Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Miconia calvescens
(miconia)

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Datasheet

Miconia calvescens (miconia)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Miconia calvescens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • miconia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. calvescens is a small tree, usually 4-12 m tall with large leaves (80 x 30 cm). It was introduced to Tahiti (French Polynesia) in 1937 in a botanical garden and first recorded as invasive there in the early...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); habit.  Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); habit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); sapling pulled from substrate. Note person (Forest Starr) for scale. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
TitleSapling
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); sapling pulled from substrate. Note person (Forest Starr) for scale. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); sapling pulled from substrate. Note person (Forest Starr) for scale. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
SaplingMiconia calvescens (miconia); sapling pulled from substrate. Note person (Forest Starr) for scale. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009. ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003. ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleHabit
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
HabitMiconia calvescens (miconia); invasive habit; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); new leaves of miconia. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
TitleNew leaves
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); new leaves of miconia. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); new leaves of miconia. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.
New leavesMiconia calvescens (miconia); new leaves of miconia. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); leaves and fruits. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleFruits
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); leaves and fruits. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); leaves and fruits. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
FruitsMiconia calvescens (miconia); leaves and fruits. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); leaf, showing undersurface, with Kim Starr for scale. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleLeaf
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); leaf, showing undersurface, with Kim Starr for scale. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); leaf, showing undersurface, with Kim Starr for scale. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
LeafMiconia calvescens (miconia); leaf, showing undersurface, with Kim Starr for scale. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); upper surface of leaf. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleLeaf
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); upper surface of leaf. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); upper surface of leaf. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
LeafMiconia calvescens (miconia); upper surface of leaf. Nahiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); under-surface of leaf; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
TitleLeaf
CaptionMiconia calvescens (miconia); under-surface of leaf; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Miconia calvescens (miconia); under-surface of leaf; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.
LeafMiconia calvescens (miconia); under-surface of leaf; Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Miconia calvescens DC.

Preferred Common Name

  • miconia

Other Scientific Names

  • Cyanophyllum magnificum Groenland
  • Melastoma arborea Velloso
  • Melastoma mandioccana Raddi
  • Miconia arborea Pav. ex Triana
  • Miconia magnifica Triana
  • Miconia velutina L. Linden & Rodigas

International Common Names

  • English: bush currant; purple plague; velvet tree; velvet-leaf
  • French: cancer vert

Local Common Names

  • Australia: velvetleaf
  • Bolivia: guayabilla
  • Costa Rica: lengua de vaca
  • French Polynesia: pa'a honu
  • Germany: Blaublatt, Prächtiges
  • Guatemala: sirín morado
  • Puerto Rico: arbol de terciopelo

EPPO code

  • MICCA (Miconia calvescens)

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. calvescens is a small tree, usually 4-12 m tall with large leaves (80 x 30 cm). It was introduced to Tahiti (French Polynesia) in 1937 in a botanical garden and first recorded as invasive there in the early 1970s. The species  now occurs on two-thirds of the island (about 80 000 ha)  between 0 and 1400 m elevation, forming dense monospecific stands on about one-quarter of the island, mainly the wet areas where the mean annual rainfall exceeds 2000 mm. Because of its distribution and abundance, it is considered invasive in the Society and Marquesas islands (French Polynesia), the Hawaiian islands (USA), the tropical region of Queensland (Australia) and the Province Sud (New Caledonia). The species is also naturalized in Sri Lanka, and occurs in the islands of Grenada and Martinique (Lesser Antilles) as a garden ornamental. It was also planted in Jamaica, the Philippines and Indonesia but its current status there has not been recently reported.

