Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Urena lobata
(caesar weed)

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Datasheet

Urena lobata (caesar weed)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 16 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Urena lobata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • caesar weed
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • U. lobata is a pantropical weed which is also a cultivated crop in many regions. As an aggressive invasive plant it is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds, and has been classified as a noxious weed in th...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); habit in pastureland.
TitleHabit
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); habit in pastureland.
Copyright©USDA/Edwin Torres & María Lugo
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); habit in pastureland.
HabitUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); habit in pastureland.©USDA/Edwin Torres & María Lugo
Urena lobata (caesar weed); upper part of plant with leaves and flowers.
TitleUpper part of plant
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed); upper part of plant with leaves and flowers.
Copyright©Kurt G. Kissmann
Urena lobata (caesar weed); upper part of plant with leaves and flowers.
Upper part of plantUrena lobata (caesar weed); upper part of plant with leaves and flowers.©Kurt G. Kissmann
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
TitleFlower
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
FlowerUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower.
TitleFlower
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower.
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower.
FlowerUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower.©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower and fruits (Note that fruits are barbed, spiny, capsules).
TitleFlower and fruits
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower and fruits (Note that fruits are barbed, spiny, capsules).
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower and fruits (Note that fruits are barbed, spiny, capsules).
Flower and fruitsUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); flower and fruits (Note that fruits are barbed, spiny, capsules).©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); maturing seed capsules. Hanalei NWR, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. March, 2013.
TitleMaturing seed capsules
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); maturing seed capsules. Hanalei NWR, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. March, 2013.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); maturing seed capsules. Hanalei NWR, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. March, 2013.
Maturing seed capsulesUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); maturing seed capsules. Hanalei NWR, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. March, 2013.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); mature seeds. Note scale.
TitleSeeds
CaptionUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); mature seeds. Note scale.
CopyrightPublic Domain: Original image by Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Urena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); mature seeds. Note scale.
SeedsUrena lobata (caesar weed, bur mallow or pink burr); mature seeds. Note scale.Public Domain: Original image by Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Urena lobata L.

Preferred Common Name

  • caesar weed

Other Scientific Names

  • Urena americana L. f.
  • Urena grandiflora DC.
  • Urena heterophylla Presl
  • Urena lobata var. americana (L. f.) Gürke
  • Urena lobata var. trilobata (Vell.) Gürke
  • Urena reticulata Cav.
  • Urena sinuata SW. non L.
  • Urena tomentosa Wall. non Blume
  • Urena trilobata Vell.
  • Urena viminea Cav.

International Common Names

  • English: aramina plant; bur mallow; burr mallow; cadillo; caesarweed; caesarweed aramina; Chinese burr; Congo jute; hibiscus burr; Indian mallow; pink burr; Urena burr
  • Spanish: aramina; cadillo; escoba babosa; malva blanca
  • French: cousin petit; cousin rouge; cousin urène; grand cousin; herbe a panier; jute Africain; Urena a feuilles lobees
  • Chinese: di tao hua
  • Portuguese: carrapicho-de-mato

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: aguaxima; carrapicho redondo; carrapico de lavadeira; embira; malva de embira; malva rósea; malvaísco; malva-roxa
  • Cook Islands: piripiri; purumu; vavai tara tita
  • Cuba: malva de Cuba; malva del pais; yute cubano; yute de Cuba
  • Dominican Republic: cadillo de perro; escoba
  • Fiji: gataya; gatima; katiqani viti; nggatima; qatima; qatima ni viti
  • French Polynesia: piripiri
  • India: gataya
  • Italy: urena
  • Japan: oobondekwa
  • Lesser Antilles: ballard bush; cooze mahot; kouzen maho; mahot cousin; pikan kouzen
  • Niue: mosipo; motipo
  • Palau: chosuched e kui; dádangse; dadangsi; dadangsi apaka; dadangsi machingat; osuched a rechui
  • Philippines: afulut; anonongkot; bagouan; baraanggot; batikil; dalupang; daupang; dopang; kollokollot; kolokot; kulutkulutan; mangkit; molopolo; palisin; poot-si-nuang; puriket; saligut; supang; tapanding
  • Samoa: manutofu; maoutofu; mautofu
  • Tonga: mo'osipo

EPPO code

  • URNLO (Urena lobata)
  • URNSI (Urena sinuata)
  • URNTO (Urena tomentosa)

