Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Thunbergia alata
(black eyed Susan)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Thunbergia alata (black eyed Susan)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Thunbergia alata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • black eyed Susan
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. alata is an herbaceous vine, often cultivated as an ornamental, which has escaped and naturalized mostly in disturbed areas in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate regions of the world (

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Thunbergia alata (black-eyed-susan); flowers. Puerto Rico, July 2003.
TitleFlowers
CaptionThunbergia alata (black-eyed-susan); flowers. Puerto Rico, July 2003.
Copyright©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Thunbergia alata (black-eyed-susan); flowers. Puerto Rico, July 2003.
FlowersThunbergia alata (black-eyed-susan); flowers. Puerto Rico, July 2003.©Smithsonian Institution/Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Blanketing habit Kula. Maui Hawaii, March, 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Blanketing habit Kula. Maui Hawaii, March, 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Blanketing habit Kula. Maui Hawaii, March, 2007.
HabitBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Blanketing habit Kula. Maui Hawaii, March, 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata); flowering habit. Kula, Mau Hawaii. April, 2001.
TitleHabit
CaptionBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata); flowering habit. Kula, Mau Hawaii. April, 2001.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata); flowering habit. Kula, Mau Hawaii. April, 2001.
HabitBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata); flowering habit. Kula, Mau Hawaii. April, 2001.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Cv Sundance yellow flowers. Enchanting Gardens of Kula. Maui Hawaii, July, 2008.
TitleFlower
CaptionBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Cv Sundance yellow flowers. Enchanting Gardens of Kula. Maui Hawaii, July, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Cv Sundance yellow flowers. Enchanting Gardens of Kula. Maui Hawaii, July, 2008.
FlowerBlack-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) Cv Sundance yellow flowers. Enchanting Gardens of Kula. Maui Hawaii, July, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Thunbergia alata Bojer ex Sims

Preferred Common Name

  • black eyed Susan

Other Scientific Names

  • Endomelas alata (Bojer ex Sims) Raf.

International Common Names

  • English: black eyed Susan vine; black-eyed-susan; clock vine
  • Spanish: anteojo de poeta; bejuco de perdiz; jazmín del vedado; ojo de pájaro; ojo de poeta
  • French: fleur jaune-savane; oeil de suzanne; suzanne aux yeux noirs
  • Chinese: yi ye shan qian niu
  • Portuguese: bunda-de-negro; olho-de-poeta; olho-preto; suzana-dos-olhos-negros

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: ojitos negros
  • Australia: black-eye Susan vine; blackeyed Susan; black-eyed Susan; blackeyed Susan vine; black-eyed Susan vine; clockvine
  • Brazil: amarelinha; bunda-de-mulata; bunda-de-negro; carólia; cipó-africano; cu-de-cachorro erva-de-cabrita; jasmim-da-itália; jasmim-sombra; maria-sem-vergonha; maria-sem-vergonha; olho-de-poeta; olho-preto; suzana-dos-olhos-negros
  • Cuba: anteojo de poeta
  • Dominican Republic: boca de escopeta
  • Ecuador: ojitos negros
  • Germany: Gefluegelte Thunbergie; schwarzäugige Susanne
  • India: chonga lota; scarlet clock
  • Japan: yahazu-kazura
  • Lesser Antilles: golden bells
  • Mexico: ojo de pájaro; ojo de Venus
  • Netherlands: Thunbergia
  • Puerto Rico: culo de poeta; Susana; tuya
  • South Africa: isiPhondo (isiZulu); swartoognooi (Afrikaans)

