Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Pimenta dioica
(allspice)

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Datasheet

Pimenta dioica (allspice)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Pimenta dioica
  • Preferred Common Name
  • allspice
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • P. dioica is a small evergreen tree native to the West Indies. It has been spread throughout tropical regions through trade as an ornamental species and for its spice known as allspice (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Pimenta dioica. Habit at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001
TitleHabit
CaptionPimenta dioica. Habit at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Habit at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001
HabitPimenta dioica. Habit at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Bark at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001
TitleBark
CaptionPimenta dioica. Bark at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Bark at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001
BarkPimenta dioica. Bark at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui.  April 30, 2009.
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionPimenta dioica. Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui.  April 30, 2009.
Leaves and flowersPimenta dioica. Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica (Allspice). Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui.  April 30, 2009
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionPimenta dioica (Allspice). Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica (Allspice). Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui.  April 30, 2009
Leaves and flowersPimenta dioica (Allspice). Leaves and flowers at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Leaves and fruit at Haiku, Maui. August 26, 2010.
TitleLeaves and fruit
CaptionPimenta dioica. Leaves and fruit at Haiku, Maui. August 26, 2010.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Leaves and fruit at Haiku, Maui. August 26, 2010.
Leaves and fruitPimenta dioica. Leaves and fruit at Haiku, Maui. August 26, 2010.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Seedlings at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001.
TitleSeedlings
CaptionPimenta dioica. Seedlings at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Pimenta dioica. Seedlings at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui.  March 30, 2001.
SeedlingsPimenta dioica. Seedlings at Rainbow Park Paia, Maui. March 30, 2001.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr. 1947

Preferred Common Name

  • allspice

Other Scientific Names

  • Caryophyllus pimento Mill.
  • Eugenia micrantha (Kunth) DC
  • Eugenia micrantha Bertol.
  • Eugenia pimenta (L.) DC.
  • Evanesca crassifolia Raf.
  • Evanesca micrantha Bertol.
  • Myrtus dioica L. 1759
  • Myrtus pimenta L.
  • Myrtus pimenta Ortega
  • Myrtus piperita Sessé and Moc.
  • Myrtus tabasco Willd. Ex Schltdl. and Cham.
  • Pimenta aromatica Kostel
  • Pimenta officinalis Lindl.
  • Pimenta officinalis O. Berg
  • Pimenta pimenta (L.) Cockerell
  • Pimenta pimenta (L.) Karst
  • Pimenta vulgaris Lindl.
  • Pimentus vera Raf.

International Common Names

  • English: clove pepper; English spice; Jamaica pepper; pimento
  • Spanish: malagueta; pimenta inglesa; pimenta inglesa; pimienta gorda; pimiento; pimiento de Jamaica
  • French: egalement appelé; myrte-piment; piment; piment de la Jamaique; piment des Anglais; poivre de Jamaique; poivre gireflé; quatre-épice; toute-epice
  • Russian: Jamajskij perez; ormusch; wosditschnij perez
  • Arabic: bahar

Local Common Names

  • Germany: allerleigewürz; englischgewürz; jamaikapfeffer; nelkenpfefferbaum; nelkenpfefferbaum; neugewürz; pimentbaum; pimentbaum
  • India: kebab cheene
  • Italy: pepe della Giamaica; pepe garofanato; pimento inglese
  • Netherlands: Jamaica peper; pimentboom
  • Portugal: pimenta da Jamaica
  • Slovenia: nové korenie
  • Tonga: sipaisi

EPPO code

  • PMTDI (Pimenta dioica)

Summary of Invasiveness

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P. dioica is a small evergreen tree native to the West Indies. It has been spread throughout tropical regions through trade as an ornamental species and for its spice known as allspice (Rodriguez, 1969). P. dioica is listed in the Global Invasive Species Database (ISSG, 2012), the Global Compendium of Weeds (2012) and is 'likely to cause significant ecological or economic harm in Hawaii and on other Pacific Islands' (PIER, 2012a). It is a priority species for exclusion from the Cook Islands (Space and Flynn, 2002a), Palau (Space et al., 2009), and Samoa (Space and Flynn, 2002b). It is listed a top invasive plant species on Bermuda (Brown, 2008; Copeland, 2011), Hawaii (Staples et al., 2000; Hawaii State Alien Species Coordinator, 2012), and Tonga (Space and Flynn, 2001).

