Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Erica lusitanica
Rudolphi, Ericaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 20.5 (Go to the risk assessment)

Common name(s): [more details]

English: Portuguese heath, Spanish heath, spear heath

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Plants ± erect, 15-30 cm; twigs of current season green, with short, stiff hairs ca. 0.3 mm, older twigs gray and brown striped, glabrescent. Leaves in whorls of (3-)4; petiole 0.2-0.3 mm; blade linear-lanceolate, flat to compressed-triangular in cross section, 2.5-4(-7) x 0.2 mm, margins revolute, sparsely prickled, surfaces glabrous. Inflorescences terminal panicles, ellipsoid, 10-25 cm. Pedicels 1-1.5 mm, shortly hairy. Flowers: calyx lobes (connate ca. 1/3 their lengths), ovate, 1 x 0.7 mm, margins entire, apex subacute, glabrous; corolla white to pinkish white, broadly campanulate, 4-5 mm, lobes ovate-deltate, 0.5-1 mm, apex broadly rounded; stamens 10; filaments 2 mm; anthers awned, ca. 0.7 mm, awns 2, basal, 2-ciliate, 0.3 mm; ovary glabrous; style 2-2.5 mm; stigma exserted, obconic. Capsules 1-2 mm, glabrous. Seeds ellipsoid, 0.6 x 0.5 mm, finely pitted"  (Flora of North America online).

Habitat/ecology:  "Sandy coastal sites; 0-50 m"  (Flora of North America online).  "It prefers well drained soils in open sunny positions and is drought resistant.  In New Zealand, it has displaced the indigenous Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), perhaps due to a superior ability to survive fire, trampling, grazing, and to produce epicormic shoots.  It is widely distributed in the North Island and the northern and eastern South Island where it is most abundant in open, disturbed habitats and on infertile hill country pasture in areas with moderate to fairly high rainfall"  (Csurhes & Edwards, 1999; p. 158).  "A garden escape in Australia in lowland grassland, grassy woodland, dry and wet forest, and streamside vegetation.  In California in disturbed open sandy areas of north coastal Humboldt County"  (Starr, Starr & Loope, 2008; p. 45).  In the Blue Mountains of Australia, "follows watercourses and invades sensitive ecosystems; seeds, layers and suckers to form dense stands; its mass of fine matted roots crowds out natives; it replaces creekline vegetation"  (Weeds of Blue Mountains bushland).  In New Zealand, "Hillside pastures, scrub and grassland, also in open disturbed habitats such as old landslips, railway banks and roadsides, from near sea level to c. 1000 m"  (Healy & Edgar, 1980; p.  612).

Propagation:  "It is propagated from seeds which are produced in enormous quantities.  A single bush, 0.5 m tall and 4-6 years of age can produce 9,000,000 seeds annually.  Flowering begins when plants are about 3-4 years of age and specimens can live up to 30 years.  Soil under mature plants can contain up to 500,000 viable seeds per square metre and seeds can remain viable for more than four years.  Fire appears to create suitable conditions for germination and seedling establishment although not all seeds in the seed-bank germinate"  (Csurhes & Edwards, 1999; p. 158).  "Seeds are spread by wind, water and gravity, by dumping, and in mud on boots and tyres. This plant also layers and shoots from stems and roots"  (Weeds of Blue Mountains bushland).

Native range:  Southwestern Europe (Spain, southwestern France, southern Portugal); cultivated and naturalized elsewhere (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Starr, Forest/Starr, Kim/Loope, Lloyd (2008) (p. 45)
East Maui. Voucher cited: Starr & Starr 050816-01 (BISH)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
National Herbarium of New South Wales (2013)
South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria
Naturalised
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 158)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 612)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (Oregon) introduced
invasive
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
invasive
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. (2013)
Naturalized

Control:  "Cut stems resprout. Reseeds freely in bared areas. Regenerating tall vegetation can often be left for natural succession, can be assisted by selective slashing. Exclude livestock, avoid fire and disturbance, minimise spraying. Replant bare sites. Spreading lime heavily often kills or reduces vigour sufficiently to allow succession, but may have similar undesirable impacts on some native species. 

Physical:  Hand pull seedlings.

Chemical:  1. Weed wipe (active spring growth only): 2,4-D ester (500ml/L). 2. Spray (active spring growth only): 2,4-D ester (50ml/10L)"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 8 DEC 2009 and was last updated on 27 APR 2013.