Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1285–1298 | Cite as

Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed) in eastern Africa: distribution and socio-ecological impacts

  • Ross T. Shackleton
  • Arne B. R. WittEmail author
  • Winnie Nunda
  • David M. Richardson
Original Paper


Invasive alien plant species such as Chromolaena odorata have negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being. Ecological impacts of this shrub are relatively well understood, but its impacts on local livelihoods and perceptions are poorly documented. We mapped C. odorata distribution in eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) and compared perceptions and quantified the impacts of this species across Tanzanian villages with varying degrees of invasion density. Data were collected through 240 household questionnaires. Results indicate that C. odorata is a relatively new invader that already has severe negative impacts and is threatening livelihoods and the environment. Impacts include reductions in native biodiversity and the amount of available forage for livestock, reduced crop and water yields, and impaired mobility. Continued spread will cause additional negative impacts on poor rural communities. Implementation of a biological control programme targeting C. odorata is needed as a cost effective management approach along with other control and restoration measures.


Biological invasions Livelihoods Local knowledge and perceptions Negative impacts Human well-being 



RTS, DMR and AW acknowledge support from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (C.I.B). During the writing of the paper AW was supported as a C.I.B Fellow. RTS acknowledges additional support from Stellenbosch University through “Consolidoc” funding through the office of the Vice Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies. DMR received support from the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant 85417). CABI through the CABI Development Fund funded much of this work, including the socio-economic surveys, while the JRS Biodiversity Foundation provided resources to undertake surveys and produce distribution maps. Tim Beale (CABI) developed the maps. Thanks to Mr Victor Rotonesha and staff from the local Department of Environment and Agriculture for assisting with the socio-economic surveys and the Grumeti Fund and staff for supporting much of the work.


