Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Cnidoscolus aconitifolius
(Miller) I. M. Johnston, Euphorbiaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 10 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Jatropha aconitifolia Mill.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: cabbage-star, treadsoftly, tree-spinach

French: manioc bâtard

Spanish: chaya, copapayo, papayuelo, saya

Habit:  tree

Description:  "This ornamental small tree sometimes regarded as a tree spinach is recognized by: (10 very stout green twigs yielding abundant white latex when cut; (2) stinging hairs sometimes scattered along twigs and flower stalks or absent; (3) large leaves with long petioles and palmately 7- or 5-lobed, deeply divided blades 6-14 inches long and broad; and (4) many fragrant small white make and female flowers in flat-topped long-stalked, erect terminal clusters.

"An evergreen planted tree 20 feet high, with short stout trunk to 6 inches in diameter, few stout branches, and compact dense half-round crown as broad as height of tree.  Bark light gray brown with darker streaks, becoming finely fissured.. Inner bark whitish with light green outer layer, almost tasteless, with abundant white latex.  Twigs very stout, green with large whitish dots (lenticels), becoming light gray brown, with large oblong raised leaf scars and often with scattered stinging hairs.  Leaves alternate, with very long round green petioles 6-14 inches long, spreading in all directions.  Leaf blades 6-14 inches long and broad, palmately 7- or 5-lobed with as many light green veins from the heart-shaped base, the lobes deeply divided and narrow, long pointed, and coarsely toothed with smaller lobes, thin and hairless.  The upper surface is dull dark green and turned up at veins, the lower surface dull light green with raised veins.  Flower clusters (cymes) are terminal at the end of a long stalk, flat-topped, and 3-5 inches across, bearing many male flowers and few female flowers (monoecious) without petals.  Male flowers many but only a few open at one time, about 1/2 inch long and broad, consisting of narrow greenish-tinged calyx tube 1/4 inch long, 5 spreading elliptic lobes 1/4 inch long, and on orange disk the white stamen column with 2 circles of 5 stamens to 3/8 inch long and third circle nonfunctional (staminodes).  Female flowers few, terminal, opening first, composed of 5 white sepals more than 1/4 inch long which fall early and on a disk the pistil 1/4 inch long, with finely hairy light green egg-shaped 3-celled ovary with 3 ovules and 3 white widely working styles.  The fruit is a bristly ellliptic-3-celled capsule 3/8 inch long.  Seeds 1 in each cell, more than 1/4 inch long."  (Little et al., 1974; pp. 394-395)

Habitat/ecology:  In Puerto Rico, "planted as an ornamental and shade tree along city streets...and near houses in moist parts of Puerto Rico, locally common.  Elsewhere, the plants with stinging hairs are grown as effective hedges and for living fence posts.  However, some cultivated plants are hairless."  (Little et al., 1974; pp. 394-395).

Propagation:  Propagated from seeds and cutting and short-lived"  (Little et al., 1974; pp. 394-395).

Native range:  Native in southern Mexico and perhaps northern Central America to Guatemala and Honduras, the range extended by cultivation southward to Venezuela and Peru."  (Little et al., 1974; pp. 394-395).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Escape from cultivation.
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Escape from cultivation.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1989) (voucher ID: BISH 549743)
Taxon name on voucher: Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (Miller) I.M.Johnston
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1985) (voucher ID: BISH 500752)
Taxon name on voucher: Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (Miller) I.M.Johnston
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Honduras
Honduras
Honduras (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)

Comments:  Escaped from cultivation in the Galápagos Islands.


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This page was created on 22 OCT 2004 and was last updated on 18 OCT 2011.