Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

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Russelia equisetiformis
(firecracker plant)

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Datasheet

Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 18 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Russelia equisetiformis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • firecracker plant
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Russelia equisetiformis is a shrub that is widely cultivated around the world (PROTA. 2016). It is listed as an invasive and a transformer species in Cuba (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleFlowers
CaptionRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
FlowersRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Commodore Avenue, Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
TitleFlowers
CaptionRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Commodore Avenue, Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Commodore Avenue, Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.
FlowersRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); flowers. Commodore Avenue, Sand Island, Midway Atoll, Hawaii, USA. June 2008.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Lido Beach, Florida, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Lido Beach, Florida, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Lido Beach, Florida, USA. November 2003.
HabitRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Lido Beach, Florida, USA. November 2003.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Russelia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2007.
HabitRusselia equisetiformis (firecracker plant); habit. Sun Yat Sen Park Keokea, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Russelia equisetiformis Schltdl. & Cham.

Preferred Common Name

  • firecracker plant

Other Scientific Names

  • Russelia juncea Zucc.

International Common Names

  • English: coral blow; coral bush; coral fountain; coral plant; firecracker fern; firecracker flower; fountain bush; fountain plant; Madeira plant
  • Spanish: coralillo
  • French: plante corail; russélie à feuilles de prêle

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: fountain-plant
  • Brazil: flor de coral; lágrima do diablo
  • Cook Islands: menemene
  • Cuba: coral de sao; lágrimas de amor; lágrimas de cupido; lágrimas de júpiter
  • Dominican Republic: coral; coral de italia; lágrimas de venus
  • Ecuador: lluvia de coral; lluvia de fuego
  • Finland: tulikipinakukka
  • Haiti: ciseaux; clochette
  • India: rasili
  • Kiribati: te kaibaun
  • Marshall Islands: albokbororo
  • Mexico: cola de caballo
  • Nauru: dogaibwangi; dokaibangi; dugaibangi
  • Niue: tamafine
  • Paraguay: coralito
  • Puerto Rico: coral de Italia; fountain plant; lluvia de coral; Madeira plant
  • Sweden: korallblomma
  • Tonga: toa
  • Tuvalu: inouku loa
  • USA/Hawaii: lokalia

Summary of Invasiveness

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Russelia equisetiformis is a shrub that is widely cultivated around the world (PROTA. 2016). It is listed as an invasive and a transformer species in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). In Oceania it is reported as an invasive species that has escaped from cultivation in Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Niue and Palau (PIER, 2016). In Florida it is regarded by Florida’s Exotic Pest Plant Council as a category III species; a widespread species that has the potential to form dense monocultures, primarily on disturbed sites (FLEPPC, 1993). It is regarded as a low risk species in Hawaii (Bezona et al., 2009).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Scrophulariaceae
  •                             Genus: Russelia
  •                                 Species: Russelia equisetiformis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Russelia, in the Plantaginaceae family, has about 51 species from the New World. The name was given to the genus by Baron Nikolaus von Jacquin to honour the naturalist Alexander Russell. The epithet equisetiformis means "like Equisetum" in reference to the resemblance the species has to a horsetail rush. The common name Firecracker plant refers to the unopened flowers resembling a firecracker exploding when pressed (Carlson, 1957; Howard, 1977).

Description

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The following description is from the Descriptive flora of Puerto Rico and the adjacent islands, Vol. 4 (Liogier, 1995):

Erect, branched, suffruticose, about 1 m tall, the stems 4-12-angled, with small, caduceus leaves; branches verticillate below, opposite above, spreading; leaves verticillate below, 3-6 in a whorl, oblong, elliptic or ovate, 5-15 mm long, 6-9 mm broad, acute, sometimes dentate; upper leaves opposite, linear, entire, glabrate with a few scattered glands; inflorescences paired, solitary or dichasial, flowers scattered through the upper part of the plant, or in open cymes or panicles; pedicels slender, 6-8 mm long, each subtended by a scale-like bract; calyx 2-3 mm long, the lobes deltoid, glabrous; corolla red, 1.5-2.5 cm long; glabrous but glandular in throat, the lobes short, obtuse; stamens 4, inserted at the base of the corolla tube, staminodes very short; capsule globose, 3-6 mm in diam.; seeds small, oval, warty, light brown, among white hairs filling the capsule. 

