Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tephrosia candida
(white tephrosia)



Tephrosia candida (white tephrosia)


  • Last modified
  • 16 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tephrosia candida
  • Preferred Common Name
  • white tephrosia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Tephrosia candida is a drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing shrub native to South and South-East Asia. It is commonly used in agroforestry systems, especially for soil improvement and erosion control. It is also u...

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PhuTho Province, Vietnam. T. candida is being used in PhuTho Province to improve soils.
CaptionPhuTho Province, Vietnam. T. candida is being used in PhuTho Province to improve soils.
CopyrightVu Van Dzung
PhuTho Province, Vietnam. T. candida is being used in PhuTho Province to improve soils.
HabitPhuTho Province, Vietnam. T. candida is being used in PhuTho Province to improve soils.Vu Van Dzung
TitleFoliage, pods and flowers
CopyrightVu Van Dzung
Foliage, pods and flowersVu Van Dzung


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tephrosia candida (Roxb.) DC.

Preferred Common Name

  • white tephrosia

Other Scientific Names

  • Cracca candida (Roxb.) Kuntze
  • Kiesera candida (DC.) Reinw.
  • Kiesera sericea Blume
  • Robinia candida Roxb.
  • Robinia sericea C.Presl
  • Xiphocarpus candidus (DC.) Hassk.
  • Xiphocarpus candidus Endl
  • Xiphocarpus martinicensis C.Presl

International Common Names

  • English: hoang pea; white hoary pea
  • French: indigo blanc; indigo sauvage
  • Chinese: bai hui mao dou

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: bangara; bogamedula
  • Brazil: tefrósia
  • French Polynesia: requie'nie
  • India: boga medalo; boga-medeloa; kulthi; lashita; masethi
  • Indonesia: enceng-enceng; kapeping badah; poko tom
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: uppin
  • Papua New Guinea: pis pea
  • Vietnam: cot khi

EPPO code

  • TEPCA (Tephrosia candida)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Tephrosia candida is a drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing shrub native to South and South-East Asia. It is commonly used in agroforestry systems, especially for soil improvement and erosion control. It is also used as a green manure and in extended fallows, contour hedgerows, and as a shade and nurse tree. It has been widely introduced to many tropical regions for these purposes. Although now widespread, T. candida is only reported as invasive in a few countries, including parts of China (Hong Kong and Hunan), Taiwan, Reunion and a few Pacific islands (Hawaii, Cook Islands, Samoa, Palau and Micronesia). It has the ability to form dense thickets, especially in disturbed areas, the resulting monocultures reducing the growth of native species. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Tephrosia
  •                                     Species: Tephrosia candida

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Tephrosia is a large genus of tropical and subtropical herbs or shrubs belonging to the legume family Fabaceae, in subfamily Faboideae (also called the Papilionoideae). Taxonomically there are issues regarding the delimitations of T. candida and its relationship to closely related species. For example, a type specimen designated as T. candida DC. in collections originating from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) was confirmed by Stevenson et al. (2012) as T. vogelii on the basis of morphological comparison with verified herbarium specimens and DNA sequence analysis.

The generic name Tephrosia is from the Greek word tephros meaning ashen, a reference to the greyish appearance of its leaves imparted by dense trichomes. The specific name candida means pure white in Latin, likely in reference to the flower colour.


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T. candida is an erect shrub or small tree up to 3.5 m tall, occasionally to 5 m, with straggling branches from the base. Stems ridged, greyish white, tomentose, trichomes about 1 mm across. Leaves are spirally arranged, imparipinnate, with stipules 5-11 mm x 0.8-1.5 mm, often caduceus. Rachis 15-25 cm long including the petiole 1-3 cm long, with a brown indumentum, containing 6-13 pairs of leaflets that are opposite, narrowly ovate, elliptical to narrowly obovate, (1.3-) 3-6 (-7.5) cm long and 0.5-1.7 cm wide, glaucous green, soft, with silvery indumentum, the base and apex being acute, long-mucronate, and venation distinct below, with 30-50 secondary veins on each side of the midvein.