The species is listed as one of the ‘100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species’ of IUCN (ISSG, 2011).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Melastomataceae
  •                             Genus: Miconia
  •                                 Species: Miconia calvescens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The species was first described by Alphonse De Candolle in 1828, then by Von Martius (1887) and Cogniaux (1891). A recent revision by J.J. Wurdack (1971) clarified the abundant synonymy (Melastoma calvescens Schrank & Martius, Melastoma arborea Velloso, Cyanophyllum magnificum Groenland, Miconia magnifica Triana) and the presence of a form with green leaves and a bicoloured form with purple undersides. A. Cogniaux in his “Monographie sur les Mélastomatacées” (1891) considered the bicoloured form as a doubtful species. According to herbarium specimens, the form with green leaves has a large distribution in tropical America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay) whereas the bicoloured form seems restricted to Central America (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica).

The Latin name (calvescens, i.e. becoming bold) refers to the loss of the stellate hairs present on the young leaves. The English name ‘velvet tree’ refers to the purple colour, ‘purple plague’ also to its invasiveness, as does the French name ‘cancer vert’ (green cancer). The Tahitian name ‘pa’a honu’ means ‘turtle carapace’ and refers to the large size and shape of the leaf but is not commonly used. The common name ‘miconia’ is preferred by both French and English speakers in the Pacific islands as there are no other introduced Miconia species in this region. However, two other species do occur in Australia, namely M. nervosa and M. racemosa (Hardesty et al., 2011).

Description

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The species is a small tree up to 16 m but usually 4-12 m tall with very large leaves. The following description is taken from Weber (2003) and from Wurdack, 1980): glabrous dark-green leaves are oblong-elliptical to elliptical-ovate, 20-80 cm long, 8-30 cm wide, acuminate with an obtuse or rounded base. Margins are entire or slightly toothed. Inflorescences are panicles of 20-35 cm length. Flowers 5-merous, are sessile and have oblong bracteoles 2-3 mm long and caducous. Hypanthium 2-2.7 mm long; calyx tube 0.6-0.7 mm long. Petals white and glabrous on the surfaces but sometimes sparsely gland-edged, 2-3 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, oblong-obovate. Stamens slightly dimorphic; filaments 3-4 mm, glabrous or very sparsely glandular. Stigma slightly expanded; style glabrous or sparsely glandular, slightly immersed in the ovary apex; ovary 3-celled and 1/2-2/3 inferior, the apex granulose or sparsely glandular. Fruits are globose, purple-black, 3.5-4.5 mm in diameter, containing ovoid to pyramidal seeds of c. 0.5 mm length.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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The native distribution of M. calvescens is mainly in Central and S. America, from Mexico down to Argentina but it has been widely introduced elsewhere and has naturalised in the Caribbean, and sporadically across Asia and the Pacific. It has become invasive in French Polynesia, in the tropical high volcanic islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Tahaa (Society Islands), and Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva (Marquesas), also in New Caledonia, Hawaii and parts of Australia. (Detailed distribution data are provided by PIER, 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

Indonesia
-JavaAbsent, formerly presentIntroduced Not invasive Meyer, 1994bCultivated in the Bogor Botanical garden in the 1950s-1960s; no recent information
PhilippinesPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMeyer, 1998aFirst cultivated at Los Baños; still present
SingaporePresentIntroducedChong et al., 2009
Sri LankaLocalisedIntroduced1888Meyer, 1998aCultivated in Peradeniya Botanic Gardens; naturalized in Kandy District, 40 km to south

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
AngolaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Congo Democratic RepublicPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMeyer, 1998aJardin Botanique de Kisantu
RéunionPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

North America

MexicoPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b
USA
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced1961 Invasive Medeiros et al., 1997Widespread on Hawaii and Maui, localised on Oahu, Kauai

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNativeISSG, 2011
Costa RicaLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentNativeISSG, 2011
GrenadaPresentIntroduced1970sMeyer, 1998aSt George
GuatemalaLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b
HondurasLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b
JamaicaPresentIntroducedbefore 1970Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998aNaturalized in Castleton Garden (Wurdack, 1971), no recent information
MartiniquePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMeyer, 2010Ajoupa Bouillon
NicaraguaPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b; ISSG, 2011
PanamaPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b
BoliviaPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b
BrazilPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007
-AcrePresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-AlagoasPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-AmazonasPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012
-BahiaLocalised1997NativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
-CearaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeSeixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
-GoiasPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Mato GrossoLocalised1998NativeSeixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Minas GeraisLocalised1996NativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
-ParaPresentNativeMeyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012
-PernambucoPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Rio de JaneiroLocalised2002NativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
-RondoniaPresentNativeForzza et al., 2012
-Santa CatarinaLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012
-Sao PauloLocalised2001NativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012
ColombiaLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b
EcuadorLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007
ParaguayLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b
PeruLocalisedNativeMeyer, 1994b