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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R. equisetiformis is native to Mexico and introduced elsewhere mostly as an ornamental species (Carlson, 1957; PIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016). It grows best in tropical and subtropical regions, but can be found in temperate regions, where it is used as a potted plant (Dave’s Garden, 2016; PROTA, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). It is recorded as introduced for North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania (See Distribution Table for details). Since ornamental plants are usually under-collected and poorly represented in herbaria, its’ distribution might be more extensive than what is reported in the literature.

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.

Last updated: 02 Apr 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

ComorosPresentIntroducedPROTA (2016)
EgyptPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMourad et al. (2015)Botanical Garden, Cairo
MadagascarPresentIntroducedPROTA (2016)
NigeriaPresentIntroducedAwe et al. (2008)
ZimbabwePresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of Zimbabwe (2016)

Asia

ChinaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
Hong KongPresentIntroduced1853CABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
IndiaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2016)Plains to low altitude
-KarnatakaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2016)
-KeralaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2016)
-MaharashtraPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2016)
-Tamil NaduPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2016)
JapanPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)Bonin Islands, Okinawa
KuwaitPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced2006Suleiman et al. (2007)Introduced from Australia or India as an ornamental for landscape projects
MyanmarPresentIntroducedKress et al. (2003)At Mandalay; also cultivated
SingaporePresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)Only cultivated

Europe

GermanyPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1833Carlson (1957)Introduced to Berlin and Munich
PortugalPresent, LocalizedIntroducedDAISIE (2015)Madeira only
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedNaturalizedDAISIE (2015)Naturalised
United KingdomPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1833Carlson (1957)Introduced from Germany

North America

BahamasPresentIntroducedPROTA (2016); UPRRP (2016); CABI (Undated)San Salvador, Long Island, Fresh Creek, Exuma.
BarbadosPresentIntroduced1906CABI (Undated)Growing wild in river; Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
BelizePresentIntroduced1906Missouri Botanical Garden (2016)
BermudaPresentIntroduced1906CABI (Undated)Growing wild in river; Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
-Sint EustatiusPresentIntroducedUPRRP (2016)
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)Guana Islands, Tortola
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced1891Missouri Botanical Garden (2016); Proctor (1984); PROTA (2016)Grand Cayman
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOviedo Prieto et al. (2012); CABI (Undated)Also as a transformer species. Pinar del Río
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedCABI (Undated)Cultivated and escaped; Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)La Libertad
GuadeloupePresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1895CABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Escuintla
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
HondurasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Colón
JamaicaPresentIntroduced1907NaturalizedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Naturalised along roadside. At 1650 ft alt.
MartiniquePresentIntroduced1885CABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
MexicoPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Campeche, Chiapas, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa Tabasco, Veracruz, Yucatán.
Netherlands AntillesPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Atlántico Sur, Managua, Rivas. Naturalized in cities
PanamaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of Panama (2016)Canal Zone, Panamá City
Puerto RicoPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedLiogier (1995); CABI (Undated)Occasionally spontaneous after cultivation
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Trinidad and TobagoPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1907CABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016); Fosberg (1976)St. John, St. Thomas
United StatesPresentIntroducedPROTA (2016)
-AlabamaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Orange Beach; Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-ArizonaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-CaliforniaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-FloridaPresentIntroducedFloridata (2016); Pennell (1919); Escaped from cultivation and established in disturbed sites
-GeorgiaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-HawaiiPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-KentuckyPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-LouisianaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-MarylandPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-MichiganPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Carolson (1957)
-MississippiPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-MissouriPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCarlson (1957)
-NebraskaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-NevadaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-New YorkPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-OhioPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCarlson (1957)
-PennsylvaniaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-South CarolinaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)
-TexasPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCABI (Undated)Widely cultivated; Original citation: Dave's Garden (2016)

