Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Clidemia hirta
(Koster's curse)

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Datasheet

Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Clidemia hirta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Koster's curse
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. hirta is a small shrub producing vast amounts of seeds that produce a large seed bank. Although the plant can grow in relatively shaded conditions, sexual reproduction only occurs in more favourable light regimes such as tree fall gaps...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit, and leaves. Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. July, 2011.
TitleHabit on trail
CaptionClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit, and leaves. Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. July, 2011.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit, and leaves. Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. July, 2011.
Habit on trailClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit, and leaves. Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui. July, 2011.©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, showing leaves. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
TitleHabit, showing leaves
CaptionClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, showing leaves. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, showing leaves. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
Habit, showing leavesClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, showing leaves. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit and leaves. West Poelua West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2009.
TitleFlowers, fruit and leaves
CaptionClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit and leaves. West Poelua West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit and leaves. West Poelua West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2009.
Flowers, fruit and leavesClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); flowers, fruit and leaves. West Poelua West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. May, 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr-2009 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); fruit and leaves. Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, USA. July, 2012.
TitleFruit and leaves
CaptionClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); fruit and leaves. Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, USA. July, 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); fruit and leaves. Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, USA. July, 2012.
Fruit and leavesClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); fruit and leaves. Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, USA. July, 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr-2012 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, note tall stems on left. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
TitleHabit
CaptionClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, note tall stems on left. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, note tall stems on left. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.
HabitClidemia hirta (Koster's curse); habit, note tall stems on left. Makamakaole, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2011.©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 3.0
Clidemia hirta (Kostner's curse); opposite leaves (up to 15 cm long x 8 cm wide) have prominent veins and are dark green. Most plant parts, including stems, leaves and calyx, are hairy. Several small white or pink flowers are borne on axillary or terminal cymes.
TitleLeaf and flower
CaptionClidemia hirta (Kostner's curse); opposite leaves (up to 15 cm long x 8 cm wide) have prominent veins and are dark green. Most plant parts, including stems, leaves and calyx, are hairy. Several small white or pink flowers are borne on axillary or terminal cymes.
Copyright©Colin Wilson
Clidemia hirta (Kostner's curse); opposite leaves (up to 15 cm long x 8 cm wide) have prominent veins and are dark green. Most plant parts, including stems, leaves and calyx, are hairy. Several small white or pink flowers are borne on axillary or terminal cymes.
Leaf and flowerClidemia hirta (Kostner's curse); opposite leaves (up to 15 cm long x 8 cm wide) have prominent veins and are dark green. Most plant parts, including stems, leaves and calyx, are hairy. Several small white or pink flowers are borne on axillary or terminal cymes. ©Colin Wilson

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Clidemia hirta (L.) D. Don

Preferred Common Name

  • Koster's curse

Other Scientific Names

  • Clidemia benthamiana Miq.
  • Clidemia elegans (Aublet) D. Don
  • Maieta hirta (L.) M. Gomez
  • Melastoma elegans Aublet
  • Melastoma hirtum L.
  • Staphidium benthamianum Naudin
  • Staphidium elegans (Aubl.) Naudin

International Common Names

  • English: curse; hairy clidemia; soap bush; soapbush
  • Spanish: camasey; camasey peludo; cordoban; nigua; sietecueros
  • French: canot-macaque; herbe-côtelletes; herbecrécré; Mélastome élégant; Mélastome poilu
  • Portuguese: caiuia; pixirica

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: caiuia
  • Cuba: cordobán; cordobán peludo
  • Dominican Republic: friega platos; pega-pollo
  • Fiji: bona na bulamakau; kaurasinga; kauresinga; Koster's curse; mara na bulumakau; mbona na mbulamakau; ndraunisinga; roinisinga; vuti
  • Germany: Hirten-Schwarzmundgewaechs
  • Haiti: guéri vite; jau-jau
  • Lesser Antilles: bon bon mél; bonbon bleu; kak mél
  • Madagascar: manzana; mazambôdy
  • Martinique: bonbon bleu; herbe à cré cré
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: riahpen rot (Pohnpei)
  • Palau: kui
  • Samoa: la'au lau mamoe
  • Singapore: hairy Clidemia

