Tecoma stans (yellow bells)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- 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
- Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. ex Humb., Bonpl. & Kunth
Preferred Common Name
- yellow bells
Other Scientific Names
- Bignonia incise Sweet
- Bignonia stans L.
- Gelseminum stans (L.) Knutze
- Stenolobium quinquejugum Loes.
- Stenolobium stans (L.) Seem.
- Tecoma incise hort. ex DC.
- Tecoma mollis Kunth
International Common Names
- English: trumpetflower; yellow elder; yellow trumpetbush
- Spanish: lluvia de oro; trompeta; trona frente; tronadora
- French: tecoma jaune
- Portuguese: amarelinho; ipê-mírím
Local Common Names
- : piti
- Germany: Aufrechte Trompetenwinde
- Italy: tecoma giallo
- TECST (Tecoma stans)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page T. stans is an aggressive plant invader that outcompetes natural vegetation and grassland. It can be described as a transformer species which reduces biodiversity and destroys natural resources. It has been planted as an ornamental garden and street tree but has become a problem in parts of tropical and sub-tropical Africa, Asia, South America, Pacific Islands and Australia.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Scrophulariales
- Family: Bignoniaceae
- Genus: Tecoma
- Species: Tecoma stans
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page Although the genera Bignonia and Stenolobium are still sometimes used by authors, their usage is incorrect (Pelton 1964; Gentry 1992). Tecoma Juss. amended Humb., Bonpl. & Kunth, is entirely a Western Hemisphere tropical and sub-tropical genus of about 16 species of which Tecoma stans is the type species. This species is also the most widely distributed and is made up of a polymorphic complex of forms which have often been segregated into several species or subspecies (Gentry, 1992). Today three subspecies are recognized. The most common and widespread type is T. stans var. stans which was also known incorrectly as T. incisa, T. stans var. apiifolia, Stenolobium stans var. pinnatum, S. stans var. multijugum and S. quinquejugum. The second recognized variety is T. stans var. angustata Rehder which was also known as S. incisum, T. incisa and S. tronadora and has narrower and more sharply and deeply serrated lanceolate leaflets. This variety is confined to the northwestern range of T. stans. The third variety is T. stans var. velutina DC. which was known as T. mollis, T. sorbifolia, S. molle, Gelseminum molle and T. fabrisii. As the name implies, the leaflets of this variety are velutinous (velvety), mainly on the underside and tend to be more subcoriaceous (leathery) and less acuminate than typical T. stans. It is mainly confined to the high altitudes of the South American Andes in the 1500-2600 m altitudes in the Sierra Madre South of Mexico and Guatemala. Very few infestations of T. stans outside its native range have been classified to subspecific level.
DescriptionTop of page T. stans is a shrub or a small tree which can reach a height of 8 m, rarely 10 m, and with stem diameters of up to 25 cm. Plants in dense stands are usually smaller with heights of 5-6 m. It remains evergreen in moist and warmer regions but changes to deciduous in more temperate regions with a pronounced dry season (Pelton, 1964). The pinnate leaves are bright green above, paler below and can be smooth or hairy, often around the veins, depending on the region (subspecies). The leaf size is also dependent on the variety and can be large, 100-200 mm long, pinnate with 3-17 leaflets 2.4-15 cm long, 0.8-6 cm wide, progressively larger distally (Gentry, 1992). Most leaves have 5-7 leaflets including the terminal one. Leaf margins can be sharply toothed as in T. stans var. angustata or less toothed as in the other varieties. Inflorescences are terminal or subterminal with up to 20 bright yellow showy trumpet-shaped flowers, about 50 mm long. In some varieties the corolla is slightly orange-yellow with pinkish lines in the throat. The fruit is a linear shiny capsule, 12-22 cm long and about 1 cm thick, pointed at the end. The two-valve dehiscent capsule splits open to release up to 77 (mean 42) papery-winged seeds which are primarily wind, and to a lesser extent water, dispersed.
