Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Argyreia nervosa
(elephant creeper)

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Datasheet

Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Argyreia nervosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • elephant creeper
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. nervosa is a liana from the tropics and sub-tropics, reported as invasive in Reunion, Hawaii (USA), Cuba, Australia, New Caledonia and Tonga, but with little information about the invasiveness of the species...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); flowers. August 2010.
TitleFlowers
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); flowers. August 2010.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by Loi Miao/via wikipedia - CC0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); flowers. August 2010.
FlowersArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); flowers. August 2010.Public Domain - Released by Loi Miao/via wikipedia - CC0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
HabitArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
TitleHabit
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
HabitArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
HabitArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleLeaves
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
LeavesArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves, undersurface. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleLeaves
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves, undersurface. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves, undersurface. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
LeavesArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); leaves, undersurface. Huelo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); fruits and foliage. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
TitleFruits and foliage
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); fruits and foliage. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); fruits and foliage. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Fruits and foliageArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); fruits and foliage. Hana Hwy, Kailua, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.©Forest & Kim Starr-2005 - CC BY 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); seeds.
TitleSeeds
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); seeds.
Copyright©beyerklaus50 /via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); seeds.
SeedsArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); seeds.©beyerklaus50 /via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); a selection of seeds. Note scale.
TitleSeeds
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); a selection of seeds. Note scale.
Copyright©Lindsey Seastone/seID Mobile App/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); a selection of seeds. Note scale.
SeedsArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); a selection of seeds. Note scale.©Lindsey Seastone/seID Mobile App/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); two seeds. Note scale.
TitleSeeds
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); two seeds. Note scale.
Copyright©Lindsey Seastone/seID Mobile App/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); two seeds. Note scale.
SeedsArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); two seeds. Note scale.©Lindsey Seastone/seID Mobile App/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit, small plant. nr Irikkoor, Kannur Distict, Kerala India. March 2013.
TitleHabit
CaptionArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit, small plant. nr Irikkoor, Kannur Distict, Kerala India. March 2013.
Copyright©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Argyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit, small plant. nr Irikkoor, Kannur Distict, Kerala India. March 2013.
HabitArgyreia nervosa (elephant creeper); habit, small plant. nr Irikkoor, Kannur Distict, Kerala India. March 2013.©Vinayaraj V R/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Argyreia nervosa (Burm.f.) Bojer

Preferred Common Name

  • elephant creeper

Other Scientific Names

  • Argyreia speciosa (L.f.) Sweet
  • Convolvulus nervosus Burm.f.
  • Convolvulus speciosus L.f.
  • Ipomoea speciosa (L.f.) Pers.
  • Lettsomia nervosa (Burm.f.) Roxb.
  • Lettsomia speciosa (L.f.) Roxb.
  • Rivea nervosa (Burm.f.) Hallier f.
  • Samudra speciosa (L.f.) Raf.

International Common Names

  • English: baby wood-rose; elephant climber; elephant vine; Hawaiian baby wood rose; silken-cord; silver elephant creeper; silver morning glory; silver morningglory; wood rose; woolly morning glory; woolly morningglory
  • Spanish: hojas de seda
  • French: coup d'air; liane à minguet; liane d'argent; liane d'argent à minguet
  • German: Holzrose

Local Common Names

  • China: mei li yin bei teng
  • Cuba: hoja de plata; campanola; cordón de seda; hoja de plata; ipomoea; ipomoea morada
  • Dominican Republic: basquiña; hoja de seda
  • Haiti: coup d'air; liane à minguet; liane d'argent; liane tonnelle
  • India: ambagar; antakotarapushpi; bichtarak; bijarka; bryddhotareko; chamang-pins-dansaw; chandrapada; chandrapoda; chhagalanghhri; ghav-patta; guguli; jamang-pi-danok; jatapmasi; kannada; kokkiti; palasamudra; peymunnai; sadarbalai; samandar-ka-pat; samandarshokh; samandarsotha; samudrapachcha; samudrapachcha; samudrapala; samudrappala; samudrasoka; samudrastokam; samundarsokha; samundrasosh; samundrasosha; samuttrappalai; soh-ring-kang; vardharo; vryddhadaraka; vryddhadaru
  • Indonesia: areuy bohol keboh
  • Jamaica: elephant ear vine
  • Lesser Antilles: elephant climber; liane à tonnelle; liane à vonvon
  • Pakistan: samandar-ka-pat
  • Philippines: hojas de seda; sedang-dahon
  • Sweden: elefantvinda
  • Thailand: bai rabaat; mueang mon; phak rabaat