Summary of Invasiveness

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U. lobata is a pantropical weed which is also a cultivated crop in many regions. As an aggressive invasive plant it is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds, and has been classified as a noxious weed in the United States, Fiji, and Cuba (Randall, 2012). U. lobata is a fast-growing plant which has the capacity to rapidly form dense patches and, occasionally, monospecific stands (Langeland et al., 2008; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011). This species spreads by seeds and produces fruits with hooked spines which easily attach to animal fur and/or people’s clothing (Austin, 1999). In addition, U. lobata is very versatile and can be found growing in a great variety of soil types and habitats including disturbed forests, pastures, waste ground, swamps, riparian areas, coastal dunes, roadsides, and perennial crop plantations (Francis, 2000; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Malvales
  •                         Family: Malvaceae
  •                             Genus: Urena
  •                                 Species: Urena lobata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Malvaceae is a large family of flowering plants containing about 243 genera and 4225 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees (Stevens, 2012). This family is largely tropical, but representatives can also occur in subtropical and temperate regions of the world (Stevens, 2012).

Urena is a small genus including about 4 species, which depending on the author can be reduced to only one or two species (Liogier, 1988; Austin, 1999). U. lobata was formally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, together with the species U. sinuata and U. procumbens (Austin, 1999). Some botanists consider the species U. sinuata as a synonymy of U. lobata, while others recognize U. sinuata as a separate species (Liogier, 1988; Wagner et al., 1999; Ong, 2001). When Linnaeus first described U. lobata he considered China to be its native region, but named the genus after the Malayalam (from the Malabar coast of India) word for the plant “urem” or “uren” (Austin, 1999).

The genus Urena is morphologically very close to the genus Pavonia, and several authors consider that the two genera should be merged (Ong, 2001). The genera Urena, Malvaviscus and Pavonia have been placed in a tribe called the Malvaviscae based on genetic, pollen and morphological studies.

Description

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Erect, woody perennial herb or small shrub, up to 3 m tall, but usually around 1.5 m tall. Stems and leaves are covered with star-shaped (stellate) hairs; often many branched at the base. Leaves are simple, alternate, with the upper surface rough and the lower surface grayish, broadly ovate, often with 3-5 shallow, angular lobes at apex, up to 10 cm long; margins finely toothed, bases heart shaped; petioles up to 5 cm long; stipules tiny. Flowers are small, showy, hibiscus-like, solitary on short stalks in leaf axils, subtended by 5 basally united (involucral) bracts up to 0.7 cm; calyx 5-lobed, hairy; 5 petals, rose or pink, darker at the base, rounded, up to 1.5 cm long; stamens fused into an obvious pink column beneath a 5-lobed style. Fruits are small, barbed, spiny capsules, up to 1 cm across, with 5 prominent segments each containing 1 dark brown seed (Francis, 2000; Langeland et al., 2008; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub

Distribution

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The original distribution range of U. lobata is not well known, but it is probably Asiatic (i.e., China and South East Asia). Austin (1999) reports that some authors suggest Asia as the native range, some Africa, while other writers say that the true origin is unknown. Currently, this species has a pan-tropical distribution and it can be found growing throughout moist tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Asia, tropical Africa, Australia, North, Central and South America, the West Indies and islands in the Pacific (PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012).

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 ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentHolm et al., 1979
BangladeshPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1979; Akter and Zuberi, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2012Considered an alien invasive by Akter & Zuberi
BhutanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
Brunei DarussalamPresentWaterhouse, 1993
CambodiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Martin and Pol, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2012
ChinaPresentHolm et al., 1979
-AnhuiPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-FujianPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-GuangdongPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-GuangxiPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-GuizhouPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-HainanPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Hong KongPresentWong and Tam, 1977; Holm et al., 1979
-HubeiPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-HunanPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-JiangsuPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-JiangxiPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-SichuanPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-TibetPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-YunnanPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-ZhejiangPresentNativeLi, 1998; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentNativeOrchard, 1993; PIER, 2004
IndiaPresentDas, 1991; Holm et al., 1979
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentKaushal Kumar et al., 2001
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-AssamPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-MaharashtraPresentSalgare and Acharekar, 1990
-MeghalayaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-MizoramPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-NagalandPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-OdishaPresentPadhan and Mohanty, 1993
-SikkimPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-TripuraPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-UttarakhandPresentIntroduced Invasive Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
-West BengalPresentPandit, 1998; Chandra-Sekar, 2012; Randall, 2012
IndonesiaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Jafarsidik and Soetarto, 1980; Waterhouse, 1993
IranPresentHolm et al., 1979
JapanPresentRandall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
MalaysiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
MyanmarPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012
NepalHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized? Weed
PakistanPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012
PhilippinesPresentSchicha & Corpus-Raros, 1985; Holm et al., 1979; Pancho and Obien, 1983; Waterhouse, 1993; USDA-ARS, 2012
TaiwanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
ThailandPresentMohanasundaram et al., 1973; Holm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993; USDA-ARS, 2012
VietnamPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993; Koo et al., 2000; USDA-ARS, 2012