EPPO code

  • THNAL (Thunbergia alata)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

T. alata is an herbaceous vine, often cultivated as an ornamental, which has escaped and naturalized mostly in disturbed areas in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate regions of the world (Starr et al., 2003; Meyer and Lavergne, 2004; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). It is a fast-growing vine with the capability of reproducing sexually by seeds and vegetatively by cuttings, fragments of stems and roots (Starr et al., 2003; Vibrans, 2009). Once established, it completely smothers native vegetation by killing host-trees, out-competing understory plants, and negatively affecting the germination and establishment of seedlings of native species (Starr et al., 2003; Meyer and Lavergne, 2004). T. alata is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012) and it is also considered an aggressive invasive plant in Australia, Japan, Singapore, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, and numerous islands in the Pacific including Hawaii and French Polynesia.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Acanthaceae
  •                             Genus: Thunbergia
  •                                 Species: Thunbergia alata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The family Acanthaceae includes about 221 genera and 4000 species widespread in both New and Old World Tropics (Scotland and Vollesen, 2000; Stevens, 2012). Species within this family are herbs or woody shrubs, lianas and trees (Stevens, 2012). The subfamily Thunbergioideae comprise five genera, the largest of which, Thunbergia, contains about 100 species restricted to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Madagascar, Asia, and Australia (McDade et al., 2000; Borg et al., 2008). The subfamily Thunbergioideae is characterized by a predominantly twining habit, enlarged bracteoles, and a reduced calyx. Furthermore, Thunbergioideae lack the retinaculate fruits found in most Acanthaceae species, instead possessing either dry and/or dehiscent capsules without retinacula (Borg et al., 2008).

Description

Top of page

T. alata is an herbaceous vine, creeping or climbing, twining, 2-3 m in length. Stems cylindrical, slender, puberulous. Leaves opposite; blades 4.5-10.5 × 3.2-6 cm, ovate, lobed, chartaceous, the apex acute, the base subcordiform; upper surface dark green, dull, pubescent; lower surface pale green, dull, with prominent venation; petioles 4-8 cm long, winged, pubescent. Flowers axillary, solitary; pedicels pubescent, 4-5 cm long; bracts green, ovate, pubescent, 1.5 cm long, covering the calyx and the corolla tube. Calyx yellowish green, with 12 filiform lobes, approximately 4 mm long; corolla orange, pale yellow, or less frequently whitish, infundibuliform, with 5 lobes, the tube approximately 2.5 cm long, narrow at the base, dark violet inside, the lobes approximately 2.5 cm long with the apex truncate, the limb approximately 5 cm in diameter; stamens with glandular hairs on the basal portion. Capsules approximately 4 mm long, depressed-globose to 4-lobed at the base, the upper half in the form of a beak, dehiscent by two valves; seeds 2 or 4, 1.2-1.5 mm long, semicircular, reticulate (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). Several cultivars have been developed, including some with white, yellow, and even pinkish-coloured flowers (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

Top of page

T. alata is native to tropical Africa (Daniel, 1995, 2001, 2005; Borg et al., 2008; USDA-ARS, 2014). It has been widely cultivated as an ornamental and is now naturalized in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate regions in Asia, North, Central and South America, the West Indies, and islands in the Pacific Ocean (see Distribution Table for details).

Distribution Table

Top 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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014Naturalized
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive Wu, 2001
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014Naturalized
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity, 2014
-KeralaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity, 2014
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Mito and Uesugi, 2004
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
SingaporePresentIntroduced Invasive Chong et al., 2009
ThailandPresentIntroducedHarada et al., 1996Weed

Africa

BotswanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
BurundiPresentNativePROTA, 2014
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativePROTA, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
EritreaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
EthiopiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
KenyaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
LiberiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MadagascarPresentMadagascar Catalogue, 2014Antananarivo, Toamasina
MalawiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MauritiusPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
MozambiquePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NigerPresentNativePROTA, 2014
NigeriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer and Lavergne, 2004
RwandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer and Lavergne, 2004
Sierra LeonePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
South AfricaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Transvaal
SudanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SwazilandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
UgandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Michoacán, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, St Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Veracruz
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
BelizePresentIntroducedBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Chacón and Saborío, 2012
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedDaniel, 2001Cultivated and naturalized
GrenadaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedDaniel, 2010Very common. Cultivated and naturalized in Alta Verapaz, Escuintla, Izaba, Guatemala City, Jutiapa, Petén, Quetzaltenango, Quiché, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequez, San Marcos, St. Rosa, Sololá, Sichitepequez
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedDaniel, 2005Very common. Cultivated and naturalized in Atlántida, Choluteca, Colón, Comayagua, Copán, Cortés, El paraiso, F. Morazán, Lempira, Ocotepeque, Olancho, St. Barbara, Yoro
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAdams, 1972Naturalized
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
MontserratPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
PanamaPresentIntroducedCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Widespread
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012St. Croix, St. John