Inflorescences are terminal, axillary or leaf-opposed pseudoracemes, usually 15-20 cm but up to-40 cm long. There are few basal bracts, leaf-like, upper bracts narrowly triangular, 2.2-6 mm long and 0.5-1.5 mm across, often caduceus. Flowers are in fascicles of 5-13, 13-26 mm long, white, silky, with dark brown hairs on the outside; the calyx campanulate, broadly ovate to obovate, 13-25 x 11-25 mm, apex rounded to emarginate, acuminate, claw 1-5 mm long, wings 12-20 x 5.5-13 mm, glabrous, lateral pockets sometimes bulging; stamens 10, vexillary filament free at base, other filaments alternately longer and shorter. The corolla is white, rarely yellow or pale pink, and densely sericeous. Ovaries are tomentose, with numerous ovules.

Pods are linear, 7-12 cm long and 0.5-1 cm across, straight, with a thin dry pericarp turning from green to olive brown, light brown to dark brown in colour and covered with silky hairs (tomentose with a mixture of long and short trichomes). Slightly convex around parts that contain each of the 10-15 seeds, and the apex is truncate with a straight beak 1 cm long. Seeds are broadly ovoid, campylotropous and reniform, 4-5.5 x 3-4 mm, olive-green, brown or greyish-brown with dark patches (Oliveira et al., 2000; Orwa et al., 2009).

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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The native range of T. candida is debated. It may be native to a broad area covering the Indian subcontinent and parts of South-East Asia as well as some Indian Ocean islands (ILDIS, 2013), though some sources note a native range restricted to India (e.g. USDA-ARS, 2015) or even just to Malaysia. Introduction and naturalization have certainly confused attempts to identify the exact limits to the native range. For the purposes of this datasheet, the broad range as defined by ILDIS (2013) is used, which includes Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh, and also Peninsular Malaysia and parts of Indonesia.

T. candida has been introduced into neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka, China, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and some other South-East Asian countries. It has also been introduced to parts of Africa and South America, and even to the Republic of Georgia. Kairo et al. (2003) note it as widespread in the Caribbean, but do not indicate whether it has become naturalized. Introductions have also been made to various Pacific and Indian Ocean islands where, in some cases, the species has become invasive (Cook Islands, Micronesia (Pohnpei Island), Hawaii, Samoa and Reunion) (PIER, 2015).

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


BangladeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
BhutanPresentPlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2015
CambodiaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
ChinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015; PIER, 2015
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangxiPresentIntroduced Planted Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
-HunanPresentIntroduced2013 Invasive Zeng XianFeng, 2013First record in this province
-SichuanPresentIntroducedWu et al., 2009
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
Georgia (Republic of)PresentIntroduced1940Razdorskaja, 1941
IndiaWidespreadNativeILDIS, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2015Likely to be present in all states
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-AssamPresentNativeAli and Saikia, 1991; ILDIS, 2013
-BiharPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-GoaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-GujaratPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-KarnatakaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-MaharashtraPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-ManipurPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-MeghalayaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-OdishaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-RajasthanPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-SikkimPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-TripuraPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-UttarakhandPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-West BengalPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
IndonesiaWidespreadNativeILDIS, 2013
-JavaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-MoluccasPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativeILDIS, 2013; ILDIS, 2013
-SulawesiPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-SumatraPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
JapanPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
LaosPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
MalaysiaPresentILDIS, 2013
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2013
-SabahPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
-SarawakPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
MyanmarPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
NepalPresentNativeILDIS, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2015
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2015; PIER, 2015
ThailandPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
VietnamPresentIntroducedKe, 1973; GBIF, 2015


BeninPresentIntroducedHautier et al., 2002
CameroonPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedNiyungeko et al., 1990; ILDIS, 2013
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
GhanaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
KenyaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
LiberiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
MadagascarPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
MalawiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
MozambiquePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
NigeriaPresentIntroduced Planted GBIF, 2015
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
SeychellesPresentIntroducedDupont, 1931
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
South AfricaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
UgandaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HawaiiPresentPlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BahamasPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
CaribbeanPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalKairo et al., 2003
CubaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
DominicaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003; ILDIS, 2013
GrenadaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
HaitiPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
HondurasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
JamaicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
MartiniquePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2015
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedPlanted, NaturalKairo et al., 2003; ILDIS, 2013; USDA-NRCS, 2015
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003; ILDIS, 2013
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
BoliviaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
BrazilPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedBrasil, 1992; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-ParaPresentIntroducedBrasil, 1992
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced1930Inforzato, 1947
ChilePresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
ColombiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
EcuadorPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
French GuianaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
GuyanaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
ParaguayPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
SurinamePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013
UruguayPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013


AustraliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2013; AVH, 2015
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002; GBIF, 2015; PIER, 2015
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2015
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2015; PIER, 2015Invasive on island of Pohnpei
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2015
New ZealandPresent Natural ILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015
NiuePresentIntroduced Not invasive ILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015
PalauPresentIntroduced Not invasive Space and Imada, 2004; GBIF, 2015; PIER, 2015
Papua New GuineaPresentPlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2013; AVH, 2015; PIER, 2015
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2015; PIER, 2015
Solomon IslandsPresentPlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2013; PIER, 2015disagreement among authorities as to whether introduced or native

History of Introduction and Spread

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Little information is forthcoming regarding exact dates of introduction of T. candida outside its native range. It was, however, reported to have been introduced from Asia to São Paulo, Brazil, in 1930 (Inforzato, 1947). Using seed apparently of African origin, T. candida and five other Tephrosia species were introduced in 1940 as potential medicinal crops for the production of rotenone to southwestern Transcaucasia, a region that is now in the Republic of Georgia; T. candida, T. vogelii, T. rigida and T. grandiflora grew and developed well in the region with its humid subtropical climate (Razdorskaja, 1941).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Georgia (Republic of) Africa 1940 Medicinal use (pathway cause)Razdorskaja (1941)
Sao Paulo Asia 1930 Crop production (pathway cause)Inforzato (1947)

Risk of Introduction

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Based on its multiple uses and value in agroforestry systems for improving soils and reducing erosion, and as a shade and nurse tree, it could be expected that further intentional introduction of T. candida is likely. However, PIER (2015) reports two risk assessments undertaken on T. candida that show it poses a ‘high risk’ (score 8) of becoming a serious pest in the Pacific region, and in Australia, with a ‘reject’ score of 11, it also poses a high risk and is rejected for import. 


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The natural habitat of T. candida is mainly primary and secondary forest in seasonally dry tropical climates, along riverbanks and now also disturbed land, cultivated fields, roadsides, on sandy soils in coastal areas and also on steep slopes and very poor, eroded uplands (Orwa et al., 2009). Where introduced and cultivated, it has escaped in some areas, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan has invaded grasslands, open places and sloping land (PIER, 2015).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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The chromosome number is 2n = 22 (Bairiganjan and Patnaik, 1989).

Reproductive Biology

T. candida reproduces by seed. The interval between flowering and seed maturation is normally 5-10 weeks. When the seeds are ripe, the pods dehisce and lose their seeds. There are between 300 and 500 seeds per kg. The embryo in the seed is invaginated, of the papilionaceous type, with a curved, falciform and pleurorized embryonic axis, a rudimentary and yellowish plumule, fleshy ellipsoidal cotyledons with an exposed radicle (Oliveira et al., 2000). Seeds of all Tephrosia species exhibit innate dormancy at varying levels (Babayemi et al., 2003). Seed storage trials showed that T. candida seeds could survive at least 3 years under open storage conditions without loss of viability (Orwa et al., 2009).

Physiology and Phenology

T. candida is slow to establish but grows steadily thereafter. Flowering times range from all year round in Malaysia to only 2 months of the year in Vietnam (Orwa et al., 2009).

Although Orwa et al. (2009) note that the species is deep rooting, a study by Inforzato (1947) showed that more than 99% of the root mass was in the top 50 cm of the red soil in which it was found growing, although a very small proportion of the roots went lower, to a maximum of 3.85 m deep. The total root weight of 16 measured plants was 8.8 kg, rich in nodule bacteria after 5 years.


As a legume, T. candida forms root nodules with Bradyrhizobium and fixes large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen; Turk and Keyser (1992) found it to be promiscuous with over 30 bradyrhizobial strains for both nodulation and nitrogen fixation effectiveness. Chen et al. (1997) found strains of Rhizobium hainanense present in T. candida root nodules.

