Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Mucuna pruriens
(L.) DC., Fabaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 7 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Dolichos pruriens L.; Stizolobium aterrimum Piper and Tracey; Stizolobium deeringianum Bort.; Stizolobium niveum Kuntze.; Stizolobium pruriens (L.) Medicus.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chamorro: akangkang dangkulo

Chinese: ci mao li dou

English: Bengal bean, cow itch, cowhage, itchweed, Mauritius bean, velvet bean

French: poil à gratter, pois pouilleux

Spanish: ojo de buey, ojo de venado

Habit:  vine

Description:  "Semiwoody twining vines. Stems and branchlets slender, with dense long fine hairs and often coarser longer hairs, later glabrous. Leaves up to 46 cm; petiole 8-26 cm, hairy like stem; stipels robust, tapering to tip, 4-5 mm; leaflets papery, adaxially sparsely or abundantly hairy when young, later glabrous, abaxially clothed with short white silky hairs, lateral veins 5-8 on each side, slender, straight or slightly curved, running into margin; terminal leaflet elliptic or ovate-rhombic, (3-) 14-16 x (4.5-) 8-10 cm, base broadly cuneate to rounded, apex rounded, acute, or shortly acuminate; lateral leaflets 7-19 cm, width ratio of abaxial to adaxial halves 2-3:1, abaxial half with base ± truncate or rarely cordate. Inflorescence axillary, long and pendulous, 15-35 cm, with (2-) 5-20 nodes, all in upper 2/3 of inflorescence with no bracts or scars in lower part; pedicels 2-4 (-6) mm, densely adpressed hairy and often bristly; bracts and bracteoles linear-lanceolate 6-9 mm, hairy, caducous before flowers open. Calyx with dense soft adpressed pale hairs and often irritant orange bristles; tube ca. 5 x 10 mm; lateral 2 lobes broadly triangular, 2-4 x 1.5-3 (-3.5) mm, lowest narrowly triangular, 6-10 x 2-3 mm. Corolla deep purple; standard 1.6-2.5 cm, 1/2-2/3 of keel length; wings 2-4 x ca. 1.2 cm, shorter than or subequal to keel; keel 2.8-4.2 (-4.5) cm. Legume linear-oblong and slightly swollen around seeds or misshapen with irregular swellings around seeds, to 9 x 1 (-2) cm, ca. 5 mm thick, densely covered with soft pale hairs or orange to brown irritant caducous bristles, margin thickened, surface with or without longitudinal ridges. Seeds 3-6 (-8), white to light yellow-brown, orange, brown, or black, sometimes mottled in various colors, elliptic, 0.9-1.78 (-2) x 0.4-1.3 cm, (3-) 4-10 mm thick; hilum 3-6 mm, ca. 1/8 of seed circumference, with aril forming a raised orange border"  (Flora of China online).

"Annual vine, grayish-pubescent; leaflets ovate to oblong, acute-acuminate, thin, pubescent-gray below, 5-13 cm long, the lateral leaflets asymmetrical; flowers purple, in drooping racemes of many flowers; each flower 3.5-4 cm long; calyx grayish-pubescent; pods stout, compressed, 5-10 cm long, 1.5 cm broad, densely pubescent, the brownish hairs easily detachable and highly irritating to skin; one longitudinal rib on each valve; seeds about 6 mm wide, compressed- ovoid, brownish with black mottling, hilum less than 3 mm long" (Stone, 1970; p. 338).

var. pruriens:  "Fruit with orange or brown irritant bristles, to ca. 1 cm wide; seeds uniform in color; terminal leaflet with length 1.5-1.75 x width, lateral leaflets of similar size; calyx often with irritant bristles"  (Flora of China online).

var. utilis:  "Fruit with long pale silky hairs, often misshapen, irregularly swollen around seeds, to 2 mm wide in parts; seeds often mottled or streaked in different colors; terminal leaflet broad, length less than or to 1.5 x width, lateral leaflets often much larger than terminal; calyx without irritant bristles"  (Flora of China online).