EPPO code

  • CXAHI (Clidemia hirta)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. hirta is a small shrub producing vast amounts of seeds that produce a large seed bank. Although the plant can grow in relatively shaded conditions, sexual reproduction only occurs in more favourable light regimes such as tree fall gaps. Formerly, it was only considered as a pasture or crop weed but in recent decades it has become a major weed of natural forest communities. It may produce large quantities of seedlings with low mortality and is now viewed as a threat to native biodiversity in much of the tropics, but on the oceanic islands in particular.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Melastomataceae
  •                             Genus: Clidemia
  •                                 Species: Clidemia hirta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Varieties of C. hirta have been described, with var. hirta and var. elegans introduced to Hawaii and the Seychelles, respectively.

Description

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C. hirta forms a densely-branched perennial shrub up to 5 m tall but normally between 0.5 and 3 m. In windy areas, it is scrambling and is less than 1 m tall. The opposite leaves (up to 15 cm long and 8 cm wide) have prominent veins and are dark green. Most plant parts, including stems, leaves and calyx, are hairy. The flowers, 0.5-1 cm across, have white or pink petals and are borne on short pedicels in axillary or terminal cymes of 6-20 flowers. The fruits (berries) are borne in clusters and turn from green to blue-black or deep purple as they mature. Fresh fruits in Puerto Rico weighed about 0.2 g each and 1000 air-dried seeds weighed 3.83 g (Mune and Parham, 1967; Wickens, 1975; Francis, 2004).

Plant Type

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Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Woody

Distribution

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C. hirta originated in Central and South America, where it is still widely distributed. It is also native to the Caribbean islands (Wester and Wood, 1977). However, limits to the native range remain unclear, with USDA-ARS (2007) noting nativity from Mexico to Paraguay, though not including a number of countries such as El Salvador, Argentina and Brazil where it is clearly native (e.g. Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007). It is now found in a large number of tropical countries and particularly oceanic islands, and it is likely to be under-recorded.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

ComorosPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
KenyaPresentIntroducedInvasive
MadagascarPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1914Invasive
MauritiusPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive
-RodriguesPresentIntroducedInvasive
MayottePresentIntroducedInvasive
RéunionPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive
Saint HelenaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AscensionPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive
SeychellesPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
TanzaniaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive

Asia

BruneiPresentIntroducedInvasive
IndiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-AssamPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Himachal PradeshPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Jammu and KashmirPresentIntroducedInvasive
-ManipurPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MeghalayaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-MizoramPresentIntroducedInvasive
-NagalandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-SikkimPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedInvasive
-TripuraPresentIntroducedInvasive
-UttarakhandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-West BengalPresentIntroducedInvasive
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedInvasive
JapanPresentIntroducedInvasive
MalaysiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-SabahPresentIntroduced
SingaporePresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive
Sri LankaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
TaiwanPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveOriginal citation: Yang Sheng Zehn, 2001
ThailandPresentIntroducedInvasive
VietnamPresentIntroduced

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNative
BelizePresentNative
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeTortola
Costa RicaPresentNative
CubaPresentNative
DominicaPresentNative
Dominican RepublicPresentNative
El SalvadorPresentNative
GrenadaPresentNative
GuadeloupePresentNative
GuatemalaPresentNative
HaitiPresentNative
HondurasPresentNative
JamaicaPresent, WidespreadNative
MartiniquePresentNative
MexicoPresentNative
NicaraguaPresentNative
PanamaPresentNative
Puerto RicoPresent, WidespreadNative
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNative
Saint LuciaPresentNative
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNative
Trinidad and TobagoPresent, WidespreadNative
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentNativeSt. Thomas
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized; highly invasive in the mountain rainforests

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Northern TerritoryPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveSubject to eradication
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedInvasivePohnpei
FijiPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized; highly invasive in the mountain rainforests
GuamPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedInvasive
SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized; highly invasive in the mountain rainforests
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasive
TongaPresentIntroduced
VanuatuPresentIntroducedInvasive
Wallis and FutunaPresentIntroducedInvasiveNaturalized; highly invasive in the mountain rainforests

