Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Agave sisalana
Perrine, Asparagaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: jian ma

English: agave, century plant, hemp plant, mescal, sisal, sisal hemp

Fijian: dali, natali, ndali

Hawaiian: malina

I-Kiribati: te rob', te robu

Spanish: sisal

Habit:  succulent

Description:  "A large succulent perennial with thick leaves in a basal rosette of 1.5-2 m height, elongated rhizomes and suckering from the base.  The bright green, linear-lancolate leaves are 90-130 cm long, 9-12 cm wide and have dark brown terminal spines of 2-2.5 cm length.  The margins are smooth or with numerous prickles.  Inflorescences form 5-6 m tall panicles of elliptic shape, with 10-20 lateral branches bearing umbels at the ends.  Flowers are 55-65 mm long, greenish yellow, malodorous, with dark-spotted or reddish filaments up to 6 cm long, and yellow anthers of c. 25 mm length.  The fruit is a capsule of c. 6 cm length and has a beak at the end"  (Weber, 2003; p. 27).

"Subacaulescent perennialsLeaves at first glaucous with a bluish tinge, becoming green, linear-lanceolate, nearly flat, up to 150 cm long and 10 cm wide, margins smooth or with numerous prickles 2-4 mm long, apex with a dark brown, slightly recurved spine 2-2.5 cm long.  Bulbils usually forming in the axils of the bracteoles after flowering; tepals yellowish green, 4.5-6 cm long, the tube urceolate, 1.5-2 cm long.  Capsules rarely developing, when present, ca 6 cm long, apex beaked"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1348).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grass- and heathland, forests, rock outcrops, coastal beaches.  The weedy behavior is due to vegetative growth, allowing the species to colonize large areas and replace the native vegetation with its rosettes"  (Weber, 2003; p. 27).  Sisal is widely cultivated around the world for fiber.  In Fiji, "naturalized on grass- and reed-covered hillsides from near sea level to 450 m" (Smith, 1979; p. 154).  In Hawai‘i, locally naturalized in dry, often rocky sites"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1348).

Propagation:  Bulbils

Native range:  Probable origin Chiapas, Mexico; widely cultivated (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1949) (voucher ID: BISH 596154)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Rota Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Rota Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1966) (voucher ID: BISH 596149)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Rota Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1946) (voucher ID: BISH 596150)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Federated States of Micronesia
Yap Islands
Ulithi Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Federated States of Micronesia
Yap Islands
Woleai Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (pp. 154-155)
Vouchers cited: Smith 4629, DA 16298
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 34101)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave sisalana Perrine
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 699213)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave sisalana Perrine
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 699214)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave sisalana Perrine
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 699215)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave sisalana Perrine
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
invasive
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Naturalisée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rurutu Island introduced
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 94)
"Potential invader".
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Moloka‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1348)
Japan (offshore islands)
Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands
Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands introduced
invasive
Toyoda, Takeshi (2003) (p. 291)
Naturalized
Japan (offshore islands)
Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands
Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands introduced
Kato, Hidetoshi (2007)
Kiribati
Line Islands
Tabuaeran (Fanning) Atoll introduced
Wester, Lyndon (1985) (p. 19)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Abaiang Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Abemama Atoll introduced
invasive
cultivated
Space, James C./Imada, Clyde T. (2004) (p. 29)
Voucher: Imada 2003-168 (BISH 697789)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Abemama Atoll   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (2003) (voucher ID: BISH 697789)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave sisalana Perrine
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Arorei (Arorae) Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Nikunau Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Tarawa Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Tarawa Atoll introduced
invasive
cultivated
Space, James C./Imada, Clyde T. (2004) (p. 28)
Marshall Islands
Ralik Chain
Jaluit (Jãlwõj) Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Marshall Islands
Ralik Chain
Kwajalein (Kuwajleen) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Whistler, W. A./Steele, O. (1999) (p. 103)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Jemo Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Jemo Island introduced
cultivated
Fosberg, F. R. (1955) (p. 6)
Voucher cited: Fosberg 33862 (US)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Jemo Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1951) (voucher ID: BISH 101752)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Jemo Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1988) (voucher ID: BISH 606394)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Jemo Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1988) (voucher ID: BISH 1000272)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Likiep Atoll introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Likiep Atoll introduced
cultivated
Fosberg, F. R. (1955) (p. 6)
Voucher cited: Fosberg 27050 (US)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Likiep Atoll   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1946) (voucher ID: BISH 596151)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave rigida
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Majuro (Mãjro) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Vander Velde, Nancy (2003) (p. 18)
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island introduced
invasive
Thaman, R. R./Fosberg, F. R./Manner, H. I./Hassall, D. C. (1994) (p. 53)
Vouchers cited: Fosberg 58739 (US), Hassall 215 (SUVA)
Established locally.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 12)
Voucher cited: MacKee 42571
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 84)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Lorence, David H./LaRosa, Anne Marie (2009) (p. 58)
Papua New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago introduced
cultivated
Peekel, P. G. [translated by E. E. Henty] (1984) (p. 91)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands introduced
cultivated
Merrill, Elmer D. (1925) (p. 213)
Widely planted for its fiber.
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands introduced
cultivated
Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. (1988) (p. 44)
United States (other Pacific offshore islands)
Midway Atoll
Sand Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd (2008) (pp. B-3)
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)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 10)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 1)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Widely cultivated. S. China.
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (pp. 154-155)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Christmas Island Group
Christmas Island introduced
cultivated
Swarbrick, J. T. (1997) (p. 102)
Agave sp.
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Alphonse Island   Robertson, I. A. D./Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 178)
Voucher cited: Robertson 2876 (K)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Coetivy Island   Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 145)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Frégate Island   Robertson, S. A./Todd, D. M. (1983) (p. 44)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
South Africa
South Africa
South Africa (Republic of)   Henderson, Lesley (1995)
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Control: 

Physical: "Small plants and smaller patches may be dug out, but all roots and rhizomes must be removed".

Chemical: "Effective herbicides are glyphosate or triclopyr plus picloram applied to cut plants"  (Weber, 2003; p. 27).


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 19 FEB 2013.