Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Callisia fragrans
(basketplant)

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Datasheet

Callisia fragrans (basketplant)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 01 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Callisia fragrans
  • Preferred Common Name
  • basketplant
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Callisia fragrans is a reasonably common cultivated, ornamental, perennial herb. It can be grown as a pot or basket plant or as ground cover in tropical or subtropical climates. In these warm climates, parts of...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Callisia fragrans ground cover in disturbed dry forest. Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionCallisia fragrans ground cover in disturbed dry forest. Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
Copyright©Roger Graveson-2009
Callisia fragrans ground cover in disturbed dry forest. Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
HabitCallisia fragrans ground cover in disturbed dry forest. Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.©Roger Graveson-2009
Callisia fragrans showing flowers and foliage, Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
TitleHabit, showing flowers and foliage
CaptionCallisia fragrans showing flowers and foliage, Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
Copyright©Roger Graveson-2009
Callisia fragrans showing flowers and foliage, Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.
Habit, showing flowers and foliageCallisia fragrans showing flowers and foliage, Saint Lucia, West Indies. January 2009.©Roger Graveson-2009

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Callisia fragrans (Lindl.) Woodson (1942)

Preferred Common Name

  • basketplant

Other Scientific Names

  • Rectanthera fragrans (Lindl.) O. Deg
  • Spironema fragrans Lindl.

International Common Names

  • English: chain plant; fragrant inch plant; inch plant

Local Common Names

  • : spironema
  • Australia: purple succulent

Summary of Invasiveness

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Callisia fragrans is a reasonably common cultivated, ornamental, perennial herb. It can be grown as a pot or basket plant or as ground cover in tropical or subtropical climates. In these warm climates, parts of the plant may break off or be spread by gardeners and start to grow. Occasionally considered invasive, it is established on Gros Piton, a World Heritage Site in Saint Lucia. In this habitat, its rapid spread is beginning to threaten native forest and displace many indigenous species.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Commelinales
  •                         Family: Commelinaceae
  •                             Genus: Callisia
  •                                 Species: Callisia fragrans

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The basionym is Spironema fragrans Lindl. published in Edwards's Botanical Register 26: pl. 47. 1840. A synonym is Rectanthera fragrans (Lindl.) O. Deg. published in Flora Hawaiiensis 1: 62. 1932. However the accepted name is Callisia fragrans (Lindl.) Woodson published in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 29(3): 154. 1942.

Description

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Wagner et al. (1999) describes the plant as a "perennial herb; stems fleshy, up to 1 m long, branched, with long stolons at base. Leaves clustered toward the ends of the stem, scattered below, elliptic-lanceolate, 18-25 cm long, 3.5-4 cm wide, base prominently veined, clasping, ciliate, often striped with purple. Flowers in compact pairs of cymes arranged in panicles up to 0.6 m long, each cyme pair subtended by 3-toothed bracts 10-15 mm long; sepals white-transparent, scarious, lanceolate, 5-6 mm long; petals glossy, white-transparent, thin, wilting by noon, narrowly ovate, erose, ca 6 mm long; stamens 6".

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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Native to Mexico, C. fragrans is a popular pot plant and is cultivated throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. It also appears to be cultivated as a herbal medicinal plant in Russia (see http://www.callisia.org/). Countries in which it is only present as a cultivated plant are mostly not recorded in the following table. GBIF (2013) has 66 records from Mexico, 48 from USA, 8 from Puerto Rico, 4 from US Virgin Islands and only 1 or 2 from the remaining 10 countries.

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

SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Chong et al., 2009

Africa

KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MalawiPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
ZambiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized

North America

MexicoPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2011
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Florida Vascular Plants, 2012
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999; Starr et al., 2003Kaua‘i Island, Maui Island, O‘ahu Island
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive CMS Sean, University of the West Indies, Barbados, personal communication
British Virgin IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
CuraçaoPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive A van den Bos, www.botanypictures.com, personal communication, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupeRestricted distributionIntroducedFabien Barthelat, IUCN, personal communication, 2013Commonly cultivated, escaped and naturalized in dry parts of Guadeloupe mainland, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, Saint Martin and Saint Barth
HaitiPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
JamaicaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Jamalco South Manchester EIA, 2012
Netherlands AntillesPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Madden, http://www.natureonstatia.com, personal communication, 2012Statia
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2012
Saint LuciaLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Graveson, 2012Invasive on Gros Piton
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroduced Not invasive Fr de Silva M, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Mayreau, personal communication, 2012Bequia and Mustique
United States Virgin IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012