Africa

AngolaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
BotswanaPresentHolm et al., 1979
Burkina FasoPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
BurundiPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
CameroonPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012
Central African RepublicPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012
ChadPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
CongoPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
Côte d'IvoirePresentGivord, 1978
EgyptPresentHolm et al., 1979
EthiopiaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
GambiaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
GhanaPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
GuineaPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
LiberiaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012
MalawiPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
MaliPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
MauritiusPresentHolm et al., 1979
MozambiquePresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
NigerPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
NigeriaPresentHolm et al., 1979
RéunionPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized
RwandaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
SenegalPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
Sierra LeonePresentHolm et al., 1979; Harris and Bindi, 1983; USDA-ARS, 2012
South AfricaPresentHolm et al., 1979
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
TanzaniaPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
TogoPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
UgandaPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
ZambiaPresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?
ZimbabwePresentHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012Naturalized?

North America

MexicoPresentNativeFryxell, 1988Chiapas, Veracruz, Michoacán
USAPresentHolm et al., 1979
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2012Invasive Category I
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999; PIER, 2004; USDA-NRCS, 2012Classed as a noxious weed
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
BahamasPresentNativeCorrell and Correll, 1982
BarbadosWidespreadNativeBroome et al., 2007
BelizePresentNativeBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola and Virgin Gorda
Costa RicaPresentNativeINBio, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad; Holm et al., 1979
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive González-Torres et al., 2012Considered a noxious weed
DominicaWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentNativeStandley and Steyermark, 1949; Holm et al., 1979
GrenadaWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
GuadeloupeWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
GuatemalaPresentNativeFryxell, 1988; Fournet and Hammerton, 1991
HaitiPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentNativeNelson, 1976; Holm et al., 1979
JamaicaPresentNativeAdams, 1972
MartiniqueWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
MontserratWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeMori et al., 2007Saba
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012
PanamaPresentNativeCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentNativeGonzalez Ibanez, 1977; Holm et al., 1979; Liogier, 1988Also on Vieques Island and Culebra Island. Considered a weed
Saint Kitts and NevisWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
Saint LuciaWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadNativeFournet and Hammerton, 1991; Broome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Más and Lugo, 2013St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix. Considered a weed

South America

BrazilPresentFerraz, 1979
-AcrePresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-AlagoasPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-AmazonasPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-BahiaPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-CearaPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-GoiasPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-MaranhaoPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-ParaPresentNativeHomma, 1980; Silva et al., 1981; Lorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-ParaibaPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-ParanaPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-Sao PauloPresentNativeAzzini et al., 1993; Pandit, 1998; Lorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-SergipePresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
-TocantinsPresentNativeLorenzi, 2000; Forzza et al., 2012
ColombiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
EcuadorPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008
French GuianaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
GuyanaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
ParaguayPresentNative Invasive IABIN, 2008; Zuloaga et al., 2008
PeruPresentNative Invasive USDA-ARS, 2012Pucallpa
SurinamePresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Funk et al., 2007; USDA-ARS, 2012
VenezuelaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007; Hokche et al., 2008; USDA-ARS, 2012Amazonas, Bolivar, Barinas, Carabobo, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Portuguesa and Zulia

Europe

ItalyPresentHolm et al., 1979

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002; PIER, 2004
AustraliaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Webb and Feez, 1987
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativeQueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-New South WalesPresentNativeQueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-QueenslandPresentNativeQueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeQueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Randall, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2002; PIER, 2004
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Mune and Parham, 1967; Holm et al., 1979; Smith, 1981; PIER, 2004Noxious weed
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2004; Florence et al., 2011
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999; PIER, 2004
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresent Invasive Space et al., 2000; PIER, 2004Considered native on some islands and introduced on other islands
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994; PIER, 2004
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Sykes, 1970; PIER, 2004
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentFosberg et al., 1979; PIER, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2012
PalauPresentFosberg et al., 1979; PIER, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2012
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henty, 1973; PIER, 2004
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Hancock et al., 1988; PIER, 2004
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive Space and Flynn, 2001; PIER, 2004
VanuatuPresentPIER, 2004
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentPIER, 2004