South America

ArgentinaPresentNative
BoliviaPresentNative
BrazilPresentNative
-AcrePresentNative
-AlagoasPresentNative
-AmapaPresentNative
-AmazonasPresent, WidespreadNative
-BahiaPresentNative
-CearaPresentNative
-Espirito SantoPresentNative
-GoiasPresentNative
-MaranhaoPresentNative
-Mato GrossoPresentNative
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeOriginal citation: Geneva Herbarium
-Minas GeraisPresentNative
-ParaPresentNative
-ParaibaPresentNative
-ParanaPresentNative
-PernambucoPresentNative
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNative
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNative
-RondoniaPresentNative
-RoraimaPresentNative
-Santa CatarinaPresentNative
-Sao PauloPresentNative
-SergipePresentNative
ColombiaPresentNative
EcuadorPresentNative
French GuianaPresentNative
GuyanaPresentNative
ParaguayPresentNative
PeruPresentNative
SurinamePresentNative
VenezuelaPresentNative

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. hirta is a serious weed on many tropical oceanic islands, and in South-East Asia, India and East Africa. The date of introduction to the Hawaiian Islands is unknown, but it was first recorded in 1941. It was grown in the Wahiawa Botanic Garden and was thought to be “very promising because it won't be spread by birds”. It was first noted as escaping in 1949 on the island of O'ahu and by 1952 covered at least 100 hectares. By the late 1990s it had invaded all suitable habitats covering over 100,000 hectares. In the 1970s and 1980s it was accidentally introduced to five other Hawaiian islands (Smith, 1992). On Fiji, C. hirta was probably accidentally introduced prior to 1890 with coffee plants imported from Guyana, and it became a pest by 1920 (Mune and Parham, 1967). Only 4 years elapsed between the first record of C. hirta in the Seychelles and the realisation that the species could not be controlled by conventional methods (Gerlach, 1993). In Madagascar, it was a non-intentional introduction in 1914 as a seed contaminant (Binggeli, 2003). The first records for India, in Tamil Nadu were noted in 2000 (Manickam et al., 2000), in Taiwan, China in 2001 (Yang, 2001), and in 2001 it was reported that C. hirta had been discovered in Australia for the first time (Queensland Government, 2013). Further spread is thus expected, especially to other humid tropical areas especially in Asia and Africa where invasion would also be likely.

Risk of Introduction

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C. hirta is a declared noxious weed in Hawaii, USA, Fiji and Australia. It is also not yet present in many countries and islands with suitable climates, thus the risks for further accidental introduction remain high.

Habitat

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Most tropical island forest areas appear to be susceptible to C. hirta invasion regardless of their floristic composition, as long as some form of disturbance affects them. In Hawaii, all new instances of C. hirta occur in disturbed areas such as roadsides and following disturbance by storms, pigs, landslides and fire. In the East Usambaras (Tanzania) the shrub is found not only along roadsides but also in many parts of the undisturbed montane forest (Binggeli, 2003). Natural forest gaps are also prone to invasion; however, long-term studies of succession are required. In Australia, C. hirta prefers humid tropical lowlands and may invade both disturbed and undisturbed habitats. It is a weed of pastures, open grasslands, plantations, roadsides, open woodlands, waterways, riparian vegetation, forest margins and rainforests in the Northern Territory, north-eastern Queensland and the coast to northern New South Wales (Queensland Government, 2013). 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeMain
    Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeMain
      pasturesOther
        Theobroma cacao (cocoa)MalvaceaeMain

          Biology and Ecology

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          Genetics

          A small study of genetic variation within and between invasive exotic populations in Hawaii and native populations in Costa Rica found that variation was low throughout, also concluding that genetic variation was unrelated to invasiveness in C. hirta (DeWalt and Hamrick, 2004). Some variation in shade tolerance, however, cannot be excluded (Binggeli, 2003), though this was not confirmed in studies by DeWalt et al. (2004), who found that genetic shifts in resource use, resource allocation, or plasticity do not contribute to differences in habitat distribution and abundance between the native and introduced ranges of C. hirta. The chromosome number reported for C. hirta is n = 17 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2007).

