Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Antigonon leptopus
(coral vine)

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Datasheet

Antigonon leptopus (coral vine)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 26 October 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Antigonon leptopus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coral vine
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. leptopus is a perennial vine, cultivated as an ornamental for its showy flowers, but which when neglected can grow quickly over other vegetation, spreading beyond its area of introduction. As an invasive vin...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), overgrowing native vegetation in a Puerto Rican forest
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionAntigonon leptopus (coral vine), overgrowing native vegetation in a Puerto Rican forest
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), overgrowing native vegetation in a Puerto Rican forest
Invasive habitAntigonon leptopus (coral vine), overgrowing native vegetation in a Puerto Rican forest©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers and habit of Antigonon leptpus, coral vine
TitleFlowers and habit
CaptionFlowers and habit of Antigonon leptpus, coral vine
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers and habit of Antigonon leptpus, coral vine
Flowers and habitFlowers and habit of Antigonon leptpus, coral vine©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers of Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), plants growing in Puerto Rico
TitleFlowers
CaptionFlowers of Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), plants growing in Puerto Rico
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers of Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), plants growing in Puerto Rico
FlowersFlowers of Antigonon leptopus (coral vine), plants growing in Puerto Rico©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers of Antigonon leptopus.
TitleFlowers
CaptionFlowers of Antigonon leptopus.
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flowers of Antigonon leptopus.
FlowersFlowers of Antigonon leptopus.©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flower details (stigma and anthers) of Antigonon leptopus in Puerto Rico.
TitleFlower details
CaptionFlower details (stigma and anthers) of Antigonon leptopus in Puerto Rico.
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo
Flower details (stigma and anthers) of Antigonon leptopus in Puerto Rico.
Flower detailsFlower details (stigma and anthers) of Antigonon leptopus in Puerto Rico.©Smithsonian Institution/P. Acevedo

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Antigonon leptopus Hook. & Arn., 1838

Preferred Common Name

  • coral vine

Other Scientific Names

  • Antigonon cinerascens M.Martens & Galeott
  • Antigonon cordatum M.Martens & Galeotti
  • Antigonon platypus Hook. & Arn.
  • Corculum leptopus (Hook. & Arn.) Stuntz
  • Polygonum cirrhosum Moc. & Sessé ex Meisn.

International Common Names

  • English: bride's tears; chain-of-love; coralita; hearts on a chain; love-vine; Mexican creeper; Mexican love-vine; mountain rose; queen's jewels
  • Spanish: bellísima; cadena de amor; coral; coralilla; coralillo; coralillo rosado; coralita; pensamiento
  • French: antigone; antigone à pied grêle; liane antigone; liane corail

Local Common Names

  • Australia: coral creeper
  • Bahamas: corallina
  • Brazil: amor agarradinho
  • Dominican Republic: bellacima; bellacina; carolina; copalina; guirnalda; guirnalda americana
  • Haiti: belle mexicaine; pois-et-riz
  • Lesser Antilles: bee bush; cemetery vine; cercle barril; la belle mexicana; lyann barril; zeb semitye
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: love vine; rohsenpoak suwed
  • Palau: dilngau
  • Puerto Rico: bellosinia; coral; coralina
  • Tonga: ufi
  • United States Virgin Islands: love chain

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. leptopus is a perennial vine, cultivated as an ornamental for its showy flowers, but which when neglected can grow quickly over other vegetation, spreading beyond its area of introduction. As an invasive vine, it is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and classified as one of the most aggressive weeds occurring in tropical and insular ecosystems (Langeland et al., 2008; Burke and DiTommaso, 2011; PIER, 2012).