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedZuloaga et al., 2008
BoliviaPresentIntroducedDaniel, 1995
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AcrePresentIntroducedProfice et al., 2014Naturalized
-AlagoasPresentIntroducedProfice et al., 2014Naturalized
-AmapaPresentIntroducedProfice et al., 2014Naturalized
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedProfice et al., 2014Naturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-ParaPresentIntroducedProfice et al., 2014Naturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Idárraga-Piedrahita et al., 2011
EcuadorPresentIntroducedJørgensen and León-Yànez, 1999
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Cultivated and naturalized
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Paraguay, 2008
PeruPresentIntroducedDaniel, 1995
SurinamePresentIntroducedFunk et al., 2007Cultivated and naturalized
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedHokche et al., 2008Delta Amacuro, Distrito Federal, Falcón, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Táchira, Trujillo, Yaracuy

Europe

PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2014Naturalized

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014Cultivated
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedMcCormack, 2013Cultivated
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Smith, 1981
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Stone, 1970
NauruPresentIntroducedThaman et al., 1994Potential invasive
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedMacKee, 1994Cultivated
New ZealandPresentIntroducedWilliams and Randall, 2002Weed
NiuePresentIntroducedWhistler, 1988
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
TongaPresentIntroducedSpace and Flynn, 2001
VanuatuPresentIntroducedSwarbrick, 1997

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

T. alata was probably introduced as an ornamental in the West Indies during the nineteenth century. For this region, T. alata was first recorded in herbarium collections made in 1870 in Martinique, 1871 in Dominican Republic, and 1874 in Trinidad (US National Herbarium). In 1876 this species is listed as “cultivated in gardens” on St Croix Island (Eggers, 1876). In 1881, T. alata was reported as “cultivated and escaped” for Jamaica and Puerto Rico (Bello Espinosa, 1881; US National Herbarium). By 1900, I. Urban listed this species as “spontaneous” for the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Vincent, Barbados and Trinidad (Urban, 1901). In Hawaii, T. alata was first collected in 1864-1865 on O'ahu (Wagner et al. 1999). In 1990, T. alata was introduced as an ornamental plant in the Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin on the island of La Réunion using material from a botanical garden in Frankfurt, Germany (Meyer and Lavergne, 2004).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

The risk of introduction of T. alata is very high. This species is a fast-growing vine which has been widely introduced as an ornamental in many tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions where it has escaped and naturalized, becoming a serious threat for native plant communities (Starr et al., 2003; Meyer and Lavergne, 2004). In addition, T. alata spreads sexually by seeds and vegetatively by cuttings, stem fragments, and roots, facilitating its likelihood of invading and colonizing new habitats.

Habitat

Top of page

In Australia, T. alata can be found growing as a weed on riverbanks (i.e., riparian vegetation), in forest margins, plantation crops, roadsides, urban bushland, disturbed sites and waste areas in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate habitats (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). In Hawaii, T. alata is cultivated and naturalized in moist areas at low elevations (Wagner et al., 1999). In Fiji, T. alata is locally frequent from near sea level to about 900 m as a naturalized weed in thickets, cultivated areas, pastures, villages, plantations, and along roadsides (Smith, 1991). Throughout Puerto Rico, T. alata is especially common in moist disturbed areas, at lower to upper elevations (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Habitat List

Top of page
CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page

T. alata is considered a weed affecting mostly plantation crops such as Citrus, coffee, mango, and banana plantations (Vibrans, 2009).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page
Plant nameFamilyContext
CitrusRutaceaeMain
Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)RubiaceaeMain
Mangifera indica (mango)AnacardiaceaeMain
Musa (banana)MusaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Genetics

The chromosome number reported for T. alata is n = 9 (Daniel and Chuang, 1989). 

Reproductive Biology

Species in the genus Thunbergia have bisexual, zygomorphic, axillary, and usually solitary flowers (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). In the case of T. alata, pollinators generally are unknown, but based on floral traits the species could be considered entomophilous (Starr et al., 2003). In South Africa this species is pollinated by bees and the flowers reflect ultra violet light in a pattern that is only visible to insects (Smithies, 2007). 