Seeds are spread by fruit-eating birds (Staples et al., 2000), and potentially also via bats, lizards and insects (Rodriguez, 1969). Being an aggressive species, it has the potential to outcompete native plants (Space and Flynn, 2001). It is currently unknown how to best manage P. dioica invasion as the full potential threat to native species is not yet well understood: public awareness and discouragement of planting in natural, moist, lowland areas is advised (Starr et al., 2003) alongside removal from native forested areas (Space and Flynn, 2001).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Myrtaceae
  •                             Genus: Pimenta
  •                                 Species: Pimenta dioica

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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It was originally named by Linnaeus as Myrtus dioica. It was included in the genus Pimenta as P. officinalis by Lindley in 1821, and the current widely accepted name, P. dioica, was ascribed in 1947.

The common name of allspice refers to the flavour of the berries of Pimenta dioica, which are picked when green and then dried to form a spice resembling nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and cloves (Rodriguez, 1969). There are several varieties of allspice, which are also listed as synonyms of the species (see Identity section) (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012).

The name ‘pimento’ originated from the Spanish word ‘pimienta’ (pepper or peppercorn), which is derived from ‘pigmentum’ a generic name in Medieval Latin for spice (Rodriguez, 1969).

Description

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P. dioica is a small dioecious evergreen tree, 7-10 m tall with a slender trunk (50-100 cm at the base) with many branches 1-2 m above the ground. The bark is pale silver-brown, smooth and shiny, and sheds strips 25-75 cm long. Leaves are borne in clusters at the ends of branches. Flowers are white and in branching clusters; berries are green when unripe, turning deep purple to glossy black when ripe. 

Leaves are 6-15 cm long, 3-6 cm wide, simple, opposite, and aromatic when crushed. They are dark green on the upper surface and lighter green beneath. The midrib is impressed on the upper surface and prominent beneath; leaves are pinnately veined, with lateral veins not very prominent. Leaves are shed at intervals of 2-2.5 years.

Flowers are white, and occur on flower branches 5-15 cm long. Flowers are structurally hermaphrodite, but functionally male or female. They are aromatic and 8-10 mm in diameter. Flowers have four rounded petals about 3-4 mm long, which are quickly deciduous. The stamens are numerous, 5 mm long (100 in male flowers, 50 in female flowers). The anther is cream coloured, the style white and 5 mm long, and the stigma is yellow.

Fruits are round, drooping berries 4-6 mm in diameter, green when unripe turning deep purple to black when ripe. Fruits are aromatic on drying; dried unripe fruits are dark brown. The fruits consist of a thick pulp with two kidney-shaped seeds separated from each other by a membrane (Rodriguez, 1969;Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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P. dioica was first discovered in Jamaica by Spanish explorers around 1494, and trees were later discovered in Cuba, presumably dispersed there by migratory birds from Jamaica (Rodriguez, 1969; Parthasarathy et al., 2008). However there is some dispute over its exact origins (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). 

Trees are also found in Central America: Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). P. dioica has now been spread throughout tropical regions of the world through trade as an ornamental species and for its spice (Starr et al., 2003), including to India, Malaysia, South America and Pacific Islands (Rodriguez, 1969).

P. dioica is reported to be naturalized in Hawaii (Starr et al., 2003) and other Pacific Islands such as Tonga. There is disagreement over whether P. dioica is still present on Kwajalein (Kuwajleen) Atoll (Marshall Islands, Ralik Chain), but the most recent source states that is no longer present (PIER, 2012b).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 117,765 MT
BhutanPresentIntroducedFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 10,700 MT (F)
CambodiaPresentIntroducedFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 10,000 MT (F)
ChinaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 252,000 MT (F)
IndiaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,244,000 MT (F)
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
-KeralaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 0 MT (M)
-JavaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
-SumatraPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
JapanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 0 MT (M)
KazakhstanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 300 MT (F)
KyrgyzstanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 100 MT (F)
LebanonPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
MalaysiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,800 MT (F)
MaldivesPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 5 MT (F)
MyanmarPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 71,000 MT (F)
NepalPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 16,362 MT
PakistanPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 130,000 MT (F)
SingaporePresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
SyriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 500 MT (F)
TaiwanPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
ThailandPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 39,000 MT (F)
TurkeyPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 20,000 MT (F)
UzbekistanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 0 MT (M)
VietnamPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 78,500 MT (F)

