Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Cuphea hyssopifolia
(false heather)

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Datasheet

Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cuphea hyssopifolia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • false heather
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Considered a transformative invasive plant in Cuba by Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012); however, no information could be found on this species’ environmental impacts. It is considere...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowering habit. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA.September 2007.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowering habit. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA.September 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowering habit. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA.September 2007.
Flowering habitCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowering habit. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA.September 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); Flowering habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2011.
TitleHabit
CaptionCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); Flowering habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2011.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); Flowering habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2011.
HabitCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); Flowering habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2011.©Forest & Kim Starr-2011 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Walmart Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
TitleFlowers and leaves
CaptionCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Walmart Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Walmart Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.
Flowers and leavesCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Walmart Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2008.©Forest & Kim Starr-2008 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
TitleFlowers
CaptionCuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.
Flowers Cuphea hyssopifolia (false heather); flowers and leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth

Preferred Common Name

  • false heather

Other Scientific Names

  • Cuphea rivularis Seem.
  • Parsonia hyssopifolia (Kunth) Standl.

International Common Names

  • English: elfin herb; elphin plant; Hawaiian heather; heather; Mexican heather; tarweed
  • Spanish: cufia; romerito; yerba de la dicha; yerba de la suerte
  • French: corail

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: cuféia
  • Cuba: cufia
  • Germany: falsches Heidekraut
  • Samoa: āoa
  • Sweden: isopskufea

Summary of Invasiveness

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Considered a transformative invasive plant in Cuba by Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012); however, no information could be found on this species’ environmental impacts. It is considered a potentially serious weed in Hawaii (HEAR, 2016). Naturalized in tropical regions around the world where it has been widely planted as an ornamental (HEAR, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Lythraceae
  •                             Genus: Cuphea
  •                                 Species: Cuphea hyssopifolia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Cuphea is in the Lythraceae family (USDA-ARS, 2016), and is a genus containing about 260 species of annual and perennial flowering plants native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Americas. The generic name is derived from the Greek word kyphos, meaning "bent," "curved," or "humped. The species epithet hyssopifolia means “hyssop-leaved.”

Description

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Short, evergreen shrubs growing 20 – 70 cm tall. Leaves opposite, narrowly lanceolate, 10-35 × 1-8 mm. Solitary flowers grow from the leaf axils along the branches. Each flower has 6 pink, purple or white petals (3-3.5 mm long) emerging from a green floral tube (5-8 mm long). The calyx teeth are triangular and the calyx may be glabrous or with a few stiff hairs. Fruits are 3-lobed capsules containing 5-8 seeds, each about 1 mm in diameter (Flora Mesoamericana, 2016).

Distribution

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Native from Mexico to Panama (Francis, 2004; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012), however some sources also indicate it is native to South America (Graham, 1991; Flora Mesoamericana, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016). Jorge Hieronymus (1874) lists it as a component of the pampas ecosystem in Argentina, for instance. Naturalized plants occur in the Caribbean (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012), Hawaii (HEAR, 2016), India (India Biodiversity Portal, 2016), and New Zealand (USDA-ARS, 2016) among other 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

BangladeshPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedRahmatullah et al., 2010
China
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
IndiaRestricted distributionIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-MaharashtraLocalisedIntroduced Not invasive Nerlekar and Kulkarni, 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
PhilippinesPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedChua, 2013
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016

Africa

RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2016

North America

MexicoPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
USA
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 2012; HEAR, 2016East Maui, O’ahu

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
Costa RicaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedWhitefoord, 1989
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
GuatemalaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
HondurasPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
MontserratPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
NicaraguaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
PanamaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016

South America

ArgentinaLocalisedNativeJorge Hieronymus, 1874
BoliviaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
BrazilPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
-AmazonasPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
-Mato GrossoPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
-ParaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
-Santa CatarinaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
-Sao PauloPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSpeciesLink, 2016
ChilePresentNative Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
ColombiaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
Ecuador
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedHEAR, 2016
PeruPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016
VenezuelaPresentNative Not invasive Flora Mesoamericana, 2016