EPPO code

  • AGJNE (Argyreia nervosa)

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. nervosa is a liana from the tropics and sub-tropics, reported as invasive in Reunion, Hawaii (USA), Cuba, Australia, New Caledonia and Tonga, but with little information about the invasiveness of the species or its effects on habitats and native species in these countries (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2016). In Cuba it is reported as a transformer and invasive species (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012). In Queensland, Australia it is reported as thriving around Townsville and rampaging around Cooktown.  It is also reported as an environmental weed in Australia (PIER, 2016), where it is an aggressive invader of rainforest and other tropical forest communities in northern Queensland (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Solanales
  •                         Family: Convolvulaceae
  •                             Genus: Argyreia
  •                                 Species: Argyreia nervosa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Argyreia is a genus in the morning glory family, with 90 species native to continental tropical Asia, Malaysia, and northern Australia (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). A. nervosa is a vine native to India; the genus name comes from the Greek argyro, referring to the silver colour at the underside of the leaf and the species epithet is a reference to its conspicuous veins (Csurhes, 2009; Eflora of India, 2016). The two most frequently cited common names are “elephant creeper” referring to the resemblance of its large leaves to elephant ears and “Hawaiian wood rose” for the resemblance of the fruit to a carved rose. It is known by more than 20 common names in India (Csurhes, 2009; Flowers of India, 2016). Although the India Biodiversity Portal (2016) lists Samudra speciosa as a synonym for A. nervosa, according to the Plant List (2013) this is an unresolved name.

Description

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The following description is from Flora of Pakistan (2016):

Lianas. Stems woody at base, densely white pubescent when young, glabrescent. Leaves cordate, 18-27 cm long, apically acute to obtuse. Flowers in cymes on long, white, tomentose peduncles, the bracts ovate-lanceolate, subtending. Sepals ovate to broadly ovate, 1.5-2 cm long, white-tomentose. Corolla with lavender limb and darker throat, 6-7 cm long, pubescent outside, at least on the tube and the interplicae. Fruit indehiscent, baccate, dry, subglobose, 1-1.5 cm long. Seeds dark to light brown, glabrous.  

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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A. nervosa is native to India and introduced elsewhere mostly for cultivation (Csurhes, 2009; PIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016). It grows mainly in tropical and subtropical regions (Csurhes, 2009; Padhi et al., 2013). It is recorded as introduced in east Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America and some Pacific islands (see Distribution Table for details).

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

ChinaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2016
-Hong KongPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2016
IndiaPresentNativeGalani et al., 2010Throughout the country, up to an altitude of 300 m.
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeJain and Dam, 1979
-AssamPresentNativeGalani et al., 2010
-BiharPresentNativeGalani et al., 2010
-MeghalayaPresentNativeJain and Dam, 1979
-OdishaPresentNativeGalani et al., 2010
JapanPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
MalaysiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCsurhes, 2009
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedCsurhes, 2009
MyanmarWidespreadIntroducedKress et al., 2003
PakistanPresentIntroducedFlora of Pakistan, 2016
PhilippinesPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2016
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2016
VietnamPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016

Africa

ChadPresentIntroducedBrundu and Camarda, 2004
GhanaPresentIntroducedCsurhes, 2009
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
MauritiusPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedAnon, 2016
MozambiquePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora Zambesiaca, 2016
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016

North America

BermudaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1913New York Botanical Garden, 2016At experimental station
USA
-FloridaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Kaua'i Island, Maui Island, O'ahu Island (cultivated).

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1900New York Botanical Garden, 2016
BelizePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
British Virgin IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1913Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; NMNH, 2016Invasive and transformer
CuraçaoPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedNew York Botanical Garden, 2016
Dominican RepublicPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; New York Botanical Garden, 2016
GuadeloupePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1894NMNH, 2016
HaitiPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced1917NMNH, 2016
JamaicaPresentIntroducedNew York Botanical Garden, 2016Adjacent to UCWI campus
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; NMNH, 2016
Netherlands AntillesPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedNew York Botanical Garden, 2016At sea level
NicaraguaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016León, Puerto Momotombo
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Veraguas, Santiago, Canal area, roadside
Puerto RicoPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016; NMNH, 2016Uncommon
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1890New York Botanical Garden, 2016Rare
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012St Thomas

South America

BrazilPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Minas GeraisPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
-Sao PauloPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora do Brasil, 2016
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Europe

GermanyAbsent, unreliable recordIntroducedPaulke et al., 2012Seeds sold locally for drug uses; no information available if used for cultivation

