Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Parkinsonia aculeata
L., Fabaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

Reject, score: 15 (Go to the risk assessment (Australia))
High risk, score: 20 (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific))
Reject, score: 18 (Go to the risk assessment (U.S. (Florida)))

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: bian zhou mu

English: Barbados flower-fence, horse-bean, jelly bean tree, Jerusalem thorn, Mexican paloverde, parkinsonia, retaima, sessaban

French: arrête-boeuf, arrêtenègre

Spanish: cina-cina, espanillo, espina de Jerusalem, espinillo, palo de rayo, palo verde, palo verde mejicano, parquinsonia

Habit:  tree

Description:  "A branching spiny glabrous shrub or small tree of irregular habit, from 2 to 8 m high, often forming thickets and reproducing by seed.  Stems slender, often drooping and of zig-zag form.  Leaves shortly stalked, bipinnate, each consisting of 1 to 3 pairs of leaflets with a long flattened prominently ribbed central axis 20 to 40 cm long, 2 to 3 mm wide ending in a short spine and edged on both sides with numerous, oblong secondary leaflets 4 to 10 mm long which, shedding readily, leave a long thin photosynthesizing stalk, each leaf is subtended by a needle-sharp spine 5 to 15 mm long at the node.  Flowers predominantly yellow, fragrant, 2 cm diameter, each on a long slender stalk and borne in groups of 8 to 12 in loose racemes arising from the leaf axils; corolla 5-petalled, bilaterally symmetrical, 4 petals 6 to 15 mm long becoming reflexed, 1 erect, either with orange spots or completely orange.  Fruit a light brown, shortly stalked, sharp pointed pod 3 to 13 cm long, usually 3 to 6 cm, about 7 mm wide, bulging and constricted between the seeds.  Seed:  Olive green to brown, oblong, 9 to 10 mm long, 3 to 4 mm wide.  Root:  A shallow main axis and numerous surface laterals"  (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; pp. 461-463).

Habitat/ecology:  "Jerusalem-thorn will grow on most types of soils, including sand dunes, clay soils, strongly alkaline, chalky, and mildly salty soils. It withstands a great deal of heat and can survive in areas that receive less than 30 cm of annual rainfall. It requires full or nearly full sunlight to survive and reproduce. In most environments, Jerusalem-thorn needs some kind of disturbance to become established"  (Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories).  Tropics on a wide variety of soil types. Thrives in a wide range of climates. "Forms impenetrable thorny thickets that compete with and exclude native species.  A very hardy plant that can withstand long dry spells." (Smith, 2002; p. 21).

In Hawai‘i, "introduced as an ornamental, now naturalized in low elevation, dry, disturbed sites"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 691). In New Caledonia, " localisé mais parfois assez commun dans la région de Boulouparis" (MacKee, 1994p. 75). In the Galápagos Islands, "occasional to common from sea level to about 60 m, in open flats just above high tide, in open scrub forest, among lava blocks, and on old lava flows" (Wiggins & Porter, 1971; p. 608). Native of the arid lowlands in the Galápagos Islands (McMullen, 1999; pp. 62-63).  "In Chile this species grows in the following environmental conditions:  Low altitude, interior valleys; coastal mountains, 500-2000 m; coastal areas, 0-500 m.  Coastal fog/camanchaca: The plants obtain water mainly from condensation; extremely dry areas with very rare rainfall, the dry season lasts 8 - 12 months and in some years it is possible to have no rainfall at all, rainfall less than 100 mm/year; dry, arid areas, with long drought periods of 6-10 months, precipitations of 100 mm-300 mm. are concentrated in winter.   Fully exposed to the sun, level areas or slopes facing north"  (Chileflora).

Propagation:  "Seeds are dispersed by water, and in mud on animals and vehicles.  Seeds are eaten by birds and animals and then expelled. Cultivated around homesteads for shade. Seeds remain viable for many years" (Smith, 2002; p. 21).  "It produces seeds prolifically of two types: light brown ones that germinate readily and dark brown ones that have a hard seed coat and remain dormant"  (Weber, 2003; p. 301).

