Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Paederia foetida



Paederia foetida (skunkvine)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Paederia foetida
  • Preferred Common Name
  • skunkvine
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A perennial vine of South-East and East Asian origin, Paederia foetida has characteristically opposite, soft and offensively smelling leaves, and produces solitary flowers and globose fruits in a ‘double scor...

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Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); flowers. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November, 2000.
CaptionPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); flowers. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November, 2000.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); flowers. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November, 2000.
FlowersPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); flowers. Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, USA. November, 2000.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); draping habit. Wailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009.
CaptionPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); draping habit. Wailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); draping habit. Wailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009.
HabitPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); draping habit. Wailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); habit and leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
CaptionPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); habit and leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); habit and leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
HabitPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); habit and leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
CaptionPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.
LeavesPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009. Note insect feeding damage.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); fruit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November, 2003.
CaptionPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); fruit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November, 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); fruit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November, 2003.
FruitPaederia foetida (skunkvine, maile pilau); fruit. Hilo, Hawaii, USA. November, 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Paederia foetida L.

Preferred Common Name

  • skunkvine

Other Scientific Names

  • Gentiana scandens Loureiro
  • Paederia chinensis Hance
  • Paederia scandens (Loureiro) Merrill
  • Paederia stenophylla Merrill
  • Paederia tomentosa Blume

International Common Names

  • English: Chinese fever vine; stinking opal-berry; stinkvine
  • Chinese: ji shi teng; niu pi dong

Local Common Names

  • India: bhedai lota; gandabhadulia; gandhali; gandhaprasarini; gandhavadulia; vedailota
  • Malaysia: akar sekentut; daun kentut
  • Philippines: kantutai; kantutan
  • Thailand: kon
  • USA/Hawaii: maile pilau

Summary of Invasiveness

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A perennial vine of South-East and East Asian origin, Paederia foetida has characteristically opposite, soft and offensively smelling leaves, and produces solitary flowers and globose fruits in a ‘double scorpioid’ inflorescence. Vines trail across the ground, clamber over shrubs and twine into tree canopies to form curtains of dense vegetation that block light, provide undue weight, and offer a pathway for fire, often leading to the death of the host. P. foetida was introduced during the 19th century to the oceanic Mascarene and Hawaiian islands and later to the continental USA (Florida). It is regionally problematic in Florida where its distribution stands to expand internally and to other southern states. It is ranked by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council as a Category I (high impact) invasive species, invading and impacting natural areas, and is regulated as a noxious weed in both Florida and Alabama. In the Mascarene Islands it is a serious agricultural weed, and has recently become invasive in forest parks and disturbed urban sites in southern China.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Gentianales
  •                         Family: Rubiaceae
  •                             Genus: Paederia
  •                                 Species: Paederia foetida

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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About 30 species of Paederia are recognized worldwide, with a disjunct distribution covering continental tropical Asia (the putative centre of origin), Malesia, Madagascar and East Africa, as well as tropical America (Nie et al., 2013). Paederia foetida is the type species of the genus Paederia, both described by Linnaeus and published in 1767 based on flowering material from “India” (Linn. Herb. 294.1) as lectotypified by Puff (1991). It is the most widely distributed and commonly occurring of all its Asian congeners (Puff, 1991; Pemberton and Pratt, 2002) and demonstrates the most variability in morphological characters (Puff, 1991). Many infraspecific names have been attributed to geographical and morphological variants, yet none was formally recognized in the most recent revision (Puff, 1991).

The treatment here does not include the small, narrow-leaved phenotype Paederia foetidaformamicrophylla, first distinguished in 1929 as an infraspecific taxon from Miyajima Island, Japan. Recent studies have demonstrated stability in the size and length of its median values of leaf size, even under cultivation, indicating the trait to be genetically fixed (Tsukaya et al., 2006). Small-leaved variants have been collected as well from Kinkazan Island, Japan, and Taiwan. Co-occurrence of P. foetida formamicrophylla with other dwarf, endemic species noted on the island is hypothesized to be related to pressure by deer browsing which freely roam the sacred landscape (Tsukaya et al., 2006).

The name Paederia derives from the Greek word paederos for opals, as some species in the genus have translucent, opal-like drupes. The species name foetida infers bad smelling or stinking, referring to the foul-smelling odour exuded by parts of the vine (Deane, 2015).


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The following information is adapted from Puff (1991), Nelson (1996) and Wagner et al. (1999), and modified by the datasheet author using plant specimens from warm temperate (Jacono 952, FLAS) and subtropical (Howell 1285, FLAS) regions of Florida.

