Albizia niopoides is a pioneer species often planted as an ornamental and shade tree. It is also used for forage and to improve soil conditions in disturbed areas. This species is a prolific seeder and seeds can germinate after being in s...
Albizia niopoides is a pioneer species often planted as an ornamental and shade tree. It is also used for forage and to improve soil conditions in disturbed areas. This species is a prolific seeder and seeds can germinate after being in storage for 1 to 2 years. Currently, A. niopoides is listed as invasive in Hawaii, India and Cuba, and can be found naturalized in Madagascar, Nigeria and Mauritius. It is an aggressive colonizer of abandoned pastures, roadsides, and other highly disturbed sites.
The genus Albizia comprises about 150 species of small to large trees widely spread in the tropical and subtropical zones of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. The highest diversity of species is found in mainland Africa, Madagascar, and Central and South America (Nielsen 1981; Arce et al., 2008). This genus is placed within the subfamily Mimosoideae. The Mimosoideae comprises 82 genera and about 3,335 species of shrubs, trees and, rarely, herbs distributed mainly across tropical and warm temperate regions of the world (Stevens, 2019).
A medium to tall tree, 10 m to 30 m in height and 35 cm to 100 cm in dbh. The tree has straight bole and glabrous young twigs, greenish or yellowish with scarce lenticels. The bark is light gray or yellowish with exfoliating, thick scales in a concentric pattern; the scales leave crateriform scars that seem excavated with a chisel. Leaves are alternate, bipinnate, paripinnate; with 5 to 10 pairs of opposite pinnae, each with 30 to 55 pairs of pinnules. The leaf pinnules are (5-) 7-9 (-11) by 1 (-2) mm, linear, apex obtuse or acute, and glabrous. The petiole has a short pubescence and is pulvinate. The pulvinus is adaxial, basal, concave, and longitudinally oblong. The rachis is adaxially channeled, bearing an extrafloral nectary toward the distal end. The petiolules bear basal and adaxial pulvinuli. Stipules are 6 to 7 mm long, setiform, and deciduous. The fragrant, white flowers are grouped in pedunculate heads and are pentamerous, synsepalous and synpetalous. The calyx is tubular, distally toothed, and 1 mm long. The corolla is funnelform, valvate, and 2 to 3 mm long. The numerous stamens are basally united forming a tube. The anthers are small. The pod is laterally compressed (6 to 14 by 1 to 2.5 cm), straight, glabrous, thin, chartaceous, and longitudinally dehiscent. The seeds are ovate or oblong, laterally compressed, and without aril; the testa is thick, glossy, creamy or light brown, monochrome, hard, and osseous, with pleurogram, linea fissura open at the hilar end, and fracture lines.
Albizia niopoides is native to tropical America from Mexico and Central America to Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago and the Lesser Antilles. This species is widely dispersed across the Amazon Basin in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela (ILDIS, 2009; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2019). It has been introduced in India, Nigeria, Mauritius, Madagascar and Cuba (GRIIS, 2019; USDA-ARS, 2019).
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.
Albizia niopoides can be found growing in seasonally deciduous or semideciduous woodlands, riverine forest, moist forests and evergreen forests at elevations raging from near sea level up to 700 m in Central America, up to 1100 m in Brazil, and up to 1300 m in Peru (Iganci, 2015; New York Botanical Garden, 2019).
Albizia niopoides produces fragrant, white flowers that are grouped in pedunculate heads. This species is primarily pollinated by moths, but the flowers are also visited by other insects, hummingbirds, and passerine birds. Whether birds are visitors or pollinators is unknown (Guinet, 1981).
Physiology and phenology
Albizia niopoides is a semideciduous to deciduous species. In tropical regions trees lose their leaves during the dry season and produce new leaves with the arrival of the rainy season.
In Panama, Albizia niopoides has been recorded flowering and fruiting from February to June, while in Costa Rica flowers are produced from March to April and fruits are found from August to September. Seeds average about 22,500 per kg. Seeds have acceptable germination after storage for 1 to 2 years. Germination rates of 85% have been reported for this species (Vozzo, 2002).
Longevity and Activity patterns
Albizia niopoides is classified as pioneer to early or late secondary species and it is often found in pastures and open areas because it does not develop under canopy shade. It is an emergent tree in the canopy of primary dry forests in Central and South America and trees can reach a diameter >50 cm in approximately 52 years (Vozzo, 2002; Giraldo and del Valle, 2012; Silva et al., 2016).
A study in the Colombian Andes modelling growth rates of A. niopoides using dendro-chronological methods showed annual growth rates of 1.03 and 0.94 cm/year for individuals with ages of 18 and 46 years old respectively (Giraldo and del Valle, 2012).
In Brazil, different species of ants from the genera Nylanderia, Hypoponera, Wasmannia, Pheidole, and Pseudomyrmex have been recorded using the twigs of A. niopoides as nesting resource (Silva et al., 2016). As seen in other species in the Fabaceae family, Albizia niopoides shows association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Vozzo, 2002).
Albizia niopoides prefers to grow in tropical climates in areas with a mean annual temperature of 24°C to 32°C, and annual rainfall ranging from 1000 mm to 2500 mm. The species prefers alluvial soils and can survive in floodable soil provided it has good drainage (Vozzo, 2002).
Albizia niopoides is a pioneer species that grows faster than many native species. Consequently, it displaces and outcompetes native plants, reducing native species diversity and negatively impacting natural successional processes. It is also a nitrogen-fixing species with the potential to change soil nutrient balance in invaded areas (Vozzo, 2002; Oviedo and Gonzalez-Oliva, 2015).
Albizia niopoides is often planted as an ornamental and shade tree and to be used as forage. Its wood is used for light constructions, floors, furniture and boxes and as firewood. In South American natives used the saponin-rich roots to heal contusions and angina, and the boiled bark is used to heal scorpion bites. This species has been planted in grasslands and areas undergoing early natural regeneration because its nitrogen-fixing capacity improves the soil conditions. The tree is grown in coffee plantations in order to provide shade and organic matter for enriching the soil. The flowers provide good forage for bees (Vozzo, 2002; USDA-ARS, 2019; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019).
Zuloaga FO, Morrone O, 1996. (Catalogo de las Plantas Vasculares de la Republica Argentina (Catalogo de las Plantas Vasculares de la Republica Argentina))., Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. 323 pp.