Environmental Requirements

T. candida grows in the seasonally dry tropics up to 1600 m altitude, with mean annual temperatures of 18-28ºC and mean annual rainfall of 700-2500 mm. It does not tolerate any frost or waterlogging. It prefers acid soils, tolerating a soil pH of as low as 3.5; the more acidic soils often appear more suitable (Orwa et al., 2009). It also grows on coastal sands, eroded upland soils and mine spoils where few other plants grow.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
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 Tolerated 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)
30 40 0 1200

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 2
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 38
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 4 20


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration05number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall7003000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral
  • very acid

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aphis gossypii Herbivore Stems not specific
Araecerus fasciculatus Herbivore Seeds not specific
Coptosoma siamicum Herbivore Whole plant not specific
Diplodia Pathogen Growing point/Stems not specific
Ganoderma Pathogen Roots not specific
Glomerella cingulata Pathogen Leaves not specific
Icerya seychellarum Pathogen Leaves/Stems not specific
Maruca vitrata Herbivore Fruits/pods/Inflorescence not specific
Megalurothrips sjostedti Herbivore Inflorescence not specific
Meloidogyne ethiopica Parasite Roots not specific
Mocis undata Herbivore Leaves not specific
Nectria Pathogen Stems not specific
Ophiomyia centrosematis Herbivore Stems not specific
Phanerochaete salmonicolor Pathogen Leaves/Stems not specific
Rastrococcus iceryoides Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific
Rosellinia bunodes Pathogen Roots not specific
Sinoxylon conigerum Herbivore Stems not specific
Subanguina radicicola Parasite Roots not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Records of pest and disease attacks date from as long ago as 1930-31, when T. candida was already being used as an important plant associate in commercial plantation crops. In Indonesian rubber plantations, Steinmann (1931) noted infections on T. candida of Corticium salmonicolor [Phanerochaete salmonicolor], Fomes lamaoensis [Fomitopsis lamaoensis] and Nectria in West Java, of Diplodia sp. in eastern Sumatra, and of Rosellinia bunodes in southern Sumatra.T. candida was noted as a new host for Colletotrichum gloeosporioides in Assam, India, in 1991 (Ali and Saikia, 1991). Orwa et al. (2009) also note that T. candida is susceptible to species of Fomes, Ganoderma and Rosellinia root rot fungi, as well as the nematode Heterodera radicola [Subanguina radicicola].

In the Seychelles, the coccinellids Rodolia chermesina, Scymnus (Nephus) oblongosignatus and Scymnus constrictus var. inter-cisus were found on T. candida attacked by Icerya seychellarum (Dupont, 1931). Among green manure plants and cover crops growing in Sri Lanka, Aphis gossypii and Coptosoma siamicum were recorded on T. candida, along with various termites and generalist pests (Hutson, 1931). In Indonesia, the tephrosia beetle (Araecerus fasciculatus) attacks young pods; it used to be a serious pest making seed difficult to obtain, but is now easily controlled with insecticides if required (Orwa et al., 2009). Other pests recorded as attacking T. candida include Megalurothrips sjostedti (bean flower thrips), Meloidogyne ethiopica (root-knot nematode), Mocis undata, Ophiomyia centrosematis (stemfly), Rastrococcus iceryoides (mango mealy bug) and Sinoxylon conigerum (conifer auger beetle). The flowers and fruits are susceptible to damage from Maruca vitrata (Chan, 1982).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Planted for erosion control on steep slopes, it may be expected that seed would be transported down slopes by gravity and could be washed along water courses after rainfall events. The large seeds and the fact that pods are dry and dehiscent suggest that seed dispersal may be more likely via physical events rather than with the aid of biotic vectors.

Intentional Introduction

Most long distance movement of T. candida is likely to be via intentional introduction for its noted value as an agroforestry species, for soil improvement, erosion control and other environmental services provided.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
Forage Yes Yes
Forestry Yes Yes
Habitat restoration and improvement Yes Yes
Hedges and windbreaks Yes Yes
Medicinal use Yes Yes
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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T. candida is widely cultivated for various reasons, including as a cover crop and green manure. However, in some places, especially parts of China, Taiwan, Reunion and a few Pacific islands (Cook Islands, Hawaii, Palau, Samoa and Micronesia), it has escaped from cultivation and become a noxious weed requiring eradication.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

T. candida is able to form dense thickets, especially in disturbed areas (Space and Imada, 2004), and the resulting monocultures can suppress the growth of native species.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

The leaves of T. candida are high in protein and are used as a fodder for livestock, the wood is used for fuel and there are many other uses of the plant’s parts. It is cultivated as a mulch, green manure, nurse crop and windbreak (Orwa et al., 2009). It is planted as a shade tree in agroforestry systems (Nguyen and Thai, 1993) and as a nurse tree for commercial timber species, such as Shorea robusta in India (Krishnaswany, 1956).