Africa

AlgeriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 7,600 MT (F)
BeninPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 15,000 MT (F)
CameroonPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 6,500 MT (F)
Cape VerdePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,250 MT (F)
Central African RepublicPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 100 MT (F)
Côte d'IvoirePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 14,000 MT (F)
DjiboutiPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 300 MT (F)
EgyptPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 45,600 MT (F)
EthiopiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 115,000 MT (F)
GhanaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 81,000 MT (F)
KenyaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 5,000 MT (F)
MadagascarPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,400 MT (F)
MalawiPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,800 MT (F)
MaliPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,100 MT (F)
MoroccoPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 14,000 MT (F)
NigerPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 400 MT (F)
NigeriaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 50,000 MT (F)
RéunionPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 700 MT (F)
SenegalPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,000 MT (F)
Sierra LeonePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,000 MT (F)
South AfricaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 10,000 MT (F)
SudanPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 7,600 MT (F)
TogoPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,000 MT (F)
TunisiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 7,000 MT (F)
UgandaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,800 MT (F)
ZambiaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 900 MT (F)
ZimbabwePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 13,000 MT (F)

North America

BermudaPresentIntroduced Invasive Brown, 2008; Copeland, 2011; ISSG, 2012
MexicoPresentNativePIER, 2012a; Rodriguez, 1969; Seidemann, 2005; Parthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 60,000 MT (F). Grows in the region of Chiapas, bordering Guatemale
USAPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 0 MT (F)
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012a; Space and Flynn, 2002bIntroduced into O'ahu in 1929; Kaua'i in 1928 and Hawai'i in 1957

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresentIntroduced
BelizePresentParthasarathy et al., 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
Costa RicaUnconfirmed record
CubaPresentNativeSeidemann, 2005
El SalvadorPresentNativePIER, 2012a
GrenadaPresentNativeRodriguez, 1969; Seidemann, 2005; Parthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 90 MT (F)
GuatemalaPresentNativePIER, 2012a; Seidemann, 2005; Parthasarathy et al., 2008
HaitiUnconfirmed record
HondurasPresentNativePIER, 2012a; Seidemann, 2005; Parthasarathy et al., 2008
JamaicaPresentNativeRodriguez, 1969; Parthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 8,200 MT (F)
MartiniquePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 275 MT (F)
NicaraguaPresentNativePIER, 2012a
PanamaPresentIntroducedRodriguez, 1969
Puerto RicoParthasarathy et al., 2008
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedRodriguez, 1969; Parthasarathy et al., 2008

South America

ArgentinaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 3,300 MT (F)
BrazilPresentNativeSeidemann, 2005; Parthasarathy et al., 2008
ColombiaPresentIntroducedRodriguez, 1969
French GuianaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 0 MT (M)
PeruPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 165,000 MT (F)

Europe

BulgariaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 700 MT (F)
Czech RepublicPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,491 MT
GreecePresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 350 MT (F)
HungaryPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 33,000 MT (F)
PortugalPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008
RomaniaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 33,000 MT (F)
SloveniaPresentFAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 1,300 MT (F)
SpainPresentIntroducedParthasarathy et al., 2008; FAO, 2009Chillies and peppers, dry production (2008) 5,000 MT (F)
UKPresent only under cover/indoorsIntroduced Not invasive Parthasarathy et al., 2008

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedRodriguez, 1969
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012a; Space and Flynn, 2002b; Parthasarathy et al., 2008
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012a; Space and Flynn, 2002a; Space and Flynn, 2002b
GuamPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2012a
Marshall IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2012aKwajalein (Kuwajileen) Atoll
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2012a; PIER, 2012aPohnpei Islands
NauruPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2012a
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012a; Space and Flynn, 2002b; Space and Flynn, 2001Lifuka, Foa, 'Eua, Tongatapu Islands

History of Introduction and Spread

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Spanish explorers and settlers in Jamaica harvested the leaves and berries of allspice, and there has been almost continuous production of berries in Jamaica from around 1509 to the present day (Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Allspice was introduced to other West Indian Islands (Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Puerto Rico (Parthasarathy et al., 2008), and early in the 19th century pimento berries and seedlings were sent from Jamaica to Madras (India), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Costa Rica, Haiti, Panama, Colombia, Honduras and Australia. Since then it has been taken to Malaysia, Colombia, Venezuela and other tropical areas. With the exception of Grenada it has not thrived or produced as well as in Jamaica (Rodriguez, 1969). The berries first reached London in 1601 and were first cultivated in a hot house in 1732 (Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Since being introduced as a crop plant and ornamental on Hawai’i in the 1900s, it has subsequently spread out of cultivation via dispersal by fruit-eating birds (Starr et al., 2003). Skolmen (1960, via Starr et al., 2003) writes that the Hawaiian forestry department planted 200 trees in 1928 on Kaua’i, 2,432 trees from 1929-1950 on O’ahu, and a single tree on Hawai’i in 1957.