  1. Aloo P, Ojwang W, Omondi R, Njiru MN, Oyugi D (2013) A review of the impacts of invasive aquatic weeds on the biodiversity of some tropical bodies with special reference to Lake Victoria (Kenya). Biodivers J 4:471–482Google Scholar
  2. Chikuni MF, Dudley CO, Sambo EY (2004) Prosopis glandulosa Torrey (Leguminosae-Mimosoidae) at Swang’oma, Lake Chiwa plain: a blessing in disguise? Malawi J Sci Technol 7:10–16Google Scholar
  3. CRC for Weed Management (2003) Weed management guide: Siam weed or chromolaena (Chromolaena odorata). CRC for Australian Weed Management, Commonwealth Department of Environment and HeritageGoogle Scholar
  4. Day M, Bofeng I (2007) The status of biocontrol of Chromolaena odorata in Papua New Guinea. In: Lai PY, Reddy GVP, Muniappan RT (eds) Proceedings of the seventh international workshop on biological control and management of Chromolaena and Mikania. National Pingtung University, Taiwan, pp 53–67Google Scholar
  5. Day MD, Kawi A, Kurika K, Dewhurst CF, Waisale S, Saul-Maora J, Fidelis J, Bokosou J, Moxon J, Orapa W, Senaratne KADW (2012) Mikania micrantha Kunth (asteraceae) (mile-a-minute): its distribution and physical and socioeconomic impacts in Papua New Guinea. Pac Sci 66:213–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Day MD, Bofeng I, Nabo I (2013) Successful biological control of Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae) by the gall fly Cecidochares connexa (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Papua New Guinea. In: Wu Y, Johnson T, Sing S, Raghu S, Wheeler G, Pratt P, Warner K, Center T, Goolsby J, Reardon R (eds) Proceedings of the XIII International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, Waikoloa (Hawaii USA), September 2011. Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Morgantown WV, pp 400–408Google Scholar
  7. Day MD, Riding N, Senaratne KADW (2016) The host specificity and climatic suitability of the gall fly Cecidochares connexa (Diptera: tephritidae), a potential biological control agent for Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae) in Australia. Biocontrol Sci Tech 26:691–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Desmier de Chenon R, Sipayung A, Sudharto P (2002) A decade of biological control against Chromolaena odorata at the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute in Marihat. In: Proceedings of the 5th international workshop on biological control and management of Chromolaena odorata. Zachariades C, Muniappan R, Strathie LW (eds) ARC-PPRI, Pretoria, South Africa, pp 46–52Google Scholar
  9. Dumalisile L (2008) Effects of Chromolaena odorata on mammalian biodiversity in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, Masters in Science (Wildlife Management)Google Scholar
  10. Dzikiti S, Schachtschneider K, Naiken V, Gish M, Moses G, Le Maitre DC (2013) Water relations and the effects of clearing invasive Prosopis trees on groundwater in an arid environment in the Northern Cape, South Africa. J Arid Environ 90:103–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eussen JHH, de Groot W (1974) Control of imperata cylindrical (L.) Beauv. in Indonesia. Mededelingen Fakulteit Landbouw-wetenschappen Gent 39:451–464Google Scholar
  12. García-Llorente M, Martín-López B, González JA, Alcorlo P, Montes C (2008) Social perceptions of the impacts and benefits of invasive alien species: implications for management. Biol Conserv 141:2969–2983CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. García-Llorente M, Martín-Lopes B, Nunes PA, González JA, Alcorlo P, Montes C (2011) Analyzing the social factors that influence willingness to pay for invasive species management under two different strategies: eradication and prevention. Environ Manag 48:418–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gautier L (1996) Establishment of Chromolaena odorata in a savanna protected from fire: an example of the Lamto central Côte d’Ivoire. In: Proceedings from the third international chromolaena workshop, University of guam, publication no. 202, Abidjan, pp 54–67, November 1993Google Scholar
  15. Goodall JM, Morley TA (1995) Ntambanana vegetation survey and veld improvement plan. Unpublished report submitted to the Mpendle Ntambanana Agricultural CompanyGoogle Scholar
  16. Goodall JM, Zacharias PJK (2002). Managing Chromoleana odorata in subtropical grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In Zachariades C, Muniappan R, Strathie LW. Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Biological Control and Management of Chromolaena odorata, Durban South Africa, 23–25 October 2000. ARC-PPRI pp 120-127Google Scholar
