Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Clerodendrum speciosissimum
(Java glory bower)



Clerodendrum speciosissimum (Java glory bower)


  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Clerodendrum speciosissimum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Java glory bower
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. speciosissimum is an attractive shrub or subshrub listed as an environmental weed, naturalised weed, and cultivation escape in the Global Compendium of Weeds (...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Clerodendrum speciosissimum Drapiez

Preferred Common Name

  • Java glory bower

Other Scientific Names

  • Clerodendrum fallax Lindl

International Common Names

  • English: pagoda-flower; red clerodendrum; scarlet clerodendrum

Local Common Names

  • Cook Islands: pitate mama'o; rakau tupopoku
  • Cuba: clerodendro; coral; Dona Manuela; guardia civil; pecho hermoso; Virginia
  • Dominican Republic: bandera danesa coral; coral haitiano; flor de Granada
  • Guam: gulalen
  • Haiti: corail
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: abui; 'amo'ula; apwii; aubui vilifu; but a cherechar; butcherechár; butecherechar; kava; kava kula; lau mamoi; mooy
  • Niue: lauma pelu; talufe
  • Puerto Rico: Santo Domingo; tripa de coral
  • Solomon Islands: kakafae meo; kinilio

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. speciosissimum is an attractive shrub or subshrub listed as an environmental weed, naturalised weed, and cultivation escape in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). The species is considered to have been native to Java, Indonesia and introduced to tropical and subtropical regions as an ornamental. It reproduces both by seeds and vegetatively. Based on a risk assessment prepared for Hawaii (PIER, 2014), the species poses a high risk of introduction, especially as it continues to be a popular cultivated member of the Clerodendrum genus. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Lamiales
  •                         Family: Lamiaceae
  •                             Genus: Clerodendrum
  •                                 Species: Clerodendrum speciosissimum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Most members of the Lamiaceae genus Clerodendrum are native to the Old World tropics, but many have been cultivated and introduced as ornamentals elsewhere. The genus consists of approximately 400 species (Armitage, 2001; Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2005), although this number has now been reported to be closer to 180, as much taxonomic confusion in the past has resulted in thousands of misnamed and synonymous specimens (Wearn and Mabberly, 2011). For example, Burman spelled the genus as Clerodendron in 1737 instead of Linnaeus’ correct 1753 spelling Clerodendrum, which resulted in both spellings occurring in the literature (Rueda, 1993). The genus name Clerodendrum is derived from the Greek words ‘kleros’, meaning ‘chance’, ‘lot’, or ‘fate’, and ‘dendron’, meaning ‘tree’, likely referring to the numerous and sometimes doubtful medicinal qualities that have been associated with these shrubs, trees and climbers (Stearn, 1992; Rueda, 1993; Armitage, 2001; Quattrocchi, 2012).

The species name speciosissimum, meaning ‘very beautiful’, refers to the showy flowers of this plant. The publication of the species is attributed to two different authors who both published in 1836. While the Missouri Botanical Garden (2014) cites C. Morren as the author, IPNI (2014) and Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong (2012) cite Drapiez. IPNI (2014) also notes that the species name was also published by A.Cels and J.F.Cels in 1837.


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Shrub or subshrub to 4 m high, often spreading by runners, the branchlets medullose or hollow and sulcate when dry, densely short-pubescent; leaves opposite, the petioles to 21 cm long, densely pubescent, the blades broadly ovate to ovate-rotund, 7-20 (-35) x 6-17 (-26) cm, deeply cordate at base, abruptly acute to short-acuminate at apex, entire to irregularly repand-denticulate at margin, usually pubescent above and copiously so beneath; inflorescences terminal, paniculate, loosely many-flowered, to 45 x 25 cm, often conspicuously bracteate, the branches bright red, the flowers showy; calyx campanulate, bright red, 3-5 (-9) mm long, 5-lobed, the lobes 1-3 mm long, acute, corolla hypocrateriform, red to vermilion, the tube slender, to 2.5 cm long, the limb spreading to 3 cm, the lobes obovate, to 15 x 10 mm, stamens and style bright red, exserted about 3 cm beyond corolla throat; fruit bright red or scarlet, turning purplish or black when mature, deeply 4-lobed, to 7 x 10 mm (PIER, 2014).