Plant TypeTop of page Perennial
DistributionTop of page T. stans is very widely cultivated as an ornamental garden and street tree throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world, also within its native range (Gentry, 1992). This resulted in much uncertainty about its natural or introduced status in several countries in the Americas, for example, in Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and several islands in the West Indies (Pelton, 1964). The rapid expansion of its distribution and its invasive behaviour in Argentina and Brazil must be a strong indication of an introduced exotic responding to the absence of natural enemies although most of the literature gives Argentina as its southernmost natural distribution (Pelton, 1964). It is widespread in the Pacific region (PIER, 2005). The invasive status of T. stans is likely to increase dramatically in many countries of introduction as it changes from a 'sleeper weed' to its invasive stage.
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: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Botswana||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Cabo Verde||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Williams & Williams, 1951|
|Ethiopia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Kenya||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Malawi||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Mauritius||Present||Introduced||Sauer (1961); Pelton (1964)|
|Nigeria||Present||Introduced||Bianco et al. (1980)|
|Rwanda||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|South Africa||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Henderson (2001)|
|Tanzania||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Uganda||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Zambia||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|Zimbabwe||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke (2017)|
|India||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Seeman (1863)|
|-Karnataka||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Raju et al. (2001)|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present||Introduced||Gargav and Katiyar (1971)|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||Introduced||Shukla and Upadhyaya (1973)|
|-West Bengal||Present||Introduced||Pal and Das (2001)|
|Indonesia||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Java||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Pelton (1964)|
|Pakistan||Present||Introduced||Ayaz and Arshad (1999); Aurang Zeb et al. (2000)|
|Philippines||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Pelton (1964); CABI (Undated)|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Native||Pelton (1964)|
|Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba|
|-Saba||Present||CABI (Undated b)|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005)|
|Cayman Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005)|
|Costa Rica||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Curaçao||Present||CABI (Undated b)|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005)|
|El Salvador||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Guatemala||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Haiti||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Honduras||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Jamaica||Present, Widespread||Native||Pelton (1964)|
|Mexico||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Netherlands Antilles||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005)|
|Nicaragua||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005); USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|Saint Lucia||Present||USDA-ARS (2005); Graveson (2012); Krauss (2012)||Uncertain whether native to Saint Lucia|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Native||Pelton (1964); CABI (Undated)|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005); USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|United States||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Arizona||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005); USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|-Florida||Present, Localized||Native||Gentry (1992)|
|-Hawaii||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Loope (1997)|
|-New Mexico||Present||Native||USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|-Texas||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2005); USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|American Samoa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn (2000)|
|Australia||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Randall (2001)|
|Christmas Island||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Swarbrick and Hart (2001)|
|Cook Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn (2000)|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Waterhouse (1997)|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Welsh (1998)|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Fosberg et al. (1979)|
|Kiribati||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Fosberg et al. (1979)|
|Marshall Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER (2005)|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Swarbrick (1997)|
|Niue||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn (2000a)|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Fosberg et al. (1979)|
|Palau||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space et al. (2003)|
|Samoa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn (2000a)|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Swarbrick (1997)|
|Tonga||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn (2001)|
|Argentina||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Holm et al. (1979)|
|-Minas Gerais||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Lorenzi (1991)|
|-Parana||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Kranz and Passini (1996); Kranz and Passini (1997)|
|-Pernambuco||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Lorenzi (1991)|
|-Rio de Janeiro||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Lorenzi (1991)|
|-Rio Grande do Norte||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Lorenzi (1991)|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Kranz and Passini (1997)|
|-Santa Catarina||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Kranz and Passini (1997)|
|-Sao Paulo||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Kranz and Passini (1997)|
|Colombia||Present, Widespread||Native||Gentry (1992)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page T. stans is an attractive shrub or small tree that has small seeds that travel well and are easy to grow. Introduction through the nursery trade represents the greatest risk to new areas. In South Africa, the sale of T. stans is prohibited (Henderson, 2001). Travellers carrying seeds for home cultivation also represent a risk (Randall, 2001).
