Evergreen shrub or small tree, with bipinnate leaves and large, yellow-whitish spikes.
Scientific name: Paraserianthes lophantha (Willd.) I.C. Nielsen
Common names: plume albizia, mountain albizia
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Status in Portugal: invasive species
Risk Assessment score: (in development)
Synonymy: Albizia lophantha (Will.) Benth.
Last update: 01/07/2014
How to recognise it
Shrub or small tree up to 6 m; smooth, dark grey, fissured rhytidome when old.
Leaves: evergreen, alternate, bipinnate, of 12-23 cm long, with 8-13 pairs of pinnae, which in turn have 15-40 pairs of oblong asymmetric and mucronate, leaflets, each with 4-10 x 1-4 mm, dark green on the upper surface and much lighter on the lower surface.
Flowers: whitish yellow arranged in spikes of 4-8 cm long, frequently grouped in sets of 2.
Flowering: July to August.
Albizia julibrissin Durazz. (Persian silk tree) has some similarity, but it forms a larger tree, has larger leaves (with pinnae and leaflets, which are falcate), pink flowers arranged in flower heads and pods with a more irregular shape. Jacaranda mimosaefolia D. Don (jacaranda)also has some similarities, but it has decussate leaves, violet-blue flowers and the fruits are flattened capsules with a suborbicular shape.
Characteristics that aid invasion
It reproduces by seed, producing many seeds. The seeds are dispersed by wind and animals, mainly by birds and ants. It germinates intensively by the passing of fire.
Native distribution area
Distribution in Portugal
Mainland Portugal (Douro Litoral, Beira Litoral, Estremadura, Alto Alentejo, Algarve), Madeira archipelago (islands of Madeira and Porto Santo).
Other places where the species is invasive
Europe (Spain), South Africa, North America (USA), some regions in Australia, New Zealand.
For ornamental purposes and shelter.
Preferential invasion environments
Arid and disturbed areas.
Impacts on ecossystems
It may form very dense populations inhibiting the development of native vegetation.
It produces a lot of nitrogen-rich litter, which promotes soil change.
It has potential expensive control methods.
Controlling an invasive species demands a well-planned management, which includes the determination of the invaded area, identifying the causes of invasion, assessing the impacts, defining the intervention priorities, selecting the adequate control methodologies and their application. Afterwards it is fundamental to monitor the efficiency of the methodologies and recuperation of the intervened area as to perform, whenever necessary, the follow-up control.
The control methodologies used for Paraserianthes lophanta include:
Hand pulling: preferential methodology for seedlings and small plants. When in more compacted substrates, hand pulling must be made during the rainy season as to facilitate the removal of the root system.
Cutting: preferential methodology for adult plants. Cut the trunk as close to the ground as possible by using manual and/or mechanical equipment. It should be done before seed maturation.
The weevil Melanterius servulus Pascoe (Coleoptera: Corculionidae), that feeds off seeds, is also used successfully in South Africa since 1989 to control the species.
This agent has not yet been tested in Portugal as to verify its safety relatively to native species, so its use has not yet constituted an alternative in our country.
It may be strategically used to favour germination of the seed bank, e.g., after the control of adult individuals (with the adequate management of the resulting biomass) or and the subsequent elimination of seedlings. This method provides an advantageous reduction of the seed bank, both by destroying part of the seeds or by stimulating the germination of the remainders.
Visit the webpage How to Control for additional and more detailed information about the correct application of these methodologies.
Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute – Weed Research Division (2014) Management of invasive alien plants: A list of biocontrol agents released against invasive alien plants in South Africa. Available: http://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Documents/WebAgentsreleased.pdf [Retrieved 03/03/2014].
Dennill GB, Donnelly D, Stewart K, Impson FAC (1999) Insect agents used for the biological control of Australian Acacia species and Paraserianthes lophanta (Willd.) Nielsen (Fabaceae) in South Africa. African Entomology: Memoir no.1: 45-54.
Marchante E, Freitas H, Marchante H (2008) Guia prático para a identificação de plantas invasoras de Portugal Continental. Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, 183pp.
Osorio VEM, de la Torre WW, Jardim R, Silva L (2008) Paraserianthes lophantha (Willd.) I.C. Nielsen In: Silva L, Land EO, Luengo JLR (eds) Flora e fauna terrestre invasora na Macaronésia. Top 100 nos Açores, Madeira e Canárias, Arena, Ponta Delgada, pp. 285-287.
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