History of Introduction and Spread

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U. lobata was probably spread as a fibre crop and for its medicinal properties by European voyagers during the eighteenth century. In 1781, Linnaeus described Urena americana, a synonym of U. lobata, based on Jamaican and Suriname elements, therefore documenting its occurrence in the New World. By 1827, this species is reported as a medicinal plant “widely” distributed across the West-Indies (Descourtilz, 1827). Later, this species is reported by H.F. Eggers in 1876 on St. Croix Island (Eggers, 1876) and by A. Stahl in 1884 as a “common species” in Puerto Rico (Stahl, 1884). By the start of the twentieth century, I. Urban in his book Symbolae Antillanae, reported this species for the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Saba, Antigua, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Vincent, Aruba, and Trinidad (Urban, 1905).

U. lobata is considered “native” to Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent (Broome et al., 2007), Bahamas, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012). However, in Cuba this species is considered “exotic’ and its classified as a noxious weed (González-Torres et al., 2012).

In Florida, this species was introduced before 1895 and is reported as escaped to waste places” before 1897 (Chapman, 1897). Currently, it is widely naturalized and is considered as a category I invasive species, which are plants altering native plant communities (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011).

During the first part of the nineteenth century (1920-1930) U. lobata was intentionally introduced as a fibre crop in the Belgian Congo, Central Africa and South America (Groof, 1940). The fibre extracted from this species is known as “jute”, “congo-jute”, “urena” or “aramina” and is used to make carpets and ropes (Austin, 1999; Francis, 2000; Ong, 2001).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of U. lobata is high. This species is an aggressive weed that can quickly spread into new habitats, forming dense patches and monospecific stands in favourable sites (Austin, 1999; Langeland, 2008). In addition, it is very adaptable and has the capacity germinate and establish in a great variety of soil types and habitats, facilitating its invasion in new environments (Francis, 2000; Langeland, 2008).

Habitat

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U. lobata can be found growing in disturbed areas, waste grounds, roadsides, open woodlands, forest margins, coastal dunes, riparian areas, swamps, salt marshes, as well as in pastures and active and abandoned croplands in tropical and sub-tropical regions (Francis, 2000; Langeland et al., 2008; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011; PIER 2012). The species does not tolerate shade and consequently it is unable to establish in unaltered native forests or in areas beneath forest canopies (Francis, 2000).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural
Salt marshes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Salt marshes Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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U. lobata is a severe weed in pastures, sugarcane fields, coffee plantations, rice plantations, and perennial crop plantations in many countries around the world (Henty and Pritchard, 1973; Fournet and Hammerton, 1991; Martin and Pol, 2009; Randall, 2012). It is considered a weed in forest plantations in Bangladesh (Akter and Zuberi, 2009) and India (Chandra-Sekar, 2012). U. lobata is also classified as a noxious environmental weed because it has the potential to alter native plant communities by displacing and out-competing native species, changing community structures, and altering ecological functions (Austin, 1999; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011; USDA-NRCS; 2012).

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Chromosome number in this species is 2n = 28, 56 (Ong, 2001). 

Reproductive Biology

Flowers in U. lobata are hermaphroditic, showy and rose or pink, darker at the base. In these flowers, stamens are fused together at the base and the style is separated into ten tiny branches near the tip. Floral nectaries are present and pollination is entomophilous (Austin, 1999). 

Physiology and Phenology

For both, tropical and subtropical areas, reports available suggest that U. lobata produces flowers and fruits throughout the year (Liogier, 1988; Wagner 1999; Francis, 2000; Ong, 2001). 

Longevity

U. lobata is a fast-growing species that can reach 0.5 to 2 m by the end of the first year. In tropical areas this species can live up to two years, but plants usually die after the first growing season. However, it is not known whether plants have the capacity to sprout from the roots multiple times (Francis, 2000; Fagundes, 2003). 

Environmental Requirements

U. lobata grows in a great variety of soils, including sandy loam, lateritic gravel, clay, fine sand, and wetland soils (Harris, 1981), and it is also able to grow in acidic soils with pH of 3.5 (Nascimento and Vilhena, 1996; Souza-Filho et al., 2000). It tolerates occasional flooding, dry conditions, salt spray and a moderate amount of salt in the soil but does not grow in saturated soils. In tropical and subtropical areas (i.e., the West Indies and Pacific Islands), plants grow from sea level to elevations of 1500 metres, in areas that receive about 1400 to 3000 mm of mean annual rainfall (Francis, 2000). Seeds have high dormancy rates (Harris, 1981), and require water soaking or scarification in order to germinate (Wang et al., 2009). Treated seeds have high germination rates ranging from 96% to 100%, but untreated seeds have very low germination rates (Harris, 1981). Seeds germinate well from 15°C to 40°C, with an optimal temperature of 28°C and germination is unaffected by pH levels (Wang et al., 2009).