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Raiatea Island, Tahiti Island
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Ile Grande Terre
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016'Eua Island

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. nervosa is native to India from where it has spread into other countries due to its use as an ornamental, for medicinal purposes and as a hallucinogenic drug plant. It is reported as being used for hundreds of years in Hawaii and Polynesia as a drug and for medicinal purposes; being transported into the Pacific region by indigenous people (Csurhes, 2009). It has sometimes been listed as native to Australia in the past, as it may have been introduced by aboriginal people prior to European settlement (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Earliest reports in the New World are from Martinique in 1884 as introduced from Calcutta (NMNH, 2016), and on other islands of the Lesser Antilles in 1890 (St. Vincent) and in 1894 (Guadeloupe). It is listed in 1891 in a nursery plant catalogue in Florida (Hoyt, 1891). Other early reports are from Barbados in 1900, Cuba in 1904, Bermuda in 1913, Haiti in 1917 and the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in the 1930’s. All these reports are from cultivation, in gardens, or escaped and adjacent to dwellings and other buildings (NMNH, 2016; New York Botanical Garden, 2016). 

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
USA 1891 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No Hoyt (1891)
Cuba 1904 Horticulture (pathway cause) Yes No NMNH (2016)
Martinique India 1884 Horticulture (pathway cause) No No NMNH (2016) From Calcutta

Risk of Introduction

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Due to its use as an ornamental vine, its popularity as a "legal drug" and its availability over the internet, the species could be further introduced into tropical and subtropical countries that have distinct wet and dry seasons (Ashutosh et al., 2011). This species reproduces by seed and vegetative fragmentation and can spread from cultivation in dumped garden waste (Csurhes, 2009). Seeds are reported as being dispersed by birds, other animals and by floodwaters (PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). 

Habitat

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A. nervosa is reported to occur in tropical and sub-tropical habitats, including rainforests, open woodlands, dense grasslands, roadsides, river banks, edges of lakes, disturbed sites and waste areas (Padhi et al., 2013; Weeds of Australia, 2016). It is reported at altitudes from sea level up to 900 m (Padhi et al., 2013). 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Physiology and Phenology

Propagation of A. nervosa is reported to be by seeds or cuttings (Csurhes, 2009). The plant grows as a bush in the first one to two years before growing into a vine of up to 10 m in length (Ashutosh et al., 2011). Flowering in India is reported for July-December and March-April (Flowers of India, 2016).

Environmental Requirements

Little information is available on the biology of the species and its environmental requirements. Internet sites that sell seeds for germination report that A. nervosa prefers fertile, moist soils in a protected sunny disposition and that it is drought resistant. The species is reported to be shade resistant in its early stages and able to germinate under rainforest canopies, dense grass cover and in eucalypt woodland (Csurhes, 2009; PIER, 2016). Mature plants are reported to prefer full sun to partial shade, and slightly moist soils (Padhi et al., 2013; PROTA, 2016). Ashutosh et al. (2011) report that the species is adapted to tropical climates with distinct wet and dry seasons; and does not occur naturally in the wet tropics. Minimum temperature reported is -4°C (PROTA, 2016).

Climate

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

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
36 -25

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -4
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7242474mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (non-biotic)

The seeds and plant fragments can spread from dumped garden waste (Csurhes, 2009). Seed can spread through floodwaters (PIER, 2016). 

Vector Transmission (biotic)

Seeds are reported as being dispersed by frugivorous birds, pigs and other animals, but without further details (PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016). The fruits being dry and indehiscent make them improbable as being dispersed by frugivorous birds. A. nervosa specimens at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez herbarium have old fruits that are broken open (JD Ackerman, personal communication, 2016) and an image at Weeds of Australia (2016) shows one fruit being open, leading to the possibility that granivorous birds break the fruits to get to the seeds.

Intentional Introduction

A. nervosa has been introduced outside its native range as an ornamental, for medicinal uses and for use of the seeds as the source of a hallucinogenic “legal drug” (Csurhes, 2009). It has been reported as a recommended vine for the southern part of Florida; available locally at nurseries since 1891 (Hoyt, 1891; Wynman, 1944). In most of the introduced countries it is also reported from cultivation (Csurhes, 2009; PIER, 2016).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Digestion and excretionSeeds dispersed by birds and other animals Yes PIER, 2016
DisturbanceReported at roadsides and disturbed areas Yes Padhi et al., 2013
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Csurhes, 2009
Garden waste disposal Yes Csurhes, 2009
Horticulture Yes Yes Csurhes, 2009
Internet salesSeeds and plants sold over the internet. Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Medicinal use Yes Yes
Nursery tradeAvailable at nurseries and advertised over internet Yes Wynman, 1944
Ornamental purposesRecommended as a garden plant to grow over fences. Yes Wynman, 1944
Seed tradeSeeds sold for cultivation of plants for ornamental purposes and as a “legal drug”. Yes Yes Csurhes, 2009

