Moraea (Cape tulip)
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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Moraea Mill.
Preferred Common Name
- Cape tulip
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Moraea is a genus consisting of 32 species of corm-bearing perennial herbs. The plant poisons livestock and/or humans, can reproduce and persist in prolific fashion, crowd out desirable plants and compete with them for soil nutrients, and reduce the carrying capacity of pastures and crop yields. Cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys are the most likely stock species to suffer poisoning under natural conditions. The glycoside causes appetite loss, weakness, depression, blindness, dysentery, scouring, stiffness or paralysis of the hind legs, and death (Strydom and Joubert, 1983). In South Africa, where the plant is native, the effects of Cape tulip on livestock result in significant economic losses, $2.5-3 million per year, from direct deaths or debilitation.
Moraea spp. was regulated on the US Federal Noxious weed list and seed list under the genus name Homeria (later corrected) from 2000. Only the species M. collina, M. miniata, M. flaccida, M. ochroleuca, and M. pallida are included in the current regulation. More detailed information is provided in datasheets of some Moraea species.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Liliales
- Family: Iridaceae
- Genus: Moraea
DescriptionTop of page
Cape tulip grows up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) tall and has alternate, simple, sheathing leaves that grow up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) long. Flowers are pink, yellow, or orange and have 3 petals, ranging from 13 to 25 millimeters (0.5-1 inch) in length. Flowers bloom between July and November, and the fruit is a dehiscent, non-fleshy capsule. Some spp. do not product viable seed. Instead, it spreads by distribution of cormels with are produced in each leaf axil and around developing corms. These cormels can persist for up to 8 years and are generally tolerant to fire. Physical removal of this plant tends to just aid dispersal. All parts of this plant are toxic to livestock.
Plant TypeTop of page Herbaceous
DistributionTop of page
The three major species in South Africa, M. miniata, M. flaccida, and M. pallida infest overgrazed pastures, vineyards, plowed fields, and disturbed roadsides. Species of Moraea can be found in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. There is some indication of possible horticultural sales in the United States, but there is no confirmed distribution in the United States. These species with M. collina, and M. ochroleuca have a high overall pest risk potential, combining high consequences of introduction and spread plus high likelihood of introduction.
Distribution TableTop of page
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: 10 Jan 2020
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Principal habitat|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat|
|Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat|
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Has high reproductive potential
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts human health
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Uses ListTop of page
BibliographyTop of page
Descriptions by the Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Environment and Conservation. Text used with permission (http://florabase.dec.wa.gov.au/help/copyright). Accessed on Saturday, 30 January 2010.
Scher, Julia. Homeria spp. Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules of the U.S. Accessed 17 June 2009. http://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/FNW/FNW%20seeds/html/fact%20sheets/Homeria.htm
ReferencesTop of page
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Principal SourceTop of page
US Federal Noxious Weed List (draft fact sheet 2011)
Distribution MapsTop of page
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