Passiflora suberosa (corkystem passionflower)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Vectors and Intermediate Hosts
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Passiflora suberosa L.
Preferred Common Name
- corkystem passionflower
Other Scientific Names
- Passiflora minima L.
- Passiflora pallida L.
International Common Names
- English: cork passionflower; cork passionvine; Corkystemmed passionflower; devil's pumpkin; indigo berry; maypop; small passionflower; small passionfruit; wild passionfruit
- Spanish: Bejuco mantequilla; uvilla
- French: grain d’encre; grenadile; liane poc-poc; passiflore
Local Common Names
- China: xi zhu xi fan lian
- Cuba: huero do gallo; pintero
- Peru: noxbe cimarron
- United States Virgin Islands: pap bush
- USA/Hawaii: huehue haole
- PAQPA (Passiflora pallida)
- PAQSU (Passiflora suberosa)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
P. suberosa is a herbaceous vine that clings to other vegetation by means of tendrils. Native to South and Central America, P. suberosa has become invasive on Pacific Islands in Melanesia and Hawaii and is also extending its invasive range through parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, India and Africa. (Its purple fruits are attractive to birds, which serve as vectors for its spread. As an herbaceous vine, it grows rapidly, smothering and competing with native vegetation, particularly in the sub-canopy (Biosecurity Queensland, 2007). Although its growth and rate of spread does not match the more aggressively growing Passiflora species, such as P. mollissima or P. foetida, it is nonetheless increasingly recognized as an undesirable weed through its damage to native forest species (Richardson, 2007; Bohm, 2012). It has also been recorded as invading sugar cane and Eucalyptus plantations (Seeruttun et al., 2005).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Violales
- Family: Passifloraceae
- Genus: Passiflora
- Species: Passiflora suberosa
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The generic name Passiflora is derived from the Latin for ‘passion’ (Wagner et al., 1999). The specific name suberosa means ‘cork-like’ and refers to the cork-like material projecting from the stems; the common name, corky stemmed passionflower, also comes from this feature. P. suberosa is the universally accepted species name (USDA-ARS, 2012). P. suberosa is classed within the subgenus Plectostemma, section Ceica (Snow and MacDougal, 1993). P. suberosa is readily distinguished from the other 500 species in the genus (Hansen et al., 1999). There are several varieties of P. suberosa, some of which, such as var. galapagensis, in the Galapagos Islands (McMullen, 1985), have been named.
DescriptionTop of page
P. suberosa is a herbaceous vine that clings to other vegetation by means of tendrils. The striated angled stems are glabrous or pubescent with corky bark. The leaves are highly polymorphic but tend to be deeply 3-lobed, 2.8-10.7 cm long (at most 14 cm) and 1.4-4 cm wide (at most 9 cm); sometimes entire rather than 3-lobed with 0.3-1.5 cm petioles, 2 paired-stalked 1 mm nectaries; the 3-4 mm stipules are linear-lanceolate. The white campanulate flowers with purple base are without petals, 0.5-2.4 cm in diameter with 5 greenish-yellow or white sepals. Peduncles (usually paired) are 0.9-1.7 cm long with a 1 mm hypanthium. Globose berries are 0.6-1.9 cm in diameter (about the size of a pea), and dark purple when ripe (Wagner et al., 1999). Individual vines tend to grow 60 cm or longer, but the plant can grow 6 m tall (Gann et al., 2011; Invasive Species South Africa, 2013).
DistributionTop of page
P. suberosa has a very broad native range in the Americas, from southern USA, throughout Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America to Argentina and Uruguay. It has also been widely introduced to East Asia, many Pacific Islands in Melanesia and Hawaii, Indian Ocean islands, South Africa and Australia (GBIF, 2012; PIER, 2013), and is extending its invasive range through parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, India and southern and eastern Africa (Swarbrick, 1981; Andresen, 2005; Thorp and Wilson, 2011; Bohm, 2012; Witt and Luke, 2017).
