Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Acacia nilotica
(L.) Willd. ex Delile, Fabaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Reject, score: 13 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 14 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))
Medium-high risk:  (Go to the risk assessment (United States)) (PDF format).
Risk assessment from the Government of Queensland, Australia (PDF format).

Other Latin names:  Acacia adansonii Guill. & Perr.; Acacia adstringens (Schumach.) Berhaut; Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd.; Acacia scorpioides (L.) W. Wight; Mimosa nilotica L.; Vachellia nilotica (L.) P. J. H. Hurter & Mabb.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: babul acacia, black babul, Egyptian acacia, gum arabic tree, Indian gum-arabic-tree, Nile acacia, prickly acacia, scentedthorn, thorn-mimosa, thorny acacia

French: acacia à gomme, gommier rouge

Other: tiare

Spanish: acacia espinosa, acacia gomifera

Habit:  tree

Description:  "A shrub or small tree from 7 to 9 m high, having feathery leaves… Stems: Whitish and pubescent when young becoming darker with age; woody; to 7 m long, branching almost from the base. Leaves: Bipinnate, consisting of 3 to 10 pairs of primary leaf segments 3.5 to 4 cm long, each bearing 10-to 25 pairs of linear-oblong leaflets 3 to 6 mm long, 0.5 to 1.5 mm wide; a petiolar gland occurs between the 2 pairs of segments closest to the stem; a pair of stout stipular spines, 5 to 50 mm long, occurs at the base of each leaf on younger stems but may be absent on older stems. Flowers: Bright yellow, numerous, in fluffy globular heads 1.2 cm diameter, usually in clusters of 2 to 6, on individual pubescent axillary stalks 1.5 to 2 cm long, each stalk with pair of bracts near its mid-point. Fruit: Gray-green, softly hairy flattened pod 6 to 25 cm long, 1 to1.5 cm wide, strongly constricted between each seed; pods slightly sticky internally. Seed: Depressed, subglobular. Root: A deep woody taproot with several branching surface laterals" (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; pp.435-438).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grows best on cracking clay soils that have high water holding capacity, but can also grow on sandy soil in areas of higher rainfall. It grows best around waterways and on seasonally inundated floodplains receiving 350-1500 mm of annual rainfall"  (Australian Weed Management Guide).  "Grassland, savanna"  (Weber, 2003: p. 18).  Favors steams in semi-arid areas.

In New Caledonia, "abondamment naturalisé dans un secteur côtier de la commune de Paita; non vu ailleurs. Considéré comme un arbre fourrager utile bien que les jeunes pieds épineux forment des fourrés difficiles à pénétrer" (MacKee, 1994; p. 76). Arid lowlands in the Galápagos Islands (McMullen, 1999; p. 67).

Propagation:  Seed. Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for long periods. Seeds are eaten by cattle and spread by passing through the digestive system.

Native range:  Africa and western Asia.

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island   Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 46)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
subsp. indica (G. Bentham) J.P. Brenan
Cultivée
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands introduced
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 100)
"Potential invader".
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Gargominy, Oliver/Bouchet, Philipe/Pascal, Michel/Jaffre, Tanguy/Tourneu, Jean-Christophe (1996) (p. 381)
Abondamment naturalisée dans un secteur côtier de la commune de Paita; non vu ailleurs. Les jeunes pieds épineux forment des fourrés difficiles à pénétrer.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 76)
Vouchers cited: MacKee 21696, MacKee 24794, MacKee 34586, MacKee 40252
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1978) (voucher ID: BISH 664461)
Taxon name on voucher: Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Delile
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands introduced
cultivated
Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. (1988) (p. 43)
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna (Horne) Islands
Wallis and Futuna Islands   Waterhouse, D. F. (1997) (p. 59)
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 introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (p. 14)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (p. 14)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) introduced
invasive
Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. (2001) (p. 133)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Pallawatta, Nirmalie/Reaser, Jamie K./Gutierrez, Alixis T./eds. (2003) (p. 31)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 9)
Cultivated only
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
invasive
Kueffer, C./Mauremootoo, J. (2004) (p. 6)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Rodrigues Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
subsp. adstringens
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Rodrigues Island introduced
invasive
Kueffer, C./Mauremootoo, J. (2004) (p. 6)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
United States (other states) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)

Comments:  One of Australia's worst environmental weeds, classed as a "weed of national significance".

