Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Foliar lifespan, phenology and seasonal dynamics of the invasive shrub Schinus terebinthifolia.

Abstract

Schinus terebinthifolia is a dioecious tree native to South America that has become an invasive weed in Florida, southern California, southern Arizona, Texas and Hawaii and has been naturalised in over 20 countries. Biological control is considered a viable long-term control option for S. terebinthifolia because release from natural enemies appears to be at least partly responsible for its success in Florida. We examined leaf phenology of S. terebinthifolia over a period of 15 months at five sites in central and southern Florida to provide information that may help in predicting the impacts of potential biocontrol agents for this weed. We documented leaf lifespan, the seasonality of leaf development and abscission and the survivorship of leaves that emerged during either spring, summer or autumn. Average leaf lifespan was >4.5 months at all sites, and leaf phenology followed the seasons closely. Although S. terebinthifolia possesses leaves throughout the year, leaf production was greatest from April to September, and most leaves were abscised in February and March. Spring- and summer-emerging leaves were also longer-lived than leaves produced during autumn. These results suggest that leaves of S. terebinthifolia would be most vulnerable to herbivory during the spring and summer months when newly growing leaf tissue is most plentiful. Biocontrol agents capable of damaging these tissues during spring/summer might be an effective means of controlling this invasive weed.