Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Mimosa pigra
L., Fabaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Reject, score: 23 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 25 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))
Reject, score: 27 (Go to the risk assessment (U.S. (Florida)))

Other Latin names:  Mimosa hispida Willd.; Mimosa pellita Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: amourette, bashful plant, black mimosa, catclaw mimosa, dormilona, giant mimosa, giant sensitive-plant, giant sensitive-tree, sensitive-plant, thorny sensitive-plant, zaraz

French: amourette riviére

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Shrub, height to 6 m, stems armed with broad-based prickles up to 7 mm long. Leaves bipinnate, sensitive to touch. Straight, erect or forward pointing, prickle at the junction of each of the 6-14 pairs of pinnae and sometimes with stouter spreading or deflexed prickles between the pairs. Leaflets 20-42 pairs per pinna, linear-oblong, 3-8 (-12.5) mm long, 0.5-1.25 (-2) mm wide, venation nearly parallel with midrib, margins often bearing minute bristles. Inflorescence of tight, subglobose pendunculate heads 1 cm in diameter, each head containing ca 100 flowers, produced 1-2 (-3) together in the upper axils. Flowers mauve or pink, calyx minute, laciniate, 0.75-1 mm long; corolla about 2.25-3 mm long, stamens 8. Pods clustered, brown, densely bristly all over, breaking transversely into about 21 (14-26) partially dehiscent segments, each containing a seed, the pod sutures persisting as an empty frame. Seeds light brown to brown or olive green, oblong, light, dispersed by water and floating for an indefinite period" (Cronk & Fuller, 1995; pp. 90-95).

Habitat/ecology:  Wet places in the humid and subhumid tropics. Favors climates with a dry season.  "Grassland, freshwater wetlands, riparian habitats, wet forests.  This nitrogen-fixing shrub establishes readily after disturbance and forms thorny, impenetrable thickets over large areas that exclude all other species.  It shades out native tree seedlings in invaded swamp forests and transforms various wetland communities into pure stands with reduced bird and plant species richness"  (Weber, 2003; p. 271).

In Australia, "swampy areas, e.g. flood plains; along watercourses.  It forms dense impenetrable thickets which exclude native plants and animals, transforming sedgeland and grassland on flood plains into monotonous tall shrublands." (Smith, 2002; p. 33).

Propagation:  Water-dispersed seeds. Seeds may remain dormant for many years. A prolific seed producer. "Pod segments float and are dispersed by water.  They are also dispersed by humans and animals in mud adhering to fur, clothing or vehicles.  Dispersal also aided by adventitious rooting."  (Smith, 2002; p. 33).

Native range:  Mexico, Caribbean islands, Central and South America, Africa including the Comoros, Madagascar, and Mauritius (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)   Waterhouse, D. F. (1997) (p. 63)
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. 33)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
"Grows in clay, sandy loam and lateritic soil along watercourses, margins of mangrove swamps and coastal salt flats".
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (p. 33)
Subject of an eradication program.
Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia (Kingdom of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, D. F. (1993) (pp. 67, 78)
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
invasive
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 132)
Along roadside.
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Honduras
Honduras
Honduras (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, D. F. (1994) (p. 147)
Malaysia
Malaysia
Malaysia (country of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, D. F. (1993) (pp. 67, 78)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Panama
Panama
Panama (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Perú
Perú
Perú (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, D. F. (1993) (pp. 67, 78)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 61)
Naturalised
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, D. F. (1994) (p. 147)
Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2013)
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
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)

Comments:  On exclusion lists for Hawai‘i, US, and French Polynesia. A problem species in Thailand. A "weed of national significance" in Australia and a declared noxious weed in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia (Smith, 2002; p. 33).

Planting of this species in the State of Florida (U.S.) is prohibited by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Hunsberger, 2001).

Control: 

Physical: Because there is little grassy understorey in thickets of M. pigra, it is difficult to destroy infestations with fire without applying fuel such as gelled gasoline from aircraft. Follow-up control must then be carried out, because, although seeds on the soil surface are destroyed, germination of seeds from the seed bank, within 5 cm of the soil surface, is enhanced. (FAO)

Chemical: Various chemical control methods are described in the literature cited.