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|
|Chagos Archipelago||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Whistler, 1996|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Introduced||Wu, 2001; PIER, 2013||Cultivated|
|-Yunnan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Zhengyi et al., 2011|
|Japan||Present||Introduced||Mito and Uesugi, 2004|
|Maldives||Present||Spicer and Newbery, 1979|
|Singapore||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Chong et al., 2009|
|Taiwan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Zhengyi et al., 2011|
|Kenya||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Witt and Luke, 2017|
|Mauritius||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Mayotte||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Comite francais l'UICN de, 2010|
|Réunion||Present||Introduced||Invasive||MacDonald et al., 1991|
|Seychelles||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Stoddart et al., 1979; Fosberg, 1983; Robertson and Fosberg, 1983; Robertson et al., 1983; Wilson, 1983||Agalega, Alphonse, Coetivy, Cousin, D'Arros, Desnoeufs, Marie-Louise, Platte, Poivre, St. Joseph|
|South Africa||Present||GBIF, 2012|
|Tanzania||Present||Introduced||Invasive||GBIF, 2012; Witt and Luke, 2017|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Florida||Widespread||Native||Wunderlin Hansen, 2002; USDA-NRCS, 2012|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||1916||Invasive||Lorence et al., 1995; Wagner et al., 1997; Wagner et al., 1999; USDA-NRCS, 2012||Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Oahu|
Central America and Caribbean
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Costa Rica||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|El Salvador||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||GBIF, 2012|
|United States Virgin Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Ecuador||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Galapagos Islands||Present||Native||Wiggins and Porter, 1971; USDA-ARS, 2012|
|French Guiana||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Holm et al., 1979|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Thorp and Wilson, 2011|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Thorp and Wilson, 2011|
|Fiji||Widespread||Introduced||1942||Invasive||Stone, 1970; Smith, 1981||Ovalau, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu, Wakaya|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Welsh, 1998; University of California, 2006||Moorea, Tahiti|
|Guam||Widespread||Introduced||1945||Invasive||Stone, 1970; Fosberg et al., 1979|
|New Caledonia||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||MacKee, 1994||Île Lifou, Îles Ouvéa, Île Tiga, Île Walpole, Île Améré, Île Grande Terre, Île des Pins|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Fosberg et al., 1979; Meyer, 2000||Saipin and Tinian|
|Palau||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space et al., 2003; PIER, 2013||Invasive on Koror (Oreor) and Malakal (Ngemelachel) Island|
|Samoa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn, 2002||Opolu Island|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Introduced||Hancock et al., 1988|
|Tonga||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Space and Flynn, 2001||'Eua Island|
|Vanuatu||Present||Introduced||Swarbrick, 1997; PIER, 2012||Aneityum, Êfaté, Erromango|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
P. suberosa was first collected in Hawai’i on Oahu in 1916 and has since become naturalized on Oahu, Maui, Hawai’i (the Big Island), Lanai, and Kauai, in grassland, shrub land and dry to mesic forests (Lorence et al., 1995; Wagner et al., 1997; Wagner et al.,1999; Motooka et al., 2003; USDA-NRS, 2012). Likewise, P. suberosa has long been naturalized on Singapore, having been introduced some time prior to 1922 (Corlett, 1988). The species was first recorded on Fiji in 1942 and reached Guam in about 1945 (Stone, 1970).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Fiji||Neotropical region||1942||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Stone (1970)|
|Guam||Neotropical region||1945||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Stone (1970)|
|Hawaii||Neotropical region||1916||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Lorence et al. (1995); Motooka and (2003); Motooka et al. (2003); USDA-NRCS (2012); Wagner et al. (1997); Wagner et al. (1999)|
|Singapore||Neotropical region||pre-1922||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Corlett (1988)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Fruits are easily spread by birds and other animals which consume the fruit, such as rats (Anon., 1958; Garrison et al., 2002; Garrison, 2003; Biosecurity Queensland, 2007; Shiels, 2011); however, because fragments of the plant cannot regenerate and there is no evidence of long-term dormancy in the seeds, accidental introduction by this means is unlikely except over relatively short distances (Thorp and Wilson, 2011).
The plant may escape cultivation and become an environmental weed if grown in subtropical or tropical areas (Batianoff and Butler, 2002; Thorp and Wilson, 2011). P. suberosa scored a 12 on the Australian Weed Risk Assessment system (modified for use in Hawaii), putting it in the high risk category but well below the score for many other invasive plants (PIER, 2012). In comparison, the congeneric P. foetida scored 26 (PIER, 2012).