Oceania

American SamoaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)Ta'u Island
AustraliaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
-South AustraliaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedForbes et al. (2010)In the permanent collection of the Adelaide Botanical Garden
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)Aitutaki Atoll (cultivated), ‘Atiu Island (cultivated), Mangaia Island, Ma’uke Island, Miti’aro Island, Rarotonga Island.
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)Weno Island, Kosrae Island (cultivated), Yap Island.
FijiPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Cultivated and naturalized in sandy clearings. Along streets and roadsides. Kambara Island, Viti Levu Island.
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Widely invasive on islands. Also cultivated in Mangareva, Hiva Oa, Ua Pou, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Makatea, Takapoto, Tikehau and Rurutu Islands.
GuamPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
KiribatiPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Abemama, Butaritari, Marakei, Maiana, Onotoa, Tarawa Atolls and Tabiteuea Island.
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)Ralikand Ratak Chains. Also cultivated.
NauruPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Also cultivated. Ile Lifou, Iles Ouvéa, Ile Grande Terre.
NiuePresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Also cultivated
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2016)Babeldaob Island, Koror Island, Malakal Island, Ngerkebesang Island, Peleliu Island
Papua New GuineaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)In gardens
PitcairnPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
Solomon IslandsPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
TongaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedPIER (2016)
TuvaluPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)
U.S. Minor Outlying IslandsPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)
Wallis and FutunaPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER (2016)

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Beni, Santa Cruz
BrazilPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced1903CABI (Undated)Original citation: New York Botanical Garden (2016)
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)
ColombiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Antioquia
EcuadorPresentIntroducedVascular Plants of Ecuador (2016)El Oro. Cultivated
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER (2016)Cultivated
ParaguayPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Central, Cordillera
PeruPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Lima, Loreto
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden (2016)Distrito Federal, Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Sucre.

History of Introduction and Spread

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R. equisetiformis has been introduced as an ornamental throughout its non-native range. It was introduced to Germany at 1833 from where it was taken into England (Carlson, 1957). It has been in the Caribbean since the late 1800’s (New York Botanical Garden, 2016). It was introduced to Cuba from Mexico as an ornamental where it has escaped from gardens (Pennell, 1923). It has also been reported as escaping from cultivation and naturalised in Florida (USA), Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Madeira, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Niue (DAISIE, 2015; Floridata, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). Suleiman et al. (2007) report it as introduced to Kuwait in 2006 from Australia or India for greenery in urban and suburban areas.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Kuwait 2006 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No Suleiman et al. (2007) From Australia or India.
Germany Mexico 1833 Horticulture (pathway cause) No Yes Carlson (1957)

Risk of Introduction

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R. equisetiformis is a popular ornamental species sold at local nurseries and over the internet, making it medium to high risk of being introduced into tropical and subtropical areas, where it has the potential to escape from cultivation. It is available in temperate areas, but mostly to be used as a potted plant or planted outside as an annual.

Habitat

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R. equisetiformis can be found from sea level to 1400 m elevation (PROTA, 2016). It is mostly reported as a cultivated ornamental plant and naturalised along roadsides, urban areas, sandy clearings, woods, pinelands, hammocks and river margins (Pennell, 1919; Floridata, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Buildings Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The reported chromosome number for R. equisetiformis is n=10 (Löve, 1980). Germplasm is deposited and available at USDA-TARS (USDA-ARS, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

R. equisetiformis is mostly reproduced by cuttings or by the arching branches rooting when in contact with soil (Dave’s Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016). Although capsules are usually not seen in cultivated plants (PIER, 2016), it is reported on some horticultural internet sites as self-sowing.

Physiology and Phenology

R. equisetiformis will flower all year round in the tropical and subtropical areas; and in temperate areas until frost, when branches will die out, to re-sprout from the base at spring (Gilman, 1999; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015). Flower buds will drop off in cold temperatures (PROTA, 2016).