Detailed records of first introduction or invasion history for P. dioica are generally lacking for other territories.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Colombia Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Costa Rica Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Fiji Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Haiti Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Hawaii 1928-1957 Crop production (pathway cause) ,
Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause)
Yes No Deliberate and accidental introduction
Honduras Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
India Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Panama Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Singapore Jamaica 1800s No No Rodriguez (1969) Deliberate introduction
Sri Lanka 1824 No No Parthasarathy et al. (2008) Deliberate introduction
UK 1601 Botanical gardens and zoos (pathway cause) No No Parthasarathy et al. (2008) Deliberate introduction

Risk of Introduction

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P. dioica already widely occurs in warm regions around the world and has been present for many years in some cases (Starr et al., 2003). In Jamaica P. dioica is an economic crop, with exports of around 5,000 tonnes per year (Neal, 1965, via Starr et al., 2003). It is also a valued specimen and street tree. Because of its ornamental and economic value, it is likely that continued deliberate introductions by humans will occur. Seeds can be dispersed via birds (Staples et al., 2000), so it is likely that P. dioica will escape from cultivation and become established as a potentially invasive species once introduced.

New introductions are likely to affect island systems in particular, and the species is thought to pose significant risk to island flora due to its aggressive nature and ability to naturalize (PIER, 2012a). For example on Tonga, it is widely naturalized and in one area on ‘Eua it has been observed to form dense thickets of saplings: given this aggressive nature, the species is predicted to become a major threat in the future (Space and Flynn, 2001).

However, P. dioica has not always persisted in new regions it has been deliberately introduced to, and so may not threaten habitats unless conditions are favorable for reproduction and establishment (Rodriguez, 1969).

P. dioica is not listed as a quarantine pest, however it is a priority species for exclusion from the Cook Islands (Space and Flynn 2002a), Palau (Space et al., 2009), and Samoa (Space and Flynn, 2002b).

Habitat

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No specific details of habitats affected by P. dioica invasion other than geographical location (country) are available. Countries where P. dioica is present and invasive are within its broad temperature and rainfall tolerances (Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The basic chromosome number for the genus is x = 11 and Pimenta dioica is a diploid with 2n = 22.

There is a lot of variation in allspice with regard to yield and essential oil content, and on Jamaica there are many varieties, including dwarfs; some varieties produce many berries whilst others do not. Mexican trees have larger berry size, but yield is lower (Rodriguez, 1969). Two seedling variant types with dwarf/semi-dwarf habit and bushy nature are being conserved in the Indian Institute of Spices Research. The leaves of these variants are around 1/3 smaller than normal allspice leaves, and because of the bushy form with many branches, they may offer potential for crop improvement programs (Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Reproductive Biology

Germination occurs after 9–10 days and continues over a month. There is some discrepancy over when trees become fully fruit bearing: Parthasarathy et al. (2008) states that trees grown from seed flower after 5–6 years, and take 18–20 years before becoming full bearing trees, whereas Rodriguez (1969) suggests full bearing is achieved between 25–35 years.

The time and extent of flowering is affected by local conditions and climate, particularly the onset of spring rains (Parthasarathy et al., 2008), and this can mean that flowering times can vary spatially within short distances such as between different sides of an island. Seeds germinating in the wild may take up to 10 years before flowering and fruiting. Full bearing can last for many years, over 100 for exceptional trees (Rodriguez, 1969).

Seeds can be dispersed by fruit-eating birds (Starr et al., 2003) as well as lizards, bats and insects (Rodriguez, 1969). Space and Flynn (2001) indicate that germination success is high, having observed ‘dense mats of seedlings’ growing under the parent tree; P. dioica seed production is >1000/m2 (PIER 2012a).

Some trees can be barren, but the cause of this is currently unknown. Barren trees do however have a higher concentration of oil in their leaves. The species does not readily thrive outside of Jamaica and Grenada, possibly due to reproductive processes when certain critical environmental factors are absent, or in an unbalanced or unsatisfactory state (Rodriguez, 1969).