  17. Grice AC, Clackson JR, Calver M (2011) Geographic differentiation of management objectives for invasive species: a case study of Hymenachne amplexicaulis in Australia. Environ Sci Policy 14:986–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Henderson L (2001) Alien weeds and invasive plants. Plant protection research institute handbook no. 12. Paarl Printers, Cape Town, 298 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Henderson L (2007) Invasive, naturalised and casual alien plants in southern Africa: a summary based on the South African plant invaders atlas (SAPIA). Bothalia 37:215–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holm L, Doll J, Holm E, Pancho J, Herberger J (1977) World weeds: natural histories and distribution. Wiley, New York, 1129 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Jevon T, Shackleton CM (2015) Integrating local knowledge and forest surveys to assess Lantana camara impacts on indigenous species recruitment in Mazeppa Bay, South Africa. Hum Ecol 43:247–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kriticos DJ, Yonow T, McFadyen RE (2005) The potential distribution of Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed) in relation to climate. Weed Res 45:246–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kull CA, Shackleton CM, Cunningham PJ, Ducatillon C, Dufour-Dror J, Esler KJ, Friday JB, Gouveia AC, Griffin AR, Marchante E, Midgley SJ, Pauchard A, Rangan H, Richardson DM, Rinaudo T, Tassin J, Urgenson LS, von Maltitz GP, Zenni RD, Zylstra MJ (2011) Adoption, use and perception of Australian acacias around the world. Divers Distrib 17:822–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Le Maitre DC, van Wilgen BW, Gelderblom CM, Bailey C, Chapman RA, Nel JA (2004) Invasive alien trees and water resources in South Africa: case studies of the costs and benefits of management. For Ecol Manag 160:143–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Macdonald IAW (1983) Alien trees, shrubs and creepers invading indigenous vegetation in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi game reserve complex in Natal. Bothalia 14:949–959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mangla S, Callaway IM, Callaway RM (2008) Exotic invasive plant accumulates native soil pathogens which inhibit native plants. J Ecol 96:58–67Google Scholar
  27. McFadyen REC (1989) Siam weed: a new threat to Australia’s north. Plant Prot Q 4:3–7Google Scholar
  28. McFadyen RC, Skarratt B (1996) Potential distribution of Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed) in Australia, Africa and Oceania. Agric Ecosyst Environ 59:89–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McNeely JA (ed) (2001) Human dimensions of invasive alien species. IUCN, Gland Switzerland and CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. McWilliam A (2000) A plague on your house? some impacts of Chromolaena odorata on Timorese livelihoods. Hum Ecol 28:451–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Meijninger WML, Jarmain C (2014) Satellite-based annual evaporation estimates of invasive alien plant species and native vegetation in South Africa. Water SA 40:95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mwangi E, Swallow B (2008) Prosopis juliflora invasion and rural livelihoods in the Lake Baringo area of Kenya. Conserv Soc 6:130–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Office of the Chief Government Statistician, Zanzibar (OCGS) (2013) 2012 Population and housing census: population distribution by administrative unite; key findings. NBS and OCGS, Dar es SalaamGoogle Scholar
  34. Novoa A, Kaplan H, Wilson JRU, Richardson DM (2016) Resolving a prickly situation: involving stakeholders in invasive cactus management in South Africa. Environ Manage 57:998–1008CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Pejchar L, Mooney H (2009) Invasive species, ecosystem services and human well-being. Trends Ecol Evol 24:497–504CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Pimentel D (2002) Biological invasions: economic and environmental costs of alien plant, animal and microbe species. CRC Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pimentel D, Lach L, Zuniga R, Morrison D (2001) Environmental and economic costs associated with non-indigenous species in the United States. Bioscience 50:53–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pyšek P, Richardson DM, Rejmánek M, Webster GL, Williamson M, Kirschner J (2004) Alien plants in checklists and floras: towards better communication between taxonomists and ecologists. Taxon 53:131–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rai RK, Scarborough H, Subedi N, Lamichhane B (2012) Invasive plants—do they devastate or diversify rural livelihoods? rural farmers’ perception of three invasive plants in Nepal. J Nat Conserv 20:170–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Raimundo RLG, Fonseca RL, Schachetti-Pereira R, Peterson AT, Lewinsohn TM (2007) Native and exotic distribution of Siamweed (Chromolaena odorata) modelled using the genetic algorithm for rule-set production. Weed Sci 55:41–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Regional Commissioners Office (2013) Mara region investment profile. Regional Commissioners Office, MusomaGoogle Scholar
  42. Rejmánek M, Richardson DM (2013) Trees and shrubs as invasive alien species—2013 update of the global database. Divers Distrib 19:1093–1094. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12075 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rejmánek M, Le Roux JJ, Huntley BJ, Richardson DM (2016) Rapid assessment survey of the invasive plant species in western Angola. Afr J Ecol. doi: 10.1111/aje.12315(in press)
  44. Sakuntaladewi N, Sumarhani, Suharti S, Widiarti A, Heriyanto NM, Djaenudin D (2016) Socio-economic impacts of Chromolaena odorata on communities around Merapi mountain national park, Indonesia, UNEP/GEF Project Fund No. 0515 unpublished reportGoogle Scholar
