Pithecellobium dulce (Manila tamarind)
- 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
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Wood Products
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth.
Preferred Common Name
- Manila tamarind
Other Scientific Names
- Acacia obliquifolia Mart. & Gall.
- Inga dulcis (Roxb.) Willd.
- Inga leucantha K. Presl
- Inga pungens Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
- Mimosa dulcis Roxb.
- Mimosa monilifera Bert.
- Pithecellobium littorale Britton & Rose ex Record
International Common Names
- English: blackbead; guayamochil; Madras thorn; poiss sucré; sweet inga
- Spanish: guamúchil; madre de flecha
Local Common Names
- Central America: gallinero
- Brazil: ingarana
- Cambodia: am'pül tük
- Colombia: azabuche; chamcán; chininango; dinde; gallinero; ojito de nena; payandé; payandé clavo; tíraco
- Costa Rica: michiguiste
- Cuba: inga dulce; tamarindo chino
- Dominican Republic: jina extranjera
- Ecuador: tierra espina
- El Salvador: guachimol; mangollano; mongollano
- French West Indies: acacia a bracelets; diabelle
- Guatemala: jaguay; madre de flecha; tsuiche
- Guyana: bread-and-cheese
- India: amli; balati; dakhani babul; dekhani; hatichinch; imli; jamgal jalebi; kodukapuli; madras thorn; simachinduga; simachinta; simehunise; vilayati imli
- Indonesia: asam koranji
- Indonesia/Java: asam belanda; assam londo
- Laos: khaam th'ééd
- Malaysia: asam kranji; asam tjina
- Mexico: camanchil; camchile; chucúm blanco; coacamachatli; cuaumochtli; guamachi; guamúchil; guayamochil; guaymachile; huamúchil; humo; piliil; pinsón; quahmochitl; quamochitl
- Myanmar: kway-tanyeng
- Nicaragua: espino de playa; michiguiste
- Philippines: damortis; kamanchilis; kamatsile
- Puerto Rico: guamá americano
- Sri Lanka: katugaja; kodukapuli
- Tanzania: mchonogoma
- Thailand: makham-khong; makham-thet
- USA: opiuma
- USA/Hawaii: opiuma
- Venezuela: guamo blanco; yacure
- Vietnam: keo tây; me keo
- PIFDU (Pithecellobium dulce)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Subfamily: Mimosoideae
- Genus: Pithecellobium
- Species: Pithecellobium dulce
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The name Pithecellobium dulce has remained stable, belonging to the true Pithecellobium sensu stricto (Barneby and Grimes, 1997). P. dulce is one of a series of six closely related species (including P. keyense, P. unguiscati, P. roseum, P. peckii and P. bipinnatum). It is distinguished among species with only four leaflets per leaf by having flowers in heads.
DescriptionTop of page
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
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: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Bangladesh||Present||Introduced||Planted||Original citation: Serajuddoula and et al. (1995)|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||Present||Introduced|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Philippines||Present||Introduced||First reported: 1521-1815|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Planted||Original citation: Francis and Liogier (1991)|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Original citation: Space and Flynn (2001)|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||Planted||Original citation: Space and Flynn (2001)|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Introduced|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Binggeli (1999) classed P. dulce as a highly invasive species. Space et al. (2000a) list it as one of a number of potentially invasive species that has been introduced to Rota in the Northern Mariana islands, and on finding it had naturalized recommended that it should not be planted further. Elsewhere in the Pacific it has been introduced to Chuuk, where it is described as cultivated, common or weedy (Space et al., 2000b) and Micronesia where it is described as common or weedy (Space and Falanruw, 1999), New Caledonia, Fiji and French Polynesia (Space and Flynn, 2001). According to the PIER (2002), it is a problem plant in Hawaii but not in Micronesia. Major Hawaiian infestations are reported in parts of Mokuleia, O'ahu, Moloka'i; Lahaina, Maui; and South Kona (Smith, 1998). Brewbaker (1992) considered that the invasion of grass pasture in Hawaii occurred mainly where fields were low in nitrogen, and that elsewhere the tendency of the species to spread was related to factors such as grazing pressure and management. In the Caribbean, this tree is recorded as naturalized and spreading rapidly on Puerto Rico (Francis and Liogier, 1991), and at the time of reporting it occupied less than 1000 hectares of coast on the north and south of the island. It has also naturalized in Cuba, Jamaica and St. Croix (US Virgin Islands) and in Florida, USA (Parrotta, 1991). Csurhes and Edwards (1998) describe it as invasive in Florida but it does not appear on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council list. It is also reported naturalized (Parrotta, 1991) or invasive (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998) in India and naturalized in eastern Africa (Parrotta, 1991) and Taiwan (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
There have been few, if any, attempts to systematically explore, evaluate and improve the genetic material used in planting of P. dulce. It is likely that currently used seed sources are derived from land race material comprising, in most areas, an extremely narrow genetic base. Many early introductions are known to be from one or a few trees. Even more recent introductions (although based on larger numbers of parent trees, e.g. Hughes and Styles, 1984), sampled only one or two provenances. Limited selection for large pods containing small seeds and red arils has been undertaken in the Philippines to obtain selected clones with sweeter, dry and mealy, and less astringent arils (Hendro Sunarjono and Coronel, 1991). A variegated mutant has been used as an ornamental pot plant (Hendro Sunarjono and Coronel, 1991) and as a garden plant in Hawaii (Neal, 1965). However, it is unlikely that P. dulce, with its very limited commercial potential, will ever be the focus of more intensive genetic improvement.