Environmental Requirements

In general, P. dioica is tolerant of a wide range of rainfall, temperature and altitude within tropical areas. It can grow from sea level to 1000 m and annual rainfall of 100–200 cm and mean monthly temperature of 27°C are preferred (Thankamani et al., 1994). It is somewhat selective over soil type, requiring free-draining coarse soil preferably in limestone areas. Soil type is thought to affect reproductive output, and is a possible reason why outside of Jamaica and Grenada the species is not as productive (Rodriguez, 1969).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 15
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 24
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 15

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall120250mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Calonectria quinqueseptata Pathogen Leaves not specific
Ceratocystis fimbriata Pathogen Stems not specific
Helopeltis antonii Herbivore Stems not specific
Puccinia psidii Pathogen Inflorescence/Leaves not specific
Zeuzera coffeae Antagonist Adults not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Leaf rust caused by Puccinia psidii is the most serious disease of Pimenta dioica in Jamaica, first recorded in 1932. Young leaves, shoots, flowers, and young fruits are covered by bright yellow powder (parasitic fungal spores) in infested trees. Severe infestation results in defoliation, with successive attacks over 3-4 years leading to the death of the tree (Rodriguez, 1969). Leaf rust can be observed on both upper and lower surfaces of leaves, and mature leaves can bear brown lesions also covered with fungal spores (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). Puccinia psidii is native to, and present throughout, Central and South America as well as the USA (Florida, Hawai’i and California) (EPPO, 2012), and has a limited number of host species including rose apple (Rodriguez, 1969); Puccinia psidii has potential for use as a biological control agent of Pimenta dioica, but field trials are needed (Rayachhetry et al., 2001), and spores cannot develop in hotter temperatures of low altitudes (Rodriguez, 1969).

Pimenta dioica is also affected by die back or canker, caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata. The disease is usually localized and spreads to other parts of the tree. Infected trees display bark canker, dark streaks in the wood, and drying of leaves (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). Trees die within a few months when primary infection occurs low in the tree trunk, compared to infection via the branches (Rodriguez, 1969). C. fimbriata is widely distributed throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceana, but it is unclear as to whether it is native or introduced (EPPO, 2012).

In India, severe leaf rot between May-September has been caused by Cylindrocladium quinqueseptatum. (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). The larvae of red borer Zeuzera coffeae have also been reported to cause damage to trees, but this species of moth only occurs in Asia and Oceana (Parthasarathy et al., 2008; EPPO, 2012). The tea mosquito Helopeltis antonii has been also reported to attack Pimenta dioica in India, causing lesions on young shoots (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). This species only occurs in Asia, and is a minor pest of Pimenta dioica (EPPO, 2012).

Termites and ants have also been reported to damage trees due to nest building, and carrying other pests such as scale insects which attack the tree (Rodriguez, 1969).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Vector Transmission

Staples et al. (2000) suggests that seed dispersal is via fruit-eating birds, and Rodriguez (1969) also cites bats, lizards and insects as potential vector species. Vector transmission is probably most effective at local scales, but migratory bird species may also carry seeds between islands for example (Rodriguez, 1969).

Intentional Introduction

P. dioica has been introduced intentionally at all scales from local to international, as an ornamental species and as a crop plant (Starr et al., 2003).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionSpecies is used as a crop in many countries Yes Yes Parthasarathy et al., 2008
Digestion and excretionFruits are eaten by birds, bats and lizards and seeds excreted locally; migratory birds could cause Yes Rodriguez, 1969
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds are vector-dispersed eg. birds causing local escape from gardens Yes
Ornamental purposesOften used as an ornamental species in many countries. Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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Jamaica is the largest producer and exporter of allspice, accounting for 70% of world trade. The remaining 30% is produced by Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and Belize. Major importers include the USA, Germany, UK, Finland, Sweden and Canada. Jamaican allspice is the most sought after, and in 2000 was fetching prices of over USD 3.5 per pound.

Environmental Impact

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Where the species is considered to be invasive, it invades natural forest areas and could outcompete native plants (Space and Flynn, 2001). Details of invasiveness and subsequent impacts are lacking in current literature.

Although P. dioica is thought to negatively impact some environments, it has also been shown that when cultivation of allspice is in a mixed productive system, it can offset some of the losses to biodiversity from surrounding deforestation; plantations should still be complemented by protected areas (King et al., 2006).

