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Datasheet

Dolichandra unguis-cati
(cat's claw creeper)

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Datasheet

Dolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Dolichandra unguis-cati
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cat's claw creeper
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Dolichandra unguis-cati is a vigorous, woody vine that can climb up to 15 m or higher. Due to its showy yellow flowers, it has been widely introduced as a garden ornamental. It has escaped from cultivation and...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Dolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); extreme invasive habit. Post Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), a deserted house in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. March 2006.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionDolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); extreme invasive habit. Post Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), a deserted house in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. March 2006.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Dolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); extreme invasive habit. Post Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), a deserted house in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. March 2006.
Invasive habitDolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); extreme invasive habit. Post Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), a deserted house in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. March 2006.Public Domain - Released by Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
Dolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); invasive habit, draped over and climbing a tree. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionDolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); invasive habit, draped over and climbing a tree. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0
Dolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); invasive habit, draped over and climbing a tree. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.
Invasive habitDolichandra unguis-cati (cat's claw creeper); invasive habit, draped over and climbing a tree. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 2007.©Forest & Kim Starr-2007 - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Dolichandra unguis-cati (L.) L.G. Lohmann

Preferred Common Name

  • cat's claw creeper

Other Scientific Names

  • Batocydia unguis-cati (L.) Mart. ex Britton
  • Bignonia acutistipula Schltdl.
  • Bignonia californica Brandegee
  • Bignonia catharinensis Schenck
  • Bignonia dasyonyx S.F.Blake
  • Bignonia exoleta Vell.
  • Bignonia gracilis Lodd.
  • Bignonia lanuginosa Hemsl.
  • Bignonia pseudounguis Desf.
  • Bignonia triantha DC.
  • Bignonia tweedieana Lindl.
  • Bignonia unguis L.
  • Bignonia unguis-cati L.
  • Bignonia vespertilia Barb.Rodr.
  • Dolichandra kohautiana C.Presl
  • Doxantha acutistipula (Schltdl.) Miers
  • Doxantha adunca Miers
  • Doxantha dasyonyx (S.F.Blake) S.F.Blake
  • Doxantha exoleta (Vell.) Miers
  • Doxantha radicans (DC.) Miers
  • Doxantha tweedieana (Lindl.) Miers
  • Doxantha unguis-cati (L.) Miers
  • Macfadyena unguis-cati (L.) A.H.Gentry
  • Microbignonia auristellae Kraenzl.
  • Spathodea kohautiana (C.Presl) Walp.

International Common Names

  • English: catclaw-trumpet; cat's claw climber; cat's claw-vine; cat's-claw; yellow trumpet vine
  • Spanish: bejuco de gato; paz e justicia; uña de gato
  • French: griffe à chatte; patte d'oiseau; riffe chatte
  • Portuguese: cipó-de-gato; cipó-de-morcego; unha-de-gato

Local Common Names

  • Australia: funnel creeper
  • British Virgin Islands: catclaw
  • Cuba: bejuco rana; bejucos perdiz
  • Dominican Republic: abrazapalo; abraza-polo; pega palo
  • French Guiana: griffe chatte; griffe de chat; ongle de chat
  • Haiti: griffe-chatte; gris-chotte; liane griffe-chatte; liane verte
  • Mexico: uña de murciélago
  • Puerto Rico: liana uñada; pegapalo

Summary of Invasiveness

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Dolichandra unguis-cati is a vigorous, woody vine that can climb up to 15 m or higher. Due to its showy yellow flowers, it has been widely introduced as a garden ornamental. It has escaped from cultivation and become a significant invader of cultivated orchards, riparian corridors, natural forest remnants and disturbed areas, such as roadsides and urban spaces. D. unguis-cati clings tenaciously to any substrate with adventitious roots and clawed tendrils. This vigorous growth allows it to sprawl over other vegetation and, through a combination of both shading and weight, it can kill even large canopy trees. In the absence of climbing support, D. unguis-cati grows along the ground forming a thick carpet that inhibits the growth and seed germination of native understorey vegetation including native grasses, herbs and seedlings of shrubs and trees. Currently, this vine species is listed as invasive in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania,South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Cuba, the Bahamas and the USA including Hawaii, Florida and Texas (Kairo et al., 2003; Henderson, 2001; Weber et al., 2008; Weeds of Australia, 2011; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; Randall, 2012; PIER, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Bignoniaceae
  •                             Genus: Dolichandra
  •                                 Species: Dolichandra unguis-cati

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Bignoniaceae includes 110 genera and 800 species distributed mostly in the tropics, with especially high diversity in South America (Stevens, 2012). Members of the Bignoniaceae can be recognized quite easily based on the following traits: species are woody and have lenticillate stems, and most have opposite, compound leaves; presence of extrafloral/extranuptial nectaries on the leaf, stem (at the nodes), the outer surface of the calyx and even on the ovary surface; seeds are usually flattened and winged; New World vines and lianas often have leaf tendrils, but otherwise there are terminal leaflets.