P. foetida is a perennial (deciduous or evergreen), semi-woody, herbaceous vine that twines upward on supports and creeps across the ground. Its stems are light green, slender, <5 mm diameter, up to 7(10) m long, with fine, short hairs in lines or glabrous; flexible, climbing by twining on other species or onto its old stems from the previous season; stems creeping along the ground will root at the nodes. Leaves opposite, simple, broadly lanceolate to elongated-ovate, tip pointed, 3-14 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, bases rounded, truncate or heart-shaped. Upper surface medium to dark green, irregularly and sparsely scattered with transparent, bristly hairs; hairs multicellular with pointed tips. Lower surface lighter in colour, somewhat reflective in light, veins especially lined with transparent, bristly hairs; hairs multicellular and bent at the tip. Margin entire, fringed with closely appressed (strigose) hairs. Petioles 2-5 cm long, slender, with fine, short hairs in lines. Stipule pairs broadly wedge-shaped, extending between the bases of opposing petioles (interpetiolar), stipule margins fringed with tiny cilia. Flowers are arranged on lax scorpioid or double scorpioid inflorescences (cymes) with long stalks; terminal and axillary; sepals connate, calyx lobes deltate, corolla funnel-shaped, 4-5 lobes, margins crinkled, 7-11 mm long, white to cream, dark purplish red within, outer surface pubescent. Fruit a capsule, light brown to yellow or reddish-brown, glossy, nearly globose, 4-6 mm diameter crowned by persistent calyx lobes; containing one or two seeds. Seeds are ellipsoidal, plano-convex or convexo-concave, without conspicuous wings, black, often covered with raphides. The whole plant is malodorous; the dominant foul-smelling aroma component is believed to be the sulfur-containing compound dimethyl disulfide which has been identified from volatile oils isolated by steam distillation from leaves, stems and flowers (Wong and Tan, 1994).

According to Puff (1991), extreme polymorphism has been recognized in P. foetida across its wide geographical distribution, especially in leaf shape, leaf size, the indumentum or hairiness of leaf blades, flower size and inflorescence structure. Narrow-leafed variants have been named from Japan, China and Thailand, yet they also occur elsewhere. Hairy variants or those with particular hair characteristics have been published, as have types with entirely glabrous leaf blades. Although none has been correlated with geographical distribution, populations of hairy and glabrous plants do not grow intermingled. The longest corolla tube can be up to three times the length of the shortest, but there is no correlation between corolla tube length and native geographical distribution. Corollas with short, wide, nearly campanulate tubes are also known. Inflorescences can appear leafy and difficult to separate from stem foliage or they may lack lower leaf-like bracts to appear distinct, a variation seen in China as well as Japan.

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber


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The native distribution of P. foetida covers temperate and tropical East Asia and tropical South-East Asia, including Japan and Taiwan (Tsukaya et al., 2006), parts of India and China, Hong Kong, Macau, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia (including Java), Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore (Puff, 1991; USDA-ARS, 2015).

P. foetida has been introduced to the islands of New Guinea and Sri Lanka (Puff, 1991), and its status as native or introduced is uncertain at Christmas Island (Swarbrick, 1997). It has also been introduced to Mauritius and Reunion in the western Indian Ocean (Puff, 1991; USDA-ARS, 2015), to the southwestern Pacific island of New Caledonia (MacKee, 1994), the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii and Maui (Puff, 1991; Wagner et al., 1999; Starr et al., 2003; Smithsonian, 2015) and the southern USA, including Florida and restricted locations in Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and North Carolina.

P. foetida has been collected in Florida from 23 counties distributed primarily in the northern and central regions of the state (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2015). A disjunct population found in a Broward County oak woodland hammock in 1996 remains today as the most southern, (Pratt and Pemberton, 2001; Howell #1285, FLAS). Other Florida conservation lands impacted include Hillsborough River State Park, Colt Creek State Park, Rothenback Park and Little Manatee River State Park (Myers and Wunderlin, 2003). The most northern population reported from North America is from Randolph County in central North Carolina, at the North Carolina Zoological Park, where plants twining in native deciduous forest species overwintered for at least one year (Diamond, 1999).

The expansive region between North Carolina and Florida holds few specimen records for P. foetida. Besides a voucher for Darlington County (USDA-NRCS, 2015), instances for the exotic vine in South Carolina remain limited to observations from disturbed areas of the coastal plain where plants have occasionally spread from plantings (Diamond, 1999). Georgia hosts records since 1983 of P. foetida in three southern counties which all share a border with Florida (Mast et al., 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015). West of Florida, in Louisiana, naturalized plants of P. foetida were first discovered in 1986, trailing along open ground and growing over cultivated bamboos and camellias at Jungle Gardens, a 68-ha botanical garden and bird sanctuary located on Avery Island. Since then the species has appeared within the boundaries of three additional parishes, also located in the south central, humid lowlands of that state, although its behaviour as invasive or not is uncertain. P. foetida appears to be invasive in Texas, where populations are known from the Houston area (Brown, 1992).

