Developmental patterns of the invasive bramble (Rubus alceifolius Poiret, Rosaceae) in Réunion Island: an architectural and morphometric analysis.
The aim of this study was to identify the developmental stages of Rubus alceifolius and to determine one or more characteristic morphological markers for each stage. The developmental reconstitution method used involved a detailed description of many individuals throughout the different stages of growth, from germination to the development of an adult shoot capable of fruiting. Results revealed that R. alceifolius passes through five developmental stages that can be distinguished by changes in several morphological markers such as internode length and diameter, pith diameter and plant shape. This analysis indicated that R. alceifolius has a heteroblastic developmental pattern, midway between that of a bush and a liana. Moreover, results showed that this species taps environmental resources early in its development, i.e. foliarization is high (the foliar component overrides the caulinary component) and an autotrophic stage is rapidly reached, whereas it 'explores' the environment during the adult stage, i.e. axialization is substantial (the caulinary component overrides the foliar component) and autotrophy occurs at a later stage. The morphological markers identified could benefit land-use managers attempting to control this species before it reaches its optimum developmental stage.