Physiology and Phenology

T. alata is a fast-growing and long-lived vine (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). In the West Indies, T. alata has been recorded flowering sporadically throughout the year (Adams, 1972; Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). In Australia, flowering occurs throughout the year, but is most abundant during spring and summer (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). In Mexico, in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán valley, T. alata produces flowers in November (Daniel, 1999). In China, T alata has been recorded flowering from October to March and fruiting from February to May (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014). 

Environmental Requirements

T. alata grows best in relatively moist and dry sites, with warm temperatures at low to upper elevation (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). It grows best on fertile soils with good drainage and pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.8 (PROTA, 2014). It is able to grow in partially shaded to full-sunlight exposure (PROTA, 2014).

 

Climate

Top of page
ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -1
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 30

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall6002500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

According to Brickell and Zuk (1997), Thunbergia species are susceptible to spider mites, whiteflies, and scale insects.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

T. alata spreads sexually by seeds and vegetatively by cuttings, stem fragments, and roots. It has aggressive vegetative growth and rapidly invades and dominates new areas (Starr, 2003; PIER, 2014). T. alata is dispersed long distances mostly by people who use the plant as an ornamental (Starr et al., 2003). Seeds and plant fragments can be spread in dumped garden waste, and by water, soil movements, and vehicles (Starr, 2003; Vibrans, 2009; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapeStem fragments and roots Yes Yes Starr et al., 2003
Garden waste disposalDumping of garden cuttings Yes Yes Starr et al., 2003
Habitat restoration and improvementGrown as a gound cover Yes Yes Whistler, 2000
HorticultureGrown on trellises and fences, in hanging baskets and as a ground cover Yes Yes Whistler, 2000
Landscape improvement Yes Yes Whistler, 2000
Medicinal useUsed in traditional African medicine Yes Yes PROTA, 2014
Nursery trade Yes Yes Whistler, 2000
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Whistler, 2000

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesStem fragments, roots, dumping of garden cuttings Yes Yes Starr et al., 2003
Land vehicles Yes Yes Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
Machinery and equipmentGarden tools Yes Yes Starr et al., 2003
MailSeeds sold online Yes Yes
Soil, sand and gravel Yes Yes Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011
Water Yes Yes Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Environmental Impact

Top of page

T. alata has an aggressive habit, climbing on other vegetation, and forming a dense blanket over areas (Starr et al., 2003). This species has the potential to completely smother native vegetation by killing host-trees, out-competing understory plants, and negatively affecting the germination and establishment of seedlings of native species (Starr et al., 2003; Meyer and Lavergne, 2004; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Chacon and Saborio, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). It is also a weed affecting mainly fruit plantations (Vibrans, 2009).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

Top of page

T. alata has been widely used as an ornamental for its attractive flowers (Starr et al., 2003; Meyer and Lavergne, 2004). It is most often grown on trellises and fences, in hanging baskets, and as a ground cover in gardens and crops (Wagner et al., 1999; Smithies, 2007; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; PIER, 2014). For example, in Papua New Guinea, it has been used for ground cover in coconut plantations (PIER, 2014). T. alata is also used in traditional medicine. In India, the fresh root extract is used as a health tonic and an aphrodisiac (Kar et al., 2013; PROTA, 2014). In East Africa, T. alata is used as a vegetable or animal feed. Medicinally it is used for skin problems, back and joint pains, eye inflammation, piles and rectal cancer. Gall sickness and some ear problems in cattle are also treated with this plant. Fruits and seeds are used in souvenirs (Smithies, 2007).

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Environmental

  • Amenity
  • Soil conservation

General

  • Souvenirs

Human food and beverage

  • Emergency (famine) food

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

T. alata can be distinguished from other climbing Thunbergia species by the following vegetative and reproductive characters (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011):

  1. Long-lived vine growing up to 5 m in height with slender stems which are green and hairy when young.
  2. Paired leaves with narrowly winged petioles.
  3. Flowers axillary, solitary.
  4. Flowers are usually orange or yellow with a black throat and have two leafy bracts at their bases.
  5. Fruit has a rounded base (5-10 mm across) containing the seeds and an elongated beak (9-15 mm long).