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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C. speciosissimum is considered to be native to Java, Indonesia, and has been introduced to tropical and warm-temperate regions (Stone, 1970; USDA-ARS, 2014). Sources report conflicting data regarding the species’ native status in parts of the Pacific Islands, as it has been so widely cultivated here. For example, the species is considered native to the Northern Mariana Islands of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan by some sources, although Fosberg speculated that it may be an introduction to Pagan Island (PIER, 2014). The species’ native status in the Palau Islands, Fiji, Guam, and Tonga is also uncertain, but it is reportedly invasive on several of these islands (PIER, 2014). In Singapore C. speciosissimum is reportedly only cultivated, and it does not appear to have significant presence in the Philippines, having not been included in works on the Philippine flora such as Pelser et al. (2014).

In the Neotropics the species has been introduced to much of the West Indies (Broome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012), and is even invasive to Cuba (Ovieo Prieto et al., 2012), but is not included in Funk et al.’s (2007) work on the Guiana Shield.

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


IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentNativeLiogier and Martorell, 2000; USDA-ARS, 2014
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Chong et al., 2009

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana, 2014Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedRandall, 2012
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroducedRandall, 2012Naturalised
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupeBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana, 2014
MartiniqueBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana, 2014; Flora of Nicaragua, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedLiogier and Martorell, 2000; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Sint EustatiusPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012


American SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
FijiPresent Invasive PIER, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
GuamPresentPIER, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentNativePIER, 2014; PIER, 2014Pulewat Atoll, Fais I, Satawal I, Tomil I, Yap I
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentPIER, 2014
PalauPresent Invasive PIER, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentPIER, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresentNativePIER, 2014
TongaPresent Invasive PIER, 2014
VanuatuPresentPIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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This species is considered native to Java, Indonesia, and is widespread across tropical Asia. It was transported to Europe for cultivation by the mid-19th century; the plant was featured in an exhibition of the London Horticultural Society in 1845 (Hovey, 1845), and was included in an 1850 guide for English cottage gardening (Johnson, 1850).

Date of introduction to the Neotropics is uncertain, but the species may have been introduced to the West Indies around the turn of the 20th century. The species was not included in Grisebach’s works on the British West Indies (Grisebach, 1864) or in Bello’s work on Puerto Rico (1881; 1883), but specimens were collected in Puerto Rico in 1899 and in Cuba by 1907 (Smithsonian Herbarium Collection). Urban reported the species (as syn. C. fallax) to be present by 1920 in Cuba and Puerto Rico as well as St. Eustatius (cultivated only), Guadeloupe, and Martinique (Urban, 1920). It was again recorded for Puerto Rico in 1926 as a cultivated plant (Britton and Wilson,1926), and was reportedly growing in the Puerto Rico Federal Experiment Station in 1951 (Hume, 1951). It has been recorded to have escaped from cultivation in Puerto Rico (Liogier and Martorell, 2000). The species was observed (as syn. C. fallax) as a cultivated garden plant in Bermuda in 1918 (Britton, 1918), and was present in the Dominican Republic by 1921, and in Haiti and Jamaica by 1927 (Smithsonian Herbarium Collections).

Risk of Introduction

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Based on current literature C. speciosissimum poses a high risk of introduction. It received a high risk score of 7 in a risk assessment prepared for Hawaii, indicating the species “poses a high risk of becoming a serious pest” (PIER, 2014). Invasive traits include a wide distribution beyond its native range and proven invasiveness in some of these places (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2014); repeated introduction due to its use as an ornamental; ability to propagate by both viable seeds and suckers; rapid growth rate; and ability to tolerate a wide range of soil types (PIER, 2014).


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Outside of cultivation, C. speciosissimum occurs in dry to moist disturbed areas at low elevations, and is weedy in plantations and disturbed areas (PIER, 2014). In Puerto Rico, outside of cultivation the species can be found on roadsides (Liogier and Martorell, 2000).

In Fiji the species occurs in cultivation near sea level and is also naturalized along the edges of cultivated areas, in clearings, and in coconut plantations, while in Tonga the species is occasional in open, waste areas (PIER, 2014).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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C. speciosissimum is native to tropical and subtropical Asia and occurs from sea level to at least 1500 m (Hume 1951). In Antioquia, Colombia the species has been reported at 1000-2000 m in humid forest and low montane climates (Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014). It can tolerate light shade (Hume, 1951), but will bloom best under full sun (Armitage, 2001). It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions (PIER, 2014). In cooler zones it will die back, to re-emerge in the spring.