In the species Dolichandra unguis-cati, formerly known as Macfadyena unguis-cati, tendrils are found to replace the terminal leaflet of the leaves (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Description

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D. unguis-cati is a woody vine with tendrils, 10-15 m length. Stems are cylindrical, lenticellate, up to 6 cm in diameter; cross section of the mature stem with multilobed xylem, the lobes alternating with radially arranged phloem tissue; nodes thickened; interpetiolar zone not glandular. Pseudostipules are ovate, approximately 5 mm long. Leaves are opposite, 2-foliolate, with a terminal tendril, trifid like a claw, generally of short duration; leaflets 6-16 x 1.2-7 cm, elliptical, oblong or obovate, chartaceous or coriaceous, glabrous or with punctiform scales, the apex acute or acuminate, the base acute, rounded, or unequal, the margins undulate or rarely denticulate; upper surface dark, shiny, with sunken venation; lower surface light green, dull, with prominent venation; petioles 1-4.5 cm long, petiolules 0.5-2.5 cm long, both glabrous. Flowers are solitary or in pairs, axillary; pedicel 2 cm long. Calyx is green, campanulate, 12-16 mm long, with five unequal lobes; corolla brilliant yellow, infundibuliform, 4-8 cm long, the limb 3-6 cm in diameter, with five unequal lobes, rounded; 4 stamens, didynamous, inserted; ovary covered with punctiform scales. Capsule is linear, somewhat woody, brown, 25-95 cm long; seeds numerous, 1-3.5 cm long, with two membranaceous wings (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005).

Plant Type

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

Distribution

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D. unguis-cati is native to tropical America from Mexico to Argentina and the West Indies, including Trinidad and Tobago (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Ulloa, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016). This species has been widely commercialized as ornamental and can now be found naturalized in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and on many islands in the Pacific Ocean (see distribution table for details, King and Dhileepan, 2011; ISSG, 2016; PIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016). The origin of this species in Cuba and the Bahamas is uncertain, where it has been listed as both native and introduced (Gentry, 1973; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012).

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

ChinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Liu et al., 2006
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedWu, 2001Cultivated
IndiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Based on regional distribution
-DelhiPresentIntroduced Invasive Downey and Turnbull, 2007
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedBased on regional distribution
-JavaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016Cultivated
-SumatraPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016Cultivated
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
NepalPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedChong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016

Africa

Cape VerdePresentIntroduced Invasive King and Dhileepan, 2011
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, 2016
MalawiPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive Holm et al., 1979
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Invasive Katulic et al., 2005Invasive on Mahé Island
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2001; Foxcroft et al., 2003
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, 2016; Witt and Luke, 2017
UgandaPresentIntroduced Invasive BioNET-EAFRINET, 2016
ZambiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedISSG, 2016

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Naturalized
MexicoPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
USAPresentIntroducedBased on regional distribution
-AlabamaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive FLEPPC, 2015
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016Noxious weed

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
BahamasPresentNativeGentry, 1973; Kairo et al., 2003; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Both native and introduced in the country
BelizePresentNativeUlloa, 2016
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Guana, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Costa RicaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
CubaPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012Both native and introduced in the country
DominicaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
GrenadaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
GuadeloupePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
GuatemalaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
HondurasPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
MartiniquePresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
MontserratPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007Saba, St Eustatius
NicaraguaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
PanamaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
Puerto RicoWidespreadNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeBroome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeHoward, 1989
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012St Croix, St John, St Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
BoliviaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
BrazilPresentNativeBased on regional distribution
-AcrePresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-AlagoasPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-AmapaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-AmazonasPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-BahiaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-CearaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-GoiasPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-MaranhaoPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-ParaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-ParaibaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-ParanaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-PernambucoPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-PiauiPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-RondoniaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-RoraimaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-Sao PauloPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-SergipePresentNativeLohmann, 2016
-TocantinsPresentNativeLohmann, 2016
ColombiaPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
EcuadorPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
French GuianaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
GuyanaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
ParaguayPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
PeruPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
SurinamePresentNativeFunk et al., 2007
UruguayPresentNativeUlloa, 2016
VenezuelaPresentNativeFunk et al., 2007