A study by Steel et al. (2008) on the potential impact of increased temperatures on weed distribution reported that even under climate change scenarios, P. suberosa was unlikely to invade Victoria from northern Australia.
The P. suberosa plant has a sizeable following among gardeners throughout the world, so intentional introduction into new areas is likely, and use of the plant as an ornamental vine or groundcover may help facilitate garden escapes in some instances (Ulmer and MacDougal, 2004; Gann et al., 2011).
HabitatTop of page
P. suberosa prefers subtropical or tropical climates. In Hawaii, P. suberosa occupies grasslands, shrubland, dry forests, mesic forests and exposed ridges (Wagner et al., 1999). It grows optimally in subcanopy layers, overtopping shrubs, small trees and the ground layer, occasionally also reaching the upper canopy layer (Smith, 1985). In Papua New Guinea (Irian Jaya) it tends to be found within forest edges, although some populations do occur in deep forest (Kemp and Burnett, 2003). In New Caledonia it tends to spread from pasture areas into forested habitats, and can also spread rapidly in dry forests there (Blanfort and Orapa, 2008). In northern Australia, moist coastal areas are favoured by P. suberosa (Swarbrick, 1981; Andresen, 2005).
In its native habitats P. suberosa prefers moist forests and grows best in moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils; the thickness of the humus layer is not overly important (Gann et al., 2011). Its preferred pH range is 5.1-8.5 (Dave’s Garden, 2011).
Although P. suberosa may thrive in full sunlight, it is also capable of growing in partial shade (Gann et al., 2011), although at 75% shade its growth was stunted (Pires et al., 2012). Leaf structure and morphology may be phenotypically modified to adjust to the intensity of available light (Barp et al., 2006). Pires et al. (2011) recorded the highest value of P max (light saturated rate of gross photosynthesis) for P. suberosa when it was growing in full sunlight. Compared to P. palmeri and P. morifolia, P. suberosa showed the most plastic response to shading but also the lowest net photosynthetic rate when compared over all shading levels (Pires et al. 2011). In the Galápagos Islands, P. suberosa vines can be found growing in rocky habitats with some shade, ranging from 0 – 615 m above sea level (Wiggins and Porter, 1971).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural forests||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Rocky areas / lava flows||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
P. suberosa is capable of smothering large trees (Mootooka et al., 2003). Although primarily an environmental weed, it has been reported to invade sugar cane and Eucalyptus plantations (Seeruttun et al., 2005). Despite not being as serious an invader as the congeneric P. mollissima (banana poka), P. suberosa can smother other native forest plants, and the thick, corky stems can impose additional weight on plants infested by the climber (Bohm, 2012).
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Snow and MacDougal (1993) counted chromosomes for six species in the section Ceiba, and only P. suberosa had a chromosome number of 2n = 24. With the others being 2n=12, a tetraploid origin was assumed for P. suberosa. Previously, Storey (1950) had reported both 2n = 24 and 2n = 36. The section Ceiba contains 15 Passiflora species with flowers lacking petals (Snow and MacDougal, 1993). De Melo et al. (2001) consider x=6 to be the base chromosome number for Passiflora.
Killip (1938) recognized P. suberosa as a highly variable species, but more population genetic research is required to differentiate phenotypic and genotypic variation (Barp et al., 2006). Viana et al. (2010) recorded high levels of variation within and between six Passiflora species including P. suberosa, looking at both molecular and morphological characteristics. Intraspecific variation was observed in number of flowers, number of fruits, number of seeds, fruit length, fruit width and leaf area. Several varieties have been described, indicating the plant’s high variability,
Amelo Garcia (2008) observed differences in fruit shape and number of ovules for fruit from two sources of P. suberosa within Argentina.
Considerable variation in leaf shape, pubescence and toughness occurs both within and among populations of P. suberosa or even on a single branch (Killip, 1938; Sacco, 1980). While Finkler et al. (1996) associated variation between two divergent leaf morphs to genetic differences, Barp et al. (2006) showed that these leaf morphs could be induced by the amount of light available. Leaves growing under a forest canopy in Brazil tended to be green, and with less toughness and pubescence than green-violet leaves growing in full sunlight (Barp et al., 2006).
A cultivated hybrid from a P. suberosa x P. coriacea is recorded (Ulmer and MacDougal, 2004) but whether P. suberosa can form hybrids in nature is unknown.
