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Paraserianthes lophantha

Evergreen shrub or small tree, with bipinnate leaves and large, yellow-whitish spikes.

Scientific nameParaserianthes lophantha (Willd.) I.C. Nielsen

Common names: plume albizia, mountain albizia

FamilyFabaceae (Leguminosae)

Status in Portugalinvasive species (listed in the Decreto-Lei nº 92/2019, 10 july) [see Albizia lophanta].

Risk Assessment score: 14 | Value obtained according to a protocol adapted from the Australian Weed Risk Assessment (Pheloung et al. 1999), by Morais et al. (2017), according to which values above 13 mean that the species has risk of having invasive behavior in the Portuguese territory | Updated on 30/09/2017.

SynonymyAlbizia lophantha (Will.) Benth.

Last update: 01/07/2021


How to recognise it

Shrub or small tree up to 6 m; smooth, dark grey, fissured rhytidome when old.

Leavesevergreenalternatebipinnate, of 12-23 cm long, with 8-13 pairs of pinnae, which in turn have 15-40 pairs of oblong asymmetric and mucronateleaflets, 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.

Fruits: dark brown podscompressed, straight, oblong, with 8-12 x 1,5-2,5 cm and 6-12 black seeds.

Flowering: July to August.


Similar species

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).



Geographic areas where there are records of Paraserianthes lophanta

Other places where the species is invasive

Europe (Spain), South Africa, North America (USA), some regions in Australia, New Zealand.


Introduction reasons

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.


Economic impacts

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:


Physical control

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.


Biological control

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.


Prescribed fire

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">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.