R. equisetiformis is a perennial, but in temperate zones it is used as an annual (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015).

Environmental Requirements

R. equisetiformis is a drought tolerant species that can grow well in different types of soils, as long as they are well drained (Gilman, 1999; Ow et al., 2011). It has moderate salt tolerance, growing best in full sun to partial shade and with a soil pH between 6.1 and 7.8 (Gilman, 1999).

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])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated 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

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Mylabris pustulata Herbivore Inflorescence not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The pests reported on horticultural internet sites affecting R. equisetiformis are mites, nematodes and caterpillars. In India, Mylabris pustulata is reported as feeding on its floral parts (Siddiqui, 1983). The larvae of Mariana taprobanes also feed on the species (Matthews et al., 1990).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoosReported in permanent collections at botanical gardens in Australia and Egypt. Yes Forbes et al., 2010
Botanical gardens and zoosReported in permanent collections at botanical gardens in Australia and Egypt. Yes Mourad et al., 2015
DisturbanceEstablished at disturbed sites Yes Floridata, 2016
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from cultivation Yes Floridata, 2016
HorticultureSold as an ornamental at internet sites Yes Yes
Internet salesSold as an ornamental at internet sites Yes Yes
Landscape improvementIntroduced to Kuwait for greenery in urban and suburban areas Yes Yes Suleiman et al., 2007
Medicinal useUsed for traditional medicinal purposes Yes PROTA, 2016
Nursery tradeOrnamental plant available at nurseries Yes Yes
Off-site preservation Yes Yes Forbes et al., 2010
Ornamental purposesSold as an ornamental at internet sites and at local nurseries Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
GermplasmGermplasm is deposited and available at USDA-TARS Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic value

R. equisetiformis is used worldwide as an ornamental for landscaping, as a hedge or ground cover, as a potted plant, in hanging baskets or cascading over walls (Gilman, 1999).

Social benefit

R. equisetiformis is cultivated in Mexico, Central America and Africa as a medicinal plant (PROTA, 2016). It is reported to have antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (Ojurongbe et al., 2015). It is used to treat kidney diseases, inflammation, pain, malaria, leukaemia, diabetes and to promote hair growth (Awe et al., 2008, 2010; PROTA, 2016). Extracts of the species have shown central nervous system depressant activities (Kolawole et al., 2007).

Environmental services

R. equisetiformis is used for erosion control and to attract wildlife, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds (Dave’s Garden, 2016; PIER, 2016). It is visited by butterflies of the genus Phoebis in Brazil (Lemes et al., 2008). In Hawaii, it is recommended for areas near the beach because of its salt and wind tolerance (Bezona et al., 2009).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage
  • Invertebrate food

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Landscape improvement
  • Wildlife habitat

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Potted plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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R. equisetiformis can be distinguished from other Russelia species by its slender, rush-like stems, small caducous leaves, and flowers with long corolla tubes, glabrous but glandular in the corolla throat (Carlson, 1957; Liogier, 1995). Flowers could be confused with the ones of Odontonema tubiforme which has broad leaves (PIER, 2016).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Almost all the information available on the species is on its use as an ornamental or as a medicinal plant. Detailed information about its occurrence in the wild and its effects on habitats, biodiversity and impacts is lacking. Information about its invasiveness in areas reported as such is also limited.

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

Awe EO, Adeloye A, Idowu T, Olajide OA, Makinde J, 2008. Antinociceptive effect of Russelia equisetiformis leave extracts: identification of its active constituents. Phytomedicine, 15(4):301-305. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09447113

Awe EO, Banjoko, OS, Makinde MJ, 2010. Free radical scavenging: a possible mechanism of action for the anti-inflammatory activity of Russelia equisetiformis (Schlect & Chan) (Scrophulariaceae). Inflammopharmacology, 18:179-185.

Bezona N, Hensley D, Yogi J, Tavares J, Rauch F, Iwata R, Kellison M, Wong M, Clifford F, 2009. Salt and wind tolerance of landscape plants for Hawai'i, L-13., USA: Cooperative Extension Service, University of Hawai'I at Manoa, 13 pp.