Europe

BelgiumPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedISSG, 2011
GermanyPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedISSG, 2011
NetherlandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedISSG, 2011
UKPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedISSG, 2011

Oceania

Australia
-New South WalesLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Brooks and Jeffery, 20101 small naturalized infestation north of Murwillumbah
-QueenslandLocalisedIntroduced1963 Invasive Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998a; Csurhes, 1998First introduced to the Townsville Botanical Gardens in 1963, and the Flecker Botanical Garden, Cairns, in 1968. 25 naturalized infestations in tropical north Queensland
French PolynesiaWidespreadIntroduced1937 Invasive Meyer, 1994a; Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998a; Meyer, 1996; Meyer and Florence, 1996; Meyer and Malet, 1997Widespread in Tahiti, Raiatea and Moorea. Localised in Tahaa, Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva
New CaledoniaLocalisedIntroduced1970s Invasive Meyer, 2005Above Nouméa, south of Malawi peak

History of Introduction and Spread

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The form of M. calvescens with bicoloured leaves (probably from Mexico) was considered a botanical marvel in Europe and elsewhere in the 1800s. It reached Tahiti by 1937 by way of Perediniya Botanical Garden in Sri Lanka. It reached Hawaii, USA, and Queensland, Australia, about 25 years later, probably from the same source. Recognition of its severe invasiveness in Tahiti dates from the early 1970s.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1963-1996 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Csurhes (1998)
French Polynesia Sri Lanka 1937 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Meyer (1994a); Meyer (1996) Introduced by H.W. Smith, from the Peradeniya Botanic Garden to the Papeari Botanic Garden in Tahiti
Hawaii Sri Lanka 1961 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Medeiros et al. (1997)
New Caledonia 1970s Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes Csurhes (1998); Meyer (2005) Introduced by a garden land owner from Tahiti

Risk of Introduction

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Danger of new invasions of M. calvescens is probably greatest in high islands of French Polynesia because of ideal habitat combined with the possibility of careless transport with construction equipment or hiking boots. The same danger is theoretically possible but much less likely for other high Pacific islands. Its status is not known in locations such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and southern China, where M. calvescens  could possibly invade fragmented rainforest ecosystems in a similar way to its highly invasive neotropical relative Clidemia hirta in Taiwan (Yang, 2001) and other Asian locations. Leung et al. (2010) state: “In tropical Asia, for example, a single “super-invader”, Clidemia hirta (Melastomataceae), is the only exotic plant species to invade closed-canopy native forests in Singapore (Teo et al., 2003), at Pasoh, Malaysia (Peters, 2001), and at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka (Ashton et al., 2001).” Leung et al. (2010) observed that rose apple (Syzygium jambos, Myrtaceae) was the only invasive plant species starting to invade the degraded upland landscape of Hong Kong. There are few studies related to current and potential future impacts of biological invasions on biodiversity in South Asia (Peh, 2010), so outbreaks of M. calvescens from unnoticed plantings are definitely a possibility.

Habitat

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Invaded habitats include native tropical lowland rainforest and upland rainforest (montane cloud forest) from sea-level up to 1400 m elevation, and secondary forests, including forestry plantations.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number is 2n=32 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012). The genetic variability of the species in native and introduced areas is discussed by Hardesty et al. (2012). The breeding system is facultative autogamy, i.e. self-pollination can occur (Meyer, 1994b; 1998b). Seed germination rate is high (up to 90% in 15-20 days in laboratory conditions). Seeds are photo-sensitive but can germinate in dense shade (0.02% of full sun; Meyer, 1994b, 1998b). The soil seed bank can exceed 50 000 seeds/m² in the most invaded areas in Tahiti, and seed bank longevity is over 16 years (Meyer, 2010).

