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Datasheet

Odontonema callistachyum (purple firespike)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Odontonema callistachyum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • purple firespike
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Within and outside its native distribution range, O. callistachyum is a shrub commonly planted as an ornamental for its attractive pinkish purple tubular flowers (...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Odontonema callistachyum (Schltdl. & Cham.) Kuntze

Preferred Common Name

  • purple firespike

Other Scientific Names

  • Ecobolium corymbulosum (Bertol.) Kuntze
  • Justicia callistachya Kuntze
  • Justicia callistachya Schltdl. & Cham.
  • Justicia corymbulosa Bertol.
  • Odontonema breedlovei V.M. Baum
  • Odontonema geminatum (Donn.Sm.) S.F. Blake
  • Odontonema steyermarkii Leonard
  • Rhytiglossa corymbulosa (Bertol.) Nees
  • Thyrsacanthus callistachyus (Schltdl. & Cham.) Nees
  • Thyrsacanthus callistachyus var. amplus Nees
  • Thyrsacanthus geminatus Donn.SM.
  • Thyrsacanthus lilacinus Lindl.

International Common Names

  • English: pink firespike
  • Spanish: canutillo; coral; fantasia; llama purpura

Summary of Invasiveness

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Within and outside its native distribution range, O. callistachyum is a shrub commonly planted as an ornamental for its attractive pinkish purple tubular flowers (USDA-ARS, 2014). Because the two closely related species O. cuspidatum and O. tubaeforme have both escaped from cultivation and become invasive on many islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, O.callistachyum is listed as “potentially invasive” for Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Where invasive, Odontonema species are a serious problem to the conservation of native vegetation due to their ability to invade the understorey of native forests (Meyer and Lavergne, 2004; PIER, 2014). 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Acanthaceae
  •                             Genus: Odontonema
  •                                 Species: Odontonema callistachyum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Acanthaceae includes about 221 genera and 4000 species widespread in both New and Old World Tropics (Scotland and Vollesen, 2000; Stevens, 2012). Species within this family are herbs or woody shrubs, lianas and trees. Members of the Acanthaceae may be recognized by their fruit: a few-seeded, explosively dehiscent capsule within which seeds are borne on hook-like structures called retinacula (the lignified derivatives of the funiculus) (McDade et al., 2008). The genus Odontonema is native to the New World and includes about 20–30 species distributed in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean (Daniel, 1995). O. callistachyum and the closely related O. cuspidatum and O. tubaeforme are commonly cultivated as ornamentals in nurseries, greenhouses, and gardens in tropical and subtropical regions (Daniel, 1995). 

Description

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O. callistachyum is a perennial herb or shrub to 3.5 m (5 m) tall; young stems quadrate to quadrasulcate, glabrous or sparsely pubescent. Leaves elliptic to elliptic ovate, 15-30 cm long and 4-12 cm wide, apically acuminate with the tip often curved to one side, basally attenuate, glabrous above, puberulous beneath along the midrib and the major costa, the margins entire to crenulate; petioles wanting or to 1 cm long. Inflorescences in terminal racemes 30-60 cm long, the lateral peduncles to approximately 5 mm long, the flowers in fascicles, each fascicle sub- tended by a subulate, keeled, puberulous bract 2-3 mm long, the flowers mostly borne in dichasial cymes, each subtended by a similar, though slightly smaller, more triangular bract; rachises subtomentose to tomentose; pedicels 3-6 mm long, puberulous to tomentose. Flowers with the calyx 5-merous, the segments equal, subulate, keeled, puberulous, 2-3 mm long; corolla pinkish purple, bilabiate, funnelform, often curved to one side, to 3.0 cm long, 5 mm wide at the throat and 2 mm wide at the base, the tube puberulous on both surfaces, the upper lip 6-7 mm long, 4.5 mm wide at the base, 2-lobed, the lobes ovate, 4.5 mm long, 2.5 mm wide, apically obtuse, the lower lip of 3 lobes, each 7-8 mm long, 2 mm wide, apically obtuse; stamens extending to or just beyond the notch of the upper lip, the filaments villous, the staminodes to 3.5 mm long, the apex slightly enlarged, curved and apiculate, the sterile anthers puberulous, the filaments glabrous. Capsule 1.5-2.5 cm long, glabrous. Seeds subcordate in outline, 3-5 mm long, 2.6-3.3 mm wide, surface rugose (Daniel, 1995; Flora of Panama, 2014). 

Plant Type

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Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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O. callistachyum is native to Mexico and Central America and is now naturalized in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In Florida it occurs only in cultivation (USDA-ARS, 2014). 