Physiology and Phenology
P. dulce is comparatively fast growing, often being considered intermediate between slow-growing Prosopis and fast-growing Leucaena (Brewbaker, 1992). On most sites growth rates of <1 m height per year are normal and it may take 40 years to reach full size (Luna, 1996). Trees start to flower and fruit at 4-8 years of age. Flowering and fruiting can occur throughout the year as moisture permits, but usually flowering peaks during the dry season with pods ripening 2-4 months later. Trees are generally evergreen or almost so, even in seasonally dry climates, as leaf fall and flush of new leaves often overlap.
Trees flower from 4-8 years old, over an extended period of the year, with a peak in the dry season and pods ripen 2-4 months after flowering. Flowers are pollinated by a wide range of generalist insect pollinators, including large and small bees. The seeds remain attached to the pods after they open. Pods often ripen over a long period of the year rather than synchronously over a shorter period. There are approximately 10 seeds in each pod (Brewbaker, 1992) and 9,000-26,000 seeds/kg (Parrotta, 1991; Stewart et al., 1992). Seeds are dispersed by birds attracted by the red pods, and sweet fleshy white, pale-pink, or occasionally red arils which persist after the pods open. Seeds germinate within 1-2 days and germination of 20-70% can be expected.
P. dulce is a hardy, nitrogen-fixing tree that tolerates harsh sites, heat and drought, and heavy cutting. It is also able to withstand poor and saline soils (Brewbaker, 1992). Beyond the fact that it does not withstand heavy frost, P. dulce is not exacting in its climatic requirements. It grows well in dry and subhumid areas, but thrives best in dry hot tropical and subtropical climates, with rainfall between 700 and 1800 mm and a 4-6 month dry season (Brewbaker, 1992; Luna, 1996). It can withstand considerable heat and drought and is naturalized in India in areas with temperature maxima as high as 48°C and annual rainfall as low as 250 mm (Troup and Joshi, 1983; Hocking, 1993).
In its native range, P. dulce grows on young superficial, often extremely rocky, shallow and skeletal soils, primarily of volcanic origin in areas where soils have often suffered severe abuse through slash and burn agriculture, desiccation and erosion. It is also found along river banks on alluvial soils and sands. It prefers well-drained soils but can grow on heavier clays, including black cotton vertisols. It is known to tolerate moderate salinity in areas with a high brackish water table (Luna, 1996). P. dulce is thus extremely adaptable in terms of both its soil and climatic requirements, and is found at altitudes up to 1550 m.
This species occurs in a wide range of habitats, and among the species with which it is associated are: Prosopis pallida, Bursera sp., Ipomoea sp., Caesalpinia sp. Erythroxylon sp., Haematoxylon brasileto, Gliricidia sepium, Guaiacum sp., Ficus sp., Celtis iguana, Swietenia humilis, Byrsonima crassifolia, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, Lemaireocereus and Opuntia sp. (Parrotta, 1991; CONABIO, 2003). This species is noted to form associations with Rhizobium bacteria (Brewbaker, 1992) and it is widely reported to be nitrogen fixing with no apparent nodulation problems where introduced (Allen and Allen, 1981).
