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).

Additional information:
Article from "Wildland Weeds".

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

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

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

References:

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1946. Voucher specimen #BISH 596150 (Fosberg, F.R. 25055).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1946. Voucher specimen #BISH 596151 (Fosberg, F.R. 27050).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1949. Voucher specimen #BISH 596154 (Anderson, D. 555).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1951. Voucher specimen #BISH 101752 (Fosberg, F.R. 33862).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1966. Voucher specimen #BISH 596149 (Evans, M. 2161).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1968. Voucher specimen #BISH 34101 (Parham, J.W. 16298).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1968. Voucher specimen #BISH 699213 (Parham, J.W. 16298).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1968. Voucher specimen #BISH 699214 (Parham, J.W. 16298).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1968. Voucher specimen #BISH 699215 (Parham, J.W. 16298).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1988. Voucher specimen #BISH 606394 (Herbst, D.R. 9126).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1988. Voucher specimen #BISH 1000272 (Herbst, D.R. 9126).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 2003. Voucher specimen #BISH 697789 (C.Imada 2003-178).

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. 1955. Northern Marshall Islands Expedition, 1951-1952. Land biota: vascular plants. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 39. Pacific Science Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington. 22 pp.

Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce. 1987. A geographical checklist of the Micronesian monocotyledonae. Micronesica 20:1-126.

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

Henderson, Lesley. 1995. Plant invaders of Southern Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 5, Agriculture Research Council, ARC/LNR, Pretoria, South Africa. 177 pp.

Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 391 pp.

Kato, Hidetoshi. 2007. Herbarium records of Makino Herbarium, Tokyo Metropolitan University. Personal communication.

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

Merrill, Elmer D. 1925. An enumeration of Philippine flowering plants, vol. 1 [reprint]. Bureau of Printing, Manila. 463 pp.

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.

Peekel, P. G. [translated by E. E. Henty]. 1984. Flora of the Bismarck Archipelago for naturalists. Office of Forests, Division of Botany, Lae, Papua New Guinea. 638 pp. ISBN 9980-66-000-7.

Queensland Herbarium. 2002. Invasive Naturalised Plants in Southeast Queensland, alphabetical by genus. Modified from: Batianoff, George N. and Butler, Don W. (2002). Assessment of Invasive naturalized plants in south-east Queensland. Appendix. Plant Protection Quarterly 17, 27-34. 11 pp.

Robertson, I. A. D./Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. 1983. List of plants collected on Alphonse Island, Amirantes. In: Sachet, M. H., D. R. Stoddart, and F. R. Fosberg. Floristics and ecology of Western Indian Ocean islands. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 273. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. 253 pp.

Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. 1983. List of plants collected on Coetivy Island, Seychelles. In: Sachet, M. H., D. R. Stoddart, and F. R. Fosberg. Floristics and ecology of Western Indian Ocean islands. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 273. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. 253 pp.

Robertson, S. A./Todd, D. M. 1983. Vegetation of Frégate Island, Seychelles. In: Sachet, M. H., D. R. Stoddart, and F. R. Fosberg. Floristics and ecology of Western Indian Ocean islands. Atoll Research Bulletin No. 273. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. 253 pp.

Smith, Albert C. 1979. Flora Vitiensis nova: a new flora of Fiji. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. Volume 1. 494 pp.

Space, James C./Imada, Clyde T. 2004. Report to the Republic of Kiribati on invasive plant species on the islands of Tarawa, Abemama, Butaritari and Maiana. Cont. no. 2003-006 to the Pac. Biol. Surv. USDA Forest Service and Bishop Museum, Honolulu. 103 pp.

Space, James C./Lorence, David H./LaRosa, Anne Marie. 2009. Report to the Republic of Palau: 2008 update on Invasive Plant Species. USDA Forest Service, Hilo, Hawai‘i. 227 pp.

Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar. 2003. Report to the Republic of Palau on invasive plant species of environmental concern. USDA Forest Service, Honolulu. 174 pp.

Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd. 2008. Botanical survey of Midway Atoll. Prepared for: United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 27 pp. plus appendices.

Swarbrick, J. T. 1997. Environmental weeds and exotic plants on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean: a report to Parks Australia. 101 pp. plus appendix.

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

Thaman, R. R. 1987. Plants of Kiribati: a listing and analysis of vernacular names. Atoll Res. Bull. 296:1-42.

Thaman, R. R./Fosberg, F. R./Manner, H. I./Hassall, D. C. 1994. The flora of Nauru. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. Atoll Research Bulletin 392:1-223.

Thaman, R. R./Tuiwawa, M. 1999. Invasive, potentially invasive and adventive alien plant species of Fiji: a preliminary analysis of their status and measures required for their control. Preliminary draft discussion paper prepared for the SPREP Regional Invasive Species Strategy for the South Pacific Islands Region: Regional Workshop, Nadi, Fiji, 26 September-1 October 1999.

Toyoda, Takeshi. 2003. Flora of the Bonin Islands. Aboc & Co. 522 pp.

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

U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Vander Velde, Nancy. 2003. The vascular plants of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Smithsonian Institution, Atoll Research Bulletin No. 503:1-141.

Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Bernice P. Bishop Museum special publication. University of Hawai‘i Press/Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1919 pp. (two volumes).

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

Wester, Lyndon. 1985. Checklist of the vascular plants of the northern Line Islands. Smithsonian Institution, Washington. Atoll Reseach Bulletin 287:1-38.

Whistler, W. A./Steele, O. 1999. Botanical survey of the United States of America Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Islands. Prepared for Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and the U. S. Army Environmental Center. 111 pp.

Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong. 2013. Flora of China (online resource).


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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 19 FEB 2013.