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Datasheet

Odontonema nitidum
(shrubby toothedthread)

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Datasheet

Odontonema nitidum (shrubby toothedthread)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Odontonema nitidum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • shrubby toothedthread
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Odontonema nitidum is a shrub endemic to the Caribbean. It has been reported as common or locally abundant in moist, often disturbed places, on some of the islands. The species is listed as invasive in Cuba, bu...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Odontonema nitidum (Jacq.) Kuntze

Preferred Common Name

  • shrubby toothedthread

Other Scientific Names

  • Justicia nitida Jacq.
  • Odontonema christii Lindau
  • Thyrsacanthus nitidus (Jacq.) Nees

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: coral de monte
  • Lesser Antilles: bois crabbe; bois crapaud; bois genou; bois genoux; bois-indien; bwa crapaud; chapantyé gwan bwa; z'yeux crabbes

Summary of Invasiveness

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Odontonema nitidum is a shrub endemic to the Caribbean. It has been reported as common or locally abundant in moist, often disturbed places, on some of the islands. The species is listed as invasive in Cuba, but no information on its impact seems to exist.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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This species was first described as Justicia nitida by Jacquin in 1760 and was transferred to the genus Odontonema by O. Kuntze in 1891. Odontonema comes from the Greek 'odonto', meaning tooth or toothed, and 'nema' refers to a thread or filament (Stearn, 2004), in reference to the toothed filaments of the stamens. The specific epithet 'nitidum' means shiny and probably alludes to the species lustrous leaves.

Baum (1982) divided O. nitidum into two varieties: var. album, with white flowers in unbranched, racemose inflorescences and an herbaceous habit, and var. nitidum, with magenta flowers in paniculate inflorescences and a shrubby habit. This author reports the var. nitidum to be primarily found in the northern Lesser Antilles, while var. album is found in the southern Lesser Antilles. Howard (1989), however, noted that white and purple flowered plants can be found sympatrically on several islands.

The genus Odontonema comprises about 30 species of shrubs occurring from Mexico throughout Central America, and the Caribbean to Brazil (Daniel, 1995). Morphologically, the genus is related to Chileranthemum, Oplonia and Pseuderanthemum, with which it shares an androecium of two dithecous stamens and two staminodes, and a stipitate capsule with an hour-glass shaped head containing four seeds. The main differences among these genera are related to the shape of their corolla, which likely represent adaptations to different pollinators (Daniel, 1995; McDade et al., 2000).

Several species of Odontonema are often cultivated as ornamentals and some, such as O. cuspidatum and O. callistachyum, can become weedy or invasive.

Description

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Suffrutescent herb or shrub up to 3 m tall. Stems terete or flattened, glabrous. Leaves opposite, simple; petioles 1-2 cm long, sparsely pilose; blades oblong-elliptic, 10-28 x 3-7 cm, the apex acuminate, base narrowed, margins entire, glabrous and with cystoliths on both surfaces. Flowers in terminal spiciform panicles, two or more in fascicles; pedicels 1 cm long; bracts inconspicuous, scale-like; calyx 5-lobed, green or pink, the lobes equal, acuminate, 3 mm long, ciliate on margins; corolla bilabiate, zygomorphic, white, pink or magenta, sometimes with purplish markings, tube 6-16 mm long, 3 mm in diameter, glabrous outside, pubescent inside, upper lip bilobed, 7-9 mm long, erect, lower lip trilobed, 8-9 mm long, spreading; androecium of two stamens and two staminodes inserted at the base of the corolla throat, stamens glabrous, white, included or slightly exserted, staminodes 1 mm long; style filiform, exserted from mouth of corolla. Capsule stipitate, 13-20 x 3-4 mm, the apex acute, glabrous. Seeds 4, lenticular, 2 mm in diameter, verrucose (Howard, 1989; Nicolson et al., 1991).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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O. nitidum is native to the Lesser Antilles, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago (Howard, 1989; Liogier, 1995; Baksh-Comeau et al., 2016). The species is known from a few old collections in Haiti and St. Thomas and St. Croix (Nees, 1847; Lindau, 1900), where it has since not been found.

O. nitidum has been reported as introduced to Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; Greuter and Rankin Rodriguez, 2016) and Jamaica (Adams, 1972), but the exact causes of introduction are not known. Nees reported it in Cuba in 1847, based on a specimen collected by J.A. de la Ossa and deposited in the de Candolle herbarium (G-DC) (Nees, 1847). However, a search in the database of this herbarium did not return any specimen of this species from Cuba. Gomez de la Maza and Roig (1914) listed the species under the ornamental shrubs and trees of Cuba. The first reference to the species in Jamaica was made as early as 1797 ("in sylvis montium Jamaicae") (Swartz, 1797), indicating the possibility of it being native to the island. According to Adams (1972), the species has not been recently found on this island.