The species does not compete well in tall grass and brushlands and does not grow under forest canopies (Francis, 2000; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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]))
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)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -3
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -1

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall6003000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral
  • very acid

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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U. lobata is one of the hosts of the cotton mealy bug Phenacoccus solenopsis, the cotton stainer bugs Dysdercus superstitious and Dysdercus voelkeri, the cotton spotted bollworm Earias vittella, and the okra mosaic virus. In Thailand, this species is also attacked by the leaf-sucker Haedus vicarius (Ong, 2001).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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U. lobata spreads by seeds. Fruits in this species are covered with barbed spines that readily attach to animal fur and clothing, allowing seeds to be widely dispersed. In addition, seeds may also be dispersed by water, contaminated soil and/or contaminated agricultural equipment (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). 

Intentional Introduction

U. lobata was intentionally introduced in many tropical and subtropical countries as a fibre crop. Commercial cultivation of the plant began in the Belgian Congo in the 1920s and in Central Africa in the 1930s (Groof, 1940). This species is widely cultivated in Angola, Brazil, Congo, Ghana, and Malaysia to produce a fibre known as “jute” or “congo-jute” which is used to made carpets and ropes (Austin, 1999; Francis, 2000; Fagundes 2003).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionIntentionally introduced in many countries as a fibre crop Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
DisturbanceSeeds are able to germinate in disturbed areas Yes Francis, 2000
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from plantations Yes Langeland et al., 2008
Habitat restoration and improvementPlants are used in soil stabilization Yes Yes Francis, 2000
Medicinal use Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSpiny fruits and barbed seed Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
Soil, sand and gravelSpiny fruits and barbed seed Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
WaterSeeds Yes Yes Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds
Growing medium accompanying plants roots; seeds
Leaves seeds
Roots roots; seeds
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants whole plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches seeds
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Wood

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production None
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Environmental Impact

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U. lobata is an aggressive weed that invades disturbed forests, shrublands, forest margins, coastal dunes, riparian areas, swamps, and salt marshes (Francis, 2000; Langeland et al., 2008; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council 2011; PIER 2012; Randall, 2012). Under suitable environmental conditions, this species has the potential to form dense thickets and consequently alter native plant communities by displacing and out-competing native species, changing community structures, and altering ecological functions (Austin, 1999; Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011; USDA-NRCS; 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Damages animal/plant products
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Although a weed in crops, U. lobata is cultivated in some regions of South America, South East Asia, and tropical Africa as a fibre crop. The fibres are used for making carpets and ropes (Austin, 1999; Ong, 2001; Francis, 2000). In additions, leaves, roots, and flowers are reportedly used in traditional medicine in Malaysia, Indo-China, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and India to treat such diverse ailments as colic, malaria, gonorrhea, fever, wounds, toothache, and rheumatism (Ong, 2001). In South East Asia and Africa, U. lobata is considered a magic plant, and is used in healing rites, for protection, and in wedding and rice ceremonies (Ong, 2001). Seeds and parts of plants are used in Africa in stews and are eaten as famine food. In India, seeds are used to produce soap, while the charcoal of the whole plant is used for blackening teeth (Ong, 2001). Plants are also used to protect the soil from erosion, but due to the aggressive nature of the species plantings are no longer recommended (Francis, 2000).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Soil conservation

General

  • Ritual uses

Human food and beverage

  • Emergency (famine) food

Materials

  • Essential oils
  • Fibre

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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U. lobata looks very similar to U. sinuata, but they can be distinguished using leaf characters. In U. lobata the leaf-blades are generally sub-entire or angular lobed, while in U. sinuata, leaf-blades are deeply 3- to 5-palmately parted with the sinuses of the segments broad and rounded (Liogier, 1988).

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechanical Control

U. lobata is difficult to control. Seedlings and young plants should be pulled up and removed from treated areas. Fruits and seeds should be also removed from treated areas in order to avoid germination. Follow-up treatments are required to control sprouts (IFAS Extension, 2008). 

Chemical Control

There is limited research on chemical control of U. lobata, but based on research with cotton, foliar application of 1-2% 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinyloxy-acetic acid (i.e., triclopyr) will be effective (IFAS Extension, 2008).

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Angiosperm Phylogeny Websitehttp://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plantshttp://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/
Flora of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Councilhttp://www.fleppc.org
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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11/02/13 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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