The species can be considered as a late successional pioneer species, adapted to low light levels for seed germination and growth, i.e. relatively shade-tolerant, but with relatively rapid vegetative growth (up to 1.5 m/yr in French Polynesia; Meyer and Malet, 1997), an early sexual maturity (after 4-5 years in French Polynesia; Meyer, 1998b), and prolific fruit production. A single mature tree can bear 200 panicles of 500 fruits each, containing an average of 200 seeds, thus producing 20 million seeds per fruiting season (there are at least three flowering peaks per year in Tahiti; Meyer, 1998b). As for most of the species belonging to this particular functional group, M. calvescens benefits from additional light for flowering and fruiting, such as in semi-open vegetation (e.g. forest edges, riverbanks) or after disturbances (e.g. treefall gaps, landslides, cyclones).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (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 27

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 25 35

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall150010000mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid

Soil texture

  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Glomerella cingulata Pathogen Leaves/Stems to species

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The first exploration for natural enemies of M. calvescens within its native range was conducted in Costa Rica, Brazil and Trinidad in 1993-1995 by Robert Burkhart, exploratory entomologist for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (Smith, 2010). Burkhart made numerous collections of insects observed feeding on M. calvescens. There were dozens of Lepidoptera species (notably Riodinidae, with particularly dramatic feeding by Euselasia spp., as well as Limacodidae, Nymphalidae, Lycaenidae and Noctuidae. There were also many species of Coleoptera (Chrysomelidae, Cerambycidae, Curculionidae), several Hemiptera, and several plant pathogens (photos in Smith, 2010). Burkhart mentioned that in sites in Costa Rica the diversity of insects feeding on M. calvescens was high, but numbers of individuals of any one species were low. He later noted that natural enemies of M. calvescens were less common on the plant in the Rio de Janeiro area of Brazil than in Costa Rica. Burkhart’s initial exploration has been built upon over the following 15 years. The most promising insect natural enemies are undergoing evaluation in Costa Rica, Hawaii and Brazil as potential biocontrol agents (see discussion under Biological Control).

Robert Barreto (of Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil) and colleagues pioneered discovery of plant pathogens on M. calvescens. One of them, a forma specialis of Collectotrichum gloeosporioides [Glomerella cingulata] (named f.sp. miconiae) was quickly tested and approved for release as a biocontrol agent in 1997 (Killgore et al., 1998). Though its effectiveness has been considered negligible in Hawaii, it has contributed to increased survival of native plant species in Tahiti through allowing increased light levels to penetrate the canopy (Meyer et al., 2008). Other pathogens have since been targeted for more (Seixas et al., 2007) or less (Alves et al., 2010) scrutiny as potential agents.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Natural dispersal is by gravity and water (rivers).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Fruits on the trees are dispersed by native and alien frugivorous birds (Meyer, 1994b; Spotswood and Meyer, 2010) and possibly also by rodents as rat faeces on the ground contain a huge number of seeds in invaded areas (Meyer, 1994b; Shiels, 2011).

Accidental Introduction

M. calvescens has been transported in contaminated soil.

Intentional Introduction

M. calvescens has been introduced and planted as an ornamental plant.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Botanical gardens and zoosBotanical gardens in Tahiti, Hawaii and Australia Yes Csurhes, 1998; Medeiros et al., 1997; Meyer, 1996
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Csurhes, 1998; Medeiros et al., 1997; Meyer, 1996
ForestryFrom Tahiti to Raiatea as a soil contaminant in plants in pots. J-Y Meyer, personal observation Yes
HorticultureSold as a garden plant in Tahiti in the early 1980s Yes Yes Meyer, 1998a
Landscape improvementUsed as a fence post in Tahiti Yes Meyer and Smith, 1998
Ornamental purposesSold as a garden plant in Tahiti in the early 1980s Yes Yes Meyer, 1998a