Ramakrishnan and Subramanian (1961) reported a virus disease on cultivated plants of O. nitidum from Southern India. However, photos of the plants studied clearly show that this was a misidentification.

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: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Asia

IndiaAbsent, Invalid presence record(s)RAMAKRISHNAN and SUBRAMANIAN (1961)

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeHoward (1989)
BarbadosPresentNativeHoward (1989)
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOviedo Prieto et al. (2012)
DominicaPresentNativeHoward (1989)
GrenadaPresentNativeHoward (1989)
GuadeloupePresentNativeHoward (1989)
HaitiPresentNativeLiogier (1995)
JamaicaAbsent, Formerly presentAdams (1972); Swartz (1797)Introduced but not recently found
MartiniquePresentNativeHoward (1989)
MontserratPresentNativeHoward (1989)
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNativeHoward (1989)
Saint LuciaPresentNativeHoward (1989)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeHoward (1989)
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeBaksh-Comeau et al. (2016)
U.S. Virgin IslandsAbsent, Formerly presentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)Recorded from Saint Croix and Saint Thomas in the past

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of O. nitidum outside its native range is low. The species has a narrow distribution range and no significant uses. It might have some ornamental value, but it is not currently listed or sold on any gardening website.

Habitat

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O. nitidum is an understory shrub present in many types of forests including evergreen forests, semideciduous forests, lowland and montane rainforests, cloud forests, secondary forests and scrub woodland. It is often found along margins of ravines, riverbanks, steep rocky slopes, roadsides, roadside cuts, weedy clearings and cultivated field margins, at elevations ranging from sea level up to 800 m (Graveson, 2012).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial

Hosts/Species Affected

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A herbarium specimen from Dominica (Ernst 1435, US) reports this species growing in the margins of banana, cocoa, coffee and coconut plantations.

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number of O. nitidum was reported as 2n = 42 by Kumar and Subramanian (1987). However, this is reported from a plant in India and could be erroneous, due to misidentification. In any case, the base chromosome number for the genus Odontonema is n = 21 (Daniel, 1995).

Reproductive Biology

Based on its flower morphology, O. nitidum is most probably pollinated by bees. It has a zygomorphic, pale (white or pink) corolla, with a relatively short tube, and sometimes purplish nectar guides on the lower lip. The European honey bee, Apis mellifera, has been reported as a visitor of this species in Martinique (Meurgey and Dumbardon-Martial, 2015).

Physiology and Phenology

O. nitidum flowers and fruits throughout the year (based on herbarium specimens).

Longevity

O. nitidum is a perennial plant (USDA-NRCS, 2016).

Population Size and Structure

Several herbarium specimens (Higgins 51, NY, US; Howard 11130, NY, US) indicate that this species forms colonies, or can be dominant in certain places.

Environmental Requirements

O. nitidum grows in shade or partial shade, on fertile, moist soils.

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 Tolerated < 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)
23 10 0 800

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 22 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 24 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 20 28

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall750 mm2100 mmmm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

O. nitidum likely spreads from seed, and perhaps by root suckers, as has been reported in other species of the genus (e.g. O. cuspidatum). A herbarium collection from Dominica (Higgins 51, NY, US) notes that shoots often bend and lie horizontally, suggesting that the species could also propagate from rooting stems.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Ornamental purposeslisted as ornamental in Cuba Yes Yes Gomez de la Maza and Roig, 1914

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived

Uses

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The species has been listed as ornamental in Cuba (Gomez de la Maza and Roig, 1914), although it is not included in recent compilations of ornamental plants from the island (Fuentes Fiallo et al., 2001; Alvarez de Zayas, 2008).

A herbarium collection from Dominica (Higgins 51, NY, US) notes the species is planted along property borders and used as windbreak.

It is also used as a medicinal plant in Saint Lucia to heal fresh cuts "by scraping away the outer bark and scraping the inner bark into rum for application" (Graveson, 2012).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Windbreak

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In addition to O. nitidum, four other species of Odontonema occur in the Caribbean (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012). Of these, O. callistachyum, O. cuspidatum and O. rubrum are non-native ornamental species with longer, red or deep purple corollas. The fourth, O. lindavii, is endemic to Cuba and has much smaller obovate leaves.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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More studies are needed to understand what impact the species has had on natural habitats in Cuba or elsewhere in the Antilles.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1-1192. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution

Adams, C. D., 1972. Flowering plants of Jamaica, University of the West Indies.848 pp.