Native range:  "Jerusalem-thorn is native to Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as the north of Uruguay"  (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
Chile (offshore islands)
Rapa Nui (Easter) Island
Rapa Nui (Easter) Island (Isla de Pasqua) introduced
cultivated
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2008) (pp. 40, 42)
"Lefeuvre et al., 2005. Nous n’avons pas vues lors de cette" (Meyer, 2008).
Federated States of Micronesia
Pohnpei Islands
Pohnpei Island   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 95)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island   Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 53)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 101)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1963) (voucher ID: BISH 155288)
Taxon name on voucher: Parkinsonia aculeata Linnaeus
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1963) (voucher ID: BISH 571584)
Taxon name on voucher: Parkinsonia aculeata Linnaeus
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 691)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 691)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 691)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 95)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 75)
Vouchers cited: Pancher 6775 s.loc., MacKee 27475, Jinakoa in MacKee 43654
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands introduced
cultivated
Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. (1988) (p. 97)
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)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
"Recorded from sandy creek beds, stream banks, heavy soils around swamps, dams and bores and from rocky terrain. Often forms dense impenetrable thickets".
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. (2001) (p. 178)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
"A declared noxious weed in N.T. Recorded from sandy creek beds, stream banks, heavy soils around swamps, dams and bores and from rocky terrain. Often forms dense impenetrable thickets".
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. (2001) (p. 178)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Australian Biological Resources Study (2013)
"Recorded from sandy creek beds, stream banks, heavy soils around swamps, dams and bores and from rocky terrain. Often forms dense impenetrable thickets".
Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia (Kingdom of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Belov, Michail (2013)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Hainan
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 137)
Ornamental.
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia (Republic of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Republic of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Panama
Panama
Panama (Republic of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Perú
Perú
Perú (Republic of) native
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of) introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
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
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)
Mauritius
Mautitius Islands (Mauritius and Rodrigues)
Mauritius Island introduced
ILDIS Co-ordinating Centre (2011)

Comments:  A "weed of national significance" in Australia.

Control: 

Physical: "Mechanical removal by bulldozing, pulling with a tractor or grubbing gives effective control, especially where subsequent seedling growth can be controlled..." (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; pp. 461-463).

Chemical: "Good control of mature trees also is possible with herbicides, basal bark or cut stump treatments usually giving better results than an overall spray.  Apply a picloram + 2,4-D mixture or triclopyr in diesel oil, to the basal 75 cm of trunk, completely circling it and thoroughly drenching the bark.  In cut stump treatments swab the whole of the butt with any of the herbicides mentioned as basal bark sprays, immediately after cutting.  Allow the severed aerial growth to dry out and then burn.  Alternatively, apply liquid or granular hexazinone concentrate to the soil surface close to the base of the stems.  This material washed into the soil by subsequent rains slowly kills the shrubs."  (op. cit.)

Biological: Rhinacloa callicrates Herring (Hemiptera: Miridae) introduced into Queensland, Australia; under evaluation (Julien, 1992; p. 52).  "A biological control program for parkinsonia has been under way since 1983 in a joint study by the Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments. Three insects have been released so far into parkinsonia infestations. While all have established, impacts on the weed do not appear to be significant. One species, the seed feeding beetle Penthobruchus germaini, killed large proportions of seeds soon after it was first released in central Queensland. However, the beetle's eggs are now being attacked by a native wasp and it is no longer having an impact on parkinsonia. The CSIRO is currently conducting surveys in Central America to see if more potential biological control agents are available"  (Australian Weed Management Guide).

Additional information:
Report (PDF format) from US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Haleakala Field Station, Hawaii "Plants of Hawaii".
Report prepared for the Hawaiian Invasive Species Council (PDF format).
Fact sheet and identification guide from the Government of Queensland, Australia. (PDF format).
Fact sheet from "Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions" (PDF format).
Information from the World Agroforestry Centre's AgroForestryTree Database.
Weed Management Guide from the Government of Australia. (PDF format).
Photos and other information from Chileflora.
Information from the USDA Tropical Tree Seed Manual (PDF format).

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

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

Taxonomic information about Parkinsonia aculeata 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.

Belov, Michail. 2013. Chileflora (online resource).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1963. Voucher specimen #BISH 155288 (Fosberg, F.R. 43478).

Bishop Museum (Honolulu). 1963. Voucher specimen #BISH 571584 (Fosberg, F.R. 43478).

Cronk, Q. C. B./Fuller, J. L. 2001. Plant invaders. Earthscan Publications, Ltd., London. 241 pp.

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. 1997. Preliminary checklist of the flowering plants and ferns of the Society Islands. Ed. by David R. Stoddart. U. Cal. Berkeley.

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

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).

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

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

Imada, Clyde T./Frohlich, Danielle/Lau, Alex/Smith, Ryan. 2007. Implementing early detection in Hawai‘i, year one. Final report prepared for Hawaiian Invasive Species Council, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife. 51 pp.

Julien, M. H. (ed.). 1992. Biological control of weeds: A world catalogue of agents and their target weeds (third edition). CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 186 pp.

Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. 2013. Flora of the Marquesas Islands. National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. Online database.

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

McMullen, C. K. 1999. Flowering plants of the Galápagos. Comstock Pub. Assoc., Ithaca, N.Y. 370 p.

Meyer, Jean-Yves. 2008. Rapport de mission d'expertise a Rapa Nui du 02 au 11 Juin 2008: Plan d'action strategique pour lutter contre les plantes introduites envahissantes sur Rapa Nui (Île de pâques) [Strategic action plan to control invasive alien plants on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) [unpublished report]. Délégation à la Recherche, Ministère de l'Education, l'Enseignement supérieur et la Recherche, B.P. 20981 Papeete, Tahiti, Polynésie française. 62 pp. .

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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 2 NOV 2011.