This species has the capability to reproduce sexually by seeds and vegetatively by stems and underground tubers (USDA-NRCS, 2011). This dual reproductive behaviour aids its survival as a successful weed (Raju et al., 2001). A. leptopus has the potential to modify and collapse native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures and altering ecological functions. Wherever A. leptopus invades, it completely smothers native trees, out-competes understory plants, and alters fire regimes (i.e., leaves dry and fall during the dry season providing fuel for wildfires) (Langeland et al., 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2011). Currently, A. leptopus is classified as a “weed” in the United States (USDA-NRCS, 2012), as a pest in Australia (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011), and as an invasive species in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Cuba, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Lesser Antilles, and numerous islands in the Pacific including Hawaii, Guam, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Guinea, and Solomon Islands among others (see distribution table for details; Henderson, 2001; Burke and DiTommaso, 2011; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Gonzalez-Torres et al., 2012; PIER, 2012). It is also known to be present in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Polygonales
  •                         Family: Polygonaceae
  •                             Genus: Antigonon
  •                                 Species: Antigonon leptopus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Polygonaceae includes about 43 genera and 1110 species widely distributed around the world (Stevens, 2012). Members of this family are mainly herbs, but also lianas, vines, shrubs, and trees. Polygonaceae is a very well defined family characterized by the present of swollen nodes and a pair of stipules known as an “ochrea” (Stevens, 2012). Within this family, species in the genera Emex, Fallopia, Persicaria, Reynoutria, Rumex, and Polygonum have been classified as some of the worst weeds in natural areas (Randall, 2012). The genus Antigonon is restricted to the Neotropics (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005) and species delimitations within this genus have been taxonomically difficult, with one to eight species recognized by different taxonomists. At present, four species are the common consensus among botanists (Burke and DiTomasso, 2011).

Description

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Perennial, fast-growing, woody vine that climbs using tendrils at the end of the inflorescence axes and attains 5-13 m in length. Stems are puberulent, pentagonal, with many lateral branches. Leaves are alternate, ovate, triangular-ovate, or almost lanceolate, chartaceous, 5-14.5 × 2-7 cm, the apex is acute or acuminate, the base is cordiform or truncate, and the margins are crenulate, sometimes ciliate. The upper surface of leaves is light green slightly shiny, puberulent, with the venation sunken; lower surface pale green, dull, puberulent or glabrous, with prominent venation; petioles are 1-5 cm long, reddish, puberulent, cylindrical or subwinged. Flowers are bisexual, in axillary racemes or terminal panicles, 10-20 cm long, terminating in a pair of spiral tendrils; pedicels 3-4(-10) mm long. The perianth is about 4-7 mm long, of 5 ovate or elliptical tepals, intense pink or white; staminal column 2-3 mm long, of the same colour as the tepals. The fruit is a 3-angle-achene, 5-8 mm long (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005).

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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A. leptopus is native to Mexico. Outside its native range, this species is widely naturalized and cultivated as an ornamental in warm, tropical climates around the world, including Africa, India, Australia, North, Central and South America, West Indies, and numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Forzza, 2012; PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012).

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedWu, 2001Cultivated as ornamental
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
IndiaPresentIntroducedRaju et al., 2001Visakhapatnam
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
-SumatraPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
JapanPresentIntroducedKato, 2007Ogasawara Islands
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
TaiwanPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
ThailandPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
VietnamPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011

Africa

BurundiPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017
CameroonPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy
RéunionPresentIntroducedISSG, 2012
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2001
SudanPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy; Witt and Luke, 2017
UgandaPresentIntroducedBioNET-EAFRINET, The East African Network for Taxonomy
ZambiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017

North America

MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2012Baja Sur, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Oaxaca
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedFreeman and Reveal, 2005Cultivated
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008Invasive Category II
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999; Englberger, 2009
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Invasive Thomas and Allen, 1997
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedFreeman and Reveal, 2005Cultivated
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
-TexasPresentIntroducedHatch et al., 1990

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
ArubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroducedBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005Anegada, Guana, Virgin Gorda, and Tortola
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedINBio, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive González-Torres et al., 2012
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
GrenadaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Potentially invasive
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentUSDA-ARS, 2012Possibly native
HaitiPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
HondurasPresentIntroducedMolina, 1975Also on Bahia Islands
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAdams, 1972
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroduced Invasive Varnham, 2006; Mori et al., 2007Saba, St. Martin, St Eustatius, and Bonaire
PanamaPresentIntroducedCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedGraveson, 2011
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedZuloaga et al., 2008Salta
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-BahiaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-GoiasPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-ParaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-ParanaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedForzza et al., 2012
ColombiaPresentIntroducedIdárraga-Piedrahita et al., 2011
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive Jørgensen and León-Yànez, 1999Continental Ecuador (Los Ríos and Manabí)
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008Galápagos Islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and Sierra Negra Islands)
French GuianaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007
ParaguayPresentIntroducedZuloaga et al., 2008Cordillera Central
PeruPresentIntroducedBurke and DiTommaso, 2011Huánuco, Loreto, San Martín
SurinamePresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007; Hokche et al., 2008Amazonas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Delta Amacuro, Distrito Federal, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Zulia