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Small plants as well as small infestations should be removed manually. All plant segments and roots have to be removed in order to avoid re-sprouts. Large mature plants have extensive underground root systems, thus specialized machinery is necessary. In addition the use of this species as an ornamental should be discouraged (Starr et al., 2003; Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 2011). There is no chemical control suggested for the management of this species.

References

Top of page

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Adams CD, 1972. Flowering plants of Jamaica. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies.

Balick MJ; Nee M; Atha DE, 2000. Checklist of the vascular plants of Belize. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, 85:1-246.

Bello Espinosa D, 1881. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Primera parte.) Anal. Soc. Española de Hist. Nat, 10:231-304.

Brickell C; Zuk JD, 1997. The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. New York, USA: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 1104 pp.

Broome R; Sabir K; Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Chacón E; Saborío G, 2012. Red Interamericana de Información de Especies Invasoras, Costa Rica ([English title not available]). San José, Costa Rica: Asociación para la Conservación y el Estudio de la Biodiversidad. http://invasoras.acebio.org

Chong KY; Tan HTW; Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Correa A; Galdames MDC; Stapf MNS, 2004. Catalogue of vascular plants of Panama (Catalogo de Plantas Vasculares de Panama.), Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 599 pp.

DAISIE, 2014. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. European Invasive Alien Species Gateway. www.europe-aliens.org/default.do

Daniel TF, 1995. Acanthaceae. 4. Flora Chiapas [ed. by Breedlove, D. E.]. San Francisco, USA: California Academy of Sciences, 1-158.

Daniel TF, 2001. Catalog of Acanthaceae in El Salvador. Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium, 23:115-137.

Daniel TF, 2005. Catalog of Honduran Acanthaceae with taxonomic and phytogeographic notes. Contributions from the University of Michigan Herbarium, 24:51-108.

Daniel TF, 2010. Catalog of Guatemalan Acanthaceae: taxonomy, ecology, and conservation. Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, 61:289-377.

Daniel TF; Chuang TI, 1989. Chromosome numbers of some cultivated Acanthaceae. Baileya, 23:86-93.

Eggers HFA, 1876. The St Croix's Flora. Washington, USA: Government Printing Office, 158 pp.

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Florence J; Chevillotte H; Ollier C; Meyer J-Y, 2013. Base de données botaniques Nadeaud de l'Herbier de la Polynésie Française (PAP) (Botanical database of the Nadeaud Herbarium of French Polynesia). http://www.herbier-tahiti.pf

Funk V; Hollowell T; Berry P; Kelloff C; Alexander SN, 2007. Checklist of the plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 584 pp.

Harada J; Shibayama H; Morita H, 1996. Weeds in the Tropics., Japan: Association for International Cooperation of Agriculture and Forestry.

Hokche O; Berry PE; Huber O, 2008. Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela (New catalogue of the vascular flora of Venezuela). Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela, 860 pp.

I3N-Brasil, 2013. Base de dados nacional de espécies exóticas invasoras (National database of exotic invasive species). http://i3n.institutohorus.org.br/www/

I3N-Paraguay, 2008. Red interamericana de Informacion sobre Biodiversidad. Red de Informacion sobre Especies Invasoras (I3N) ([English title not available]). http://www.i3n.org.py/

Idárraga-Piedrahita A; Ortiz RDC; Callejas Posada R; Merello M, 2011. Flora of Antioquia. (Flora de Antioquia.) Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares, vol. 2. Listado de las Plantas Vasculares del Departamento de Antioquia:939 pp.

India Biodiversity, 2014. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Jørgensen PM; León-Yànez S, 1999. Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard, 75. i-viii, 1-1182.

Kar A; Goswami NK; Saharia D, 2013. Distribution and traditional uses of Thunbergia Retzius (Acanthaceae) in Assam, India. Pleione, 7:325-332.

MacKee HS, 1994. Catalogue of introduced and cultivated plants in New Caledonia. (Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie.) Paris, France: Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, unpaginated.

Madagascar Catalogue, 2014. Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar. St. Louis, Missouri, USA and Antananarivo, Madagascar: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/project/mada

McCormack G, 2013. Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007. Cook Islands Biodiversity Database. Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust. http://cookislands.bishopmuseum.org/search.asp

McDade LA; Masta SE; Moody ML; Waters E, 2000. Phylogenetic relationships among Acanthaceae: evidence from two genomes. Systematic Botany, 25:106-121.