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
GreecePresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
ItalyPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016Sicily
MontenegroPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
PortugalPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2016
-MadeiraPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2016
SerbiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016
SpainPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2016
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedISSG, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Based on regional distribution
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Weeds of Australia, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Weeds of Australia, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedMcCormack, 2007
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroducedWagner et al., 2013
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Fosberg et al., 1993; PIER, 2016
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Webb et al., 1988
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive Space et al., 2004
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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D. unguis-cati has been introduced and widely cultivated as a garden ornamental. It was cultivated in Hawaii as early as 1928 (Wagner et al., 1999). In Florida, it was introduced before 1947 (Langeland et al., 2008) and the first record of this species outside cultivation was a specimen collected in 1957 in Paradise Key, Everglades National Park (Ward, 2005). In Australia, it was apparently introduced from Paraguay and was first reported as naturalized in the 1950s (Weeds CRC, 2008).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
USA Central America 1947 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes No Langeland et al. (2008)
Australia Paraguay 1950 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes No Weed CRC (2008)

Risk of Introduction

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Currently, D. unguis-cati has an extensive distribution range that has been facilitated through the horticultural trade. Additionally, the species behaves as a weed, having the ability to spread both by seeds and vegetatively by tubers and stem fragments. It shows vigorous growth that facilitates dense infestations (Langeland et al., 2008; King and Dhileepan, 2011; Weeds of Australia, 2011), making the risk of introduction of this species into new areas very high.

Habitat

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Within its native distribution range, D. unguis-cati grows in tropical dry forest, tropical and premontane moist forest, rainforests at middle and lower elevations (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005), savannas, seasonally deciduous forest and Amazonian seasonally waterlogged forests (Lohmann, 2016). In areas where it has become naturalized, the species grows in orchards and gardens, grasslands, open urban spaces, riparian forests and along roadsides and forest edges in temperate, subtropical and tropical habitats (Francis, 2004Langeland et al., 2008King and Dhileepan, 2011; Weeds of Australia, 2011; PIER, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details 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
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

D. unguis-cati has both diploid (2n = 40) and tetraploid (2n = 80) populations (Jullier, 1989). This species displays wide genetic diversity throughout its native range, but the genetic diversity in its introduced range is very low (Prentis et al., 2009).

 

Reproductive Biology

D. unguis-cati has hermaphroditic, showy flowers in axillary cymes or panicles (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). Flowers are visited and probably pollinated by insects. In Costa Rica, it is pollinated by anthophorid bees (Downey and Turnbull, 2007). The corolla tube drops off after pollination (USDA-NRCS, 2016).

 

Physiology and Phenology

In Puerto Rico, the species has been recorded flowering and fruiting throughout the year (Acevedo-Rodríguez, 2005). In Australia, flowering occurs mainly during late spring and early summer (Weeds of Australia, 2011). In South Africa, flowers appear from September to February (Henderson, 2001). In southern USA it flowers in spring, but may not begin flowering until the vine is well established. The capsules mature about six months after flowering (Langeland et al., 2008).

 

Longevity

D. unguis-cati is a perennial vine. As soon as the seeds germinate, the young plant begins to form a subterranean tuber which increases in size each year, providing food storage for future growth (Ward, 2005). Seedlings are common and widespread in suitable habitats. It remains at the seedling stage for some time, while it rapidly elongates stems, forming long runners when no erect substrate is within reach (Vivian-Smith and Panetta, 2004; Downey and Turnbull, 2007; Langeland et al., 2008).

 

Environmental Requirements

D. unguis-cati prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade (Langeland et al., 2008). In the West Indies (i.e., Puerto Rico), it grows from near sea level to over 600 m in elevation, in sites that receive mean annual rainfalls from about 750 to 2400 mm. It tolerates most soils, except very poorly drained and salty soils. The species is frost-tolerant and can also survive grazing and fire, but is eliminated by deep grass swards (Francis, 2004; Langeland et al., 2008; King and Dhileepan, 2011). In Australia it has been found growing around estuarine wetlands, suggesting a higher tolerance for salty conditions (Weeds of Australia, 2011; Dhileepan et al., 2013).