P. suberosa is pollinated by a wide range of pollinators, including butterflies, wasps, bees and birds, indicating that it does not require specialist pollinators (McMullen, 1985; Koschnitzke and Sazima, 1997; Amela Garcia, 2008). With its extended flowering period and high capacity for autogamy, selfing is apparently a significant part of its mixed breeding strategy (Amela Garcia, 2008). Amela Garcia (2008) found that reproductive indexes indicated that autogamy is only partial, with an IAS (index of automatic self-pollination) calculated for fruits at 0.74. As more than 30% of fruits were produced by induced self-pollination, P. suberosa is considered highly self-compatible (Dafni, 1992; Amela Garcia, 2008). Reproductive success can be improved greatly by natural or artificial pollination, however (Amela Garcia, 2008).
Most inflorescences produce one or two fruits, as each bears two buds (Amela Garcia, 2008). Although the flowers are comparatively inconspicuous and pollinator visitation is relatively infrequent, there is some indication that wasps or small bees are particularly attracted to the blooms (McMullen, 1985; Koschnitzke and Sazima, 1997). Characteristics favouring pollination by such insects were listed by Amela Garcia (2008) as: ‘having in account the perpendicular surface to the floral axis that the sepals and radii form (where insects can land), the opaque coloration, the nectar guides in the visible and UV spectra, the hidden nectar at a shallow depth, the relatively easy access to the nectar (as the operculum is plicate), the high nectar sugars concentration and the small floral dimensions’ (p. 92).
Amela Garcia (2008) recorded an average of 57 ± 8 (SE) seeds per fruit for natural populations in Argentina. The highest density of seed rain for P. suberosa recorded by Bakutis (2005) in Hawaii was 81 seeds per square metre. Seeds are spread via birds consuming the fruit and the plant also spreads via trailing stems, but there is no evidence that cut stem fragments will regrow (Thorp and Wilson, 2011).
Physiology and Phenology
P. suberosa is a rapidly growing vine that reaches reproductive maturity in one year (Gann et al., 2011). It is capable of growing well both in full sunlight and under partially shaded conditions, reaching its highest growth rates under full sunlight although some photoinhibition occurs at high light levels (Pires et al., 2011). Greatest seedling emergence was seen at 50% sunlight, but higher growth rates were seen at full sunlight once the seedlings had emerged (Pires et al., 2012).
Barp et al. (2006) demonstrated that leaf colour in P. suberosa is phenotypically plastic by inducing the production of violet leaves in one year through exposure to full sunlight, and then reversing the change in leaf colour in a subsequent year through reducing available light by 50%. The increased thickness and pubescence of the violet leaf morph is likely associated with stresses of increased light and desiccation when growing under high light conditions (Barp et al., 2006). This kind of response is expected for umbrophilic plants like P. suberosa, whereupon palisade and spongy mesophyll layers along with the epidermis are more developed and under full sunlight. The violet colour is associated with increased production of anthocyanins in response to light stress and high UV levels (Gould et al., 1995; Barp et al., 2006). Barp et al. (2006) also point to a potential advantage of the violet leaf colour discouraging oviposition by butterflies in open areas, as demonstrated experimentally.
P. suberosa is not highly salt tolerant and prefers moist environments, but can survive periods of drought once established (Gann et al., 2011).
The dark purple colour of the fruit is due to high anthocyanin content in the rind (Kidoy et al., 1997).
The perennial vines of P. suberosa may persist for a number of growing seasons; Amelo Gracia (2008) planted young plants which flowered every season for six years.
Being a tendrillous climbing vine, P. suberosa makes use of stems or leaves of host plants to ascend, eventually smothering and shading out host plants. This strategy is most effective in forest subcanopies where it overtop shrubs, trees and ground herbs (Smith, 1985; Hickman, 2012).
Population size and structure
Under favourable conditions, such as mesic tropical forests, P. suberosa vines can cover large areas by spreading horizontally to form large patches (Gann et al., 2011).
