Scaevola taccada (beach naupaka)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Scaevola taccada (Gaertn.) Roxb.
Preferred Common Name
- beach naupaka
Other Scientific Names
- Lobelia frutescens Mill.
- Lobelia taccada Gaertn.
- Scaevola billardieri Dieter.
- Scaevola chlorantha de Vriese
- Scaevola frutescens Krause
- Scaevola koenigii Vahl
- Scaevola lambertiana de Vriese
- Scaevola latevaga Hance ex Walp
- Scaevola leschenaultii A. DC.
- Scaevola macrocalyx de Vriese
- Scaevola piliplena Miq.
- Scaevola plumerioides Nutt.
- Scaevola sericea Vahl
International Common Names
- English: beach cabbage; half-flower; naupaka; sea lettuce
Local Common Names
- Australia: beach cabbage; beach scaevola; carwell cabbage; pipetree
- Bahamas: Asian scaevola; Hawaiian seagrape; white inkberry
- Cuba: sevola
- Fiji: veveda
- French Polynesia: naupata
- Guam: nanasu
- Samoa: to`ito`i
- Tonga: ngahu
- USA/Hawaii: naupaka kahakai
- SWLTA (Scaevola taccada)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
S. taccada is a dense, spreading shrub that forms rounded mounds from 1 to 3.5 m tall. According to the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012), S. taccada is an agricultural and environmental weed. In Florida, it is listed as an invasive species Category I, defined as a plant that is invading and disrupting native plant communities (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011). This species is also considered invasive in Bermuda, the Bahamas and, some islands of the West Indies. S. taccada has fruits with a corky outer layer adapted to be dispersed by ocean currents. Fruits may float for up to one year, and can be easily dispersed along the coast line, canal banks, mangroves, and inland shorelines. The species also grows from cuttings, and plant fragments or stems may be dispersed on vegetation rafts.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Goodeniales
- Family: Goodeniaceae
- Genus: Scaevola
- Species: Scaevola taccada
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The family Goodeniaceae includes 12 genera and about 430 species distributed mostly in Australia, except for the genus Scaevola, which is pantropical (Stevens, 2012). Species within this family are common in arid and semi-arid climates.
The genus Scaevola includes about 100 species. S. taccada is a pantropical genus native to southeastern Asia, eastern Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. The name of this species comes from the Greek “scaevus”, which means “left-handed” or “awkward”, describing the floral morphology (Wagner et al., 1990). Formerly, this species was subdivided into two varieties: S. taccada var. sericea occurring throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and with silky plant hairs on the stem and leaves, and S. taccada var. taccada occurring along the Atlantic coasts in tropical America and Africa and lacking hairs (Kaufman and Kaufman, 2007). However, these two varieties are no longer accepted and current classifications include both as S. taccada.
DescriptionTop of page
S. taccada is a dense, multi-stemmed shrub that generally grows up to 3 m in height. Leaves are light green, succulent, with a waxy covering and are alternately arranged along the stem. Blades are elongated and rounded at the tips, 5 to 20 cm long and 5 to 7 cm wide. Flowers are white, often with purple streaks, 8 - 12 mm long, and have a pleasant fragrance. They have an irregular shape with all 5 petals on one side of the flower making it appear to have been torn in half. Flowers grow in small clusters from the leaf axils near the ends of the stems. Fruits are white fleshy berries about 1 cm long. Seeds are beige, corky, and ridged (Wagner et al., 1990).
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page
S. taccada naturally occurs on tropical and subtropical coasts along the Indian Ocean, in China, SE Asia, and in the Pacific Islands including Hawaii. It is common in hot dry coastal areas. S. taccada has been introduced to Florida and some islands in the Caribbean region (Bahamas, Bermuda and West Indies) where it has become invasive (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012). In 2012 it was recorded for the first time in Jamaica, during a survey of the Hellshire Hills in the Portland Bight Protected Area, where it was found on the beach between the tideline and treeline (BRIT Virtual Herbarium, 2014). Currently this species is also reported for the Caribbean coast of Venezuela (Grande and Nozawa, 2010). It is highly probable that the species has a wider geographical distribution than recorded, mainly in the West Indies and areas in the Caribbean coasts of Central and South America.