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessions Yes
Land vehiclesSeeds. Introduced to Nuku iva and Fatu Hiva by vehicles and engines for road construction Yes Yes Meyer, 1998a
Machinery and equipmentSeeds Yes Yes
Ship hull foulingIntroduced in Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva (Marquesas, French Polynesia) by contaminated vehicles Yes
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds Yes Yes
WaterFruits Yes

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

An important concern that led to action against Miconia calvescens in Hawaii, was potential hydrological impacts. M. calvescens invasion in Tahiti was interpreted to have led to dense monotypic stands with little or no ground-covering vegetation, attributed to its large dark leaves, which reduce light levels beneath the canopy and thereby inhibit germination and growth of other plant species. The soil surface, exposed due to the lack of ground cover, is vulnerable to higher rates of soil erosion and overland flow during rainfall events, potentially producing excessively high rates of soil erosion in areas invaded by M. calvescens. T.W. Giambelluca of the University of Hawaii and colleagues have undertaken initial investigations of this phenomenon.

Impact on Biodiversity

Many sites, formerly dominated by native vegetation, have become completely transformed as M. calvescens gained dominance, due to the creation of deep shade which few native species can tolerate (Meyer, 1994b). In Tahiti, 70-100 native plant species, including 35-45 species endemic to French Polynesia, are directly threatened by invasion of M. calvescens into native forests (Meyer and Florence, 1996; Meyer, 2001). Concern for biodiversity loss was a major factor leading to response to M. calvescens in Hawaii and New Caledonia.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Calanthe tahitensis var. tahitensisNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Cyrtandra apiculataNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Cyrtandra connataNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Cyrtandra mucronataNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Cyrtandra vairiaeNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Fitchia tahitensisVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Glochidion papenooenseCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Lepinia taitensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Meryta lucidaVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Meryta mauruensisNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Myrsine hartiiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Myrsine ronuiensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Ophiorrhiza scorpioideaNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Ophiorrhiza setosaNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Ophiorrhiza subumbellataNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Ophiorrhiza tahitensisNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Phreatia tahitensisNo details No details
Polyscias tahitensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Psychotria cernuaVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Psychotria franchetianaDD (IUCN red list: Data deficient) DD (IUCN red list: Data deficient)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Psychotria marauensisNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Psychotria speciosaCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Psychotria tahitensisCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Psychotria trichocalyxCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Rapanea longifoliaCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Sclerotheca arboreaNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996
Sclerotheca forsteriNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer, 2001
Sclerotheca oreadesNo details No detailsFrench PolynesiaCompetition - shadingMeyer and Florence, 1996

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Loss of medicinal resources
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Ornamental

  • Potted plant

Wood Products

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Roundwood

  • Posts

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Fences
  • For light construction

Detection and Inspection

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Aerial (by helicopter) and ground surveys are the major methods for detecting locations of M. calvescens populations and plants in the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia.

In Australia, locations of M. calvescens have been reported by members of the public, weed officers or traced through database detection (Brooks and Galway, 2008). Reporting by members of the public has also been a significant means of locating M. calvescens plants in Hawaii (Conant et al., 1997).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The species is readily distinguished from other plants because of its very large leaves with purple undersides and distinctive leaf venation with three conspicuous, roughly parallel veins from the leaf base. Nevertheless, in Hawaii there is a tendency for people unfamiliar with M. calvescens to confuse it with the abundant weed Clidemia hirta, which has a similar leaf venation. In Australia, it may be confused with two other Miconia species that have also recently become naturalised in northern Queensland (i.e. Miconia nervosa and Miconia racemosa) (Queensland Government, 2012). However, the leaves of each of these species have five obvious veins, compared with the three in M. calvescens.