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)||0|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||18||26|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||32||41|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||8||20|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||4||6||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||250||1800||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Social ImpactTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts human health
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Produces spines, thorns or burrs
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
The wood is used locally for construction, panelling, boxes, crates, agricultural implements, and cart wheels. Irregular growth habit and branchiness prohibit use as a sawn timber and the wood has never been used commercially, except in some areas for fuel. However, as a fuelwood it is not of very high quality, having only low to moderate calorific value, being thorny and burning with a very smoky flame (Brewbaker, 1992). Nevertheless, the wood is used as a domestic fuel in many areas where firewood is in short supply and as fuel for brick kilns in India.
P. dulce is perhaps best-known for its sweet edible aril, which is eaten fresh, as an infusion, or macerated in water to make a lemonade-like beverage (Brewbaker, 1992). The species name 'dulce' derives from this use. The aril is small, fleshy, sweet, but often rather astringent, and has been the focus of selection in the Philippines to produce superior clones with sweeter, redder arils. The pods are often harvested for local consumption, but in some areas, such as the Philippines, Thailand, Cuba and Mexico (McVaugh, 1987), pods are harvested in larger quantities and sold in local markets. The fruits do not store for long and must be eaten within a few days. The seeds themselves are also edible (Parrotta, 1991), eaten in curries in India. They also contain 17% oil, light-coloured, as thick as castor oil, which is extracted in some areas, and the resulting pressed seed cake residue is rich in protein (30%) and can be used as a seed meal for stock feed.
The pods are also relished by livestock and chickens (Hocking, 1993). The leaves contain 29% crude protein (Luna, 1996) and the young shoots are used for livestock fodder in some areas (Kundu et al., 1983), either browsed directly or by lopping branches and allowing the leaflets to dry and drop off. Hedge trimmings are often used in this way as fodder for goats in parts of India (Hocking, 1993). However, it is rarely considered an important fodder and there has been only limited evaluation of its nutritive value.
The flowers of P. dulce are a high quality nectar and pollen source producing excellent quality honey (Crane et al., 1984). Tannin, used to soften leather, can be extracted from the bark, seeds and leaves. The tree also produces a reddish-brown, water-soluble exudate gum similar to commercial gum arabic from Acacia senegal. P. dulce has numerous minor medicinal uses (Standley, 1922; Standley and Steyermark, 1946; Timyan, 1996).
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Building poles
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- For light construction
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Tool handles
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.The Australian government has adopted a strict quarantine policy to ensure this species is not introduced. According to Smith (1998), P. dulce is relatively resistant to fire and thus this does not appear to be useful in controlling the species. AFFA (2000) and PIER (2002) also comment on the difficulty and potential ineffectiveness of mechanical control of this species, because any damage to the roots promotes resprouting with thorny suckers. However, PIER (2002) state that glyphosate can be applied onto cut stumps to prevent regeneration, or foliar or basal application of herbicide, for example triclopyr, can control seedlings or young plants. Smith (1998) report that no evaluation of the potential for biocontrol had taken place on Hawaii because of conflicts of interest in the use of this plant.
ReferencesTop of page
AFFA, 2000. Madras thorn Fact. Fact Sheet No. 115. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. http://www.affa.gov.au/content/output.cfm?ObjectID=D2C48F86-BA1A-11A1-A2200060B0A03969.
AQIS, 1996. Madras Thorn. Pithecellobium dulce. Plant Quarantine Leaflet No. 115. Canberra, Australia: Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Department of Primary Industries and Energy.
Barneby RC; Grimes JW, 1997. Silk tree, Guanacaste, Monkey's Earring. A generic system for the synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas. Part II. Pithecellobium, Cojoba and Zygia. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 74.
Brenan JPM, 1959. Flora of tropical East Africa: Leguminosae-Mimosoideae. London, UK: Crown Agents for Overseas Governments.
CONABIO, 2003. Pithecellobium dulce. http://www.conabio.gob.mx/conocimiento/info_especies/arboles/doctos/45-legum38m.pdf.
Csurhes S; Edwards R, 1998. Potential environmental weeds in Australia: candidate species for preventative control. Coorparoo, Australia: Queensland Department of Natural Resources.
Degener O, 1930. Illustrated guide to the more common or noteworthy ferns and flowering plants of Hawaii National Park, with descriptions of ancient Hawaiian customs and an introduction to the geologic history of the islands. Honolulu Star Bulletin. 312pp.
Hendro Sunarjono H; Coronel RE, 1991. Pithecellobium dulce. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE eds. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2. Edible Fruits and Nuts. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 256-257.
Holm LG; Pancho JV; Herberger JP; Plucknett DL, 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. New York, USA: Wiley.