Meyer JY; Lavergne C, 2004. Beautés fatales: Acanthaceae species as invasive alien plants on tropical Indo-Pacific islands. Diversity and Distributions, 10(5/6):333-347.

Mito T; Uesugi T, 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research, 8(2):171-191.

Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.

PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Profice SR; Kameyama C; Côrtes ALA; Braz DM; Indriunas A; Vilar T; Pessoa C; Ezcurra C; Wasshausen D, 2014. Acanthaceae. (Acanthaceae.) Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. http://reflora.jbrj.gov.br/jabot/floradobrasil/FB21673

PROTA, 2014. PROTA4U web database. Grubben GJH, Denton OA, eds. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp

Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011. Special edition of Environmental Weeds of Australia for Biosecurity Queensland., Australia: The University of Queensland and Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/Index.htm

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Scotland RW; Vollesen K, 2000. Classification of Acanthaceae. Kew Bulletin, 55:513-589.

Smith AC, 1981. Flora Vitiensis Nova: A new flora of Fiji. Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. National Tropical Botanical Garden, 2:290.

Smithies S, 2007. Thunbergia alata. Plants of South Africa. Online resources from the National Herbarium. Pretoria, South Africa: National Herbarium. http://www.plantzafrica.com/planttuv/thunbergalata.htm

Space JC; Flynn T, 2001. Report to the Kingdom of Tonga on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, 78 pp.

Starr F; Starr K; Loope LL, 2003. Thunbergia alata. Plants of Hawaii. Haleakala Field Station, Hawaii, USA: US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division. http://www.hear.org/pier/pdf/pohreports/thunbergia_alata.pdf

Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

Stone BC, 1970. The Flora of Guam. Micronesica, 6:1-659.

Swarbrick JT, 1997. Weeds of the Pacific Islands. Technical Paper - South Pacific Commission, No. 209: 124 pp.

Thaman RR; Fosberg FR; Manner HI; Hassall DC, 1994. The flora of Nauru. Atoll Research Bulletin, 392:1-223.

Urban I, 1901. Symbolae Antillanae. Volumen II. Lipsiae, Germany: Fratres Borntraeger, 860 pp.

USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2014. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Vibrans H, 2009. Malezas de México- Pennisetum purpureum ([English title not available]). http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/poaceae/pennisetum-purpureum/fichas/ficha.htm

Villaseñor JL; Espinosa-Garcia FJ, 2004. The alien flowering plants of Mexico. Diversity and Distributions, 10(2):113-123.

Wagner WL; Herbst DR; Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA: Bishop Museum Press, 1919 pp.

Whistler WA, 1988. Checklist of the weed flora of Western Polynesia. An annotated list of the weed species of Samoa, Tonga, Niue, and Wallis and Futuna, along with the earliest dates of collection and the local names. Technical Paper, South Pacific Commission, No. 194:69 pp.

Whistler WA, 2000. Tropical ornamentals. Portland, Oregon, USA: Timber Press.

Williams PA; Randall R, 2002. How weedy are plants recently naturalised in New Zealand? New Zealand Plant Protection, 1:432. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/researchpubs/weedyplantsposter.pdf

Wu TL, 2001. Check List of Hong Kong Plants. Hong Kong Herbarium and the South China Institute of Botany. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department Bulletin 1 (revised):384 pp. http://www.hkflora.com/v2/flora/plant_check_list.php

Zuloaga FO; Morrone O; Belgrano MJ, 2008. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Argentina, Sur de Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay). Volumen 1: Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae y Monocotyledoneae (Catalogue of the vascular plants of the southern cone (Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay). Volume 1: Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae and Monocotyledoneae) [ed. by Zuloaga FO, Morrone O, Belgrano MJ]. St. Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 983 pp.

Links to Websites

Top of page
WebsiteURLComment
JSTOR Global Plantshttp://plants.jstor.org/
Plant Resources of Tropical Africahttp://www.prota.org
Tropicoshttp://www.tropicos.org/

Contributors

Top of page

05/03/14 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 Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map