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
MailSeeds sold at internet sites and mailed internationally Yes Yes
WaterDispersed in floodwaters Yes PIER, 2016

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

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A. nervosa is considered an environmental weed in Australia and it is on a priority weed list for the Cape York Peninsula. It is reported as an aggressive invader of rainforests and other tropical forest communities and has been observed to smother trees. It is seen as a potential threat to conservation areas in both the wet tropics and dry tropics regions, as it can germinate in undisturbed sites, under rainforest canopies and dense grass cover (Csurhes, 2009; Weeds of Australia, 2016). 

Social Impact

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Despite other species in the Convolvulaceae being used in shamanic rituals, A. nervosa was not widely recognized as a potential hallucinogenic species until the 1960’s (Ashutosh et al., 2011). The seeds of A. nervosa are a source of ergotalkaloid lysergic acid amine (LSA), considered as a natural substitute for LSD. The species has the highest concentration of psychoactive compounds in the Convolvulaceae, and it is being used as a "legal high" or a “biogenic” drug and popular among adolescents (Ashutosh et al., 2011; Paulke et al., 2013). Seeds are sold at various internet sites and local shops. Instructions and videos on how to use the plant as a drug are available over the internet. Reported effects of the drug include: neurological/psychic effects like sedation, altered visual perception, mood change, anxiety, changes in sense of time, nausea, vertigo, hypertension, tachycardia, tachypnea to mydriasis (Paulke et al., 2015).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts human health
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - smothering
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Padhi et al. (2013) argue that due to its extensive pharmacological potential A. nervosa should be cultivated on a large scale in wastelands in India to provide an income for local farmers and to further explore its medicinal potentials. 

Social Benefit

A. nervosa is widely cultivated and is a popular Indian medicinal plant, which has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine to treat various diseases. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds are used (Galani et al., 2010; Ashutosh et al., 2011; PIER, 2016). It is used as a digestive, aphrodisiac, diuretic, alterative, tonic, and contraceptive. It is also used to treat anorexia, gonorrhoea, strangury, chronic ulcers, rheumatism, diseases of the nervous system, diabetes, obesity, syphilis, chronic cough, cold, fever, rheumatic affections, hemiplegia and dysentery. The leaves are used externally to treat ringworm, eczema, itch and other skin diseases. The leaves are also used internally to cure boils and swellings. In some parts of India leaves and seeds are eaten (Galani et al., 2010; Ashutosh et al., 2011).  It is also reported to be used for its fibres (PROTA, 2016).

Environmental Services

Extracts of the leaves of A. nervosa have a nematicidal effect on Setaria cervi, a filarial worm of cattle (Galani. 2010). Shukla et al. (1999) report that A. nervosa contains compounds that are phytotoxic and antifungal.

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Hallucinogen

Environmental

  • Landscape improvement

Human food and beverage

  • Leaves (for beverage)

Materials

  • Fibre

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Potted plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. nervosa could be confused with several of the Ipomoea species, mainly because of similar flower colours. It can be differentiated from Ipomoea by its very large cordate leaves, the underside of leaves and younger stems being densely covered in whitish hairs. Similar Ipomoea species are either glabrous to somewhat pubescent. A. nervosa fruits are leathery berries that do not split open when mature (Weeds of Australia, 2016).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Most of the information on the species is on its use as a medicinal plant or on its psychedelic properties. Information on the reproduction and plant biology of the species is mostly lacking, including detailed information about seed dispersal. Its effects on habitats and biodiversity are also poorly known

References

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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

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Eflora of Indiahttps://sites.google.com/site/efloraofindia/species/a---l/cl/convolvulaceae/argyreia/argyreia-nervosa
Flora of Pakistanhttp://efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=5&taxon_id=200018779
Flowers of India, 2016http://www.flowersofindia.net/
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.
India Biodiversity Portalhttp://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/228789
Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Cropshttp://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/apex/f?p=185:145:::NO::P3_BOTNAME:Argyreia
Plant Resources of Tropical Africahttp://www.prota4u.org/search.asp
The New York Botanical Gardenhttp://sweetgum.nybg.org/science/vh/

Contributors

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28/05/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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