Azolla pinnata

Preferred Scientific Name

Azolla pinnata

Preferred Common Name

mosquito fern

International Common Names

English: African azolla; feathered mosquito fern; ferny azolla; pinnate mosquito fern; water velvet

Local Common Names

Australia: red azolla; red water fern; water moss

Germany: Afrikanischer Algenfarn; Gefiederter Algenfarn

Japan: aka-ukikusa

Vietnam: beo-dau

Summary of Invasiveness

pinnata can spread very quickly forming dense vegetative masses on areas of still water. This in turn limits the light available to other aquatic plants and oxygen used by other aquatic life. In New Zealand it has had a detrimental impact on the native species A. rubra (Owen, 1997). It is included on the federal noxious weed list for the USA (USDA-NRCS, 2004).

Distribution

Azolla pinnata is locally distributed in its native range of Africa and Madagascar, India, Southeast Asia, China and Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines, the New Guinea mainland and Australia (Croft, 1986). The native ranges of the three subspecies is given in USDA-ARS (2005) as: tropical Africa, southern Africa and Madagascar for subsp. africana; tropical Asia, China and Japan for subsp. asiatica; and Australia and New Caledonia for subsp. pinnata.

Distribution Table and Maps

The distribution in the summary table and maps below is based on all the information available, as listed in the ISC.
A. pinnata worldkeyA. pinnata asiaA pinnata SE Asia

CountryDistributionOriginInvasiveReferences
ASIA
BangladeshRestricted distributionNativeShahjahan et al., 1980; EPPO, 2014
Brunei DarussalamPresentWaterhouse, 1993
CambodiaRestricted distributionWaterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
ChinaRestricted distributionNativeCroft, 1986; EPPO, 2014
-AnhuiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-FujianPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-HenanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-HubeiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-JiangsuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-JiangxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-ZhejiangPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
IndiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-AssamWidespreadNativeDevashish & Kar Barbhuiya, 2001
-BiharWidespreadNativeSrivastava & Amarjeet Singh, 1984
-GujaratWidespreadNativeSreenivas & Rana, 1992
-Jammu and KashmirWidespreadNativeDutta et al., 1991
-KeralaWidespreadNativeThomas, 1976; Madhusoodanan et al., 1993
-OdishaPresentNativeSatapathy & Chand, 1984
IndonesiaRestricted distributionWaterhouse, 1993; USDA-ARS, 2005; EPPO, 2014
JapanRestricted distributionNativeCroft, 1986
Korea, DPRRestricted distributionDostálek et al., 1989
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993
MalaysiaRestricted distributionNativeWaterhouse, 1993; Mansor & Sam, 1992
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993; USDA-ARS, 2005
PakistanRestricted distributionUSDA-ARS, 2005; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesRestricted distributionNativeBravo, 1991; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaRestricted distributionNativeWeerakoon & Gunewardena, 1983
TaiwanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
ThailandRestricted distributionNativeTakara, 1981; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
VietnamRestricted distributionNativeWaterhouse, 1993; Thuoc et al., 1978; Croft, 1986;EPPO, 2014
AFRICA
AngolaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Exell & Wild, 1960
BotswanaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; EPPO, 2014
BurundiRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
CameroonRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
Central African RepublicRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
CongoRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
Congo Democratic RepublicRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Exell & Wild, 1960; EPPO, 2014
Côte d’IvoireRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
EgyptRestricted distributionNativeGalal & El-Ghandour, 2000
GabonRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
GuineaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
Guinea-BissauRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
KenyaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
LiberiaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
MadagascarRestricted distributionNativeJohns, 1991; EPPO, 2014
MozambiqueRestricted distributionNativeJohns, 1991
NigeriaRestricted distributionNativeJohns, 1991
RwandaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
SenegalRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
Sierra LeoneRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
South AfricaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Hill, 1998; Johns, 1991
TanzaniaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963
UgandaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
ZambiaRestricted distributionNativeDyer et al., 1963; Johns, 1991
OCEANIA
AustraliaRestricted distributionNativeCroft, 1986; EPPO, 2014
-Australian Northern TerritoryRestricted distributionNativeChapman et al., 1981; USDA-ARS, 2005
-New South WalesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-QueenslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
-VictoriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
New CaledoniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
New ZealandRestricted distributionIntroducedInvasiveOwen, 1997; EPPO, 2014
Papua New GuineaRestricted distributionNativeCroft, 1985; Croft, 1986

History of Introduction and Spread

Introductions to new countries are assumed to have been through horticultural or ornamental trade with the aquarium industry.

Risk of Introduction

There is a low risk of spread to non-tropical and sub-tropical areas, and spread between waterbodies within natural areas appears to be regulated by deliberate introduction by man for agricultural purposes. Once in a waterbody, vegetative fragments and spores can spread easily downstream, and be carried with floodwaters to colonize new areas.

Notes on Natural Enemies

Calilung and Lit (1986) reported studies on a broad range of insect fauna associated with Azolla in the Philippines, with several species causing frond damage to several Azolla species. It was suggested that herbivory prevented Azolla species from becoming weeds in rice paddies.

Dath and Singh (1998) reported that A. pinnata was very susceptible to the fungus Rhizoctonia solani [Thanatephorus cucumeris], and Shahjahan et al. (1980) reported inhibition of growth of A. pinnata by Sclerotium rolfsii [Corticium rolfsii] and Rhizoctonia sp. These fungal pathogens are opportunists and also attack a range of crop plants. Fannah (1987) reported a completed life cycle of Elophila africalis on A. pinnata in Sierra Leone which was followed up by Roberts et al. (1998).

Sands and Kassulke (1986) reported oviposition by females of Paulinia acuminata after feeding on A. pinnata. However, P. acuminata was introduced into Africa, India and Fiji for the control of Salvinia molesta but is not host specific and did not contribute significantly to control (Julien and Griffiths, 1998). Therefore, it is unlikely that it is an important constraint on A. pinnata.

The frond-feeding weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus was imported into quarantine for testing as a potential natural enemy for the A. filiculoides in South Africa (Hill, 1998). Both the adults and larvae severely reduced A. filiculoides in the laboratory.

Of 31 plant species in 19 families tested, adult feeding, oviposition and larval development were only recorded on the Azolla species (A. filiculoides, A. pinnata subsp. poss. asiatica, A. pinnata subsp. africana and A. nilotica). A. filiculoides was the most suitable host for the weevil. Low adult emergence from A. nilotica and A. pinnata subsp. africana would probably prevent the weevil from establishing on them in the field. A. pinnata subsp. poss. asiatica supported greater development. Impact

The presence of A. pinnata on the US federal Noxious Weeds List implies there is a risk of significant economic impact from this species. There are no data on actual costs to activities restricted by the presence of this species, although it will interfere with navigation, boating, irrigation, recreation, angling and bathing, and there will be costs associated with control.

References

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