Proposed for eradication in the Galápagos Islands (Chris Buddenhagen, pers. com.).

Control: 

Physical: Single trees can be grubbed, cutting the root at least 30 cm below the surface to prevent sprouting. Some control can also be obtained by burning or mowing.

Chemical: Triclopyr in diesel oil may be used as a basal bark or cut stump treatment. Tebuthiuron granules may be applied from the air. For larger trees, picloram or liquid hexazinone may be injected into the main stem at 8 cm intervals when the tree is in full leaf.

Biological: Being investigated in Australia. See Julien (1992), Parson and Cuthbertson (1992; pp. 435-438) and Australian Weed Management Guide.  "The seed-feeding bruchid, Bruchidius sahlbergi, has been released in Australia"  (Cronk & Fuller, 2001; p. 133).

Additional information:
At the Woody PlantEcology web site.
Fact sheet and identification guide from the Government of Queensland, Australia. (PDF format)
Information from the Purdue University NewCROP web site.
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.
Weed Management Guide from the Government of Australia. (PDF format).

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

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

Taxonomic information about Acacia nilotica 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.

Australian National Botanic Gardens. 2013. Australian plant common name database. Online resource.

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1978. Voucher specimen #BISH 664461 (Mackee, H.S. 34586).

Charles Darwin Foundation. 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos, Ecuador.

Charles Darwin Research Station. 2005. CDRS Herbarium records.

Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore. 273 pp.

Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. 2001. Plant invaders. Earthscan Publications, Ltd., London. 241 pp.

Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. 2013. Base de données botaniques Nadeaud de l'Herbier de la Polynésie Française (PAP). (online resource).

Fosberg, F. R. 1997. Preliminary checklist of the flowering plants and ferns of the Society Islands. Ed. by David R. Stoddart. U. Cal. Berkeley.

Gargominy, Oliver/Bouchet, Philipe/Pascal, Michel/Jaffre, Tanguy/Tourneu, Jean-Christophe. 1996. Conséquences des introductions d'espèces animales et végétales sur la biodiversité en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Rev. Ecol. (Terre Vie) 51:375-401.

Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. 1988. Flora of the Solomon Islands. Research Bulletin No. 7. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Honiara. 203 pp.

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

Julien, M. H. (ed.). 1992. Biological control of weeds: A world catalogue of agents and their target weeds (third edition). CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 186 pp.

Kriticos, D. J./Sutherst, R. W./Brown, J. R./Adkins, S. W./ Maywald, G. F. 2003. Climate change and the potential distribution of an invasive alien plant: Acacia nilotica ssp. indica in Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 40(1)111-124.

Kriticos, Darren/Brown, Joel/Radford, Ian/Nicholas, Mike. 1999. Plant Population Ecology and Biological Control: Acacia nilotica as a Case Study. Biological Control 16:230-239.

Kueffer, C./Mauremootoo, J. 2004. Case studies on the status of invasive woody plant species in the western Indian Ocean. 3. Mauritius (islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Forestry Department, Forest Resources Division, Forest Resources Development Service, Working Paper FBS/4-3E. 35 pp.

MacKee, H. S. 1994. Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 164 p.

McMullen, C. K. 1999. Flowering plants of the Galápagos. Comstock Pub. Assoc., Ithaca, N.Y. 370 p.

Meyer, Jean-Yves. 2000. Preliminary review of the invasive plants in the Pacific islands (SPREP Member Countries). In: Sherley, G. (tech. ed.). Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Samoa. 190 pp.

Pallawatta, Nirmalie/Reaser, Jamie K./Gutierrez, Alixis T./eds. 2003. Invasive alien species in south-southeast Asia: national reports and directory of resources. Global Invasive Species Programme. 111 pp.

Smith, Nicholas M. 2002. Weeds of the wet/dry tropics of Australia - a field guide. Environment Centre NT, Inc. 112 pp.

Swarbrick, John T. 1997. Weeds of the Pacific Islands. Technical paper no. 209. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 124 pp.

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

Waterhouse, D. F. 1997. The major invertebrate pests and weeds of agriculture and plantation forestry in the Southern and Western Pacific. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 93 pp.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.

Wiggins, I. L./Porter, D. M. 1971. Flora of the Galapágos Islands. Stanford University Press. 998 pp.


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 3 SEP 2011.