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.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|South Africa||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|China||Present||CABI (Undated)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Cocos Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Japan||Present||CABI (Undated)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Ryukyu Islands||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)||Antigua|
|Bahamas||Present||Introduced||Invasive||BEST Commission (2003); Kairo et al. (2003); Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Barbados||Present||Introduced||Broome et al. (2007)|
|Bermuda||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Department of Conservation Services Bermuda (2011)|
|Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba|
|-Bonaire||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Burg et al. (2012); Smith et al. (2014)||Very abundant in Klein Bonaire|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012); Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2012)||Anegada, Virgin Gorda|
|Cayman Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (2012)|
|Cuba||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012)||Reported as S. sericea|
|Curaçao||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Burg et al. (2012); Smith et al. (2014)|
|Jamaica||Present||Introduced||BRIT Virtual Herbarium (2014)||Recorded in survey of the Hellshire Hills, Portland Bight Protected Area|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012); USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Graveson (2012); Graveson (2011)||Spreading at Cas en Basm; present at Jalousie|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012); USDA-ARS (2012)||St. Croix, St. John|
|United States||Present||CABI (Undated)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Florida||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (2011)||Category I noxious weed in Florida|
|Australia||Present||CABI (Undated)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Northern Territory||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|-Western Australia||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Christmas Island||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|New Caledonia||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Native||USDA-ARS (2012)|
|Venezuela||Present||Introduced||Grande and Nozawa (2010)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
S. taccada was introduced into Florida in the 1960s, probably from Hawaii. It has been sold in the nursery and landscape trade since the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s it was promoted for controlling beach erosion and in coastal landscaping (Kaufman and Kaufman, 2007). S. taccada escaped from cultivation by the early 1980s and spread through Florida and into many Caribbean islands including the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Currently, it forms dense stands on many beach dunes, coastal rock barrens, coastal strands, along saline shores, in mangroves, and in coastal forests in Florida and the West Indies (Lockhart, 2012; ISSG, 2012).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The risk of introduction of S. taccada is high, due to the high dispersal capacity of this species. S. taccada is adapted to dispersal by ocean currents, and fruits are able to float for months in the ocean and their seeds still germinate after having been in salt water for up to a year. One study on this species showed that seeds have higher germination rates after 250 days soaked in salt water (Bornhorst, 1996) and the rates of seedling establishment under natural conditions are also high. In addition, S. taccada roots easily from cuttings and it can be dispersed on vegetation rafts (Lockhart, 2012; ISSG, 2012).
HabitatTop of page
S. taccada typically grows directly on beaches of tropical and subtropical coastal environments, including sand dunes, mangroves, and seagrape habitats. It shows a preference for beaches on coral sands. It grows within the salt spray area and is a pioneer plant on sandbanks. S. taccada prefers well drained sandy soils and it is a very salt tolerant scrub. S. taccada can also be found growing in coconut palm plantations and in forests in the inner-coastal plains.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Coastal areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Coastal dunes||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal dunes||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Mangroves||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Mangroves||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Salt marshes||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Salt marshes||Present, no further details||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The number of chromosomes for this species is 16 with a ploidy level = 2n (Guerra, 2000).
Protandry is characteristic of flowers within the family Goodeniaceae. The stamens deposit the pollen into a cup at the top of the style while the flower is still in bud (Leins and Erbar, 1990). When flowers open, the stigmatic tissue pushes the pollen out, thus the flower is in its “male phase.” After all the pollen has been presented, the stigma is exserted and receptive for pollen. Consequently, species within this family require outcrossing in order to set fruits. In the case of S. taccada, the species is xenogamous but it also has the potential for self-pollination. Flowers open during both day and night for approximately 5 days and are visited and pollinated by insects, mainly bees. In this species, the prevalence of outcrossing and self-pollination may have evolved as an adaption to persist on a changing island environment (Liao, 2008).
Physiology and Phenology
S. taccada plants can reproduce within their first or second year and produce flowers and fruits repetitively over the year (Lockhart, 2012)
ClimateTop of page
|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]))|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||19||32|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||500||2500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Mycosphaerella scaevolae is a fungal pathogen that causes leaf spot disease in Scaevola species. This disease has been found in Australia in S. taccada, and in Hawaii in S. taccada andother Scaevola species including S. chamissoniana, S. glabra, and S. mollis. M. scaevolae infects the host plant through natural openings in the leaves (stomata). Spores of the fungus are then produced on the lower surface of leaves and can be spread by wind, water droplets or by movement of infected material (i.e., cuttings). Infection results in large yellow (chlorotic) spots on leaves, which develop a brown, necrotic centre with age (Daly and Hennessy, 2007).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
S. taccada can be dispersed by seeds and by cuttings. Fruits are adapted to be dispersed by ocean currents, but they also can be dispersed by birds. Fruits in this species are able to float for months in the ocean. S. taccada can also be dispersed by stem segments floating on vegetation rafts. The stem segments easily resprout and new plants can be established.
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Habitat restoration and improvement||Yes||Yes||Kaufman and Kaufman, 2007|
|Landscape improvement||Landscaping in coastal areas||Yes||Yes||Kaufman and Kaufman, 2007|
|Medicinal use||Asian traditional medicine||Yes||Yes||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Ornamental purposes||Gardens in coastal areas||Yes||Yes||Kaufman and Kaufman, 2007|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
S. taccada colonizes sand dunes and competes with native coastal vegetation. It can rapidly form extensive monospecific thickets, providing a seed source for more rapid dispersal and colonization of other shoreline areas. In addition, the occurrence of stands of S. taccada in coastal areas can apparently result in an increased delivery of sediments and nutrients to the marine environment due to dune destabilization (Nero and Sealey, 2006).