South America

EcuadorPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008San Cristóbal Island

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Lord Howe Is.PresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2013
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2013
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Csurhes and Edwards, 1998SE Queensland
Cook IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Space and Flynn, 2002Aitutaki Atoll, Atiu Island
French PolynesiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Lorence and Wagner, 2008Hiva Oa Island, Ua Pou Island
Marshall IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Vander, 2003Majuro (Mãjro) Atoll
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Lorence and Flynn, 2010Kosrae Island
PalauPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Space et al., 2009Ngercheu Island

Risk of Introduction

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Although the plant is not yet cultivated in all tropical and subtropical countries, it is likely to spread from where it is found; escaping into waste land around houses and more than likely establishing itself among native vegetation.    

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Flowers are formed in late winter or early spring but spread seems to be by vegetative reproduction, with individual plants removed from the colony-forming roots. This can be accidental or more commonly, as a result of gardening activities. Some species of Callisia are wind-pollinated, but the flowers of C. fragrans are strongly scented, as the name suggest, and are presumably insect-pollinated (Kubitski et al. 1998). The fruit are small, three-celled, capsules.

Longevity

A colony in a vacant plot at Massade, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia has been present and increasing in size for ten years. It managed to survive a 5-month drought during 2009/2010 (R. Graveson, Saint Lucia, personal observation, 2012).         

Population Size and Density

Large perennial drought-resistant colonies are formed.

Nutrition

The rosette pattern of leaves and the dense colony may result in little rainwater entering the soil as most is collected by the plant.

Environmental Requirements

C. fragrans needs full or at least partial sunlight, relatively high temperatures (US Hardiness Zones  10b-11) and a more-or-less neutral soil (pH 6.1-7.8) (Dave’s Garden, 2013).

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])

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Possibly by viable fruits but there is no record of this in the literature.

Intentional Introduction

Gardeners introduce C. fragrans to new areasas a garden ground-cover ornamental. Local spread is by individuals breaking off and rooting.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceIndividuals break off and root Yes Graveson, 2012
Escape from confinement or garden escapeIndividuals break off and root Yes Graveson, 2012
Garden waste disposalPlants will root Yes Graveson, 2012
Medicinal useCultivated in Russia Yes Schvoong, 2012
Nursery trade Yes
Ornamental purposesGlobally wide-spread ornamental Yes Graveson, 2012

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Globally C. fragrans tends to grow in disturbed secondary forest and moist semi-open areas. Where it has become invasive in the World Heritage Site in Saint Lucia, it grows on the steep middle slopes of Gros Piton. In this seasonal, semi-open, native deciduous forest it forms carpets on large rocks and the ground in between. The main populations of C. fragrans have established close to the main trail to the summit (Graveson, 2012).

Impact on Biodiversity

As it forms carpets it replaces indigenous species such as Callisia repens, Peperomia trifolia, P. myrtifolia and Gibasis geniculata (Graveson, 2012).

Social Impact

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Globally there is no information, except for Saint Lucia.

In Saint Lucia the Gros Piton trail is an important source of income to the Fonds Gens Libres community. It is conceivable that if C. fragrans comes to dominate the ground cover in the middle elevations, the publicity given to that may negatively affect tourist numbers. In addition, it is likely that eradication of C. fragrans will affect the community financially, as they may have to use income generated from the guided walks to tourists to fund the eradication programme (Graveson, 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally

Uses List

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Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material

Prevention and Control

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SPS Measures

Prohibition of planting as an ornamental in high-risk areas would be a useful measure.

Public Awareness

This species is easily recognizable in the wild as it forms conspicuous colonies. If reported early, the patch can be physically removed with little difficulty. Thus, public awareness in high risk areas will aid in preventing this species from establishing itself in the wild.

Eradication

Despite C. fragrans being reported as invasive in some countries, little information is available on its prevention and control. It may be that its impact is not major enough to warrant prevention and control measures. Its size, semi-succulent texture and growth habit are similar to the invasive Tradescantia spathacea and methods used to control this plant may be suited to control C. fragrans.

Containment/Zoning

Technique suitable for eradication will also be appropriate for containment and zoning where complete eradication is not possible.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Hand pulling of small areas of C. fragrans infestation is possible but re-growth may still occur. Careless removal may cause further spreading of the basketplant.

Movement Control

Discouragement of planting in areas where there is a high risk of spread into native forest would be a useful measure.