Oceania

FijiPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
GuamPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016Kosrae, Pohnpei
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2016
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedHEAR, 2016Rota, Saipan
PalauPresentIntroduced Not invasive HEAR, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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Planted widely as an ornamental (Francis, 2004) and has escaped and naturalized in several places around the world (Francis, 2004; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; HEAR, 2016). Seeds were available in seed catalogues as early as 1877 (Bliss, 1877). Plants were naturalized in Martinique and Guadeloupe as well as cultivated as early as 1897 (Duss, 1897).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Guadeloupe Pre-1897 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No Duss (1897)
Martinique Pre-1897 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No Duss (1897)
Hawaii 1909 Yes No Webster (1992)

Risk of Introduction

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Plants are distributed as ornamental plants locally and long-distance by sale of potted plants and seeds (Francis, 2004; Dave’s Garden, 2016).

Habitat

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Occurs in the understorey of deciduous and semi-deciduous lowland and mid-elevation forests and in oak forests (Graham, 1991). Grows along the edges of creeks and rivers and in humid forests (Flora Mesoamericana, 2016), and in disturbed areas (Francis, 2004).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

2n=16 (Flora Mesoamericana, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

Flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects (Murali et al., 2013; Kane and Kervin, 2013). Each fruit produces about six tiny (1 mm) seeds (Francis, 2004). Cuphea seeds generally have improved germination after a short period of heating following cold storage (McGinnis, 2006).

Physiology and Phenology

Plants flower and produce seeds constantly (Francis, 2004). They tend to be short lived with layering extending the lives of individual plants (Francis, 2004).

Environmental Requirements

Prefers to grow in moist environments with over 1400 mm rainfall/year (Francis, 2004). Does not tolerate frost or salt (Francis, 2004). Grows in USDA hardiness zones 9-11 (Scheper, 2003) or H1C (Royal Horticultural Society, 2016). Prefers full sun to part shade (Royal Horticultural Society, 2016).

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 Tolerated < 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])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
25 26

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 0
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 19.7 27
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 31 33
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 6 23

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration05number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall14001900mm; lower/upper limits

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Popillia japonica Herbivore Leaves not specific N
Scirtothrips dorsalis Herbivore Leaves not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Several natural enemies occur on C. hyssopifolia (Hodges et al., 2005), however none found were specific to this species.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Plants are widely cultivated and sold as seeds or as rooted plants in pots (Francis, 2004; Dave’s Garden, 2016). Seeds are expelled from the fruits, while vegetative reproduction can occur by layering where branches touch the ground (Francis, 2004).

Social Impact

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May cause contact dermatitis (University of California, 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Has a broad native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Widely grown and sold as an ornamental plant (Francis, 2004; Dave’s Garden, 2016). It is used medicinally in Mexico (Morales-Serna et al. 2011) and in Bangladesh (Rahmatullah et al., 2010). The plant is considered attractive to honeybees and other pollinators (Delaplane et al., 2000; Dave’s Garden, 2016).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Cuphea carthagenesis may occur in similar habitats as C. hyssopifolia but C. carthagenesis has stems densely covered in sticky hairs and has larger leaves (Technigro Australia, 2011).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Gardeners describe seedlings as easy to uproot (Dave’s Garden, 2016).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Little information was found on Cuphea hyssopifolia’s impact on habitats or species in areas where it has naturalized, or on control measures.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, number 98, xxv + 1192 pages

Bliss BK, 1877. B.K. Bliss and Sons Illustrated Spring Catalogue. http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/45239387#page/3/mode/1up

Chua RT, 2013. Taxonomy of vascular plants in botanical garden, Baguio City. http://www.academia.edu/3876692/Taxonomy_of_Vascular_Plants_in_Botanical_Garden_Baguio_City

Dave’s Garden, 2016. Cuphea hyssopifolia. http://davesgarden.com/sitewidesearch.php?q=cuphea+hyssopifolia

Delaplane KS, Mayer DR, Mayer DF, 2000. Crop Pollination by bees. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. 352 pp.