Impact: Biodiversity

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Where the species is known to be invasive, it invades natural forest areas and can outcompete native plants (Space and Flynn, 2001). Details of invasiveness and subsequent impacts are lacking in current literature.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Long lived
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value

Several economically important products are derived from P. dioica: dried mature but unripe berries, berry oleoresin, berry oil and leaf oil. These are used in a variety of ways within the food, medicine and perfume industries. Two species of Pimenta that are of commercial importance are P. dioica (allspice) and P. racemosa (bay or rum tree, providing oil of bay).

The dried, mature but unripe berries are the commercial pimento spice, and the berry oil has a warm sweet scent coming from its 60 constituent compounds. Pimento leaf oil has a similarly warm, sweet aroma. Oleoresin is extracted from the crushed spice: it is concentrated and therefore only a small quantity is needed in food production.

Historically, allspice was used to embalm Mayan leaders’ bodies. Today, the major use of allspice is the food industry (65–70%), pimento berry oil production (20–25%), domestic use (5–10%), oleoresin extraction (1–2%), and in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries (Parthasarathy et al., 2008).

Environmental Services

Allspice has been shown to have insecticidal properties against Japanese termites Reticulitermes speratus and therefore has potential use as a fumigant for termite control (Seo et al., 2009). P. dioica essential oils are also effective as an antifungal agent (Hitokoto et al., 1980), and are bactericidal against Escherichia coli (Friedman et al., 2002). P. dioica compounds have nematacidal properties against the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, and so could provide a means of control (Park et al., 2007).

Social Benefit

The powdered fruit of allspice is used in traditional medicine to treat many common ailments such as stress and congestion, and is useful for oral hygiene (Parthasarathy et al., 2008). P. dioica has anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties, which could be developed for human use (Al-Rehaily et al., 2002).

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Stimulants

Environmental

  • Biological control
  • Ornamental

General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Human food and beverage

  • Spices and culinary herbs

Materials

  • Essential oils
  • Oils
  • Pesticide
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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Furniture

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Fences

Detection and Inspection

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P. dioica is a distinctive species, but care should be taken in the field to avoid confusion with P. racemosa (the bay or bay rum tree): P. racemosa has elliptical leaves with finer venation, slightly larger fruit and a five-lobed calyx (Neal, 1965; Bailey and Bailey, 1976 both via Starr et al., 2003).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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P. racemosa (the bay or bay rum tree) is a related species of P. dioica, but P. racemosa can be distinguished by having elliptical leaves with fine venation, slightly larger fruit and a five-lobed calyx (Neal, 1965 via Starr et al., 2003; Bailey and Bailey, 1976 via Starr et al., 2003).

Prevention and Control

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It is currently unknown how to best manage the invasiveness of this species, as the full potential threat to native species is not yet well understood; public awareness and discouragement of planting in natural, moist, lowland areas is advised (Starr et al., 2003) alongside its removal from native forested areas (Space and Flynn, 2001).

Starr et al. (2003) stated that ‘P. dioica is likely controlled by herbicide applications using frill or cut stump methods’, but no specific herbicides are mentioned.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is very little detailed information concerning the invasiveness of P. dioica. Few sources explain how the species is invasive (invasion mechanisms) and its impacts on other species, habitats or ecosystem functioning; empirical studies into the effects of P. dioica presence on native flora could not be found. There is also very little information surrounding the management of the species once it has become established, and only brief mention of how invasion may be prevented. More information on the factors affecting its reproductive success would be useful.

References

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Al-Rehaily AJ, Al-Said MS, Al-Yahya MA, Mossa JS, Rafatullah S, 2002. Ethnopharmacological studies on allspice (Pimenta dioica) in laboratory animals. Pharmaceutical Biology, 40(3):200-205

Brown N, 2008. Climate change in the UK overseas territories: An overview of the science, policy and you. Peterborough, UK: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 84 pp

Chapman, G. P., 1965. A new development in the agronomy of pimento. Caribbean Quarterly, 2(3/4), 12 pp.