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

SPS measures

Entry of M. calvescens into Australia is prohibited under quarantine regulations and is subject to legal restrictions in the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

M. calvescens was listed in August 1992 as a Noxious Weed under Chapter 68 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. This provides potential authority when needed for HDOA and collaborators to conduct control on private land.

M. calvescens was legally declared a noxious species in Tahiti in1990 (Decree no. 290 CM, March 14, 1990) then classified as one of the 13 invasive alien plants recognized to be a “threat to biodiversity” in 1998 (Decree no. 244 CM, February 12, 1998), and now belongs to the list of the 35 plants threatening the biodiversity in French Polynesia (Decree no. 65 CM, January 23, 2006).  These regulation texts stated that new introduction, propagation and cultivation, as well as transportation between islands, of these plant invaders are totally banned.

In French Polynesia, movement of soil from Tahiti to the other islands of French Polynesia is strictly controlled.

Public awareness

In Australia, 22% locations of M. calvescens have been reported by members of the public, in response to publicity about the species (Brooks and Galway, 2008). Public awareness in the detection of M. calvescens in remote islands of French Polynesia is of high importance, e.g. pig hunters found the first populations on the island of Fatu Hiva (Marquesas) after having seen a documentary on M. calvescens control in the island of Raiatea (Society) on the local TV. Education and information materials such as posters, flyers, booklets, TV documentaries and DVDs are produced by the Department of the Environment of French Polynesia.

Eradication

M. calvescens is the target of an eradication programme in Australia (Erbacher et al., 2008). By 2010, there had been 53 known occurrences of the species in Australia and it has naturalized at 25 of these locations (Brooks and Jeffery, in press). Designated staff and collaborators are conducting search and control measures at active infestations.

In Hawaii, the Invasive Species Committees have a goal of eradication of M. calvescens on the islands of Kauai and Oahu (vs. containment on Hawaii and Maui).

In French Polynesia, eradication is expected in the islands of Tahaa (Society), Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva (Marquesas) where the degree of invasion is low (i.e. small infested area and few mature trees).

Control

Cultural control and sanitary measures

In the Australian eradication programme, workers clean clothing and equipment at the edge of each infestation (see Sydes and Galway, 2008). Control operations in Hawaii also emphasize the importance of dedicated boots and other clothing to avoid seed dispersal (Medeiros et al., 1997).

Physical/mechanical control

In Australia, most plants are pulled from the ground. Physical pulling is combined with chemical control in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Biological control

M. calvescens is escaping control efforts on Hawaii Island in Hawaii and on Raiatea in French Polynesia. On Maui, Hawaii, control is keeping M. calvescens well-contained but at an annual cost unlikely to be sustainable. Biocontrol has long been regarded as the likely ultimate solution in Pacific islands. Exploration was initiated by Robert Burkhart (see Natural Enemies) but only one agent (a forma specialis of the pathogen Glomerella cingulata) has been released (Killgore et al., 1999) and the effectiveness of that one has been demonstrated only on Tahiti. Mortality rate was substantial, up to 30% for young miconia plants in the field less than 50 cm tall after 4-6 years. Partial defoliation of reproductive canopy trees (up to 35%) favoured the recruitment of native plants, including rare threatened endemic plants, by increasing light availability in the understorey  (Meyer et al., 2008; Meyer and Fourdrigniez, 2011).

A formidable literature is accumulating on biocontrol of M. calvescens (e.g., Santos-Seixas et al., 2004; Burckhardt 2005, 2006; Allen, 2007; Chacón, 2007; Badenes-Perez and Johnson, 2007a, 2007b, 2008; Reichert 2007; Badenes-Perez et al., 2008; Castillo, 2009; Chavarría et al., 2009: Conant 2009; Nishida 2010). Among the more recent papers are studies on Diclidophlebia smithi (Morais et al., 2013), the nematode Ditylenchus gallaeformans (Oliveira et al., 2013), the weevil Anthonomus monostigma (Chacón-Madrigal et al., 2012), and the stem-boring weevil Cryptorhynchus melastomae (Reichert et al., 2010).

