Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Furcraea foetida
(L.) Haw., Asparagaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Agave foetida L.; Furcraea gigantea Vent.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: giant cabuya, green aloe, Mauritian hemp, Mauritius hemp

Fijian: natali

French: aloès vert, cadère, chanvre de Maurice, choca vert

Hawaiian: malina

Maori (Cook Islands): piāni, rōpiāni

Niuean: toua

Spanish: cááñamo de Mauritania, maguey, pita floja, pita gigante

Tongan: fau malila, faumalila

Habit:  succulent

Description:  "Leaves bright green, rigid, straight or curved, up to 20-25 dm long, 1.4-2 dm wide, " with a few widely spaced marginal prickles, especially toward base, these 4-10 mm long, apex with a short blunt spine.  Flowers strongly fragrant, in inflorescences 6-12 m long, bulbils usually formed after flowering; tepals white to greenish white or pale yellowish green, 2.5-3.3 cm long, outer ones 1-1.4 cm wide, inner ones 1.4-1.8 cm wide"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1350).

"Grande herbacée succulente reconnaissable à sa rosette de grandes feuilles atteignant 2 à 3 m de longueur, à ses inflorescences dressées de 4 à 12 m de hauteur à allure de « mâts » portant des inflorescences de fleurs pendantes de couleur verdâtre et de nombreuses bulbilles" (Meyer, 2008; p. 32).

Habitat/ecology:  "In Puerto Rico, Mauritius hemp grows in moist areas that receive from about 1200 to 2500 mm of mean annual precipitation from near sea level to 1,000 m in elevation. The species grows in all types of well-drained soils, including poor and eroded soils, and frequently grows on rocks, cliffs, and rarely in crotches of trees. It is resistant to short-term drought and salt spray and can survive temperatures as low as -7 to -4° C. Growth is best in full sun, which most often leads to successful flowering. Mauritius hemp also grows in partial but not heavy shade. When plants are young, competition with tall grass, weeds, shrubs, and trees is a critical limiting factor. Cattle graze and often completely uproot small plants. They are ignored by cattle once they become large (author's observation, Desert-Tropicals Nursery 2003). This species, as others of the genus, has crassulacean acid metabolism by which it fixes CO2 during the night and incorporates it into carbohydrates during the day (personal communication with Ernesto Medina, plant physiologist, Centro de Ecolog¡a, Instituto de Investigaciones, Caracas, Venezuela)"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).  This large, rosette plant rarely grows above 1.5 m though the inflorescence may reach 5 m.  This plant grows between sea level and 1,000 m in dry habitats (Smith, 1985; pp. 190-191).

In Fiji, "cultivated and sparingly naturalized near sea level"  (Smith, 1979; pp. 155-156).  In Hawai‘i, "naturalized and often locally abundant in dry to mesic, disturbed sites on slopes, rocky ledges, and in pastures, 0-615 m"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1350); "displaces other plants in drier forests and pastures; plants encroach across trails, a hazard especially on cliffside trails; woody stalks block roads and trails when they fall"  (Motooka et al., 2003)..  In Niue, "extensively naturalised in many open eastern and southern areas"  (Sykes, 1970; p. 217). In New Caledonia, "maintenant largement répandu à l'état spontané et souvent très envahissant" (MacKee, 1994; p. 13). In New Zealand, "naturalised garden escape; in semi-shade" (Healy & Edgar, 1980; p. 68).

Propagation:  The inflorescence produces bulbils rather than seeds that are dispersed locally, forming dense monotypic thickets. "Gravity is the only known natural means of dispersal. The presence of scattered individuals indicates other transport, perhaps fruit bats"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

