Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Cordia obliqua
(clammy cherry)

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Datasheet

Cordia obliqua (clammy cherry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cordia obliqua
  • Preferred Common Name
  • clammy cherry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. obliqua is a perennial fast-growing small tree included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). This...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cordia obliqua Willd.

Preferred Common Name

  • clammy cherry

Other Scientific Names

  • Cordia tremula Griseb.

International Common Names

  • English: cordia-tree
  • Spanish: ateje americano; cereza blanca; uva gomosa

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: ateje americano; ateje americano; uva gomosa
  • India: bahubara; bhokar; bohadori; borla; buhal; lasura
  • Lesser Antilles: coco chat; gum; kaka poul; sticky cherry; Turkey berry; white manjack
  • Saint Lucia: glue; sip

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. obliqua is a perennial fast-growing small tree included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). This species has been intentionally introduced throughout the tropics where it is cultivated mostly for its fruits. It produces yellow or pinkish-yellow shining drupes which are dispersed by birds and by humans when they consume its fruits. C. obliqua has been listed as invasive in Cuba and Puerto Rico where it is principally invading coastal areas, coastal hills, open forests, and thickets (Kairo et al., 2003; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2014). In Cuba it is listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species for the island and it is also considered an environmental transformer species (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Boraginales
  •                         Family: Boraginaceae
  •                             Genus: Cordia
  •                                 Species: Cordia obliqua

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Boraginaceae includes 110 genera and 1595 species distributed mostly in the northern hemisphere in warm to temperate habitats (Stevens, 2012). The genus Cordia is classified within the subfamily Cordiaceae which is a monophyletic subfamily supported by molecular data and by morphological apomorphies such as the presence of an undivided endocarp, four stigmatic lobes, and plicate cotyledons (Gottschling et al., 2005). The genus Cordia is extremely morphologically diverse and comprises approximately 350 species of trees and shrubs distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world (Miller and Gottschling, 2007).

The Plant List (2013) lists C. obliqua as a synonym of Cordia dichotoma G.Forst, but other sources including USDA-ARS (2014), USDA-NRCS (2014) and ITIS give C. obliqua and C. dichotoma as separate accepted species. 

Description

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C. obliqua is a small tree, 3-4 m tall, the branches rather contorted and arching; leaves elliptic, oblong, 4-9 cm long, 3-7.5 cm broad, glabrous above, tomentose beneath, petioles 1-3.5 cm long. Inflorescences terminating in leafy lateral branches, dichotomously branched into corymbose cymes, widely spaced, 5-8 cm wide. Flowers dimorphic, sessile. Calyx campanulate, 5-6 mm, 3 to 5-lobed; lobes unequal, triangular. Corolla white, approximately as long as calyx; lobes shorter than tube, margin somewhat undulate. Drupes yellow or reddish, subglobose, 2 cm in diameter, with sticky mesocarp. 

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Tree

Distribution

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C. obliqua occurs naturally in India (USDA-ARS, 2014), but is now naturalized in Mexico and the West Indies (see Distribution Table for details; Broome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012).

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

IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-AssamPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-BiharPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-ChandigarhPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-ChhattisgarhPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-DamanPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-DelhiPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-DiuPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-GoaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-GujaratPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-HaryanaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-JharkhandPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-KarnatakaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-KeralaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-LakshadweepPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-MaharashtraPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-ManipurPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-MeghalayaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-MizoramPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-NagalandPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-OdishaPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-RajasthanPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-SikkimPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-TripuraPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-UttarakhandPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009
-West BengalPresentNativeOrwa et al., 2009

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedDavidse et al., 2012Campeche area

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Antigua and BarbudaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
BarbadosWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Guana, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
GrenadaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupeWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
MartiniqueWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
MontserratWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodriguez, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Krauss et al., 2008; Graveson, 2012Very common in Vieux Fort beach area; risk in disturbed and burnt habitats
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St. Thomas Is.

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. obliqua was probably introduced into the West Indies during the 1900s. For Puerto Rico there is a record explaining that a tree of this species was intentionally planted at the Mayaguez Experiment Station in 1920 and that by 1926 it was about 10 m high (Britton and Wilson, 1926). This species also appears in herbarium collections made in 1927 in Cuba, 1954 in St Thomas, and in 1958 in St Kitts and St Lucia (US National Herbarium).  