Carlson MC, 1957. Monograph of the genus Russelia (Scrophulariaceae). Fieldiana: Botany, 29(4):231-92.

DAISIE, 2015. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. European Invasive Alien Species Gateway. www.europe-aliens.org/default.do

Dave's Garden, 2016. Dave's Garden. El Segundo, California, USA: Internet Brands. http://davesgarden.com/

Encyclopedia of Life, 2016. Encyclopedia of Life. http://www.eol.org

FLEPPC, 1993. Florida's most invasive plant species. The Palmeto, Fall 1993:6-7.

Flora of Panama, 2016. Flora of Panama (WFO), Tropicos website. Tropicos website. St. Louis, MO and Cambridge, MA, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FOPWFO

Flora of Zimbabwe, 2016. Flora of Zimbabwe. http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/

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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.

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Suleiman MK, Bhat NR, Abdal MS, Al-Mulla L, Grina R, Al-Dossery S, Bellen R, D'cruz G, George J, Christopher A, 2007. Evaluation of shrub performance under arid conditions. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, 5(1):273-280. http://www.isfae.org/scientificjournal.php

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Distribution References

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

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CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

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DAISIE, 2015. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. http://www.europe-aliens.org/

Flora of Panama, 2016. Flora of Panama (WFO). In: Tropicos website, St. Louis, MO; Cambridge, MA, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FOPWFO

Flora of Zimbabwe, 2016. Flora of Zimbabwe., http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/

Floridata, 2016. Floridata plant database., Tallahassee, Florida, USA: Floridata. http://www.floridata.com/

Forbes S, Sandham J, Meredith S, Barker WRB, Lowe A, Ainsley P, Jusaitis M, Pitman S, Christensen T, Andrews T, Fidler N, Winter P, Hatcher R, Sawtell C, 2010. Catalogue of plants 2010: Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens. In: Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, 2 (Supplement) 1-297.

Fosberg FR, 1976. Revisions in the flora of St. Croix U.S, Virgin Islands. In: Rhodora, 78 (813) 79-119.

India Biodiversity Portal, 2016. Online Portal of India Biodiversity., http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Kress WJ, Defilipps RA, Farr E, Kyi DYY, 2003. A checklist of the trees, shrubs, herbs, and climbers of Myanmar. In: Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 45 1-590.

Liogier HA, 1995. Descriptive flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: Spermatophyta, Volume IV. Melastomataceae to Lentibulariaceae., San Juan, Puerto Rico: La Editorial, UPR.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Mourad MM, Abdel-Hameed UK, Mariam IH, Tantawy ME, 2015. Diversity and evolutionary trends in the floral characters of some taxa of Scrophulariaceae sensu lato. In: Adansonia, 37 (1) 149-159.

Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, 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 No. 1), 22-96.

Pennell FW, 1919. Schrophulariaceae of the Southeastern United States. [Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia], 71 (3) 224-291.

PIER, 2016. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk., Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Proctor GR, 1984. Flora of the Cayman Islands., Richmond, UK: Kew Publishing. 724 pp.

PROTA, 2016. PROTA4U web database., Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp

Suleiman M K, Bhat N R, Abdal M S, Al-Mulla L, Grina R, Al-Dossery S, Bellen R, D'cruz G, George J, Christopher A, 2007. Evaluation of shrub performance under arid conditions. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment. 5 (1), 273-280. http://www.isfae.org/scientificjournal.php

UPRRP, 2016. UPRRP Herbarium., University of Puerto Rico. http://herbariodb.uprrp.edu/Bol/uprrp/Search

Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2016. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Project/CE

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Flora of Zimbabwehttp://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/cult/species-display.php?species_id=166050
Floridata Plant Encyclopediahttp://www.floridata.com/
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Russelia on Arizona State University websitehttp://www.public.asu.edu/~camartin/plants/Plant%20html%20files/russeliaequisetiformis.html

Contributors

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30/06/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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