Europe

PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedVieria Silva VRMDa, 2002

Oceania

American SamoaWidespreadIntroducedWaterhouse, 1997; Englberger, 2009
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
Cook IslandsWidespreadIntroducedSpace and Flynn, 2002; Englberger, 2009Cultivated
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Smith, 1981; Englberger, 2009
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2011
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer, 2000; Englberger, 2009
KiribatiPresentIntroducedSpace and Imada, 2004; Englberger, 2009Cultivated
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedVander, 2003; Englberger, 2009Cultivated
Micronesia, Federated states ofWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Englberger, 2009; Lorence and Flynn, 2010Pohnpei and Yap
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive Thaman et al., 1994
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Space et al., 2004
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Fosberg et al., 1979
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive Space et al., 2009
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive Peekel, 1984
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2011
SamoaPresentIntroducedSpace and Flynn, 2002Cultivated
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Orapa, 2005
TongaPresentIntroducedSpace and Flynn, 2001Cultivated

History of Introduction and Spread

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Herbarium collections suggest that A. leptopus was introduced in the Caribbean region by at least the mid-nineteenth century. It was first reported as early as 1864 by A.H.R. Grisebach as a “cultivated plant” in Jamaica (Grisebach, 1864). Later, in 1879 H.F.A. Eggers also reported this species as a “cultivated plant” on the Virgin Islands (Eggers, 1879). In Puerto Rico, the oldest record of this species is from a herbarium collection made by G.P. Goll in Coamo in 1899 (Smithsonian Herbarium Collection). By 1909, Isaac Boldingh reported the occurrence of A. leptopus in St. Eustatius, Saba, and St Martin (Boldingh, 1909) and he also reported this species for the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire in 1914 (Boldingh, 1914). By 1920, A. leptopus is described as a “cultivated and escaped species” by Ignaz Urban (Symbolae Antillanae, VIII: p. 195, 1920) for the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Eustatius, Martinique, Tobago, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire (Urban, 1920).

In Hawaii, A. leptopus was reported in 1888 by W. Hillebrand in his book Flora of the Hawaiian Islands as a “common species cultivated in gardens” (Hillebrand, 1888). This species was also recorded in Guam in 1905 (Safford, 1905). In Florida, A. leptopus was introduced before 1916 as an ornamental (Simpson, 1916), and by 1976 this species was reported as “commonly escaped” in south Florida (Morton, 1976). Currently, this species can be found in 22 conservation areas across south Florida (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of A. leptopus is very high. This species has been intentionally planted as an ornamental in many tropical and subtropical regions because of its attractive flowers. It has escaped from gardens and spreads rapidly into natural forest, climbing into the canopy of mature trees and forming dense monoculture stands (Langeland et al., 2008). In addition, it has a high capability for natural dispersal. Plants produce large numbers of seeds which can be dispersed easily by birds and by water, and also spread vegetatively by stems, plant fragments, and tubers (USDA-NRCS, 2011). In consequence, the probability of invasion of the species remains high.

Habitat

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A. leptopus can be found growing in a great variety of habitats including disturbed areas, coastal cliffs, coastal forests, and dry to moist lowland forests in warm tropical and subtropical regions. For example, in Florida, this species occurs in pine rocklands, rockland hammocks, tropical hardwood hammocks, scrub, maritime forests, and swamps (Langeland et al., 2008; Florida Invasive Pest Plant Council, 2011). In Australia, it has been reported growing in waterways and riparian areas, monsoon vine thickets, rainforest margins, coastal sand dunes, mangrove vegetation, roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas and old gardens (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural
Mangroves Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Mangroves Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Chromosome number for A. leptopus varies from 2n = 14, 40 to 48 (Freeman and Reveal, 2005). The base number for the Polygonaceae is probably n = 7 (Brandbyge, 1993), suggesting that this species (and possibly the whole genus) is of polyploid origin (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011).

Reproductive Biology

Flowers of A. leptopus are characterized by the occurrence of dianthesis, temporal dioecy and facultative xenogamy. Additionally, flowers are obligately dependent on vectors for pollination and seed-set. Floral visitors include bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and thrips with bees playing the major role in pollination (Raju et al., 2001). A. leptopus also reproduces vegetative by stems, plant fragments, and underground tubers. It has been suggested that this dual reproductive behaviour exhibited by the species enables its survival as a successful weed and invasive species in tropical latitudes (Raju et al., 2001).

Physiology and Phenology

A. leptopus produces flowers throughout the year in warm climates. In Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands flowering occurs more predominantly from June to December (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012).

