Miconia calvescens (miconia)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Miconia calvescens DC.
Preferred Common Name
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
- MICCA (Miconia calvescens)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
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 TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Myrtales
- Family: Melastomataceae
- Genus: Miconia
- Species: Miconia calvescens
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
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).
DescriptionTop of page
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 TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
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 TableTop of page
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/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Java||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||Not invasive||Meyer, 1994b||Cultivated in the Bogor Botanical garden in the 1950s-1960s; no recent information|
|Philippines||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Meyer, 1998a||First cultivated at Los Baños; still present|
|Singapore||Present||Introduced||Chong et al., 2009|
|Sri Lanka||Localised||Introduced||1888||Meyer, 1998a||Cultivated in Peradeniya Botanic Gardens; naturalized in Kandy District, 40 km to south|
|Congo Democratic Republic||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Meyer, 1998a||Jardin Botanique de Kisantu|
|-Hawaii||Widespread||Introduced||1961||Invasive||Medeiros et al., 1997||Widespread on Hawaii and Maui, localised on Oahu, Kauai|
Central America and Caribbean
|Costa Rica||Localised||Native||Meyer, 1994b|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012|
|El Salvador||Present||Native||ISSG, 2011|
|Grenada||Present||Introduced||1970s||Meyer, 1998a||St George|
|Jamaica||Present||Introduced||before 1970||Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998a||Naturalized in Castleton Garden (Wurdack, 1971), no recent information|
|Martinique||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||Meyer, 2010||Ajoupa Bouillon|
|Nicaragua||Present||Native||Meyer, 1994b; ISSG, 2011|
|Brazil||Present||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007|
|-Acre||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Alagoas||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Amazonas||Present||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Bahia||Localised||1997||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Ceara||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Espirito Santo||Present||Native||Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Goias||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Mato Grosso||Localised||1998||Native||Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Mato Grosso do Sul||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Minas Gerais||Localised||1996||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Para||Present||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Pernambuco||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Rio de Janeiro||Localised||2002||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Rondonia||Present||Native||Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Santa Catarina||Localised||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Forzza et al., 2012|
|-Sao Paulo||Localised||2001||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007; Forzza et al., 2012|
|Ecuador||Localised||Native||Meyer, 1994b; Seixas et al., 2007|
|Belgium||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||ISSG, 2011|
|Germany||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||ISSG, 2011|
|Netherlands||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||ISSG, 2011|
|UK||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||ISSG, 2011|
|-New South Wales||Localised||Introduced||Invasive||Brooks and Jeffery, 2010||1 small naturalized infestation north of Murwillumbah|
|-Queensland||Localised||Introduced||1963||Invasive||Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998a; Csurhes, 1998||First introduced to the Townsville Botanical Gardens in 1963, and the Flecker Botanical Garden, Cairns, in 1968. 25 naturalized infestations in tropical north Queensland|
|French Polynesia||Widespread||Introduced||1937||Invasive||Meyer, 1994a; Meyer, 1994b; Meyer, 1998a; Meyer, 1996; Meyer and Florence, 1996; Meyer and Malet, 1997||Widespread in Tahiti, Raiatea and Moorea. Localised in Tahaa, Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva|
|New Caledonia||Localised||Introduced||1970s||Invasive||Meyer, 2005||Above Nouméa, south of Malawi peak|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
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.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous 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 IntroductionTop of page
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.
HabitatTop of page
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 ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / 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-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
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).
ClimateTop of page
|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 RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||25||35|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||1500||10000||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Glomerella cingulata||Pathogen||Leaves/Stems||to species|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
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 DispersalTop of page
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).
M. calvescens has been transported in contaminated soil.
M. calvescens has been introduced and planted as an ornamental plant.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Botanical gardens and zoos||Botanical 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|
|Forestry||From Tahiti to Raiatea as a soil contaminant in plants in pots. J-Y Meyer, personal observation||Yes|
|Horticulture||Sold as a garden plant in Tahiti in the early 1980s||Yes||Yes||Meyer, 1998a|
|Landscape improvement||Used as a fence post in Tahiti||Yes||Meyer and Smith, 1998|
|Ornamental purposes||Sold as a garden plant in Tahiti in the early 1980s||Yes||Yes||Meyer, 1998a|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Clothing, footwear and possessions||Yes|
|Land vehicles||Seeds. Introduced to Nuku iva and Fatu Hiva by vehicles and engines for road construction||Yes||Yes||Meyer, 1998a|
|Machinery and equipment||Seeds||Yes||Yes|
|Ship hull fouling||Introduced in Nuku Hiva and Fatu Hiva (Marquesas, French Polynesia) by contaminated vehicles||Yes|
|Soil, sand and gravel||Seeds||Yes||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
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 SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Calanthe tahitensis var. tahitensis||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Cyrtandra apiculata||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Cyrtandra connata||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Cyrtandra mucronata||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Cyrtandra vairiae||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Fitchia tahitensis||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Glochidion papenooense||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Lepinia taitensis||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Meryta lucida||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Meryta mauruensis||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Myrsine hartii||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Myrsine ronuiensis||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Ophiorrhiza scorpioidea||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Ophiorrhiza setosa||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Ophiorrhiza subumbellata||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Ophiorrhiza tahitensis||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Phreatia tahitensis||No details No details|
|Polyscias tahitensis||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Psychotria cernua||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Psychotria franchetiana||DD (IUCN red list: Data deficient) DD (IUCN red list: Data deficient)||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Psychotria marauensis||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Psychotria speciosa||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Psychotria tahitensis||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Psychotria trichocalyx||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Rapanea longifolia||CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Sclerotheca arborea||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
|Sclerotheca forsteri||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer, 2001|
|Sclerotheca oreades||No details No details||Competition - shading||Meyer and Florence, 1996|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop 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
- 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
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Uses ListTop of page
- Botanical garden/zoo
- Potted plant
Wood ProductsTop of page
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- For light construction
Detection and InspectionTop of page
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/ConditionsTop of page
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 ControlTop of page
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.
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.
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).
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).
In Australia, most plants are pulled from the ground. Physical pulling is combined with chemical control in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
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).
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.
ReferencesTop of page
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OrganizationsTop of page
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
ContributorsTop of page
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 MapsTop of page
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