Climate

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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
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm 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)
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -12
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall750 mm2400 mmmm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Apteromechus notatus Predator Fruits/pods/Seeds to genus
Carvalhotingis hollandi Herbivore
Carvalhotingis visenda Herbivore Other/All Stages to genus Australia
Charidotis auroguttata Herbivore
Hedwigiella jureceki Herbivore
Hypocosmia pyrochroma Herbivore to genus Australia

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The leaf-feeding beetle Charidotis auroguttata, the leaf-sucking tingid Carvalhotingis visenda and the leaf-tying moth Hypocosmia pyrochroma are specific enemies negatively impacting populations of D. unguis-cati. All these species have been used for biological control in South Africa and Australia (King and Dhileepan, 2011Shortus and Dhileepan, 2011Dhileepan et al., 2013).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

D. unguis-cati spreads by seeds and vegetatively by tubers and stem pieces (Francis, 2004; Weeds of Australia, 2011; Dhileepan et al., 2013). A high number of winged seeds are produced (Langeland et al., 2008), which are both wind- and water-dispersed (Vivian-Smith and Panetta, 2004). Young plants sprout when damaged and layer (root) whenever stems touch the ground. The species can also root along its nodes, producing tubers along the way and forming dense mats on the ground (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds, tuber and stem fragments escaped from cultivation Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
Garden waste disposalTuber and stem fragments Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
HorticultureWidely cultivated as ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016
Intentional releaseWidely planted as ornamental in gardens Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016
Internet sales Yes Yes
Nursery tradeWidely cultivated as ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016
Ornamental purposesWidely cultivated as ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2016

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesTuber and stem fragments Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
MailSales online Yes Yes
WaterWinged seeds dispersed by water Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008
WindWinged seeds dispersed by wind Yes Yes Langeland et al., 2008

Impact Summary

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

Environmental Impact

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D. unguis-cati is a structural parasite negatively impacting native biodiversity mostly in riparian, coastal and rainforest communities (Csurhes and Edwards, 1998). In areas with standing vegetation, this vine species smothers the canopy, and biomass can build up to such a point that it can cause the canopy structure to collapse. Densely infested sites without an over or mid-storey can become carpeted in a mat of vines that strangles-out any existing native grasses or ground layer, and hampers seedling recruitment (Shortus and Dhileepan, 2011; Weeds of Australia, 2011; Dhileepan et al., 2013; PIER, 2016).

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
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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D. unguis-cati is widely commercialized as an ornamental plant (USDA-ARS, 2016). Leaves and stems are used as sudorific for fevers and as emollient, to treat coughs, for a febrifuge and as a diuretic, and to treat snakebites. It is also used for female sterility and haemorrhage in Guyana (DeFilipps et al., 2004). 

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In the USA, specifically in Florida, D. unguis-cati may be confused with the native cross-vine Bignonia capreolata. These two species may be distinguished by the presence of yellow floral tubes and claw-like tendril forks in D. unguis-cati, rather than the orange-red floral tubes typical of B. capreolata (Langeland et al., 2008).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

D. unguis-cati is banned from and has prohibited entry to Western Australia. It is a declared Class 3 weed in Queensland and a Class 4 noxious weed in selected local control areas of New South Wales. Sale and trade is illegal in these states (Weeds of Australia, 2011).

 

Control

Because both tubers and stem pieces of D. unguis-cati can resprout, this species is very resilient to physical and other control efforts (Dhileepan et al., 2013).

 

Physical/mechanical control

Small infestations of D. unguis-cati may be controlled by hand pulling or by digging out small plants, ensuring removal of all stems, roots and tubers (Weeds of Australia, 2011).

 

Biological control

Biological control programmes were initiated in 1996 in South Africa and in 2001 in Australia (Shortus and Dhileepan, 2011). Biological control against D. unguis-cati has resulted in the release of two lace bugs, Carvalhotingis visenda and C. hollandi (Hemiptera: Tingidae), a leaf-mining beetle Hedwigiella jureceki (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), a leaf-tying moth Hypocosmia pyrochroma (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), a seed-feeding weevil Apteromechus notatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) and Charidotis auroguttata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). With the exception of A. notatus, all agents were approved for release and exhibited promising rates of establishment and damage at a number of field localities (King et al., 2011).

 

Chemical control

Chemical control of D. unguis-cati includes the application of glyphosate. Plants should be cut near the base, and the cut stump painted with undiluted glyphosate. Regrowth from stumps should be re-treated to achieve successful control (Weeds of Australia, 2011).

References

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18/08/16 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA 

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