Native range:  "Mauritius hemp is native to the Greater Antilles, and from Guadaloupe south through northern South America to Brazil (Grisebach 1963, Howard 1979). The species has been widely planted"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island introduced
invasive
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1994) (p. 21)
"Naturalised near Neds Beach and the eastern edge of the airstrip". Voucher cited: J.G. Conran 639 (K, NSW)
Chile (offshore islands)
Rapa Nui (Easter) Island
Rapa Nui (Easter) Island (Isla de Pasqua) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2008) (pp. 32, 42)
"Nous l’avons vue plantée dans le village de Hanga Roa en baie de Bahiá Apina Nui, avec de nombreuses plantules au sol issues des bulbilles, ainsi que quelques individus isolés à Anakena. Une autre espèce voisine, Agave sp., indéterminée car stérile lors de cette mission, est également plantée et subspontanée en zone littorale dans cette baie" (Meyer, 2008; p. 32).
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Aitutaki Atoll   McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Mangaia Island   McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Rarotonga Island introduced
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 89)
"Potential invader", lowlands.
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Rarotonga Island   McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Federated States of Micronesia
Kosrae Island
Kosrae Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Flynn, Timothy (2010) (p. 6)
Furcraea cf. foetida Haw. or possibly Agave sp.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Lakemba Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (pp. 155-156)
Voucher cited: Garnock-Jones 945
Sparingly naturalized.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Namuka-i-Lau Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (pp. 155-156)
Voucher cited: Bryan 472
Sparingly naturalized.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Ovalau Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1924) (voucher ID: BISH 36285)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Ovalau Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1924) (voucher ID: BISH 36286)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Ovalau Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1924) (voucher ID: BISH 699203)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (pp. 155-156)
Vouchers cited: DA 16037, DA 11420
Sparingly naturalized.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1958) (voucher ID: BISH 34097)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 34098)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1947) (voucher ID: BISH 101751)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 699204)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1968) (voucher ID: BISH 699205)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1958) (voucher ID: BISH 699206)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1958) (voucher ID: BISH 699207)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea gigantea
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1947) (voucher ID: BISH 699210)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw.
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Hiva Oa Island introduced
invasive
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Pou (Huapu, Uapou, Uapu) Island introduced
invasive
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 67)
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) (pp. 103-104)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim (2011) (p. 23)
Voucher cited: Starr, Starr, & Higashino 080210-02 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Moloka‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 1350)
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 92)
Not seen by Thaman et al. May have been confused with Agave sisalana.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands introduced
invasive
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 100)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands introduced
invasive
cultivated
Gargominy, Oliver/Bouchet, Philipe/Pascal, Michel/Jaffre, Tanguy/Tourneu, Jean-Christophe (1996) (p. 379)
Largement répandue à l'état spontané et souvent très envahissante.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 13)
Vouchers cited: Balansa s.n., Däniker 2836, Buchholz 1328, MacDaniels 2062, MacKee 4064, Nothis 78 (NOU)
New Zealand (offshore islands)
Kermadec Islands
Kermadec Islands introduced
invasive
Healy, A. J./Edgar, E. (1980) (p. 68)
"On Kawau Id in the Kermadecs both spiny-leaved and smooth-leaved plants are found".
New Zealand (offshore islands)
Kermadec Islands
Raoul Island introduced
invasive
Sykes, W. R. (1977) (pp. 152-153)
New Zealand (offshore islands)
Kermadec Islands
Raoul Island introduced
invasive
Sykes, W. R./West, C. J. (1996) (p. 460)
Probably now eradicated.
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
invasive
Sykes, W. R. (1970) (p. 217)
Voucher cited: CHR 169988
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2000) (p. 7)
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
invasive
Whistler, W. A./Atherton, J. (1997) (p. 50)
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
invasive
Yuncker, T. G. (1943) (p. 35)
Voucher cited: Yuncker 9757 (BISH)
"Established, especially along the eastern part of the island in the vicinity of Liku where it is a troublesome weed".
Niue
Niue
Niue Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara M./Newfield, Melanie/Bull, Cate (2004) (p. 15)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
‘Eua Island   Drake, D. R./Whistler, W. A./Motley, T. J./Imada, C. T. (1996)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
‘Eua Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1990) (voucher ID: BISH 600918)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw.
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Flynn, Tim (2001) (p. 53)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island introduced
invasive
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 81)
Voucher cited: Yuncker 15287
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1953) (voucher ID: BISH 101835)
Taxon name on voucher: Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw.
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Vanuatu (Republic of)   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 92)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Vanuatu (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 107)
"Dry lowlands".
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)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 4)
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 366)
Ornamental.
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Healy, A. J./Edgar, E. (1980) (p. 68)
Voucher cited: W.R. Sykes (CHR 175824)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 43)
Cultivated only
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
MacDonald, I. A. W./Thebaud, C./Strahm, W. A./Strasberg, D. (1991) (pp. 51-61)
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Très envahissant"
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
invasive
Baret, Stephane/Rouget, Mathieu/Richardson, David M./Lavergne, Christophe/Egoh, Benis/Dupont, Joel/Strasberg, Dominique (2006) (p. 758)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Agalega Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Stoddart, D. R. (1983) (p. 126)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Alphonse Island   Robertson, I. A. D./Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 178)
Voucher cited: Robertson 2842 (K)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Coetivy Island   Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 145)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Cousin Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 23)
Voucher cited: Fosberg 52135 (US)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Frégate Island   Robertson, S. A./Todd, D. M. (1983) (p. 44)
Voucher cited: Robertson 2656
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Marie-Louise Island   Wilson, J. R. (1983) (p. 188)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Poivre Island   Robertson, S. A./Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 167)
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)
USA (Florida) introduced
invasive
Francis, John K., ed. (2009)

Comments:  Invasive in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia (Makatea, Hiva Oa) (Meyer, 1998). Naturalized and spreading on ‘Eua, Tonga (Space & Flynn, 2001).

Control:  "La lutte manuelle par coupe des mâts et des rosettes de feuilles suivie d’un traitement chimique par injection dans la tige d’un herbicide à base de glyphosate sont réalisables" (Meyer, 2008; p. 32).

Chemical: "Tolerant of aqueous sprays of glyphosate, hexazinone, and triclopyr and to soil applications of hexazinone. Sensitive to foliar sprays of 2,4-D in diesel and very sensitive to foliar sprays of triclopyr in diesel or in crop oil. Drizzle applications of triclopyr in oil at 1 lb /acre effective in clearing trails of Mauritius hemp"  (Motooka et al., 2003). 

Cut down and treat the stump with Garlon (Silvia Ziller, communications to Aliens Listserver 10 November 2009).


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 4 MAY 2013.