          Physiology and Phenology

          In Hawaii, flowering and fruiting occurs all year round where there is no dry season and rainfall exceeds 2500 mm per year. In Brazil, the plant flowers throughout the year (Melo et al., 1999). In Mexico and Central America, flowering and fruiting may occur throughout the year (DeWalt et al. 2004). However, flowing and fruiting is periodic with annual rainfall down to 1000 mm.

          Reproductive Biology

          A mature plant can produce over 500 blue-black berries (6-9 mm long) per year, each containing over 100 seeds (0.5-0.75 mm long). Seeds form a very large seed bank where they remain viable for up to 4 years. In Hawaii, long-distance dispersal is carried out by human means, such as shoes and vehicle wheels, and seeds are locally disseminated by birds and feral pigs which can also carry seeds in their fur. In the Mascarene it is dispersed by the introduced bird Pycnonotus jocosus (Clergeau and Mandon-Dalger, 2001).

          C. hirta is visited by Augochloropsis sp. of bee and pollinated by the bees Bombus transversalis, Euglossa sp., Melipona fulva, Trigona sp. and three genera of halictids (Ferreira et al., 1994; Melo et al., 1999). The plant is agamospermous and exhibits a high level of male sterility, as indicated by its low pollen viability (Melo et al., 1999), and Ferreira et al. (1994) have stated that it is preferentially allogamous, but shows no genetic autoincompatibility.

          In Malaysia's Pasoh Forest Reserve a demographic survey by Peters (2001) located 1002 C. hirta individuals, 69 of which were reproductive at the time of the study, and all but eight individuals were situated in high light gaps or gap edges; see also Teo et al. (2003). There was no mortality over 2 months. Observations supported the view that establishment is largely assisted by light availability and disturbance by wild pigs.

          C. hirta has a large seed bank but these seeds germinate better under partial shade than full light. Up to over 6000 germinants per m² of forest soil was obtained in trials and this figure was much greater than for any of the native species (Singhakumara et al., 2000). Similarly, in the submontane forest of the East Usambaras, Tanzania, C. hirta is the commonest germinant in the soil seed bank of the natural forest but is rare in Maesopsis eminii plantations where the species dominates the shrub layer (Binggeli et al., 1989). In undisturbed forest, the seedlings are common and in disturbed stands they can constitute up to 80% of the shrub layer (Pocs, 1989). Seedling densities can be extremely high, Ashton et al. (2001) in Sri Lanka reported 350/m² beneath a 20-year-old Pinus caribaea plantation and 500/m² on fernland after clearance and soil scarification.

          Environmental Requirements

          In the native range, C. hirta has broad climatic requirements ranging from dry to wet tropics. Similarly, in the naturalized range C. hirta tolerates widely differing tropical climatic conditions including a wide range of rainfall <1000 to >2500 mm). On the Seychelles the shrub is absent from drier areas. In areas where a dry season occurs flowering ceases. C. hirta is resistant to droughts lasting up to 6 months, although some shoot tips die back during the dry season. In Jamaica its altitudinal distribution ranges between 30 and 1200 m. In the Comoros it is more commonly found between 600 and 1200 m (Roby and Dossar, 2000). It does not appear to tolerate salt spray.

          Although the plant thrives in full sunlight, it is also shade tolerant and is found in low densities in open forested areas, forest plantations and roadsides. Most tropical island forest areas appear to be susceptible to C. hirta invasion regardless of their floristic composition, as long as some form of disturbance affects them. In Hawaii all new instances of C. hirta occur in disturbed areas such as roadsides and landslides and following disturbance by windstorm, pigs, landslides and fire. If seeds are present they germinate rapidly and within 2 years the disturbed area can become smothered. However, on the steep slopes of the Seychelles enough light reaches the ground for C. hirta regeneration to take place without forest canopy disturbance (Gerlach, 1993). In many parts of the invaded range the species regenerates readily in treefall gaps (Ashton et al., 2001) but in Tanzania it becomes established without canopy disturbance (Binggeli, 2003).