  45. Shackleton CM, McGarry D, Fourie S, Gambiza J, Shackleton SE, Fabricius C (2007) Assessing the effect of invasive alien species on rural livelihoods: case examples and a framework from South Africa. Hum Ecol 35:113–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shackleton RT, Le Maitre DC, Richardson DM, van Wilgen BW (2015) Use of non-timber forest products from invasive alien Prosopis species (mesquite) and native trees in South Africa: implications for management. For Ecosys 2:16. doi: 10.1186/s40663-015-0040-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Simberloff D, Martin JL, Genovesi P, Maris V, Wardle DA, Aronson J, Courchamp F, Galil B, García-Berthou E, Pascal M, Pyšek P, Sousa R, Tabacchi E, Vilá M (2013) Impacts of biological invasions. What’s what and the way forward. Trends Ecol Evol 28:58–66CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Sundaram B, Krishanan S, Hiremath A, Joseph G (2012) Ecology and impacts of the invasive species, Lantana camara, in a social-ecological system in South India: perspectives from local knowledge. Hum Ecol 40:931–942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tamado T, Milberg P (2000) Weed flora in arable fields of eastern Ethiopia with emphasis on the occurrence of Parthenium hysterophorus. Weed Res 40:507–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Te Beest M, Cromsigt PGM, Ngobese J, Olff H (2012) Managing invasion at the cost of native habitat? An experimental test of the impact of fire on the invasion of Chromolaena odorata in a South African savanna. Biol Invasion 14:607–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Te Beest M, Esler KJ, Richardson DM (2015) Linking functional traits to impacts of invasive plant species: a case study. Plant Ecol 216:293–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Timbilla JA, Zachariades C, Braimah H (2003) Biological control and management of the alien invasive shrub, Chromolaena odorata in Africa. In: Neuenschwander P, Borgemeister C, Langewald J (eds) Biological control in IPM systems in Africa. CABI, London, pp 145–160Google Scholar
  53. Uyi OO, Igbinosa IB (2013) The status of Chromolaena odorata and its biocontrol in West Africa. In: Zachariades C, Strathie LW, Day MD, Muniappan R (eds) Proceedings of the eighth international workshop on biological control and management of Chromolaena odorata and other Eupatorieae, Nairobi. ARC-PPRI, Pretoria, 1–2 Nov 2010, pp 86–98Google Scholar
  54. van Wilgen BW, Richardson DM (2014) Managing invasive alien trees: challenges and trade-offs. Biol Invasions 16:721–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Wilgen BW, Dyer C, Hoffmann JH, Ivey P, Le Maitre DC, Moore JL, Richardson DM, Rouget M, Wannenburgh A, Wilson JRU (2011) National-scale strategic approaches for managing introduced plants: insights from Australian acacias in South Africa. Divers Distrib 17:1060–1075CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Waterhouse DF (1993) The major arthropod pests and weeds of agriculture in Southeast Asia: distribution, importance and origin. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, p 141Google Scholar
  57. Waterhouse DF (1994) Biological control of weeds: southeast Asian prospects. ACIAR Monogr 26:1–302Google Scholar
  58. Wilson C, Mudita W (2000) Fire and weeds: interactions and management implications. ACIAR ProceedingsGoogle Scholar
  59. Winston RL, Schwarzländer M, Hinz HL, Day MD, Cock MJW, Julien MH (eds.) (2014) Biological control of weeds: A world catalogue of agents and their target weeds (5th edn.) USDA forest service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Morgantown, FHTET-2014-04, pp 838Google Scholar
  60. Witkowski ETF (2002). Invasion intensity and regeneration potential of the non-native invasive plant Chromolaena odorata at St Lucia, South Africa. In: Zachariades C, Muniappan R, Strathie LW (eds) Proceedings of the fifth international workshop on biological control and management of Chromolaena odorata, ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria, 106–117Google Scholar
  61. Woodall SL (1981) Evapotranspiration and melaleuca. In: Geiger RK (ed) Proceedings of Melaleuca symposium, Florida division of forestry, Tallahassee, p 23–38Google Scholar
  62. Zachariades C, Strathie LW (2006) Biocontrol of chromolaena in South Africa; recent activities in research and implementation. Biocon News Inf 27:10–15Google Scholar
  63. Zachariades C, Day M, Muniappan R, Reddy GVP (2009) Chromolaena odorata (L.) King and Robinson (Asteraceae). In: Muniappan R, Reddy GVP, Raman A (eds) Biological control of tropical weeds using arthropods. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 130–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zachariades C, Janse van Rensburg S, Witt ABR (2013) Recent spread and new records of Chromolaena odorata in Africa. In: Zacharides C, Strathie LW, Day MD, Muniappan R (eds) Proceedings of the eighth workshop on biological control and management of Chromolaena odorata and other Eupatorieae, Nairobi. ARC-PPRI, Pretoria, 1–2 November 2010, pp 20–27Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ross T. Shackleton
    • 1
  • Arne B. R. Witt
    • 2
    Email author
  • Winnie Nunda
    • 2
  • David M. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Zoology, Centre for Invasion BiologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.CABI AfricaNairobiKenya

Personalised recommendations