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


BangladeshLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Chittagong; Matamori; Kodala Hill
BhutanLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Ngaramp; Samahi
Brunei DarussalamLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Bandar Seri Begawan
CambodiaLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Kampot; Knang Kepoeu
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AnhuiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991W. Siunin; W Yuan; Huo Shan; Jin Gang Tai
-FujianWidespreadNativePuff, 1991
-GansuPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2015
-GuangdongWidespreadNative Invasive Puff, 1991; Ye et al., 2013Shenzhen: Xinda, Wuzhipa, Haishangtianyuan, Honggang Park, Wanghong Dakan, Yantianao, Qinghulijiao, Qilin Mountain; Dongguan City: Qingxi town; Foshan: Xiqiao Mountain National Forest Park; Guangzhou City, Baiyunshan Forest Park
-GuangxiWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991
-GuizhouWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991
-HebeiPresentNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Ye et al., 2013
-HenanLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Lushih-hsien; Qio Zi Ghou.
-Hong KongWidespreadNativePuff, 1991Central Island; Victoria Peak; Deep Bay; West Point Res.; Nai Chung; Sharp Isl.; Fau Tan valley;Lantau.
-HubeiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Xi He; Lai Feng county; He Feng county; Wuchang, Wuhan, Ichang; Nan-To, Shennongjia For. Dist; Nantuan Mts.
-HunanWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991
-JiangsuLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991I-hsing; Bao Yian Shan; Yun Tai Shan
-JiangxiWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991
-MacauPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-ShaanxiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Tai Shan Miao; Cheng Gu county, Hsinglunglung valley, Fu Ping county
-ShandongLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Fei Hsien; Tsingtau; Mt Kan-y-san
-ShanghaiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Woosung; Xing Si
-ShanxiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Miao Ba county; Wei tze ping
-SichuanWidespreadNativePuff, 1991
-TibetPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Tse-kou
-YunnanWidespreadNativePuff, 1991
-ZhejiangWidespreadNativePuff, 1991
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)Localised Invasive Puff, 1991; Swarbrick, 1997Grant’s Well; nr. Drumsite; unknown if native or introduced
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991N. Nicobar; nr. Kakana; S. Andaman; Baratang Isl.; Port Blair; Dhani Khari; Middle Andaman
-Arunachal PradeshLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Tirap Frontier District; Lohit Frontier District, Badasu to Sonegadam; Doshiang to Hayutiang
-AssamLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991
-ManipurPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Ukrul; Sirhoi
-MeghalayaLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Mairung; Kala Panu; Mushai; Mertiung; Jaintea Hills
-MizoramPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Sairep
-NagalandLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Jamboea; Dimapur; Takubama; Kohima; Baaligan
-SikkimLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Lingdam; Mungpoo; Sureil; Sikovi Tarai; Sukna Tarai
-West BengalLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Darjeeling; Damsong; Jalpaiguri; Singtam
IndonesiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2015
-JavaLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Srianta et al., 2012East Java: Arjuna Mountain area. Putan; Batavia; Prov. Pekalongan; Weleri; Bandung; Goenoeng Papandyan;Samarang; Prov. Madium; Tjiernigun coast
-KalimantanPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-MoluccasLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Amboina; Seram
-Nusa TenggaraWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Batoer; Moengoeran; Tafelhoek; Ampenan; Rindjani Mts. Sumbava: nr. Bima; Mt. Batulanteh; Flores; Alor; Timor: SE of Kapan
-SulawesiLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Prov. Minahosa; Donggala; NE of Palu; Loewoek
-SumatraWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Gunong Kemiri; Asahan; Paja Kombo; nr. Lk. Manindjau; Cebia Isl.; coast of Dempo; Mt. Sipulang Nature Reserve
JapanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-HonshuWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Tsukaya et al., 2006incl. Miyajima Island
-KyushuWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Tsukaya et al., 2006
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Tsukaya et al., 2006
-ShikokuLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Tsukaya et al., 2006Tokushima; Ehime Pref., Mt. Kajigamori, Ashizurizaki
Korea, DPRPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
Korea, Republic ofLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Saishu; Quelpaert Isl., Man-San
LaosLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Semoun; Pak Munung; Sam-Neua Prov.; between Ban Yen and Don Moh
MalaysiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2015
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Wong and Tan, 1994Langkawi; Perlis; Kedah; Penang; Perak; Kelantan; Trengganu; Pahang; Selangor; Malacca
-SabahLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Labuan Isl; Sandakan Distr.; Kota Kinabalu; Yuk Sihave
-SarawakLocalisedNativePuff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Sarawak Hills; Kuching; upper Rejang River
MyanmarWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Southern Shan States; Taunggyi; Maymyo; Bhamo; Myitkyina region; Kachin State; Northern Shan States; Ngaw Chang Valley; Moulmein
NepalLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Kathmandu; Lala Bhangang; Nanrding; Thakma Khola; Tamur Valley
PhilippinesLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Islands of: Luzon; Mindoro; Dos Hermanos; Panay; Polillo; Babuyan; Mindanao; Billiran; Leyte; Cebu; and Batan
SingaporeLocalisedNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Serangoon; Kranji Malure Reserve; French Embassy
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Puff, 1991; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
TaiwanWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Taipei; Ilan; Hsinchu; Miaoli; Taoyuan; Taichung; Changhua; Nantou; Kaohsiung; Pingtung; Taitung; Hualien; Little Quemoy Island
ThailandWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991N; NE; E; SW; SE; Peninsula
VietnamWidespreadNative Not invasive Puff, 1991Tonkin; Annam: Cochin-China