McVaugh R, 1987. Flora Novo-Galiciana: a descriptive account of the vascular plants of western Mexico. Volume 5. Leguminosae. General Editor Anderson, W.R. Michigan, USA: University of Michigan Press.
Merrill ED, 1912. Notes on the flora of Manila with special reference to the introduced element. Philippine Journal of Sciences, Botany, 7:145-208.
Morton JF, 1976. Pestiferous spread of many ornamental and fruit species in south Florida. Proceedings Florida State Horticultural Society, 89:348-353.
Neal MC, 1965. In gardens of Hawaii. Bernice Bishop Museum Special Publication 50. Hawaii, USA: Bishop Museum Press.
Nielsen I, 1985. Leguminosae - Mimosoideae. Flora of Thailand, 4(2):217-219.
NWSEC, 1998. Noxious Weeds List for Australian States and Territories. National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee. http://www.weeds.org.au/docs/weednet6.pdf.
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.
Parrotta JA, 1991. Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth. Guamúchil, Madras Thorn. Leguminosae (Mimosoideae). Legume family. USDA Forest Service. Southern Forest Experiment Station. New Orleans, Louisiana: Institute of Tropical Forestry.
PIER, 2002. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (3.3). Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Hawaii, USA. http://www.hear.org/pier
Rickett HW; Stafleu FA, 1959-1961. Nomina generica conservada et rejicienda spermatophytorum. Taxon, 8:282-314.
Serajuddoula MD; Khan MAS; Islam MR; Shahjalal MAH, 1995. Introduction of non mangroves in raised land - a way to maintain sustainable forest on the coastal belt of Bangladesh. Pakistan Journal of Forestry, 45:163-169.
Smith CW, 1998. Hawaiian Alien Plant Studies. Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth. University of Hawaii Botany Department. http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/cw_smith/pit_dul.htm.
Space JC; Falanruw M, 1999. Observations on invasive plant species in Micronesia. Honolulu, Hawaii: USDA Forest Service, 32 pp.
Space JC; Flynn T, 2001. Report to the Kingdom of Tonga on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service.
Space JC; Waterhouse B; Denslow JS; Nelson D, 2000. Invasive plant species on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. 10 pp.
Space JC; Waterhouse B; Denslow JS; Nelson D; Mazawa TR, 2000. Invasive plant species in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA.
Standley PC, 1922. Trees and Shrubs of Mexico. Gliricidia. Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium, 23(2):482-483.
Stewart JL; Dunsdon AJ; Hellin JJ; Hughes CE, 1992. Wood biomass estimation of Central American dry zone trees. Tropical Forestry Papers 26. Oxford, UK: Oxford Forestry Institute.
Townsend CC; Guest E, 1974. Flora of Iraq. Vol. 3. Baghdad, Iraq: Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform.
Troup RS; Joshi HB, 1983. The Silviculture of Indian Trees. Vol IV. Leguminosae. Delhi, India; Controller of Publications.
AFFA, 2000. Madras thorn Fact. Fact Sheet No. 115., Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. http://www.affa.gov.au/content/output.cfm?ObjectID=D2C48F86-BA1A-11A1-A2200060B0A03969
Atiama M, Delatte H, Simiand C, Moutoussamy M L, Schmitt T, Béziat B, Deguine J P, 2017. Orthops palus (Heteroptera: Miridae), a major pest of mango in Reunion Island. Acta Horticulturae. 291-295. DOI:10.17660/actahortic.2017.1183.42
CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Kondo T, Gullan P J, Peronti A L B G, Ramos-Portilla A A, Caballero A, Villarreal-Pretelt N, 2016. First records of the iceryine scale insects Crypticerya brasiliensis (Hempel) and Crypticerya genistae (Hempel) (Hemiptera: Monophlebidae) for Colombia. Insecta Mundi. 1-9. http://centerforsystematicentomology.org/insectamundi/PDF-download.asp?FileName=0480_Kondo_etal_2016.pdf
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.
Parrotta JA, 1991. Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth. Guamúchil, Madras Thorn. Leguminosae (Mimosoideae). In: Legume family, New Orleans, Louisiana, USDA Forest Service. Southern Forest Experiment Station. Institute of Tropical Forestry.
PIER, 2002. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (3.3)., Hawaii, USA: Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. http://www.hear.org/pier
Townsend CC, Guest E, 1974. Flora of Iraq., 3 Baghdad, Iraq: Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform.
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