Research at the University of Costa Rica on potential insect biological control agents of M. calvescens has been underway since 2000. As of late 2009, six species seemed particularly promising as potential agents: Diclidophlebia lucens (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), a wax-producing sap-sucker on young shoots; Euselasia chrysippe (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae), whose caterpillars feed gregariously on the leaves; C. melastomae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a stem borer; A. monostigma (Curculionidae), which feeds in the fruits; Ategumia dilecticolor (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), a leaf-roller; and Mompha sp. (Lepidoptera: Momphidae), which feeds in fruits. The first three species have been sent to quarantine facilities in Hawaii for further study, but a major problem that remains to be resolved is to find a way to breed Euselasia in captivity (Paul Hanson, University of Costa Rica, personal communication, 2009). In field studies, temperature and rainfall have been found to be possible limiting factors for survivorship of E. chrysippe in Costa Rica and Hawaii (Allen, 2012).

Chemical control

In Australia, large plants are cut at ground level and the stumps treated with a herbicide. Herbicide is also used by workers on the ground in Hawaii, but spot aerial spraying with triclopyr from helicopters is also an important method, especially on the island of Maui. Cut-stump treatment of trees using herbicides (trichlopyr, trichlopyr + 2,4-D, glyphosate) is commonly used in Australia, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Hawaii. Efforts at chemical and other control methods are usefully reviewed by HEAR (2012).

Monitoring and Surveillance

In Australia the detection of new infestations has been by passive surveillance by experienced weed officers or members of the public, or trace-back activities (Brooks and Galway, 2008). Aerial surveys using GPS (by helicopter) and ground surveys are the major methods for monitoring M. calvescens populations in the Hawaiian Islands.

References

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Reichert E, 2007. Cryptorhynchus melastomae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) as a potential biocontrol agent for Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) in Hawaii. Montreal, Canada: Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, 66 pp.

Reichert E; Johnson MT; Chacón E; Anderson RS; Wheeler TA, 2010. Biology and host preferences of Cryptorhynchus melastomae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a possible biocontrol agent for Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) in Hawaii. Environmental Entomology, 39(6):1848-1857. http://docserver.ingentaconnect.com/deliver/connect/esa/0046225x/v39n6/s19.pdf?expires=1297915226&id=0000&titleid=10265&checksum=243D225002969132A27A4AD24D38BB01

Roux JJle; Wieczorek AM, 2008. Isolation and characterization of polymorphic microsatellite markers from the velvet tree, Miconia calvescens DC. (Melastomataceae). Molecular Ecology Resources, 8(5):961-964. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/mer

Roux JJle; Wieczorek AM; Meyer JY, 2008. Genetic diversity and structure of the invasive tree Miconia calvescens in Pacific islands. Diversity and Distributions, 14(6):935-948. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/ddi

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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.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR)http://www.hear.org/

Organizations

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Hawaii: MISC Maui Invasive Species Committee, P.O. Box 983, Makawao, www.hear.org/misc

Hawaii: US Geological Survey (USGS), P.O. Box 44 Blg 344 Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, http://www.usgs.gov/ecosystems/pierc/research/whzd.html

Australia: Biosecurity Queensland, Primary Industries and Fisheries, Tropical Weeds Research Centre P.O. Box 187 or Natal Downs Rd, Charters Towers, QLD 4820

Australia: CSIRO Tropical Forest Research Centre, P.O. Box 780, Atherton, QLD 4883, www.tfrc.csiro.au

French Polynesia: Délégation à la Recherche, Gouvernement de Polynésie française, B.P. 20981 Papeete, Tahiti

Contributors

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22/08/13 Updated by:

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

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

13/01/10 Original text by:

Jean-Yves Meyer, Government of French Polynesia, Délégation à la Recherche, B.P. 20981 Papeete, French Polynesia

Lloyd Loope, Haleakala Field Station, PO Box 369, Makawao, HI 96768, USA

Simon Brooks, Tropical Weeds Research Centre, PO Box 187, Queensland, Australia

Distribution Maps

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