MauritiusWidespreadIntroduced1905 Invasive EVANS, 1947; Puff, 1991L’ile Maurice; R. Patates; Curepipe; Cacoas; E of Piton du Fouge; Reduit
RéunionWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Puff, 1991St. Benoit; nr. Eglise de St. Anne; nr. Brule St. Denis; St. Pierre

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaWidespreadIntroduced1897 Invasive Myers and Wunderlin, 2003; FLAS, 2015; Mast et al., 2015; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2015Present in 23 counties, primarily in the northern and central peninsula.
-GeorgiaLocalisedIntroduced1983 Invasive Mast et al., 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015Thomas, Lowndes and Camden Counties
-HawaiiLocalisedIntroduced1854 Invasive Puff, 1991; Wagner et al., 1999; Starr et al., 2003; Smithsonian, 2015Kauai; Oahu: Honolulu, Nuuanu Valley, Tantalus, Waimano, Kailua, Kalihi Valley, Koolau Range, Aiea, Waiahole Forest Reserve; Hawaii: Hilo, Waiakea; Maui: Alaeloa, Lahaina, Makawao, Keokea, Hana, Wailua
-LouisianaLocalisedIntroduced1986Thomas and McCoy, 1986; USDA-NRCS, 2015Avery Island in Iberia Parish, also Lafayette, East Feliciana and East Baton Rouge Parishes
-North CarolinaLocalisedIntroduced1998 Invasive Diamond, 1999Zoological Park, Asheboro, Randolph County
-South CarolinaLocalisedIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Darlington County
-TexasLocalisedIntroduced1992 Invasive Brown, 1992Houston area of Harris County


New CaledoniaLocalisedIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994; USDA-NRCS, 2015Île Grande Terre
Papua New GuineaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Puff, 1991Bismark Archipelago: New Britain, Rabaul

History of Introduction and Spread

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P. foetida was introduced to Mauritius by 1905 and later spread to Reunion (Puff, 1991). By the late 1940s agricultural experts on Mauritius doubted that it could be economically eradicated with the herbicides available (Evans, 1947). Ten years later it was noted as one of 11 principal weeds in sugarcane. Interestingly, P. foetida was the only vine among the list of eight grasses, one sedge and a borage threatening sugarcane production (Roghegouste, 1958). More recent changes in cultural practices, such as green can trash blanketing, have favoured proliferation of vine species in the genera Ipomoea, Cajanus, and Passiflora as well as P. foetida (Seeruttun et al., 2005). In Papua New Guinea the species has been managed as an agricultural weed since at least the early 1950s (Waterhouse and Mitchell, 1998).

The early introductions to Hawaii, and probably Mauritius, originated in Japan, as hexaploid chromosome numbers of the Hawaiian material indicate. Movement has been linked to the opening up of Japan beginning in the mid-1800s when exports and emigrants began flowing to Hawaii (Puff, 1991). P. foetida was deliberately introduced to Florida, probably into the west central region near Brooksville, Hernando County, during the mid to late 1800s by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for trial as a potential fibre crop (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002). In 1903 it was collected in and about the town of Sanford, and documented as established in Seminole County, 111 km east of Brooksville (Small, 1910). Later in Hernando County, P. foetida was reported along fencerows (Small, 1933) and, by 1937, in natural woodland areas (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2015). During the following years it continued to move to new parts of Hernando County before affecting neighbouring counties in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The distribution of P. foetida continued to expand greatly in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, particularly to northern and panhandle regions, although many Florida counties and ecoregions still remain free of the weed.

P. foetida is regulated as a noxious weed in Florida (FDACS, 2014), as well as Alabama (USDA-ARS, 2015), and is ranked by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) as a Category I (high impact) invasive species (FLEPPC, 2015).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Florida mid 1800s Crop production (pathway cause)Government Yes Pemberton and Pratt (2002)

Risk of Introduction

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In the USA, P. foetida is not regulated by Federal law. Instead, only the states of Florida and Alabama maintain legal authority over this species and only within their state jurisdictions. In Florida it is illegal to possess or transport the species without a permit; however, this has little impact on the natural mechanism of transmission which is believed to be transport by birds. In Japan, P. foetida growing in black pine produced 115 fruits per plant, of which an average of 58% were removed by birds (Takahashi and Kamitani, 2004). Fruit production is common in Florida and many regions within and beyond the state remain vulnerable to invasion through bird dispersal.

In Hawaii, the nursery industry has been impacted by P. foetida infestations (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002), so that transport of infested container plants remains a threat in Hawaii as well as potentially in the southeastern USA. Noxious weed legislation in Florida provides a level of protection through regular inspection of landscape plant material at commercial nurseries before sales and transport, and inspection of nursery material as it enters state boundaries. Propagules (seeds and stems with nodes) surviving in garden waste are another potential means of introduction to new environments (Possley and Brazis, 1998). 