          Associations

          In the West Indies, C. hirta is an early colonizer of open areas, including slash-and-burn agricultural grounds, where it becomes dominant 12 months after disturbance, before being smothered by vines. Myster (2003) reported that in Puerto Rico on an abandoned pasture it was still increasing in cover and dominating after 5 years after abandonment. It is also subject to strong competition from other Melastomataceae. However, in parts of the Seychelles, numbers of exotic C. hirta were found to be in decline 10 years after invasion, assumed to be due to competition from well-adapted native shrubs (Gerlach, 2004).

          Climate

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          ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
          A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
          Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
          Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
          As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
          Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
          C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

          Rainfall

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          ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
          Mean annual rainfall10004000mm; lower/upper limits

          Rainfall Regime

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          Bimodal
          Uniform

          Soil Tolerances

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          Soil drainage

          • free

          Soil reaction

          • acid
          • neutral
          • very acid

          Soil texture

          • heavy
          • medium

          Natural enemies

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          Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
          Ategumia ebulealis Herbivore Leaves
          Colletotrichum gloeosporioides f.sp. clidemiae Pathogen
          Colletotrichum gloesporioides f.sp. clidemiae Herbivore Leaves/Stems
          Liothrips urichi Herbivore Leaves Hawaii
          Lius poseidon Herbivore Stems

          Notes on Natural Enemies

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          In the New World all plants show signs of heavy herbivory, whereas in its naturalized range it appears to be only affected by insects introduced as biocontrol agents. Biological control, using the thrip Liothrips urichi, was initiated in Fiji in the early 1930s and two decades later in Hawaii (Mune and Parham, 1967; Wester and Wood, 1977). L. urichi seriously affects the growth of C. hirta in open sunny areas whereas in shaded areas (forest or frequent cloud cover) it is not effective. The thrips failed to establish following their introduction to the Solomon Islands (Julien, 1987). Over the past four decades extensive searches of biological control agents have been made to control C. hirta in Hawaiian forests (Nakahara et al., 1992). A pyralid moth, Blepharomastix ebulealis [Ategumia ebulealis], released in 1970 has been heavily parasitized and has been ineffective in controlling C. hirta. Several of 14 species of insects, recently evaluated in Trinidad, can be considered for introduction into Hawaii and the release of four pathogens is envisaged. A leaf spot fungus, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides f. sp. clidemiae, introduced from Panama to Hawaii for host-range studies, shows promise as a biocontrol agent.

          Means of Movement and Dispersal

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          C. hirta may be transported over long distances in soil or as a seed contaminant (Binggeli, 2003).

          The primary means of inter-island transfer in the Pacific is believed to be as seeds in mud stuck to boots, and people, including walkers and hunters, are thought to be at least partially responsible for local dispersal on Hawaii and elsewhere.

          Animals, particularly frugivorous birds, are considered an important means of seed dispersal, also as birds will remove the fleshy parts of the fruit and increase seed germination (Mandon-Dalger et al., 2004). In Reunion, sites with year-round fruiting species such as C. hirta were found to maintain higher levels of bird populations that other sites, increasing dispersal opportunities (Mandon-Dalger et al., 2004).

          Pathway Causes

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          CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
          Digestion and excretionMainly birds Yes Mandon-Dalger et al., 2004
          DisturbanceLandslides etc. Yes Peters, 2001
          People foragingMud on footware Yes Peters, 2001

          Pathway Vectors

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          VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
          Clothing, footwear and possessionsIn mud on boots Yes Yes Peters, 2001
          Plants or parts of plantsWith coffee plants for planting in one case and as a seed contaminant in another Yes Binggeli, 2003; Mune and Parham, 1967
          Soil, sand and gravel Yes Yes Binggeli, 2003

          Impact Summary

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          CategoryImpact
          Animal/plant collections None
          Animal/plant products None
          Biodiversity (generally) Negative
          Crop production Negative
          Economic/livelihood Negative
          Environment (generally) Negative
          Fisheries / aquaculture None
          Forestry production None
          Human health None
          Livestock production Negative
          Native fauna None
          Native flora Negative
          Rare/protected species Negative
          Tourism Negative
          Trade/international relations None
          Transport/travel None