HabitatTop of page The very extensive distribution of T. stans and its wide genetic variability implies that it is found over many habitats from the Andes regions of central South America to Arizona, southern Texas (USA), Baja California and northern Mexico (Pelton, 1964). The extremes within this distribution, from the high altitude regions of South America and the drier habitats of North America have separate subspecies, namely, T. stans var. velutina and T. stans var. angustata, respectively. The latter subspecies is found mainly as a riparian species along dry riverbeds, often in rocky terrain, but is also a typical dry shrubland species, usually of small size. In Mexico, T. stans var. stans is the more widely distributed subspecies and occupies mainly shrub forest habitats or forest margins in higher rainfall areas. According to Pelton (1964), T. stans prefers well drained alluvial and calcarious soils with a high pH value. Because the plant is so widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout its native range and from where it often escapes, it has become difficult to recognize typical habitats. It becomes very abundant on overgrazed lands and in disturbed habitats both within and outside its native range. The most severe invasions in Brazil, northern Argentina and South Africa are found in medium to high rainfall sub-tropical climate zones, often along drainage lines.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page T. stans is not a crop weed but an aggressive plant invader that outcompetes natural vegetation and grassland.
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
The chromosome number is 2n=40 (Pelton, 1964). Natural hybridization with other species has not been recorded.
Physiology and Phenology
There is no seed dormancy known and seed longevity is short (Pelton, 1964). Seedlings establish rapidly with a prominent tap root.
This plant is autocompatible and requires external pollination (Kranz and Passini, 1997). It can flower throughout the year, or flowering can be seasonal, usually in summer and after good rains. Only a small proportion of the flowers set fruit in its native range which can be attributed to drought conditions, pollination failure and insect attack. In contrast, fruit set in countries of introduction is high, e.g. in South Africa. Vegetative reproduction from root and stem cuttings is less important for long distance dispersal but allows for rapid densification of populations after disturbances, including attempts to remove plants mechanically. The vigorous sucker shoots tend to be erect as the specific name 'stans' implies.
The species, which includes the thee recognized subspecies, has a very wide climatic tolerance. It occurs from the south of Arizona and Texas (USA) with a prolonged dry season and sub-zero winter temperatures to the sub-tropics to almost tropical conditions of Chiapas (Mexico) and Guatamala. In Peru it is found at altitudes of up to 3000 m and 2439 m in Hidalgo, Mexico (Pelton, 1964). The climatic tolerance of an invading population will thus depend to a large extent on the origin of the plant. In South Africa, T. stans appears to fit the description of T. stans var. angustata which originated from the northern range of its distribution and explains why it is pre-adapted to prolonged dry conditions and can tolerate frost, whereas the invading populations in Brazil belong to T. stans var. stans which is the more common type found in the sub-tropics and tropics of Mexico, central America and the Caribbean islands and which appears to be less hardy. Deciduousness and a high wilting tolerance allows the species to survive prolonged drought conditions, indication of a habitat which is subject to periodic dry conditions (Pelton, 1964). Low pod production in India during certain months is attributed to pollen degeneration (microsporogenesis) at temperatures between 34 and 44°C (Kumar and Singh, 1988).
Plants are often found growing along steep gradients, road sides and eroded and overgrazed areas. In Mauritius and Jamaica plants grow only 30 m from the sea where they are subject to salt sprays and storm waves. Deforestation has certainly increased its range to areas where it did not previously occur, for example, under shaded forest canopies. High light intensity, good soil drainage and open community vegetation appear to be three important prerequisites for successful colonization, preferably in lithosols and coarse alluvium soils with medium to high pH values.
T. stans is notably a species of forest margins and of mesic soft-leaved shrub or deciduous sub-tropical vegetation. Other vegetation types mentioned in the literature include 'dry bushy slopes', 'evergreen riparian bush', 'mesquite-grassland zone', 'short tree forests', 'brush lands', 'dry scrub woodlands', etc. (Pelton, 1964). It is an early succession species which aids in fast colonization of disturbed areas, eventually being replaced by climax species within its native range. In non-native areas dense infestations are usually permanent. No particular vascular plants have been found to be consistently associated with T. stans, which is probably an indication of its pioneer status.