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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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C. speciosissimum has been introduced beyond its native range to the Neotropics for use as an ornamental. The species reproduces both by seeds and by root suckering. Seeds may be dispersed by birds which eat the bright-coloured berries. (PIER, 2014) The species has been intentionally introduced as an ornamental but is also an accidental introduction, as it has been known to escape from cultivation (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoosSpecies introduced beyond native range to Europe, Africa and Newtropics for use as ornamental Yes Yes PIER, 2014
Digestion and excretionBirds eat fruits; propagules survive passage through the gut Yes Yes PIER, 2014
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Yes Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsRhizome fragments may be accidentally transported in soil stuck to machinery, vehicles, etc Yes Yes
Land vehiclesRhizome fragments may be accidentally transported in soil stuck to machinery, vehicles, etc Yes Yes
Machinery and equipmentRhizome fragments may be accidentally transported in soil stuck to machinery, vehicles, etc Yes Yes
Soil, sand and gravelRhizome fragments may be accidentally transported in soil stuck to machinery, vehicles, etc Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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The species has been sold and used both within and outside of its native range for use as an ornamental plant, but is recorded to have escaped cultivation (Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Randall, 2012). It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, produces viable seed, and can reproduce by vegetative fragmentation, invasive characteristics that pose both present and future threats to native environments. It is an invasive species in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012) and is known to be weedy in the continental United States and Puerto Rico (Randall, 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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C. speciosissimum is a popular ornamental for its showy flowers, and has been widely cultivated in tropical and warm-termperate regions around the world, becoming naturalized, weedy, and even invasive in places where it has escaped from cultivation (Randall, 2012; PIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). It has also been reported as grown in home gardens in China for medicinal use (Mansfeld, 2013).

Uses List

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  • Ornamental


  • Potted plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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C. speciosissimum is similar to C. japonicum. The leaves, petioles and young stems of C. speciosissimum have a dense, hairy cover and the flowers may be longer than those of C. japonicum (Hume, 1951).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a lack of data on methods to control this species.


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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

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.

Armitage AM, 2001. Armitage's manual of annuals, biennials, and half-hardy perennials. Portland, OR, USA: Timber Press.

Bello D, 1883. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Segunda parte. Monoclamídeas.) Anales de la Sociedad Española de Historia Natural, 12:103-130.

Bello Espinosa D, 1881. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Primera parte.) Anal. Soc. Española de Hist. Nat, 10:231-304.

Britton NL, 1918. Flora of Bermuda. New York, USA: Charles Scribner's Sons. 585 pp.

Britton NL; Wilson P, 1926. Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and Virgin Islands. Volumen VI. New York, USA: Academy of Sciences, 629 pp.

Broome R; Sabir K; Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies.

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.

Flora Mesoamericana, 2014. Flora Mesoamericana. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Flora of Nicaragua, 2014. Flora of Nicaragua, Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.

Funk V; Hollowell T; Berry P; Kelloff C; Alexander SN, 2007. Checklist of the plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 584 pp.

Grisebach AHR, 1864. Flora of the British West Indies Islands. London, UK: Lovell Reeve & Co., 789 pp.

Hovey CM, 1845. Foreign Notices- England: Exhibition of the London Horticultural Society, July 12th, 1845. Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs, 11(1845):341-349.

HUME EP, 1951. Some ornamental shrubs for the tropics. Circular. Porto Rico Agricultural Experiment Station, Federal Station, Mayaguez, 34:151 pp.

IPNI, 2014. International Plant Names Index., UK\USA\Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens\The Harvard University Herbaria\Australian National Herbarium.

Johnson GW, 1850. The Cottage Gardener: A practical guide in every department of horticulture and rural and domestic economy, Volume 4. London, UK: WM S Orr and Co., 410 pp.

Liogier HA; Martorell LF, 2000. Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: a systematic synopsis, 2nd edition revised. San Juan, Puerto Rico: La Editorial, University of Puerto Rico, 382 pp.

Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, 2013. Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Gatersleben, Germany: IPK Gatersleben.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.

Pelser PB; Barcelona JF; Nickrent DL, 2014. Co's Digital Flora of the Philippines.

PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.

Quattrocchi U, 2012. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology [ed. by Quattrocchi, U.]. London, UK: CRC Press Inc., 3960 pp.

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp.

Rueda RM, 1993. The genus Clerodendrum (Verbenaceae) in Mesoamerica. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 80(4):870-890.

Stearn WT, 1992. Stearns dictionary of plant names for gardeners: A handbook on the origin and meaning of the botanical names of some cultivated plants. London, UK: Cassell.

Stone BC, 1970. The flora of Guam. Micronesia, 6:1-659.

Urban I, 1920. Symbolae Antillanae,seu, Fundamenta florae Indiae Occidentalis, Volume 8.

USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of the Department of Antioquia (Colombia), Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.

Wearn JA; Mabberley DJ, 2011. Clerodendrum (Lamiaceae) in Borneo. Systematic Botany, 36(4):1050-1061.

Links to Websites

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Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies


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30/9/2014 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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

Distribution Maps

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