Habitat/ecology:  Moist tropics. "The plant can grow in a range of habitats and could become naturalised in grasslands, bushland, riverine forest and forest edges throughout tropical and subtropical regions" (Csurhes & Edwards, 1998; p. 180). In Fiji, "cultivated and sometimes sparingly naturalized at low elevations up to about 200 m" (Smith, 1985; pp. 210-211). "It can form woody thickets and smother underlying vegetation" (Smith, 2002; p. 94).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  Africa; from India through southeast Asia to the Philippines, widely cultivated and naturalized (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
Rota Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 118)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Rota Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Denslow, Julie S./Nelson, Duane (2000) (p. 21)
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan Island introduced
invasive
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 101)
"Forest edges"
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Falanruw, Marjorie (1999) (p. Field notes.)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Vanua Levu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1985) (pp. 210-211)
Mucuna pruriens subspecies pruriens var. utilis (Wight) Burck. Voucher cited: DA 16686
Sometimes sparingly naturalized.
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Vanua Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1969) (voucher ID: BISH 32844)
Taxon name on voucher: Mucuna pruriens var. utilii (Wall. ex Wright) Bak. ex Burck
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Vanua Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1969) (voucher ID: BISH 32845)
Taxon name on voucher: Mucuna pruriens var. utilii (Wall. ex Wright) Bak. ex Burck
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 338)
Present status unknown.
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 118)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
cultivated
Imada, Clyde T./Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. (2013) (p. Voucher specimens)
Var. utilis (Wright) Burck. Vouchers cited: Kopf s.n. (BISH 11037, BISH 666753, BISH 666754)
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island   Wagner, W. L./ Herbst, D. R./Weitzman, A./Lorence, D.H. (2013)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 87)
Forma utiis (Wall. ex Wight) Back.; vouchers cited: Pancher C 17 s.loc., Mieillard 2561, Mme. Leenhardt s.n., De la Chapelle in MacKee 41982
New Guinea (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea)
New Guinea Island
New Guinea Island introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, B. M./Mitchell, A. A. (1998) (pp. 43-44)
Papua New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Papua New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago   Peekel, P. G. [translated by E. E. Henty] (1984) (p. 250)
Frequent, on the foreshore and on river banks, in dry river beds and overgrown plantations; also on dry soil. The irritant hairs cause severe itching. The variety utilis has been introduced and is occasionally cultivated.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands   Merrill, Elmer D. (1923) (p. 309)
In dry thickets and secondary forests at low altitudes.
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands native
Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. (1988) (p. 92)
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
cultivated
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 180)
Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia (Kingdom of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) native
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
var. pruriens. "Forests, riversides, thickets, tall scrub, roadsides, also cultivated; below 1700 m". Var. utilis, introduced, cultivated.
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia (Republic of)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 241)
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Republic of) uncertain if native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 241)
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) uncertain if native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) uncertain if native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, B. M./Mitchell, A. A. (1998) (pp. 43-44)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Malaysia
Malaysia
Malaysia (country of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Panama
Panama
Panama (Republic of) uncertain if native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Taiwan
Taiwan Island
Taiwan Island native
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
var. pruriens. "Forests, riversides, thickets, tall scrub, roadsides, also cultivated; below 1700 m". Var. utilis, introduced, cultivated.
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) introduced
invasive
Waterhouse, B. M./Mitchell, A. A. (1998) (pp. 43-44)
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
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
invasive
Waterhouse, B. M./Mitchell, A. A. (1998) (pp. 43-44)
Australia (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Christmas Island Group
Christmas Island native
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1993) (p. 18)
Comoros
Comoro Islands
Comoro Islands introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Seychelles Islands introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)

Comments:  Commonly used as a cover crop and the pods and beans are used to feed livestock. For information on the use of this and similar species in agriculture, see "Cover Crops in Hillside Agriculture: Farmer Innovation with Mucuna".

A weed species in Mexico, Mozambique, Jamaica and Madagascar (Waterhouse & Mitchell, 1998; pp. 43-44).

The utilis variety commonly used in agriculture lacks irritating hairs.

Additional information:
Additional online information about Mucuna pruriens is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

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

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

References:

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1969. Voucher specimen #BISH 32844 (JWP 16686).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1969. Voucher specimen #BISH 32845 (JWP 16686).

Buckles, D./Triomphe, B./Sain, G. 2005. Cover Crops in Hillside Agriculture: Farmer Innovation with Mucuna. International Development Research Centre . 230 pp.

Cardenas, Juan/Reys, Carlos E./Doll, Jerry D./Pardo, Fernando. 1972. Tropical weeds; malezas tropicales, vol. 1. International Plant Protection Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 341 pp.

Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. 1998. Potential environmental weeds in Australia: Candidate species for preventative control. Canberra, Australia. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. 208 pp.

Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce. 1979. A geographical checklist of the Micronesian dicotyledonae. Micronesica 15:1-295.

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

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

Imada, Clyde T./Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. 2013. Annotated Checklist of Cultivated Plants of Hawai‘i (online searchable database).

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

Merrill, Elmer D. 1923. An enumeration of Philippine flowering plants, vol. 2 [reprint]. Bureau of Printing, Manila. 530 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.

Orchard, Anthony E., ed. 1993. Flora of Australia. Vol. 50, Oceanic islands 2. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

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.

Porcher, Michel H. 2013. Searchable World Wide Web Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. The University of Melbourne, Australia. Online resource.

Smith, Albert C. 1985. Flora Vitiensis nova: a new flora of Fiji. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. Volume 3. 758 pp.

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

Space, James C./Falanruw, Marjorie. 1999. Observations on invasive plant species in Micronesia. USDA Forest Service, Honolulu. Report to the Pacific Islands Committee, Council of Western State Foresters. USDA Forest Service, Honolulu. 32 pp.

Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Denslow, Julie S./Nelson, Duane. 2000. Invasive plant species on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  USDA Forest Service, Honolulu. 31 pp.

Stone, Benjamin C. 1970. The flora of Guam. Micronesica 6:1-659.

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

Wagner, W. L./ Herbst, D. R./Weitzman, A./Lorence, D.H. 2013. Flora of Micronesia. National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. Online database.

Waterhouse, B. M./Mitchell, A. A. 1998. Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy: weeds target list. Second edition. Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service, Miscellaneous Publication No. 6/98. 110 pp.

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


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 15 DEC 2010.