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page South Africa and Brazil have started to investigate the possibilities of biological control and some preliminary surveys for potential host-specific natural enemies have commenced. The most significant and impacting natural enemies are the rusts, namely Prospodium appendiculatum and P. transformans. The former is already present in Brazil where it causes some damage to infestations (Vitorino et al., 2003). Other diseases recorded include Puccinia tecomae, Triblidiella rubula and Septobasidium alni (Pelton, 1964). Several membracid and cercopid species in Mexico are affecting the young racemes which reduce flowering and promote early pod abortion. No endophagous seed-feeding insects have yet been found but a pyralid pod-feeding moth in the genus Clydenopteron causes some significant damage to the seeds in Mexico and may be considered for biological control. Surveys of insects associated with T. stans in Brazil have revealed at least 40 species in 12 insect orders but most are general feeders and transfer species which have limited impact on the expanding infestations (Dutra and Machado, 2001). It is also a host to several common insect pests in Brazil and India including Typhlodromus dominiquae, Amblyseius ovaloides, Spilosoma obliqua, Mylabris pustulata, Diacrisia oblique and the fungus Alternaria tenuis [A. alternata] (Shukla and Upadhyaya, 1973; Kranz and Passini, 1997; Pal and Das, 2001). The fungus Pseudocercospora gymnematis was found on T. stans in West Bengal, India (Sarbajna and Chattopadhyay, 1991).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
Dispersal is mainly by wind and water dispersed winged seeds. These are produced in large quantities almost throughout the year. Regeneration from cut roots and stumps results in dense populations after mechanical disturbances.
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Little is known of the role of birds in the dispersal of T. stans.
By far the most important mode of global dispersal is through the nursery trade and the attraction of T. stans as a garden ornamental which is assisted by its ease of propagation and rapid growth.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page T. stans is unpalatable and drastically impedes the grazing capacity of the invaded land.
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page Monocultures of T. stans outcompete native vegetation. This is particularly relevant in the State of Parana in Brazil where large infestations occur. Allelopathic activities are not known but plants contain various monoterpene alkaloids, tecostanine, tecomanine and boschniakine which may well contribute to the exclusion of competitors (Berg et al., 1977; Kranz and Passini, 1996a).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- 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
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - smothering
- Pest and disease transmission
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page The bright-green foliage, beautiful bell-shaped cluster of bright-yellow flowers and the plant's hardiness makes it a very sought after garden ornamental. Large stands of flowering yellow-bells make an impressive sight that attracts tourists. Other uses include its reputed medicinal properties: antidiabetic (hypoglycaemic) and lowering of blood pressure, induced by histamine-releasing substances (Perez et al., 1984; Meckes-Lozoya and Lozoya, 1989; Kranz and Passini, 1997). Leaves are not grazed.
Uses ListTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Several species in the Bignoniaceae have similar yellow tubular flowers and compound leaves which resemble T. stans. Most striking similarities are found in several species in the genus Tabebuia, also from the Americas. Tecoma castanifolia and T. alata [T. guarume] are also recorded as naturalized and invasive (Randall, 2002).
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.Introduction
Integrating various control methods is the most effective approach and includes the prevention of new introductions, dispersal and sales by the nursery trade as well as mechanical and chemical control.
Maintaining a vigorous ground cover, preventing overgrazing and rehabilitating disturbed areas remains one of the best methods to prevent establishment and invasion of T. stans. Frequent inspections of pastures and forest margins are necessary to locate seedlings that can be hand-pulled. Larger plants can be uprooted by using a tractor, but resprouting from cut roots can cause rapid reinfestation unless the remaining roots are burnt after drying. Rehabilitation of such disturbed areas after uprooting and burning is essential. Follow-up control to remove the regrowth is necessary for at least a year after initial control (Kranz and Passini 1996b, 1997).
Conventional chemical control methods of shrubs and small trees as practised by most municipalities and counties are not effective against T. stans. Only repeated applications of foliar-applied herbicides are effective but this method is usually not economic. More effective are cut-stump application methods using oil-based or oil/water emulsions of 2,4-D and picloram mixtures. These are generously applied to the freshly cut stumps by spraying or painting. Soil applied tebuthiuron also gave excellent control 270 days after treatment (Kranz and Passini, 1997).
Host specificity tests on two rust fungus species, namely, the microcyclic Prospodium transformans and the macrocyclic P. appendiculatum from Mexico are in progress in South Africa. P. appendiculatum is already present in Brazil and Argentina but is not contributing much to the suppression of populations. Further surveys for additional host-specific natural enemies are planned. A raceme-feeding membracid and the pyralid pod-feeding moth Clydenopteron sp. are to be introduced into quarantine in South Africa for possible biological control.
ReferencesTop of page
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