Biological: Six natural enemies have been released in Australia following rigorous host-specificity testing, but have not yet had any discernible effect. Four of these have also been released in Thailand. The six include two seed-feeding bruchid beetles, one stem-feeding chrysomelid beetle, two stem-boring moths and, in January 1992, a flower-feeding weevil. (FAO)

"For long-term control, biological methods are probably the most cost-effective considering the extent and ecology of this species.  Palatability to higher animals is low, but in its native range it is attacked by more than 200 species of insect herbivores and fungal pathogens.  The first insects introduced to Australia as controlling agents were the seed-feeding beetles Acanthoscelides quadridentatus and A. puniceus (Bruchidae) from Mexico.  They were released in Australia in 19845 and 1985, respectively, but have not attained high population densities and have had little impact on seed production.  Two stem-boring moths, Neurostrota gunniella (Gracillariidae) and Carmenta mimosa (Sesiidae), were released in Australia in 1989; of these, N. gunniella established readily.  The young larvae mine leaf pinnules and the older larvae tunnel in the stems, causing them to die.  Carmenta mimosa complements the action of N. gunniella by tunneling stems of larger diameter.  Other important insects currently being tested for their host specificities in Mexico and Australia are the seed- and flower-feeding weevils Apion sp., Chalcodermus serripes, Sibinia fastigiata, S. ochreosa, S. pervana and S. seminicola.

"Two fungal pathogens, Phloeosporella sp. (Coelomycetes), and a rust, Diabole cubensis (Uredenales), severely debilitate Mimosa pigra in Mexico.  Phloeosporella sp. attack leaves, branches, main stems and seed pods, causing leaf fall and cankers of the stems and leading to ring barking and die-back.  Diable cubensis causes chlorosis in stems and leaves resulting in premature leaf fall.  Both fungi are attacked by hyperparasitic fungi in their native range and it seems likely that their effect on Mimos pigra could be even more damaging in Australia if they were to be introduced without their natural enemies.  These fungi are under investigation in Mexico and Britain"  (Cronk & Fuller, 2001; p. 94).

See Waterhouse (1994; pp. 149-156) for natural enemies of the species and summaries of attempts at biological control.

Additional information:
Photos and additional information at University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.
Information from the book "Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas" (PDF format).
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.
Fact sheet from "Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions" (PDF format).
Fact sheet from the University of Florida Extension Service. (PDF format)
Fact sheet from the Government of Queensland, Australia. (PDF format).
Additional information at the Woody Plant Ecology web site.
Weed Management Guide from the Government of Australia. (PDF format).

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

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

Taxonomic information about Mimosa pigra 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.

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.

Francis, John K., ed. 2009. Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions General Technical Report IITF-WB-1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry and Shrub Sciences Laboratory (online resource).

Hunsberger, A. G. B. 2001. Invasive and banned plants of Miami-Dade County. U. of Fl. Extension. 3 pp.

ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre. 2013. International Legume Database & Information Service. Online searchable database.

Langeland, K. A./Burks, K. Craddock. eds. 1998. Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida. 165 pp.

Marko, M. 1999. Controlling invasion of the exotic shrub (Mimosa pigra) in tropical Australian wetlands. Restoration and Reclamation Review, vol. 4.

Miller, I. S./Pickering, S. E. 1998. Mimosa or giant sensitive plant. Northern Territory of Australia, Agnote No. 466.

Parsons, W. T./Cuthbertson, E. G. 1992. Noxious weeds of Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne/Sydney. 692 pp.

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

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.

Walden, D./van Dam, R./Finlayson, M./Storrs, M./Lowry, J./Kriticos, D. 2004. A risk assessment of the tropical wetland weed Mimosa pigra in Northern Australia. Supervising Scientist Report 177. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage. 66 pp.

Waterhouse, D. F. 1993. The major arthropod pests and weeds of agriculture in Southeast Asia. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 141 pp.

Waterhouse, D. F. 1994. Biological control of weeds: Southeast Asian prospects. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 302 pp.

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.

Wu, Te-lin. 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised). 384 pp.


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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 15 AUG 2013.