When grown for fodder, T. candida was reported to produce almost 11 t DM per hectare at the first 7-month harvest, whereas the common fodder species Leucaena leucocephala had not even reached 100 cm in height (Odedire and Babayemi, 2007).

T. candida, as well as T. vogelii and Mucuna pruriens, were identified as potential species for enhancing crop yields in the coastal areas of Kenya through their contribution to soil nitrogen balance, and production could be further increased with rhizobial inoculation and addition of phosphorus (Kiraithe et al., 2009).

In newly planted perennial crops such as citrus, coconut, coffee, clove, teak, rubber and tea, T. candida is grown as a temporary shade crop. It is also widely grown in intercropping situations, for example with pineapple, maize and other annual crops, and is reported to improve the quality of tobacco (Orwa et al., 2009). It has been intercropped with cassava on degraded acid soils in Vietnam (Huynh, 1993).

Extracts from T. candida are used for their insecticidal properties (Stoll, 1996). Leaf extracts have been shown to deter the feeding of the root weevil Diaprepes abbreviatus (Lapointe et al., 2003). In addition to insecticidal properties, extracts contain various flavonoids that possess piscicidal and many therapeutic properties (ILDIS, 2013). Rotenoids with potential insecticidal and piscicidal activities have been isolated from roots of T. candida (Andrei et al., 1997).

T. candida has also been used in controlling Imperata cylindrica especially after fire, as T. candida can grow quickly and shade out the shade-intolerant I. cylindrica (Conservator of Forests, Ceylon, 1954).

Social Benefit

In western Kenya, farmers typically plant fallows at high plants densities (more than 100,000 plants/ha), and it was found that 0.25 ha of T. candida and some other high producing species more than met the fuelwood needs of an average family (Jama et al., 2008); T. candida produced the most fuelwood of all the species tested, with almost 9 t/ha after 6 months.

T. candida is also planted as a boundary, barrier, support or windbreak, and is well adapted for being grown in contour hedges and in hedgerows around fields and home gardens (Wu et al., 2009).

T. candida is also sometimes grown as an ornamental tree (Orwa et al., 2009).

Environmental Services

T. candida is particularly valuable for the environmental services the plant provides, such as erosion control, soil conservation and soil improvement (Orwa et al., 2009). When T. candida was grown as a green manure in Kenya (Kiraithe et al., 2009), it produced large amounts of nitrogen for recycling after fallow periods. The species forms root nodules with Bradyrhizobium and fixes large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen. T. candida is reported to not only provide nitrogen but also raise soil phosphorus and potassium levels in proportion to increased levels of organic matter (Orwa et al., 2009), improving soil structure, water-holding capacity and permeability.

T. candida grows well on acid and impoverished soils, and its soil improving characteristics have led to its use as a pioneer plant, sown to provide ground cover between perennial crops for erosion control, rehabilitating degraded land, and in contour hedgerows to prevent soil erosion on steep slopes (Gichuru, 1994; Ha, 1994).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Revegetation
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak


  • Fuelwood

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora


  • Chemicals
  • Green manure
  • Mulches
  • Pesticide
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical


  • garden plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Like T. candida, T. vogelii is a shrub up to 3 m tall. It has a similar leaf type and white flowers. The two species can be distinguished, however, by calyx morphology: in T. candida the calyx is 5-8 mm long, and the teeth are shorter than the tube, while in T. vogelii the calyx is 10-15 mm long, and the teeth are longer than the tube. T. vogelii also produces longer pods (10-14 cm) (Hacker, 1990).

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechanical Control

Hand pulling can be carried out with small plants and can be effective in small patches. 


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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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06/02/2014  Invasive Species Compendium sections added by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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