ClimateTop of page
|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]))|
|Cfa - Humid subtropical climate||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year, warmest month average temp. > 22°C|
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)||15||25|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||500||2500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Pyrausta perelegans||Predator||Leaves||to genus||Hawaii, USA||Y (but effective for Passiflora mollissima, not P. suberosa)|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The pyralid moth, Pyrausta perelegans, a natural enemy of Passiflora mollissima, was approved for release in Hawaii in 1990, despite the small risk to the other 20 Passiflora species introduced to the islands (Neal, 1965; Markin and Nagata, 2000). In trials, the caterpillars of Pyrausta perelegans fed on Passiflora suberosa foliage but were unable to survive to maturity (Markin and Nagata, 2000). Pyrausta perelegans is currently established on several of the Hawaiian islands.
There is a fairly extensive literature available on the complex relationships between butterflies and Passiflora species, including many butterflies which utilize P. suberosa extensively in its native range (Mugrabi-Olivera and Moreira, 1996; Rodrigues and Moreira, 2002; Kerpel et al., 2006; Mega and Araujo, 2008; Elpino-Campos, 2012). Similarly, relationships between P. suberosa and Hemipterans have been well-studied in the plant’s natural range (Rodrigues and Moreira, 2005; Rodrigues et al., 2007; 2008).
The Passiflora latent virus (PLV) has been found on P. suberosa as well as on a number of other Passiflora species (Brandes and Wetter, 1963; Fischer and Rezende, 2008). P. suberosa was found to be immune to cowpea aphid-borne mosaic virus (CABMV); 15 other Passiflora species tested were susceptible (Maciel et al., 2009).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural dispersal (non-biotic)
Although the fruits of P. suberosa float and could possibly be dispersed by water (Anon., 1958), the primary mode of dispersal is biotic through fruit ingestion by birds. Fruits may remain on the plant for as long as two months after their formation (Amela Garcia, 2008).
Vector transmission (biotic)
The dark purple colour of the fruits help attract frugivorous birds which disperse the seeds (Biosecurity Queensland, 2007). For example, Garrison et al. (2002) observed the fruit-eating red vented bulbul dispersing seeds in Hawaii, and Garrison (2003) identified several other birds that also spread seeds of P. suberosa. The seeds have been found in bird faeces (Anonymous, 1958), and it is evident that the seeds can be survive passage through the gut of birds or mammals. Certain mammals (e.g. rats) have also been shown to be potential dispersal agents (Shiels, 2011), as have reptiles. On Fiji, the Fijian crested iguana (Branylophus vitiensis) was shown to often consume fruits of P. suberosa and hence distribute its seeds (Morrison et al., 2007).
Vectors and Intermediate HostsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Cultural/amenity||Positive and negative|
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
The only documented record of P. suberosa invading crops is for sugar cane and Eucalyptus in Mauitius (Seeruttun et al., 2005). Thus P. suberosa has limited measureable economic impact in comparison to many other invasive plants, but does exert indirect impacts through invading forests throughout the introduced portion of its range in the Pacific islands, Australia and parts of Asia.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
In many parts of its introduced range, P. suberosa has been observed altering habitats by smothering native vegetation (Kemp and Burnett, 2003). It generally has greatest impacts on forest vegetation, but is also found in pastures (Blanfort and Orapa, 2008). Because P. suberosa smothers vegetation which may then die and dry out, infestations may create a fire hazard or increase the potential for erosion (Garrison et al., 2002).
Impact on Biodiversity
In Papua New Guinea (Irian Jaya) there is concern that the recently introduced long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) will spread the fruit of P. suberosa, thus combining the impacts of both introduced species on biodiversity in tropical forest habitats there (Kemp and Burnett, 2003). P. suberosa is one of the alien plant species threatening Platydesma cornuta var. decurans, a rare shrub endemic on Oahu numbering ca. 200 individuals (Richardson, 2007). In Mauritius, where it is widespread, P. suberosa is part of a complex of invasive plants that threatens native communities (Parnell et al., 1989).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Social ImpactTop of page
Thorp and Wilson (2011) report that seeds and leaves, stems and green fruits of the plant are poisonous if ingested, although documented evidence for this is lacking. It is clear that the mature fruits are not toxic to mammals and edible to humans (Clark, 1981; Gonzales, 1984).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerant of shade
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Fast growing
- Has high genetic variability
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Host damage
- Increases vulnerability to invasions
- Modification of fire regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts forestry
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Competition - smothering
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
UsesTop of page
Economic and Social benefits
P. suberosa is grown as a ground cover in its native range (e.g., Florida, Brazil or Argentina), where it attracts butterflies which utilize it as a larval food plant as well as a nectar source (Deginani, 2001; Gann et al., 2011; Pires et al., 2011, 2012). Its evergreen foliage, long-blooming period and subtle yellow-green (chartreuse) flowers are appreciated by many horticulturalists (Dave’s Garden, 2011). Butterflies attracted to P. suberosa include tawny coster (Acraea violae), gulf fritillary (Agaulis vanillae), Julia heliconian (Dryas iulia), Mexican silverspot (Dione moneta) and zebra heliconian (Heliconius charithonia) as well as birds and bees (National Parks Board, 2010).