Impact on Biodiversity
In Florida, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico S. taccada competes directly with the related native Scaevola plumieri (inkberry), which is a threatened species under US Federal Regulation (USDA-NCRS, 2012). In Florida, this species is also competing with the endangered species Argusia gnaphalodes, Okenia hypogaea, and Jacquemontia reclinata. In the Cayman Islands, S. taccada is out-competing most of the flora naturally associated with sandy beaches and it negatively impacts various critically endangered and vulnerable species including Chrysobalanus icaco, Scaevola plumieri, Pectis caymanensis var. robusta, P. caymanensis var. caymanensis, and Cordia sebestena var. caymanensis (Burton, 2008; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2012). On islands in the Caribbean region, thickets of S. taccada on sandy beaches may prevent access of sea turtles to nesting areas.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Argusia gnaphalodes (sea rosemary)||National list(s)||Florida||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||ISSG, 2012|
|Chrysobalanus icaco (coco plum)||National list(s)||Cayman Islands||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||Burton, 2008|
|Cordia sebestena L. var. caymanensis||National list(s)||Cayman Islands||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||IUCN, 2012|
|Jacquemontia reclinata (beach clustervine)||No Details||Florida||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||ISSG, 2012; Lockhart, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012|
|Okenia hypogaea||National list(s)||Florida||Competition - shading||ISSG, 2012; Lockhart, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012|
|Pectis caymanensis||National list(s)||Cayman Islands||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||Burton, 2008|
|Scaevola plumieri||No Details||Bahamas; Cayman Islands; Puerto Rico; Florida||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||ISSG, 2012; Lockhart, 2012|
|Tephrosia angustissima var. curtissii||National list(s)||Florida||Competition - shading; Competition - smothering||ISSG, 2012; Lockhart, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly mobile locally
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Altered trophic level
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Soil accretion
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Competition - smothering
- Competition - strangling
- Rapid growth
UsesTop of page
In Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, the pleasantly fragrant flowers and the seeds of S. taccada are used for making leis (traditional garlands). In some islands of the Pacific, S. taccada is used to prevent coastal erosion as well as for beach landscaping. It is also planted on beach crests to protect other ornamental and cultivated plants from salt spray.
S. taccada is also used in Polynesian and Asian traditional medicine as an antidiabetic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and as a skeletal muscle relaxant. Extracts have shown selective anti-viral activity against Herpes Simplex Virus-1 and 2 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus in vitro (Locher et al., 1995).
This species together with other Scaevola species is used in traditional Polynesian craft to construct reef-fishing nets and baskets (Aalbersberg et al., 1993).
Uses ListTop of page
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Landscape improvement
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
S. taccada can be confused with Scaevola plumieri, because their flowers look very similar. However, S. plumieri has black fruits, and its leaves are smaller (to 10 cm long), with a smooth, entire leaf margin and straight edges slightly upwards. By contrast, S. taccada has white fruits and leaves that grow to about 21 cm in length and often have a few shallow indentations along its broad apex and straight edges slightly downwards (BEST, 2003; ISSG, 2012).
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.
S. taccada is difficult to control. Fleshy branches and stems are easy to hand-pull, but broken underground stems readily re-sprout if not completely removed (Lockhart, 2012). Seedlings and young plants should be hand-pulled and removed from the site. Adult plants may be removed by digging or hand-pulling and taken away (along with the seeds) from the site.
Because S. taccada grows in areas near to water sources and intertidal zones (i.e., seas and mangroves), mechanical control is preferred over chemical control. If mechanical removal is not possible, herbicides can be effective in dry dune habitat, but removal and treatment of this species in intertidal areas and mangrove areas requires more careful treatment. Plants of S. taccada can be cut down to the ground and treated with 50% triclopyr (ISSG, 2012). Eradication recommendation in Florida is basal application with 10% Garlon 4 (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinyloxyacetic acid butoxyethyl ester) or stump application with 50% Garlon 3A (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinyloxyacetic acid triethylamine salt) (ISSG, 2012).
Monitoring and re-treatment are necessary for at least two to three years after removal (Lockhart, 2012).
ReferencesTop of page
Aalbersberg W; Nunn PD; Ravuvu A, 1993. Climate and agriculture in the Pacific Islands: future perspectives. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, 80 pp.
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Grande J R, Nozawa S, 2010. Notes on the naturalization of Scaevola taccada (Gaertn.) Roxb. (Goodeniaceae) in coastal Venezuela. (Notas sobre la naturalización de Scaevola taccada (Gaertn.) Roxb. (Goodeniaceae) en las costas de Venezuela.). Acta Botanica Venezuelica. 33 (1), 33-40.
Graveson R, 2011. Plants of Saint Lucia: A Pictorial Flora of Wild and Cultivated Vascular Plants., http://www.saintlucianplants.com/index.html
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ContributorsTop of page
25/01/13 Original text by:
Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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