Duss RP, 1897. Flore phanérogamique des Antilles françaises. Annales d’ L’Institut Colonial des Marseilles, 30. http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/3398869#page/9/mode/1up

Flora Mesoamericana, 2016. Flora Mesoamericana. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/fm

Francis JK, 2004. Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions: volume 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-26, 1. San Juan, Puerto Rico: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 830 pp. http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/iitf_gtr026.pdf

GBIF, 2016. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org/species

Graham SA, 1991. Lythraceae. Flora de Veracruz 66. http://www1.inecol.edu.mx/publicaciones/resumeness/FLOVER/66-Graham_I.pdf

HEAR, 2016. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/index.html

Hodges G, Edwards GB, Dixon W, 2005. Chilli thrips Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). A new pest thrips for Florida. Pest Alert. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. FDACS-P-01660. http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/68187/1612823/Pest_Alert_-_Scirtothrips_dorsalis,_Chilli_Thrips.pdf

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

Jorge Hieronymus D, 1874. Observaciones sobre la vegetación de la Provincia de Tucumán, Boletín de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias Exactas, Córdoba, 1874:183-234

Kane JH, Kervin L, 2013. Gardening for native bees in Utah and beyond. Utah State University Extension and Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratory. http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/plants-pollinators09.pdf

McGinnis L, 2006. Warming up to Cuphea, seeds get special treatment after cold storage. Agricultural Research Magazine, July 2006. USDA ARS. https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2006/jul/seeds

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Morales-Serna JA, García-Ríos E, Madrigal D, Cárdenas J, Salmón M, 2011. Constituents of organic extracts of Cuphea hyssopifolia., Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society, 55(1):62-64

Murali S, Reddy GN, Tavaragondi Vinayaka, Chetan T, 2013. Study of insect pollinator's diversity in Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth in GKVK, Bangalore., Environment and Ecology, 31(2A):724-726

Nerlekar AN, Kulkarni DK, 2015. The Vetal hills: an urban wildscape in peril, Taprobanica, 7(2):72-78

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.

Quattrocchi U, 2000. CRC world dictionary of plant names: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.

Rahmatullah M, Ferdausi D, Mollik A, Jahan R, Chowdhury MH, Haque WM, 2010. A survey of medicinal plants used by Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh., African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 7(2):91-97

Royal Horticultural Society, 2016. Cuphea hyssopifolia. https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=598

Scheper J, 2003. Cuphea hyssopifolia. Floridata. http://floridata.com/Plants/Lythraceae/Cuphea%20hyssopifolia/932

SpeciesLink, 2016. INCT-Herbário Virtual da Flora e dos Fungos. http://www.splink.org.br/

Technigro Australia, 2011. WeedWatch Colombian Waxweed (Cuphea carthagenisis). http://www.technigro.com.au/fieldguides/Colombian%20waxweedWEB.pdf

University of California, 2016. Safe and Poisonous garden plants. http://ucanr.edu/sites/poisonous_safe_plants/Toxic_Plants_by_Scientific_Name_685/

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, USA. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl

Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Kahn N, Flynn T, 2012. Hawaiian Vascular Plant Updates: A Supplement to the Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai`i and Hawai`i's Ferns and Fern Allies. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. http://www.botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/supplement.htm

Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai`i, revised edition. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press/Bishop Museum Press, 1919 pp. in 2 volumes. (Bishop Museum Special Publication 97)

Webster L, 1992. Origin and distribution of adventive alien flowering plants in Hawai`i, In: Stone CP, Smith CW, Tunison JT, eds. Alien plant invasions in native ecosystems of Hawai`i: management and research, pp. 99-154, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: UH Coop. National Park. Resource Study Unit, UH Press

Whitefoord C, 1989. Recent plant collections from Dominica, Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, 70:143-152

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
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.

Contributors

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07/11/2016 Original text by:

Sylvan Kaufman, Sylvan Green Earth Consulting, Santa Fe, USA

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