Interim profile, incomplete information
Taxonomic name: Falcataria moluccana (Miquel) Barneby & Grimes
Synonyms: Adenanthera falcataria L., Albizia falcata auct. pl., Albizia falcataria (L.) Fosb., Albizia moluccana F.A. Miquel, Albizia moluccana Miq., Paraserianthes falcataria (L.) I. Nielsen, Paraserianthes falcataria subsp. falcataria
Common names: ‘arapitia (Cook Islands), albízia (Portuguese), albizzia, batai, bataiwood, falcata, malacana, mara (Portuguese), Molucca albizia, Moluccan sau, parasiante (Portuguese), peacock plume, sau, tamaligi paepae (Samoa), tamaligi palagi (American Samoa), tamaligi uliuli (Samoa), tamaligi, tamalini (Samoan), tuhke kerosene, tuhke kerosin (Pohnpei), tuhkehn karisihn (Pohnpei), ukall ra ngebard (Palauan)
Organism type: tree
Falcataria moluccana is an invasive, nitrogen-fixing tree species. It is has been introduced to the Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion and many Pacific islands; including, most notably, Hawaii where it has become a problematic invader. Its rapid growth habit allows it to outcompete slow-growing native trees, and its abundant, high-quality litter alters nutrient dynamics in the soil. This affects decomposition rates and microorganism and invertebrate community composition. Ecosystem processes may be altered in both terrestrial and aquatic environments where F. moluccana invades riparian areas.
"Trees up to 40 m tall, bark white, gray or greenish, smooth or slightly warty, young parts densely reddish brown tomentose or puberulent. Leaves with a large nectary below the lowermost pair of pinnae and smaller ones between or below most pairs of pinnae, pinnae (4-) 8-15 pairs, leaflets 15-25 pairs per pinna, obliquely elliptic, falcate, 10-20 mm long, 3-6 mm wide, midrib strongly excentric near 1 of the margins. Flowers in panicles ca 20 cm in diameter, often with 2 serial branches from 1 bract scar; calyx 1-1.5 mm long, silky pubescent, the teeth 0.5 mm long; corolla cream or greenish yellow, 3-4.5 mm long (excl. stamens); stamens 10-17 mm long. Pods 9-12 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide, densely pubescent or glabrous, with a narrow, longitudinal wing along the upper suture. Seeds transversely arranged, ellipsoid, 5-7 mm long, 2.5-3.5 mm wide, laterally flattened, with a pleurogram ca 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide" (Wagner et al., 1999).
natural forests, planted forests, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed
Falcataria moluccana grows well on a variety of soil types, including degraded sites and acidic or nutrient poor soils (Hughes & Denslow, 2005). It is able to grow on poor soils due to its nitrogen-fixing roots (Kitalong, 2008). In Hawaii F. moluccana often establishes on young lava flows with minimal soil development (Mascaro et al. 2009). In Hawaii F. moluccana spreads rapidly in areas below 305 m elevation with 2,032-3,810 mm annual rainfall (Little & Skolmen, 1989 in Starr et al., 2003).
Falcataria moluccana was originally introduced to Hawaii in 1917 from North Borneo and Java. Since then this tree has been planted in the hundreds of thousands. It is used for reforestation and as an ornamental due to its aesthetic looks, including attractive gray bark and feather-like flowers (Wagner et al. 1999; Starr et al. 2003).
Plantations of F. moluccana have also been established in Hawaii short-rotation forestry applications, due to its fast growth and nitrogen fixation capacity (Binkley & Giardina, 1997 in Hughes & Denslow, 2005). The wood is used for a variety of purposes including canoe building and furniture making (Starr et al. 2003).
Japanese farmers in Palau planted F. moluccana for use as a shade tree for cacao, coffee and tea plantations (Endress, 2002).
More recently F. moluccana has been approved for use as a biofuel, to generate electricity on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (Eagle, 2008; Chimera et al., 2010).
Native range: The Moluccas, Irian Jaya; Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Known introduced range: American Samoa, Bangladesh, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of) New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Reunion, Samoa, Seychelles, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna.
Introduction pathways to new locations
For ornamental purposes: Spread long distances by humans who plant the tree for landscaping, forestry or other purposes (Little & Skolmen, 1989 in Starr et al., 2003).
For ornamental purposes: Grown as an ornamental garden plant due to its attractive flowers.
Forestry: Spread long distances by humans who plant the tree for landscaping, forestry or other purposes (Little & Skolmen, 1989 in Starr et al., 2003).
Local dispersal methods
Wind dispersed: F. moluccana can spread from abundant seeds contained in lightweight pods that blow in the wind (Little & Skolmen, 1989 in Starr et al., 2003).
Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Falcataria moluccana produced a high score of 8 and a recommendation of: "reject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be of high risk (Pacific)." (PIER, 2005). This species is also listed on the Hawaii state Noxious Weed List (Ostertag et al., 2009).
Cultural control: The planting of F. moluccana is discouraged in many regions; both where it is a known invasive and where further research is required to determine its impact (e.g Space & Flynn, 2000b; Space et al., 2003; Space et al., 2004; Space et al., 2009). In Hawaii, Starr et al. (2003) recommend asking public not to spread trees and to instead plant alternatives such as native koa (Acacia koa).
Manual control: Girdling (ring-barking) of F. moluccana in the sapling stage may be a cost-effective control measure (Mueller-Dombois, 2008). It is relatively easy to achieve and tends to be successful (Gerlach, 2004). Uprooting seedlings and saplings, followed by chemical control can also be effective (Meyer, 2008). F. moluccana is also reportedly susceptible to being killed by root damage by heavy equipment (Motooka et al., 2003).
Chemical control: F. moluccana is very susceptible to hormone-type herbicides. 2,4-D and glyphosate cause severe injury, while dicamba and tricoplyr are even more effective. Herbicides may be applied by injecting into the trunks of trees, or as a spray on the trunk after debarking (Motooka et al., 2003; Meyer, 2008).
Integrated management: Trees can be removed by hand or using saws, and stumps treated with a triclopyr-based herbicide to prevent resprouting (Ostertag et al., 2009). Ostertag et al., (2009) carried out removal experiments in Hawaii to determine native species’ response to the removal of all invasive trees and shrubs from plots. While there were major environmental changes in removal plots, native species growth and litterfall productivity did not change over three years, confirming the slow growth response capabilities of Hawaiian trees. However with continued removal of invasive species, it may be possible to alter the seedbank enough to encourage native regeneration (Cordell et al., 2009). Cordell et al. (2009) recommend non-native species removal to encourage natural regeneration, with supplemental native species planting as an additional strategy. Follow-up removal is essential to success (Cordell et al., 2009). In reality, treating and sustaining such removal plots to control invasive species is highly labour intensive, and may not be feasible at a regional scale (Ostertag et al., 2008).
Other: Recently F. moluccana has been approved for use as a biofuel, to generate electricity on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (Eagle, 2008; Chimera et al., 2010). The president of the project states that “the project will reduce the overall amount of albizia on island and positively benefit the community”. However in order to fulfill the wood requirements, an additional 2000 acres of F. moluccana would be necessary. However Chimera et al. (2010) list a number of reasons why this is unlikely to result in effective control of the invasive tree, and will most likely lead to it being more widely planted and greater spread.
Produces abundant seeds contained in lightweight pods and are dispersed by wind (Little & Skolmen, 1989 in Starr et al., 2003).
Compiled by: Comité français de l'UICN (IUCN French Committee) & IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Friday, 14 March 2008