          Economic Impact

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          C. hirta is common in the New World. It is found in cocoa plantations but is not considered to be a serious pest. In Fiji, prior to its control, C. hirta rendered large areas of grazing land useless and interfered with the development of plantations such as rubber and cocoa. The plant has no fodder value and no known uses. Hydrolysable tannins of C. hirta leaves are toxic to goat’s livers and kidneys and cause gastroenteritis (Murdiati et al., 1990). When fed the plant, goats suffer toxicity from hydrolysable tannin (Francis, 2004).

          Environmental Impact

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          Under heavy infestations of C. hirta most plants, including most mosses and liverworts normally found in shaded habitats and subcanopy species, are displaced. In disturbed stands of Tanzanian forests it is reported as suppressing all native ground plants (Pocs, 1989).

          C. hirta has already caused significant environmental damage in the montane rainforests and cloud forests of Samoa, Fiji and the Hawaiian Islands. In Hawaii it is replacing the endemic species that formerly dominated native forests and it is threatens their extinction. The impact of C. hirta on native species and ecosystems is devastating and the rate at which it has spread throughout the Hawaiian Islands is alarming. C. hirta also outcompetes native plants in gaps in undisturbed forests and is altering the regeneration of native forests in Hawaii, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion Islands. 

          Threatened Species

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          Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
          Abutilon sandwicense (greenflower Indian mallow)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Cyrtandra subumbellataNatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Delissea subcordata (oha)EX (IUCN red list: Extinct); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Drosophila aglaiaUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila hemipezaUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila heteroneuraUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila montgomeryiUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila musaphiliaUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila substenopteraUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Drosophila substenopteraUSA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alterationNatureServe, 2010
          Festuca molokaiensisNatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013
          Lobelia oahuensis (Oahu lobelia)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Peristylus holochila (Hawai'i bog orchid)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009a
          Peucedanum sandwicense (makou)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011b
          Phyllostegia hirsuta (Molokai phyllostegia)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008c
          Phyllostegia hispida (hispid phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011a
          Phyllostegia kaalaensis (Kaala phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Phyllostegia mollis (Waianae Range phyllostegia)USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009d
          Phyllostegia parviflora (smallflower phyllostegia)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008d
          Phyllostegia renovans (red-leaf phyllostegia)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
          Platydesma rostrataCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - shadingUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
          Pritchardia napaliensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
          Psychotria grandiflora (large-flowered balsamo)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
          Pteralyxia kauaiensis (Kauai pteralyxia)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
          Sanicula purpurea (purpleflower blacksnakeroot)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011c
          Schiedea apokremnos (Kauai schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010d
          Schiedea hookeri (sprawling schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011d
          Schiedea kaalae (Oahu schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Schiedea kauaiensis (Kauai schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008a
          Schiedea nuttalliiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1999; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009e
          Pteris lidgatei (Lidgate's brake)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009b
          Solanum sandwicenseNational list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009f
          Stenogyne kanehoana (Oahu stenogyne)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998b
          Trematolobelia singularis (lavaslope false lobelia)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009c
          Urera kaalaeCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Pest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011e
          Viola helenae (Wahiawa stream violet)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiEcosystem change / habitat alteration; Pest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008b
          Pritchardia viscosa (stickybud pritchardia)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998a

          Social Impact

          Top of page

          In Hawaii, C. hirta is despised because of its dense growth. By spreading along trails and roadsides it increases maintenance costs as well as reducing the aesthetic, educational and recreational value of forest lands.