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Based on an extensive and concise array of field observations and herbarium material, Puff (1991) describes the ecology of P. foetida in its native range thus: “in gaps and at edges of wet, evergreen, semi-deciduous or dry, deciduous forests; in woodland and open vegetation types with scattered bushes and trees; in montane communities, on steep wooded slopes, sometimes growing in cracks of rocks; on sandy or rocky sea coasts, sometimes in salt spray. Most commonly, however, “weedy” and found in sunny, disturbed places and secondary vegetation such as in hedges, thickets or in scrub, in waste places, roadsides, on fences, in cracks of rock walls, etc”.

It occurs in disturbed areas in both rural and urban areas (Liu and Pemberton, 2008). In evergreen and deciduous forests in India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan it is common at altitudes of up to 1800 m (Wong and Tan, 1994; Srianta et al., 2012).

Hawaiian habitats for P. foetida range from vacant lots to natural forests, some remote and inaccessible (Ko et al., 2011). The species can be locally common in disturbed mesic forest, coastal sites, dry forest and subalpine woodland, from sea level to 1830 m (Starr et al., 2003).

In Florida, P. foetida occurs in a variety of community types that span the extremes of xeric sandhills to floodplain swamps to the fence lines and hedgerows of ruderal sites. Populations are common in mesic to hydric mixed woodlands. Damp to wet understorey forested sites with poorly drained sandy soils seem to provide favourable conditions for recruitment and establishment. When seasonal flooding occurs, however, plants are severely destroyed, often to the point that native species may begin to repopulate, that is until P. foetida resumes its overarching dominance. It is also a weed of Florida pasturelands, and of cultivated lawns and landscaped suburban gardens.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Buildings Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Principal habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural
Coastal dunes Principal habitat Natural
Irrigation channels Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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P.foetida has been and remains a principal weed of sugarcane on the island of Mauritius (Evans, 1947; Roghegouste, 1958). Changes over time in cultural practices, such as green cane trash blanketing, have favoured its more recent proliferation in sugarcane crops (Seeruttun et al., 2005). It is also well entrenched as a weed and contaminant in the Hawaiian nursery industry for ornamental foliage plants (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002).

P.foetida becomes a serious horticultural weed when it moves into lawns and yards in suburban Florida where little can be done to control it. Green, thin and pliable, its fast growing stems creep into lawn grass safely below the circulating blade of a lawn mower. The stems readily anchor themselves by rooting at the nodes that are continuously in contact with the ground. Stems can run from lawns into shrubbery, from where, after taking many twining turns around basal branches, the vines twist their way to the top of bushes and hedges, blanketing their surfaces and moving onwards to find the next vertical support.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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A base chromosome number of n = 11 is common to members of the subfamily Rubioideae (Darlington and Wylie, 1955), to which P. foetida belongs. P. foetida plants can be 2n = 44, (55), 66 or sometimes aneuploid (Aguilar, 2001). Puff (1991) reports that tetraploid seeds from Asian plants had a higher germination rate (70%) than seeds collected from hexaploid plants (≤ 40%).

Reproductive Biology

P. foetida reproduces sexually by seed. Its flowers, while perfect, are protandrous (anthers maturing before the stigma becomes receptive) and require outcrossing by insects for pollination and fruit production (Liu et al., 2006). The species has a long reproductive cycle and does not flower until late in the growing season. Puff (1991) reported for extratropical latitudes that inflorescence development late in the growing season caused by climate resulted in depauperate, few-flowered inflorescences. Fruits may overwinter for a short period on the dormant vine, during which period the capsules become dry and brittle, usually releasing their one or two seeds.

Minimal information is available on the seed viability and seedbank dynamics of P. foetida. Stocker and Brazis (1999) recorded a low (10%) germination rate from seeds collected from vines during mid-winter in central Florida. Field research conducted in Japan demonstrated that freshly matured seeds, collected in autumn, will not germinate until subjected to a period of overwintering (up to ten months), indicative of an innate seed dormancy (Washitani and Masuda, 1990). Similar research in Florida suggested that P. foetida creates a short term persistent seedbank even though most seeds germinate or die during their first year of outdoor storage, especially those stored in open habitats. Viable seeds remained in the seedbank (up to 38% where stored in a shady, forest floor) for the second season, although quickly lost viability within two years (Liu and Pemberton, 2008). A previous study (Puff, 1991) had demonstrated continuous viability up until two years, though these seeds were likely stored indoors during the study period and, regardless, germination rates declined markedly afterwards. In summary, seeds of P. foetida require a dormancy period prior to germination which, in theory, allows for dispersal and short term seedbank development over a few years.

Asexual reproduction through the fragmentation of stems bearing nodal roots cannot be discounted, especially during flood events and when human activities and equipment are involved.

Physiology and Phenology

In Florida, P. foetida plants flower July to October and fruit September to December. The species grows as an evergreen in continuously warm subtropical and tropical climates, such as those of southern Florida and Hawaii, whereas in the more temperate climates of central and northern Florida and northward, the vine is deciduous, dropping its leaves with frost. While its leaves and aerial shoots are vulnerable to frost, its basal rootstocks are distinctly woody and less susceptible (Puff, 1991).


