Widespread. Africa, Asia, North (Hawaii), South and Central America, Caribbean, Europe, Oceania. In most Pacific islands
Invasive, large amounts of seeds, easily spread, drought tolerant, ability to displace local vegetation, forming dense thickets at forest margins, waterways, plantation crops, roadsides, pastures, disturbed sites and waste areas.
Small shrub/tree, up to 4 m. Young stems, green/purplish, soft, with small star-shaped hairs, and spines; later, brown/greenish-brown lacking hairs. Leaves, up to 25 cm long, deeply lobed when young, roughly oval when old, with spines. Flowers, star-shaped, five white petals, in clusters of 15-100 at the end of stems. Fruits (berries) with few to many flat, woody, often reddish seeds.
Spread: seeds by birds and bats; water; soil, trash; seed traded on internet, contamination of traded plants.
Biosecurity: high risk of introduction, showy flowers, used as root stock. Available on internet.
Biocontrol: a chrysomelid beetle in Caribbean but confirmation of suitability needed.
Cultural control: dig out (gloves!), removing crown; plough, check for regrowth.
Chemical control: in Australia: picloram + 2,4-D (cut back and spray regrowth). In PNG: 2,4-D in diesoline (petrol with addition of 15% diesel) to treat stumps. Cut 10-15 cm above ground level. In Fiji, glyphosate.