Copeland A, 2011. UK overseas territories and crown dependencies: 2011 biodiversity snapshot. Peterborough, UK: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 35 pp

Friedman M, Henika PR, Mandrell RE, 2002. Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Journal of Food Protection, 65(10):1545-1560

Global Compendium of Weeds, 2012. Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australi, Perth, Australia, and HEAR (online). http://www.hear.org/gcw/

Global Database EPPO, 2012. Pimenta dioica. EPPO. http://gd3.eppo.int/organism.php/PMTDI/pests

Hawaii State Alien Species Coordinator, 2012. Hawaii's most invasive horticultural plants. http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/hortweeds/specieslist.htm

Hitokoto H, Morozumi S, Wauke T, Sakai S, Kurata H, 1980. Inhibitory effects of spices on growth and toxin production of toxigenic fungi. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 39(4):818-822

ISSG, 2012. Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). http://www.issg.org/database

King DI, Hernandez-Mayorga MD, Trubey R, Raudales R, Rappole JH, 2007. An evaluation of the contribution of cultivated allspice (Pimenta Dioca) to vertebrate biodiversity conservation in Nicaragua. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16(4):1299-1320. http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/601q665025666670/?p=5181b9e9ee64439880af65fac8311953&pi=30

Krishnamoorthy B, Rema J, 1991. Allspice. Spice India, 4(10), 9-10.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012. Tropicos database. St Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Park IlKwon, Kim JunHeon, Lee SangGil, Shin SangChul, 2007. Nematicidal activity of plant essential oils and components from ajowan (Trachyspermum ammi), allspice (Pimenta dioica) and litsea (Litsea cubeba) essential oils against pine wood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus). Journal of Nematology, 39(3):275-279. http://palmm.fcla.edu/nematode/index.htm

Parthasarathy VA, Parthasarathy U, Kumar A, 2008. Allspice. New Delhi, India: Today and Tomorrow's Printers and Publishers, 11-28. [Spices: Vol 2.]

PIER, 2012. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk., USA: Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry . http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

PIER, 2012. Pimenta dioica: Risk Assessment Results. PIER. http://www.hear.org/pier/wra/pacific/pimenta_dioica_htmlwra.htm

Purseglove JW, Brown EG, Green CK, Robbins SRG, 1981. London, UK: Longman Group Ltd'.

Rayachhetry MB, Van TK, Center TD, Elliott ML, 2001. Host range of Puccinia psidii, a potential biological control agent of Melaleuca quinquenervia in Florida. Biological Control, 22(1):38-45; 27 ref

Rodriguez DW, 1969. Pimento, a short economic history. Commodity Bulletin. Ministry of Agriculture, 3:52 pp

Seidemann J, 2005. World spice plants: Economic usage, botany, taxonomony. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer, 286-287

Seo SeonMi, Kim JunHeon, Lee SangGil, Shin ChangHoon, Shin SangChul, Park IlKwon, 2009. Fumigant antitermitic activity of plant essential oils and components from ajowan (Frachyspermum ammi), allspice (Pimenta dioica), caraway (Carum carvi), dill (Anethum graveolens), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), and litsea (Litsea cubeba) oils against Japanese termite (Reticulitermes speratus Kolbe). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57(15):6596-6602. http://pubs.acs.org/journals/jafcau/index.html

Shanmugavelu, K. G., Rao, V. N. M., 1979. Spices and plantation crops, Madras, India: Popular Book Depot.304 pp.

Space JC, Flynn T, 2001. Report to the Kingdom of Tonga on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 79 pp

Space JC, Flynn T, 2002. Report to the Government of Samoa on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 80 pp

Space JC, Flynn T, 2002. Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 148 pp

Space JC, Lorence DH, LaRosa AM, 2009. Report to the Republic of Palau: 2008 update on invasive plant species. Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 233 pp

Staples GW, Herbst D, Imada CT, 2000. Survey of invasive of potentially invasive cultivated plants in Hawai'i, 65:1-33

Starr F, Starr K, Loope L, 2003. Pimenta dioica Allspice Myrtaceae., USA: United States Geological Survey - Biological Resources Division. http://www.hear.org/starr/hiplants/reports/pdf/pimenta_dioica.pdf

Thankamani, C. K., Sivaraman, K., Kandiannan, K., Peter, K. V., 1994. Agronomy of tree spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice) - a review. Journal of Spices and Aromatic Crops, 3(2), 105-123.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global Compendium of Weedshttp://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/pw/weed/global-compendium-weeds.pdf
Hawaii State Alien Specieshttp://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/hortweeds/specieslist.htm
Tropicos.org. Missouri Botanical Gardenhttp://tropicos.org/Home.aspx

Contributors

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04/12/12 Original text by:

Isabel Jones, Consultant, UK

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