P. foetida is a perennial, reoccurring vine. Its basal parts can become nearly woody with age. Introduced populations have been long-lived in Mauritius, Hawaii and Florida.

Activity Pattern

The species is known for its rapid growth rate and canopy forming habit. Individual plants in Florida often extend to the tops of woodland trees and produce curtains of interwoven vines and green leaves. In disturbed areas of southeastern China, the average growth rate of P. foetida was determined at 1.3 cm/day, with a maximum of 1.9 cm/day, which is nearly half that of Mikania micrantha (Ye et al., 2013).


P. foetida occurs in a wide variety of habitats and plant communities, including primary and secondary forests and woodlands, shady forests, hillside grasslands and open montane vegetation (Gucker, 2009).

Environmental Requirements

P. foetida shows wide-ranging adaptability to different light, soil, hydrological and salinity conditions (Puff, 1991).


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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]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
42 25

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aphis gossypii Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman, 2015
Aphis spiraecola Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman, 2015
Aulacorthum esakii Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Blackman, 2015
Dulinius conchatus Herbivore Leaves not specific Pemberton et al., 2005 Tested in Hawaii but lacked host specificity
Formosempria varipes Herbivore Leaves to genus Smith et al., 2014 Tested in Florida but lacked host specificity
Glomerella cingulata Pathogen Leaves to species Ko et al., 2011 under investigation in Hawaii
Himalusa thailandensis Herbivore Leaves to genus Klimaszewski et al., 2010 Being tested for use in USA
Macroglossum sitiene Herbivore Leaves not specific Pittaway and Kitching, 2015
Nokona pernix Herbivore Stems to species Pemberton and Pratt, 2002
Pseudocercospora paederiae Pathogen Leaves to genus Walker et al., 2001
Pseudomegoura nipponica Herbivore Leaves not specific Blackman, 2015
Sphenoraia rutilans Herbivore Leaves not specific Pemberton and Pratt, 2003
Thrips morindae Herbivore Inflorescence not specific Mound, 2005
Trachyaphthona nigrita Herbivore Leaves/Roots not specific Okamoto et al., 2008 Tested in Florida but lacked host specificity
Trachyaphthona sordida Herbivore Leaves/Roots not specific Okamoto et al., 2008 Tested in Florida but lacked host specificity

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The many enemies of P. foetida in its native range, the sulfur-containing defensive compounds in the plant’s leaves (indicating the likely evolution of specialist natural enemies) and the relative taxonomic isolation of the weed (no members of its tribe, the Paederieae, occur as native plants in Florida) suggested that skunkvine would be a promising target for biological control in Florida and elsewhere (Schmitz, 2009). Natural enemies suitable for use as biocontrol agents would be those feeding and developing on plant species restricted to tribe Paederieae (Pratt and Pemberton, 2004). Surveys for natural enemies of P. foetida began in 1997 (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002). Nine natural enemies (seven insects, one tetranychid mite and one Cercospora-like fungal pathogen) of P. foetida were encountered during field surveys carried out at sites in central Japan and one site in Taiwan during October that year. Most of the insects were unidentified Lepidoptera, including a serpentine leafminer, a blotch leafminer, a fruit-boring moth and a web-making moth. The leafminers and the stem-galling Nokona pernix were possibly specialist herbivores on skunkvine. The fungal pathogen was thought to be Pseudocercospora paederiae, recorded by Walker et al. (2001) in Florida; however, it did not appear to cause significant harm to P. foetida in either Florida or Japan. Nine of 16 insect natural enemies recorded in the literature are thought to have high degrees of host specificity (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002).

A further survey in Japan in 2002 found two leaf and root feeding flea beetles (Trachyaphthona nigrita and T. sordida), as well as the introduced Indian lace bug Dulinius conchatus, also feeding on skunkvine leaves (Pemberton et al., 2005; Okamoto et al., 2008). Sphenoraia rutilans, a leaf beetle, was found feeding on P. foetida in Nepal (Pemberton and Pratt, 2003), while a thrips associated with the flowers of P. foetida in Thailand was recognised as Thrips morindae by Mound (2005). In 2010, Klimaszewski et al. described a new aleocharine species, Himalusa thailandensis, feeding on Paederia pilifera in Thailand, with potential for the biological control of P. foetida in the USA.

The aphids Aphis gossypii, A. spiraecola, Aulacorthium esakii and Pseudomegoura nipponica are listed as occurring on P. foetida (Blackman, 2015), while caterpillars of Macroglossum sitiene have been observed feeding on skunkvine leaves in Hong Kong and China (Pittaway and Kitching, 2015).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Seed dispersal in P. foetida is carried out by wind and birds. Puff and Werbowsky (1991) showed that when horizontal winds were 1.8 m/s, seeds falling from 5 m above ground could travel 2.7 m. Distances increased to 10.9 m and 21.8 m in winds of 7 and 14 m/s, respectively.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

The recent extension of the range of P. foetida into North Carolina and southern Florida indicates some form of long distance seed dispersal in the USA, with birds the most probable vectors, as they are in other parts of the weed’s range, such as Japan (Takahashi and Kamitani, 2004).