Alvarez de Zayas A, 2008. Ornamental plants in Cuba: uses, diversity and threats. (Plantas ornamentales en Cuba: usos, diversidad y amenazas). Revista del Jardín Botánico Nacional, 29:83-100

Baksh-Comeau YS, Maharaj SS, Adams CD, Harris SA, Filer DL, Hawthorne WD, 2016. An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical ‘hotspots’. Phytotaxa, 250(1):1-431

Baum VM, 1982. New species and combinations in Odontonema (Acanthaceae). Brittonia, 34(4):424-434

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

Fuentes Fiallo, V. R., Shagarodsky Scull, T., Sánchez Pérez, P., Castiñeiras Alfonso, L., Fundora Mayor, Z., Barrios Govín, O., Moreno Formental, V., González Areu, V., Martínez Fuentes, A., García García, M., Martínez Ramos, A., 2001. Ornamental plants of the home gardens of central and western Cuba. Revista del Jardín Botánico Nacional, 22(1), 119-131.

Gomez de la Maza M, Roig JT, 1914. [English title not available]. (Flora de Cuba (datos para su estudio)). Havana, Cuba: Imprenta y papelería de Rambla, Bouza y Ca, 178 pp

Graveson R, 2012. Plants of Saint Lucia: a pictorial flora of wild and cultivated vascular plants. http://www.saintlucianplants.com/ index.html

Greuter W, Rankin Rodriguez R, 2016. Acanthaceae. In: Greuter W, Rankin Rodriguez R, eds. Spermatophyta of Cuba: a preliminary checklist. Part II: Checklist. (Espermatófitos de Cuba: inventario preliminar. Parte II: Inventario.) Berlin, Germany: Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, 3-8

Howard RA, 1989. Acanthaceae. In: Howard RA, ed. Flora of the Lesser Antilles, Leeward and Windward Islands, Volume 6. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, 358-385

Kumar V, Subramanian B, 1987. Chromosome atlas of flowering plants of the Indian subcontinent, Volume 1: Dicotyledons. Calcutta, India: Botanical Survey of India, 464 pp

Lindau G, 1900. Acanthaceae. In: Urban I, ed. [English title not available]. (Symbolae Antillanae, Seu Fundamenta Florae Indiae Occidentalis, Volumen II). Leipzig, Germany: Fratres Borntraeger, 170-270

Liogier AH, 1995. Flora of Hispaniola, VII. (La Flora de la Española, VII). San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic: Universidad Central del Este, 491 pp

McDade LA, Daniel TF, Masta SE, Riley KM, 2000. Phylogenetic relationships within the tribe Justicieae (Acanthaceae): evidence from molecular sequences, morphology, and cytology. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 87:435-458

Meurgey, F., Dumbardon-Martial, E., 2015. Checklist of bees from Martinique (French West Indies) and their relations with visited flowers (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Megachilidae, Apidae). Annales de la Société Entomologique de France, 51(4), 346-360. http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tase20

Nees CGD, 1847. Acanthaceae. In: de Candolle AP, ed. [English title not available]. (Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, Pars XI). Paris, France: Sumptibus Victoris Masson, 46-519

Nicolson, D. H., DeFilipps, R. A., Nicolson, A. C. (et al.), 1991. Flora of Dominica, part 2: Dicotyledoneae. In: Smithsonian Contributions to Botany , (No. 77) : Smithsonian Institution Press.iii + 274 pp.

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: Boletin sobre Conservacion de Plantas del Jardin Botanico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96

Ramakrishnan K, Subramanian CP, 1961. A virus disease of Odontonema nitidum. Current Science, 30(11):431-432

Stearn WT, 2004. Botanical latin, fourth edition. Portland, USA: Timber Press, 546 pp

Swartz O, 1797. [English title not available]. (Flora Indiae Occidentalis: aucta atque illustrata sive descriptiones plantarum in prodromo recensitarum). Erlangen, Germany: Jo. Jacobi Palmii, 640 pp

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

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

Adams C D, 1972. Flowering plants of Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies. 848 pp.

Baksh-Comeau YS, Maharaj SS, Adams CD, Harris SA, Filer DL, Hawthorne WD, 2016. An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots'. In: Phytotaxa, 250 (1) 1-431.

Howard RA, 1989. Acanthaceae. In: Flora of the Lesser Antilles, Leeward and Windward Islands, 6 [ed. by Howard RA]. Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. 358-385.

Liogier AH, 1995. Flora of Hispaniola, VII. (La Flora de la Española, VII)., San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic: Universidad Central del Este. 491 pp.

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.

RAMAKRISHNAN K , SUBRAMANIAN C P, 1961. A virus disease of Odontonema nltidum. Current Science. 30 (11), 431-432 pp.

Swartz O, 1797. [English title not available]. (Flora Indiae Occidentalis: aucta atque illustrata sive descriptiones plantarum in prodromo recensitarum)., Erlangen, Germany: Jo Jacobi Palmii. 640 pp.

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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18/11/16 Original text by:

Fabiola Areces-Berazain, Herbarium UPRRP, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

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