Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Dichrostachys cinerea
(Linnaeus) R. Wight & Arnott, Fabaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 16 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Cailliea glomerata (Forsskal) J.F. Macbr.; Dichrostachys glomerata (Forssk.) Chiov.; Dichrostachys nutans (Pers.) Benth.; Mimosa cinerea L.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: acacia Saint Domingue, aroma, Chinese lantern tree, Kalahari Christmas tree, marabou-thorn, marabú, Saint Domingue, Sen Domeng, sickle bush

French: acacia saint domingue, dichrostachys cendré, kéké, mimosa clochette

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Shrub or small tree to 8 m tall.  Branchlets densely to sparsely puberulous; lateral shoots to 8 cm long.  Leaves: axes puberulous to minutely pilose, sometimes with red hairlets, especially near base of pinnae; glands peg-like at base of pinnae pairs; pinnae 2-11-jugate; leaflets 12-24-jugate, linear, obtuse to acute, straight to incurved, 2.5-4 (-6) mm long, 0.8-1.5 mm wide, ciliolate, otherwise glabrous.  Inflorescence spicate, solitary on a bracteate, short shoot, 6-9 cm long including the glabrous to puberulous peduncle.  Pod narrowly oblong, variously curved and/or coiled, 5-7 cm long, 8-15 mm wide, blackish, glabrous.  Seeds biconvex, elliptic to subcircular, 4 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, pale tan, glossy; pleurogram elliptic"  (Cowan, 1998; p. 19).

Habitat/ecology:  In Australia, grows in areas with a dry, seasonal climate in poor soils (Cowan, 1998; p. 19). In Cuba, forms dense, impenetrable thickets. "In the 1920s, in the provinces of Matanza, Santa Clara and Havana, the tree was abundant, and also occurred in Pinar del Rio, Camaguey and Oriente.  One correspondent from Santa Clara wrote, "The trees grow so dense that the branches meeting at five or six meters above the ground cause the roads and paths cut through to appear as tunnels.  The dense verdure sometimes extends for hundreds of meters uninterruptedly.  From a neighboring hill it appears somewhat like a lawn or like Bermuda grass, and, sparkling as it does with handsome flowers, forms one of the most beautiful features of the Cuban flora. "In the Trinidad Valley and the regions surrounding Cienfuegos the tree is unchecked and forms veritable forests on hill land or in areas on which cane growing has been discontinued.  In the early stages of the formation of these forests the tree forms thickets quite impenetrable on account of the density and the abundance of long, stiff, sharp thorns.  Later with increasing size of the trees the natural pruning of the lower branches and dying-out of the suppressed individuals, it is possible to walk over the area without much difficulty.  In the fully mature stands where the trees have obtained diameters from 4-6 inches the lower branches have fallen away in some cases so that it is even possible to ride through the tickets on horseback, but trails are necessary for progress. "Another correspondent wrote 'Whole farms in central Cuba have been rendered useless by this foreign nuisance without any effort being made to check the curse and that good farm land is being abandoned in disgust'. "Whenever cane land fails, from one cause or another, to produce the required tonnage, it is frequently allowed to run wild or revert to pasture.  On such areas, owing to the treatment the soil has received, the marabu finds optimum conditions for growth.  Small patches of the tree make their appearance here and there over the area.  From these centers the tree spreads in all directions by means of the advancing horizontal root system and by means of the seeds.  The distribution of the tree is probably effected in part by cattle carrying seeds in the hoofs when driven or transported over the island.  Cattle also greatly relish the seeds, and it is possible that they are capable of germination after passing through the animal. "Marabu has a well developed tap root which in good soil penetrates to a considerable depth.  Lateral horizontal roots extend unusual distance in all directions.  In addition there are supporting roots at an acute angle to the tap root and frequently many fibrous roots.  The lateral or horizontal roots may lie at varying depths but are usually only a few inches below the surface of the ground.  It is these roots that make eradication difficult.  If the parent tree is cut down, these roots at once sprout profusely.  If their removal is attempted, any small section left in the soil immediately develops fibrous roots and produces shoots.  It was observed on areas where the parent trees were felled that the prolific development of young plants from the lateral roots was greatly stimulated.  The ground on such areas soon becomes carpeted with small plants, and the whole on examination will be found to spring from the wide-flung root systems of the parent tree." (Weir, 1927, pp. 137-146, quoted by Matthew J. W. Cock in communication to the Aliens listserver)

Propagation:  Seed, suckers.

Native range:  Africa to India, Southern Thailand and Malesia, Northern Territories of Australia (although may be a naturalized species there per Cowan, 1998; p. 19).

Presence:

Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory native
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
Subsp. malesiana Brenan & Brummitt "The species may be a naturalised alien from southern Thailand and Malesia".
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
cultivated
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
Subsp. malesiana Brenan & Brummitt May be cultivated plants.
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Java, Lesser Sunda Islands
Malaysia
Malaysia
Malaysia (country of) introduced
cultivated
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Comoros
Comoro Islands
Comoro Islands native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
Tassin, J. (1999) (pp. 137-146)
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Envahissant"
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Kueffer, C./Lavergne, C. (2004) (p. 5)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
French Territory of Mayotte
Mayotte Islands
Mayotte Island introduced
invasive
Comité français de l'Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature en France (2013)
Envahissant principalement dans les milieux perturbés.

Comments:  A problem species in Cuba (Weir, 1927; pp. 137-146).

Additional information:
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.

Additional online information about Dichrostachys cinerea is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Dichrostachys cinerea as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Dichrostachys cinerea may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Australian Biological Resources Study. 2013. Flora of Australia Online. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

Comité français de l'Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature en France. 2013. Les espéces envahissantes en outre-mer (online resource).

ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre. 2011. International Legume Database & Information Service. Online searchable database.

Kueffer, C./Lavergne, C. 2004. Case studies on the status of invasive woody plant species in the western Indian Ocean. 4. R233;union. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Forestry Department, Forest Resources Division, Forest Resources Development Service, Working Paper FBS/4-4E. 37 pp.

Lavergne, Christophe. 2006. List des especes exotiques envahissantes a La Reunion. Unpublished manuscript (Excel file). .

McCarthy, Patrick M., ec. 1998. Flora of Australia. Vol. 12, Mimosaceae (excluding Acacia, Caesalpiniaceae. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Tassin, J. 1999. Plant invaders in Réunion Island (French Overseas Territory, Indian Ocean). Aliens 9:10.

U. S. Government. 2013. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (on-line resource).

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Weir, J. R. 1927. The problem of Dichrostachys nutans, a weed tree, in Cuba with remarks on its pathology.  Phytopathology 17.


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 14 JAN 2008.