoides, A. procera, A. saponaria, and A. zygia (Skolmen, 1960). P. lophantha has also naturalised in Hawaii (Oppenheimer and Bartlett, 2002) and is also invasive in New Zealand (Haley, 1997).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
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.
F. moluccana is verysusceptible to hormone type herbicides, being severely injured by cut-surface application of 2,4-D and by glyphosate and killed outright by dicamba and triclopyr. It is susceptible to basal bark or cut stumps applications of triclopyr (Motookaet al., 2003). For the related Paraserianthes lophantha subsp. montana in New Zealand, Starr et al. (2003) reports that trees can be controlled by either a cut stump and herbicide method, or, as Haley (1997) reports that felling trees may open up new space and light gaps for more seedling to establish, frilling is the preferred method. Girdle or ringbark 20 cm from the ground and paint the exposed area immediately with a herbicide, and there is also no costs associated with the removal of material.
ReferencesTop of page
Allison SD; Nielsen C; Hughes RF, 2006. Elevated enzyme activities in soils under the invasive nitrogen-fixing tree Falcataria moluccana. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 38(7):1537-1544. http://www.sciencedirect.co./science/journal/00380717
Booth TH; Jovanovic T, 2000. Improving descriptions of climatic requirements in the CABI Forestry Compendium. A report for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. CSIRO - Forestry and Forest Products, Client Report No. 758.
Faridah Hanum I; Maesen LJG van der, eds. , 1997. Plant resources of southeast Asia. No. 11. Auxillary plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys.
Krisnawati H; Varis E; Kallio MH; Kanninen M, 2011. Paraserianthes falcataria (L.) Nielsen: ecology, silviculture and productivity. Jakarta, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), vi + 13 pp. http://www.cifor.org/nc/online-library/browse/view-publication/publication/3394.html
Kueffer C; Klingler G; Zirfass K; Schumacher E; Edwards PJ; Güsewell S, 2008. Invasive trees show only weak potential to impact nutrient dynamics in phosphorus-poor tropical forests in the Seychelles. Functional Ecology, 22(2):359-366. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01373.x
Meyer JY, 2007. Conserving natural forests and managing protected areas in French Polynesia. (Conservation des forêts naturelles et gestion des aires protégées en Polynésie française.) Bois et Forêts des Tropiques, No.291:25-40. http://bft.revuesonline.com
Motooka P; Castro L; Nelson D; Nagai G; Ching L, 2003. Weeds of Hawaii's pastures and natural areas: an identification and management guide. Honolulu, HI, USA: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 184 pp.
Nielsen I; Guinet P; Baretta Kuipers T, 1984. Studies in the Malesian, Australian and Pacific Ingeae (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae): the genera Archidendropsis, Wallaceodendron, Paraserianthes, Pararchidendron and Serianthes (part 3). Bulletin du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, B Adansonia, 6(1):79-111; 41 ref.
Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, 1989. Paraserianthes falcataria - Southeast Asia's growth champion, USA: NFTA, 89-05.
Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, 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 1):22-96.
PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html
Roshetko J, 1998. Albizia and Paraserianthes production and use: a field manual. Morrilton, AR, USA: Forest, Farm, and Community Tree Network (FACT Net).
Skolmen RG, 1960. Plantings on the Forest Reserves of Hawai'i: 1910-1960. Plantings on the Forest Reserves of Hawai'i: 1910-1960., USA: Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment.
Smith CW, 1998. Pest Plants of Hawaiian Native Ecosystems. Pest Plants of Hawaiian Native Ecosystems. Manoa: Hawaiian Alien Plant Studies, University of Hawai'i, unpaginated. http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/cw_smith/par_fal.htm
Soerianegara I; Lemmens RHMJ, eds. , 1993. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 5(1). Timber trees: major commercial timbers. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publishers. Also published by PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. pp. 610.
Starr F; Starr K; Loope L, 2003. Falcataria moluccana, Molucca albizia, Fabaceae. Falcataria moluccana, Molucca albizia, Fabaceae. http://www.hear.org/starr/hiplants/reports/pdf/falcataria_moluccana.pdf
Toral O; Simón L, 2001. Relative acceptability of fodder trees in the genera Leucaena and Albizia. (Aceptabilidad relativa de especies arboreas forrajeras de los generos Leucaena y Albizia.) Pastos y Forrajes, 24(3):209-216.
Tuttle NC; Beard KH; Pitt WC, 2009. Invasive litter, not an invasive insectivore, determines invertebrate communities in Hawaiian forests. Biological Invasions, 11(4):845-855. http://www.springerlink.com/content/m6758273u9721k12/?p=78c6ae758b9047309fda9148bef95ab9&pi=6
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Ji ChunYan, Chen CuiJin, Wang XinRong, Liu Ying, Liu JunYe, Zeng BingShan, 2017. A report on canker disease of Falcataria moluccana caused by Lasiodiplodia theobromae in China. Crop Protection. 89-92. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02612194 DOI:10.1016/j.cropro.2016.09.018
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.
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Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435. http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14435
Toral O, Simón L, 2001. Relative acceptability of fodder trees in the genera Leucaena and Albizia. (Aceptabilidad relativa de especies arboreas forrajeras de los generos Leucaena y Albizia.). Pastos y Forrajes. 24 (3), 209-216.
ContributorsTop of page
14/07/2009 Updated by:
Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France
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