Chemical Control

Larger areas need herbicide spraying with follow-up spraying for re-growth. Spraying two to three times over several months is effective with glyphosate (MEPA, 2013). The Australian Government (2013) also suggests glyphosate with or without metsulfuron. 

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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A pilot scheme is required to look into details of a protocol for eradication, involving a mix of physical and chemical measures.

Research is required to investigate whether the formation of carpets of C. fragrans changes soil conditions in a manner which might affect tree seedlings.

In addition, studies are required to investigate the extent to which carpets of C. fragrans prevent water from entering the soil.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, 2012. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Florida, USA: University of South Florida. http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/

Australian Government, 2013. Permit to allow minor use of an agnet chemical product for control of various environmental weeds using helicopter spot-spraying equipment, Permit Number PER12363., Australia: Australian Government. http://www.farmoz.au/Permit/FARMOZ/PER12363

Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation

Chong KY, Tan HTW, Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Csurhes S, Edwards R, 1998. Potential environmental weeds in Australia: candidate species for preventive control. Canberra, Australia: Biodiversity Group, Environmental Australia, 202 pp. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/books/pubs/potential.pdf

Dave's Garden, 2013. PlantFiles: Basket Plant, Chain Plant, Inch Plant. Callisia fragrans. Dave's Garden. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54577/

GBIF, 2012. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). http://data.gbif.org

Graveson RS, 2012. Survey of invasive alien plant species on Gros Piton, Saint Lucia. Project No. GFL / 2328- 2713-4A86, GF-1030-09-03. Project No. GFL / 2328- 2713-4A86, GF-1030-09-03, GFL / 2328- 2713-4A86, GF-1030-09-03. Catsries, Saint Lucia: Department of Forestry

HEAR, 2012. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii ecosystems at risk. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/index.html

Howard RA, 1974. Flora of the Lesser Antilles, 1-6. Jamaica Plain, MA, USA: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Jamalco South Manchester EIA, 2012. Description of the Environment. Kingston, Jamaica: Conrad Douglas & Associates Ltd, 62. http://www.nepa.gov.jm/eias/Manchester/South%20Manchester/Final%20Report%20South%20Manchester%20EIA%20Jamalcopart2.pdf

Kubitzki K, Huber H, Rudall P, Stevens PS, 1998. Flowering Plants. Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae). New York, USA: Sprinnger-Verlag, 511 pp

Lorence DH, Flynn T, 2010. Checklist of the plants of Kosrae. Unpublished checklist. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Lawai, Hawaii: National Tropical Botanical Garden, 26

Lorence H, Wagner DWL, 2008. Flora of the Marquesas islands. Flora of the Marquesas islands. National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution., unpaginated

MEPA, 2013. MEPA Weed Control: Callisia fragrans. Queensland, Australia: Mt. Nero and Mt Glorious Environmental Protection Association. http://www.gloriousnebo.org.au/MEPA/psucculent.pdf

Mount Gravatt Environmental Group, 2012. Purple succulent Callisia fragrans. Queensland, Australia: Mount Gravatt Environmental Group. http://megoutlook.wordpress.com/tag/purple-succulent-callisia-fragrans/

Orchard AE, 1994. Flora of Australia. Oceanic islands 1, 49. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service

PIER, 2012. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Queensland Government, 2013. Weeds of Australia. Queensland Biosecurity Edition. Purple Succulent Callisia fragrans. Queensland, Australia: Queensland Government. http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/

Schvoong, 2012. Callisia fragrans family doctor plants. New York, USA: Schvoong.com. http://www.shvoong.com/medicine-and-health/dentistry-oral-medicine/2239832-callisia-fragrans-family-doctor-plant/

Space JC, Flynn T, 2002. Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Honolulu, USA: USAL USDA Forest Service, 146 pp

Space JC, Lorence DH, LaRosa AM, 2009. Report to the Republic of Palau: 2008 update on Invasive Plant Species. Hilo, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, 227. http://www.sprep.org/att/irc/ecopies/countries/palau/48.pdf

Starr F, Martz K, Loope LL, 2003. New plant records from the Hawaiian Archipelago. Part 2: Notes. In: Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2001-2002. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 74 [ed. by Evenhuis, N. L. \Eldredge, L. G.]. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bishop Museum Press, 23-34. http://www.hear.org/starr/publications/new_plant_records_2001.pdf

USDA-ARS, 2011. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2012. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Vander VN, 2003. The vascular plants of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, 503:1-141

Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press/Bishop Museum Press, 1919 pp

Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000

Contributors

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01/06/12 Original text by:

Roger Graveson, Consultant, Saint Lucia

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