Other positive social and economic characteristics include medicinal properties of tinctures produced from the berries (Toursarkissian, 1980), food value (Gonzalez, 1984), and use in producing stains (Deginani, 2001).
In Florida, recommendations are made to plant P. suberosa in place of invasive plants such as Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum) (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2012).
In its native range, P. suberosa is a host for numerous butterflies, especially in the large tropical genus Heliconius (Mugrabi-Oliveira and Moreira, 1996; Rodrigues and Moreira, 2002; Kerpel et al., 2006; Elpino-Campos, 2012). Grazing animals consume P. suberosa, and sites with high densities of the plant in Fiji showed a high degree of browsing; however, it is not a preferred cattle food (Blanfort and Orapa, 2008).
In the Galápagos islands, McMullen (1985) recorded pollination of P. suberosa by the endemic carpenter bee, Xylocopa darwini. The Galápagos finch Geospiza fuliginosa has also been observed utilizing the nectar of P. suberosa (Schluter, 1986).
Many birds or mammals consume the fruit in both the native and introduced ranges of P. suberosa (Anon., 1958; Garrison et al., 2002; Garrison, 2003; Biosecurity Queensland, 2007; Shiels 2011), as well as the Fijian crested iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis (Morrison et al., 2007).
P. suberosa features extrafloral nectaries utilized by ants (Koptur, 1992).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Among the 12 Passiflora species occurring in the Hawaiian Islands, P. suberosa is unique in having greenish sepals, no petals and in producing dark purple berries (Wagner et al., 1999).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Although P. suberosa has invaded fairly extensively throughout the Pacific islands, Oceania and other subtropical and tropical areas, there has been little done to prevent its spread other than producing educational factsheets (e.g., Biosecurity Queensland, 2007; Hickman, 2012).
Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures
More rapid growth of the vine occurs in more open forest areas, and therefore preventing excessive forest disturbance should minimize the spread of P. suberosa. Hand-weeding small isolated populations before they become large enough to spread seeds via bird frugivory is recommended.
Ungulates browse P. suberosa vines to some degree, but systematic attempts have not been made to use ungulates to control growth (Blanfort and Orapa, 2008). No documented classical biological efforts involving insects have been attempted, although it is sometimes suggested that in areas where the plant is native, growth may be moderated by the presence of Lepidopteran larvae.
Triclopyr has been used effectively to control P. suberosa in Hawaii (Tu et al., 2001). Glyphosate is effective against young plants (Motooka et al. 2003). When invading sugar cane on Mauritius, fluroxypyr was found to provide cost-effective post-emergence control (Seeruttun et al. 2005).
In Australia, a recommended method of chemical control for small infestations involved cutting stems and painting them with glyphosate (Bush Regeneration Team, 2007). For larger infestations, foliar spraying of both glyphosate and metsulfuron was recommended, utilizing a surfactant to overcome the thick waxy cuticle of P. suberosa (Bush Regeneration Team, 2007).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Amela Garcia (2008) suggested that studies of the reproductive biology of plants like P. suberosa are useful for rare plants. Such studies are also useful to characterize the populations of the same plants in areas where they act as weeds. Very few studies are available on the reproductive biology or population dynamics of P. suberosa, other than the study by Amela Garcia (2008).
Similarly, there is a need for more population genetic studies (Barp et al., 2006) and additional types of research that would help predict and control the spread of P. suberosa. The information available on this plant is quite limited, and tends to be fairly superficial.
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
21/08/2012 Original text by:
David R. Clements, Trinity Western University, Canada
Distribution MapsTop of page
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