          Risk and Impact Factors

          Top of page
          Invasiveness
          • Proved invasive outside its native range
          • Has a broad native range
          • Pioneering in disturbed areas
          • Tolerant of shade
          • Highly mobile locally
          • Fast growing
          • Has high reproductive potential
          • Reproduces asexually
          Impact outcomes
          • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
          • Modification of successional patterns
          • Monoculture formation
          • Negatively impacts agriculture
          • Negatively impacts forestry
          • Reduced native biodiversity
          • Threat to/ loss of native species
          Impact mechanisms
          • Competition - monopolizing resources
          • Competition - shading
          • Competition - smothering
          • Competition - strangling
          • Competition (unspecified)
          • Pest and disease transmission
          • Interaction with other invasive species
          • Rapid growth
          • Rooting
          Likelihood of entry/control
          • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
          • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
          • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
          • Difficult/costly to control

          Uses

          Top of page

          The fruits are edible but insipid (Anon., 2004). C. hirta is used in Brazil to treat Leishmania braziliensis skin infections (Franca et al., 1996). Otherwise, there are no uses for this plant.

          Uses List

          Top of page

          Medicinal, pharmaceutical

          • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

          Detection and Inspection

          Top of page

          Although C. hirta is rarely recorded until it forms monotypic stands, the more recent Hawaiian introductions suggest that it starts to spread as soon as it is introduced to new suitable habitats subjected to regular disturbance. The only hope of controlling an invading population of C. hirta is to identify the problem at a very early stage and eradicate all potential seed sources prior to the first fruit set.

          Prevention and Control

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          Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

          Control

          Although C. hirta is rarely recorded until it forms monotypic stands, the more recent Hawaiian introductions suggest that it starts to spread as soon as it is introduced to new suitable habitats subjected to regular disturbance. The only hope of controlling an invading population of C. hirta is to identify the problem at a very early stage and eradicate all potential seed sources prior to the first fruit set. However, repeated efforts to control seedlings in expanding Hawaiian populations have failed. This is the result of a large seed bank and the rooting ability of detached leaves in forested areas (Smith, 1992).

          Mechanical control

          Hand pulling of seedlings and digging up mature plants, inclusive of roots, is possible. On arable land, traditional cultivation methods prevent the establishment of C. hirta.

          Cultural control

          Controlling feral pig populations (Sus scrofa) has been widely suggested as an effective means to reduce the spread of C. hirta, as ground disturbance by these exotic mammals is strongly linked to the successful establishment of C. hirta, as well as a number of other invasive plants such as Morella faya. Although sheep have been shown to control most weeds in plantations, they will not eat C. hirta (Francis, 2004).

          Biological control

          Biological control using the thrip Liothrips urichi was initiated in Fiji in the early 1930s and two decades later in Hawaii (Mune and Parham, 1967; Wester and Wood, 1977). L. urichi seriously affects the growth of C. hirta in open, sunny areas, whereas in shaded areas (forest or frequent cloud cover) it is not effective. The thrips failed to establish following their introduction to the Solomon Islands (Julien, 1987). Over the past four decades extensive searches of biological control agents have been made to control C. hirta in Hawaiian forests (Nakahara et al., 1992). A pyralid moth, Blepharomastix ebulealis [Ategumia ebulealis], released in 1970 has been heavily parasitized and has been ineffective in controlling C. hirta. Several of 14 species of insects, recently evaluated in Trinidad, can be considered for introduction into Hawaii and the release of four pathogens is envisaged. A leaf spot fungus, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides f.sp. clidemiae, introduced from Panama to Hawaii for range studies shows promise as a biocontrol agent. The introduction of effective biological control agents into Hawaii must be considered with care. The potential sudden death of large monotypic stands of C. hirta, found on steep mountain sides, could result in either severe soil erosion or the establishment of other invasive species such as Psidium cattleianum (Smith, 1992).

          Chemical control

          According to Mune and Parham (1967), no effective chemical control for C. hirta exists. However, Teoh et al. (1982) reports that C. hirta may be killed by applications of triclopyr. Norman and Trujillo (1995) have found that a mycoherbicide containing Colletotrichum gloeosporioides f.sp. clidemiae as the active ingredient was effective against C. hirta.

          References

          Top of page

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          Links to Websites

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          WebsiteURLComment
          GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
          Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

          Contributors

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          27/06/14 Updated by:

          Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

          Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

          16/11/2007 Updated by:

          Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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