Risk of Introduction

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Because C. obliqua is mainly dispersed by birds and humans when they consume its fruits, the risk of introduction of this species into new habitats is moderate to high. In addition, the species is often planted as an ornamental and boundary tree in disturbed areas, farms, gardens, and roadsides. Therefore, since humans are acting as the main local and long-distance disperser of C. obliqua, its probability of escaping and colonizing new habitats remains high. 

Habitat

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C. obliqua occurs in coastal hills, open forests, thickets, disturbed sites and along roadsides at elevations from sea-level up to 500 m. Parmar and Kaushal (1982) report it as present up to 1470 m in the mid Himalayas of India.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed 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 Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Physiology and Phenology

Young seedlings of C. obliqua are frost susceptible and also suffer from exposure to hot sun. They are susceptible to browsing and fire, but recover appreciably from these injuries. The tree coppices and resprouts well.

In India, the flowering season starts late in April and continues until the end of May and the fruiting season lasts from the beginning of July to the end of August (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982).

Environmental Requirements

C. obliqua grows best in tropical and subtropical regions in areas with warm and humid conditions. It prefers deep moist sandy loam 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 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])

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall2503000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. obliqua spreads mostly by seed, but also by cuttings or by stump plants. Seeds are dispersed primarily by birds and humans and secondarily by water and other animals (i.e., cattle). 

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Landscape improvementOften planted as barrier and support tree Yes Yes Parmar and Kaushal, 1982
Medicinal useFruits are used in traditional Indian medicine Yes Yes Parmar and Kaushal, 1982
People foragingFruits are consumed by humans Yes Yes Parmar and Kaushal, 1982

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
ConsumablesFruits are consumed by humans Yes Yes Parmar and Kaushal, 1982

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

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C. obliqua represents a threat for native vegetation mainly in insular ecosystems. For the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico this species is listed as invasive and it is colonizing areas in secondary forests, coastal areas, coastal hills, mangroves and open forests (Kairo et al., 2003; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2014; Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodriquez, 2014). 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • 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
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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In India, C. obliqua is used in traditional medicine: the fruits can be used as an expectorant, for coughs and for lung diseases. The raw fruits are used as a vegetable. A very good pickle of raw fruits is also made. The mucilaginous substance of the fruit can be used as a gum for pasting sheets of paper or cardboard (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

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

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

Broome R; Sabir K; Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Davidse G; Sousa Sánchez M; Knapp S; Chiang Cabrera F, 2012. Rubiaceae a Verbenaceae. Flora Mesoamericana, 4:1-533.

Gottschling M; Miller JS; Weigend M; Hilger HH, 2005. Congruence of a phylogeny of Cordiaceae (Boraginales) inferred from ITS1 sequence data with morphology, ecology, and biogeography. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 92(3):425-437.

Graveson R, 2012. The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean). The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean). http://www.saintlucianplants.com

Kairo M; Ali B; Cheesman O; Haysom K; Murphy S, 2003. Invasive species threats in the Caribbean region. Report to the Nature Conservancy. Curepe, Trinidad and Tobago: CAB International, 132 pp. http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/Kairo%20et%20al,%202003.pdf

Krauss U; Seier M; Stewart J, 2008. Mitigating the Threats of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean. Report on Project Development Grant (PPG) Stakeholder Meeting, GFL-2328-2740-4995. Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago: GEF, UNEP, CABI Caribbean and Latin America, 43 pp.

Miller JS; Gottschling M, 2007. Generic classification in the Cordiaceae (Boraginales): resurrection of the genus Varronia P. Br. Taxon, 56:163-169.

Orwa C; Mutua A; Kindt R; Jamnadass R; Simons A, 2009. Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. World Agroforestry Centre. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/af/treedb/

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.

Parmar C; Kaushal MK, 1982. Cordia obliqua. In: Wild Fruits [ed. by Parmar, C. \Kaushal, M. K.]. New Delhi, India: Kalyani Publishers, 19-22.

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

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Rojas-Sandoval J; Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2014. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Biological Invasions. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0712-3

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

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org

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

USDA-NRCS, 2014. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

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

Distribution Maps

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