Accidental Introduction

P. foetida can be introduced unintentionally in landscaping material from contaminated nurseries, as has been the case in Hawaii (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002). In Florida, garden waste which has been dumped or been used to produce compost or mulch has been found to contain viable P. foetida propagules, including stem fragments with root-forming nodes (Possley and Brazis, 1998).

Intentional Introduction

According to Starr et al. (2003), P. foetida has been introduced to gardens in warm regions as an ornamental climbing vine, from where it has escaped into surrounding areas. Ornamental plantings in botanical gardens have been recorded from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, India and Java (Puff, 1991). Although used as a traditional medicinal plant, material is predominantly gathered from the wild. However, it also has the potential to be introduced as a cultivated medicinal crop due to the anti-inflammatory properties of its extracts (Aguilar, 2001); indeed, it is likely that Asian emigrants transported P. foetida for its medicinal properties to new locations to grow in private gardens.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionGrown as a medicinal crop Yes Yes Nath et al., 2015
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
Flooding and other natural disasters Yes Stocker and Brazis, 1999
Garden waste disposal Yes Possley and Brazis, 1998
Hitchhiker Yes Yes Pemberton and Pratt, 2002
HorticultureInfests nursery stock Yes Yes Pemberton and Pratt, 2002
Internet salesSeeds available for ordering on-line Yes
Ornamental purposesGrown as an ornamental climbing vine Yes Yes Starr et al., 2003
People foragingPlant parts are harvested from the wild for food and medicine Yes Srianta et al., 2012

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organismsBirds excrete seeds Yes Yes Takahashi and Kamitani, 2004
Machinery and equipment Yes Yes
Wind Yes Puff and Werbowsky, 1991

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

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There are high economic cost implications for combatting P. foetida on conservation lands in Florida. Possley and Brazis (1998) estimated the cost of manually removing P. foetida from a moderately infested area at US$1622/ha. Pemberton and Pratt (2002) quote estimates for herbicidal treatments of light (5.1 vines/m2) and moderate (33.6 vines/m2) infestation levels of US$430 and US$645/ha, respectively. Complete control cannot be achieved with a single treatment, regardless of the method, so measures would have to be repeated.

As non-target methods of controlling P. foetida infestations of ornamental foliage plant nurseries in Hawaii must be avoided or at least minimized, this limits and often increases the economic and labour costs of other options (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

P. foetida alters natural forest structure, impedes light through the forest canopy, and trails over and competes with native groundcover and forest species. Dense shading by extensive P. foetida clones, as well as the weight of multiple climbing stems, can eventually damage or kill herbaceous vegetation, shrubs and trees, creating canopy gaps. In these gaps, P. foetida establishment and growth can be rapid, limiting the recruitment of shrub and tree seedlings and saplings and preventing normal forest regeneration.

Within its native range, recent evidence suggests that P. foetida is increasingly becoming a weedy and invasive pest in some national forest parks in southern China (Peng et al., 2009; Yu et al., 2009). In addition, the building boom that has been taking place in China in recent decades has produced suitable disturbed areas for P. foetida to flourish. A survey of the weed in the metropolitan area of Shenzen in Guangdong province in southern China carried out by Ye et al. (2013) showed that the area’s increased and rapid urbanization and its associated land disturbance had led to an increase in the incidence and distribution of the weed (“overspreading”), including into forests, wetlands, home gardens, roadsides and waste land. Vines were associated with and extensively covered over 45 plant species.

Impact on Biodiversity

In Florida, infestations of P. foetida displace native plant communities and species. Many publications (e.g., Langeland et al., 2008) report a statement that invasion by P. foetida destroyed portions of what was believed to be one of the few remaining populations of the US Federally Endangered endemic species Justicia cooleyi. Plans to control P. foetida in J. cooleyihabitats have been proposed and undertaken (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • 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
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

P. foetida is a traditional medicinal plant usually gathered from the wild. However, cultivation is also practised in some regions. Intercropping experiments with P. foetida in a coconut garden in Assam, India, are reported by Nath et al. (2015).

Social Benefit
P. foetida is well recognized and highly valued as a traditional food and medicinal plant. Across a large part of its native range its leaves are eaten as a leafy green vegetable, whether raw, steamed or boiled. Boiling can degrade the off-odour components, as can flushing with hot water followed by squeezing until wilted (Srianta et al., 2012). Its green leaves are typically harvested from the wild and are promoted, along with several other wild plants, for their nutritional value, importance to food security during times of drought, and potential income generation (Jana, 2007; Srianta et al., 2012).

P. foetida can be used to make a wholesome soup for the sick and convalescent (Wong and Tan, 1994). Ancient medicine has relied on it for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis‎, inflammation, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids (Wong and Tan, 1994), as well as toothache, tumours and the ‘evil eye’ (Duke, 2002). Modern phytochemical studies have identified important compounds from P. foetida that possess valuable bioactivities, such as anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antidiarrhoeal, antitussive, antitumor and antidiabetic action (Srianta et al., 2012; Sandeep et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014). The biological properties of this species have been evaluated by pharmacological studies as well (Sandeep et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014), yet the next level of research that might lead to clinical applications are generally lacking (Wang et al., 2014). A recent advancement entails the identification of the compound quercetin from P. foetida, with in vitro analysis demonstrating its significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action through the prevention of adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats (Vikas Kumar et al., 2015). Tissue and cell culture methods have already been developed for and applied to P. foetida.