In warm climates, A. leptopus grows all year-around (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). However, in temperate climates, leaves dry and fall during the winter months (Scheper, 2004). In Hawaii, A. leptopus grows very fast during the wet season, but leaves dry and fall in the dry season providing fuel for wildfires (USDA-NRCS, 2011; PIER, 2012).

Environmental Requirements

A. leptopus prefers to grow in areas with warm temperatures and high precipitation at low elevation (i.e., from sea level to about 1000 meters; Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). However, it tolerates drought well by shedding leaves and re-growing strongly after rains. A. leptopus has the ability to grow in almost any soil type including coral-derived soils, sandy soils, seasonally waterlogged soils, and alkaline limestone soils (Langeland et al., 2008; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2011). Foliage dies back at temperatures just below freezing and the roots die if the soil freezes (Langeland et al., 2008).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -7
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 5

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall3003500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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A. leptopus reproduces sexually by seeds, and also vegetatively by stems, plant fragments, tubers, and root suckers (Raju et al., 2001; Langeland, 2008; Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). Each plant produces a prolific amount of viable seeds, which may remain viable in the field for several years. Fruits and seeds are consumed by animals including birds and pigs (USDA-NRCS, 2011; PIER, 2012). In addition, seeds are buoyant and can float on rivers, streams and on waterways after rain storms, facilitating the dispersion to new locations (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). This species also spreads by underground tubers and root suckers that easily re-spread producing new plants. Plant fragments and stems may be broken off and dispersed to new locations by humans, wild animals, livestock, vehicles, and/or floodwaters. Tubers and root suckers can also be spread by the movement of soil (Langeland et al., 2008; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2011; Burke and DiTommaso, 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2011; PIER, 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapePlanted as a garden ornamental Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
Garden waste disposalUnderground tubers/roots Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
Internet salesSeeds and plants sold online and in nurseries Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
Nursery tradeSeeds and plants sold online and in nurseries Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
Ornamental purposesPlanted as a garden ornamental Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
Seed tradeSeeds sold online Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organismsFruits are eaten by birds and pigs Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2011
MailSeeds and plants sold online Yes Yes Burke and DiTommaso, 2011
WaterSeeds float on water Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2011

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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A. leptopus is an aggressive invasive vine with the potential to collapse native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures and altering ecological functions. This fast-growing vine forms dense colonies that engulf native vegetation, climbing high into forest canopies and shading-out herbs, shrubs, and trees in the understory of native forests. Consequently, in just one or two growing seasons, this species can completely out-compete native vegetation communities (Space and Falanruw, 1999).

Some of the most severe infestations of A. leptopus have been found on oceanic islands, and studies reveal that it is on islands where this species has become most pervasive and problematic (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). For example, on islands in the Pacific such as Guam and Hawaii, it is smothering native vegetation mainly in the understory of forests (USDA-NRCS, 2011; PIER, 2012). On Christmas Island, it has been documented to interfere with migrating crabs (Swarbrick, 1997), and on the island of St. Eustatius in the West Indies, infestations cover at least 20% of the entire island (Ernst and Ketner, 2007). A. leptopus also has the potential to alter fire regimes. In Hawaii, the leaves dry and fall during the dry season providing fuel for wildfires (USDA-NRCS, 2011).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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A. leptopus is commonly planted as an ornamental in gardens and yards and as a “fence cover plant” in warm climates in tropical and subtropical regions. It is also used as a nectar source for honey production (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). A. leptopus is also used in traditional medicine in the West Indies and Central America. For example, tea prepared from the leaves, aerial parts, and flowers of A. leptopus is used as a remedy for colds, throat constriction, and pain relief in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Mexico, and Trinidad-Tobago (Mulabagal et al., 2011; Graveson, 2012).

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Prevention and Control

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A combination of manual and chemical methods has been recommended for the management of A. leptopus (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011). In the case of smaller infestations, plants should be removed manually and uprooted. Larger infestations can be controlled by first removing or burning the foliage and the aboveground segments of the plant. Later (3-4 weeks after manual removal), all re-sprouts should be sprayed with a foliar application of the herbicide 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinyl-oxy acetic-acid (triclopyr). Follow-up treatment and repeated applications of herbicide might be necessary to kill remaining plants and all re-sprouts (Burke and DiTommaso, 2011).

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventory for Europe (DAISIE)http://www.europe-aliens.org/default.do
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Councilhttp://www.fleppc.org
Global Invasive Species Databasehttp://www.issg.org/database/welcome/
Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S.https://dnr.state.il.us/Stewardship/cd/biocontrol/23SodaApple.html

Contributors

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10/12/12 Original text by:

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

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

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