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

North America

MexicoPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
Costa RicaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
CubaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014Cultivated and naturalised. Potentially invasive
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014Cultivated and naturalised. Potentially invasive
El SalvadorPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
GuatemalaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
HondurasPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
NicaraguaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations
PanamaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2014Wild and cultivated populations

History of Introduction and Spread

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In Cuba and the Dominican Republic, O.callistachyum was introduced as an ornamental. In Cuba, it was first reported as early as 1901 by I. Urban as a cultivated plant (Urban 1901), while in the Dominican Republic, it was not reported until 1981 (Liogier, 1981).

Risk of Introduction

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Because O.callistachyum is still commercialized as an ornamental, the risk of introduction into new habitats is moderate to high. In addition, another two species within the genus Odontonema (O. cuspidatum and O. tubaeforme) have shown a highly invasive behaviour, escaping from cultivation and becoming highly invasive on many insular ecosystems in the Caribbean, and in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Meyer and Lavergne, 2004; PIER, 2014).

Habitat

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O. callistachyum occurs at elevation from 40 to 2000 metres in montane rainforests, lowland rainforest, tropical deciduous forests, evergreen seasonal forests, mesophytic montane forests, mixed oak woodlands and pine-oak forests from Mexico to Panama. It is often cultivated as an ornamental and can be found in gardens, yards, roadsides and parks (Daniel, 1995). 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number for the species O. callistachyum is unknown. However, for the genus Odontonema the chromosome number reported is n = 21 (Daniel, 1995).

Reproductive Biology

Flowers in O. callistachyum are heterostylous and require specialized pollinators to set fruits. Within its native distribution range, this species is visited and possibly pollinated by hummingbirds (Daniel, 1995).

Physiology and Phenology

In Mexico, O. callistachyum has been recorded flowering from October to July and fruiting from October to May (Daniel, 1995). In Central America, flowering occurs from January to August and fruiting occurs from April to July (Daniel, 2010).

Environmental Requirements

O. callistachyum grows best on soils continually moist with acid to neutral pH from 40 m to 2000 m in elevation and temperate to warm temperatures. It is shade tolerant but it does not tolerate saline soils or freezing conditions (Daniel, 1995). 

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])

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8003500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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O. callistachyum spreads by seeds and vegetatively by stem segments or root-suckers. Seeds are produced in capsules that fall off before drying, liberating the seeds (Daniel, 1995; 2010). 

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapeCommonly cultivated as ornamental Yes Yes Daniel, 1995
Garden waste disposalStem fragments Yes Yes Daniel, 1995
HorticultureCommonly cultivated as ornamental Yes Yes Daniel, 1995
Nursery tradeCommercialised as ornamental Yes Yes Daniel, 1995
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Daniel, 1995

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesPieces of stems and roots from gardens Yes Yes
WaterSeeds and stem fragments Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive

Environmental Impact

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O. callistachyum is listed as “potentially invasive” and consequently there is still no information available about ecological or economic impacts. However, the two closely related species O. cuspidatum and O. tubaeforme are highly invasive and aggressive species that can grow forming dense thickets in the understorey of secondary and relatively unaltered forests (Meyer and Lavergne 2004; PIER, 2014). 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • 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)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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O. callistachyum is an economically important species in the horticultural and nursery trade. It is often cultivated as an ornamental within and outside its native distribution range. It is also popular in gardens because it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds that feed on the nectar (Daniel, 1995; 2010).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material

Prevention and Control

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There is no information available about prevention or control strategies for this species. 

References

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Daniel TF, 1995. Revision of Odontonema (Acanthaceae) in Mexico. Contributions of the University of Michigan Herbarium, 20:147-171.

Daniel TF, 2010. Catalog of Guatemalan Acanthaceae: taxonomy, ecology, and conservation. Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, 61:289-377.

Flora of Panama, 2014. Flora of Panama (WFO), Tropicos website. St. Louis, MO and Cambridge, MA, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/FOPWFO

Liogier AH, 1981. Antillean Studies I. Flora of Hispaniola: Part I Celastrales, Rhamnales, Malvales, Thymeleales, Violales. Antillean Studies I. Flora of Hispaniola: Part I Celastrales, Rhamnales, Malvales, Thymeleales, Violales. Plainfield, New Jersey, USA: H.N. and A.L. Moldenke., 218 pp.

McDade LA; Daniel TF; Kiel CA, 2008. Toward a comprehensive understanding of phylogenetic relationships among lineages of Acanthaceae S.L. (Lamiales). American Journal of Botany, 95(9):1136-1152. http://www.amjbot.org/

Meyer JY; Lavergne C, 2004. Beautés fatales: Acanthaceae species as invasive alien plants on tropical Indo-Pacific islands. Diversity and Distributions, 10(5/6):333-347.

PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Scotland RW; Vollesen K, 2000. Classification of Acanthaceae. Kew Bulletin, 55:513-589.

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

Urban I, 1901. Symbolae Antillanae. Volumen II. Lipsiae, Germany: Fratres Borntraeger, 860 pp.

USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
JSTOR Global Plantshttp://plants.jstor.org/

Contributors

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27/06/14 Original text by:

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

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

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