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Leaves (for beverage)
  • Vegetable

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Detection and Inspection

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Detection of P. foetida in the field or during inspection at ports of entry can easily be made based on the following features: a slender vine with opposite, oblanceolate, sometimes nearly heart-shaped, soft green leaves having a stipular tab on the stem between the petioles, the leaves producing a foul-smelling sulfurous odour when bruised, and fruits, if present, the size of a peppercorn, with a thin, brittle skin orange to brown in colour and splitting to release no more than two seeds.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Paederia cruddasiana has been introduced to the more subtropical portions of Florida, in Dade and Broward Counties where it occurs in tropical hammocks, pine rocklands, basin swamps and ecotones to mangroves (Langeland et al., 2008; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2015). It should also be expected in Hawaii. Both species are perennial vines, similar in growth habit and appearance, yet easily distinguished by their fruits and seeds. P. cruddasiana produces fruits that are laterally compressed and seeds that are conspicuously winged. P. foetida differs in that its fruits are subglose to globose and seeds are not winged (Puff, 1991; Wunderlin and Hansen, 2011). Also, the leaves of P. cruddasiana are typically larger than those of P. foetida (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002).

Prevention and Control

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Public Awareness

The public should be discouraged from growing P. foetida, especially near natural areas (Starr et al., 2003).

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

P. foetida is sensitive to fire and has been controlled with consistent prescribed burns, although regrowth is to be expected in its absence (Gann and Gordon, 1998). The US Forest Service’s Fire Sciences Laboratory provides a concise review of fire effects and fire management considerations with regard to P. foetida (Gucker, 2009).

Physical/Mechanical Control

The vines wrap so tenaciously around shrub stems that pulling makes for difficult and failed attempts at control, although hand pulling may be the only possibility for P. foetida in urban and suburban landscapes.

Movement Control

Container-grown horticultural plants should be inspected before transport from commercial nurseries which have been severely infested by P. foetida in Hawaii (Pemberton and Pratt, 2002).

Biological Control

A 2010 survey in Thailand and Laos found insect herbivores associated with P. foetida and three other Paederia species. A leaf-tying moth, two hawk moths, a herbivorous rove beetle, a chrysomelid leaf beetle, a sharpshooter leafhopper and a leaf-sucking lace bug were the most damaging. The beetles were being investigated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture as potential candidates for biological control of P. foetida in Hawaii (Ramadan et al., 2011). The survey included pathogens which were found in northern Thailand and were similarly taken to Hawaii for testing. One particular isolate of the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides proved to be aggressive on P. foetida and, along with other fungi, is also under investigation for biocontrol purposes (Ko et al., 2011).                     

Many of the natural enemies of P. foetida so far identified and tested as potential biocontrol agents have been rejected as not having the required level of host specificity for safe use. For example, testing of Trachyaphthona nigrita and T. sordida in their native Japan indicated that they had Paederieae tribe-level feeding specificity and so were suitable as biological control agents (Okamoto et al., 2008), but when tested  under quarantine conditions in Florida, USA, they showed significant feeding on native plant species of the tribe Spermacoceae. These flea beetles, therefore, lacked the appropriate level of host specificity (Pemberton and Witkus, 2011). Testing of Dulinius conchatus in Hawaii also showed lack of skunkvine specificity (Pemberton et al., 2005). In 2013 an Asian sawfly, Formosempria varipes, was discovered feeding on P. foetida in Hong Kong. Host preference trials undertaken in Florida showed, however, that several species of Paederia could serve as host plants, thus making it unsuitable for release as a biological control agent for P. foetida in that state (Smith et al., 2014).

In contrast, Ko et al. (2011) report that Endophyllum paederiae [Puccinia paederiae], a gall rust from Thailand infecting P. pilifera, would not accept P. foetida as a host in testing, apparently having too narrow a host range.

Chemical Control

Herbicides are the most effective method for controlling P. foetida in natural areas as long as multiple treatments are employed to counter basal resprouting. Herbicides containing triclopyr are recommended (Langeland et al., 2013). In Florida, both triclopyr and glyphosate are suggested for controlling P. foetida (Possley and Brazis, 1998). However, there are currently no herbicides approved for treating P. foetida in residential environments.

In commercial sugarcane production, fluroxypyr is recommended as a more economical and environmentally friendly herbicide alternative for the control of vine weeds, including P. foetida (Seeruttun et al., 2005).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Few studies have been conducted on the biology and seed regeneration ecology of this species, especially in its introduced ranges. Environmental requirements are not clear and thus potential range of spread is difficult to predict.


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30/06/2015  Original text by:

Colette Jacono, Consultant, Florida, USA

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