Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Rhus taitensis
Guillaumin, Anacardiaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk; score: 7 (Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment for Rhus taitensis)

Other Latin names:  Melanococca taitensis (Guillemin) Young; Rhus simaroubifolia A. Gray

Common name(s): [more details]

Niuean: tavahi

Samoan: tavai

Tongan: tavahi

Habit:  shrub/tree

Description:  "Large tree with alternate, pinnately compound leaves, tiny white flowers, and small, purple, fleshy fruits." (Botanical Inventory of Ta'u Unit, pp. 41-42)

"Medium to large forest tree with young parts more or less puberulent. Leaves large, alternate, odd-pinnate, leaflets up to 19 or more, oblong, bluntly pointed, base obliquely in equilateral, up to 10 cm. or more long, short-petiolulate. Flowers small, white, numerous, in large, terminal, compound clusters 30 cm. or more long." (Plants of Tonga, p. 171)

"Large tree up to 30 m or more in height, with puberulent young stems and with the trunk base typically extending into low buttresses; bark mottled brown, rough, inner bark red-brown to pink oozing white sap, wood cream-colored. Leaves odd- (sometimes even-) pinnately compound, alternate, rachis mostly 15-50 cm long, pubescent, leaflets 7-19, opposite or sometimes alternate, blades mostly elliptic, 4-20 cm long, reddish when young, oblique at the base, rounded or broadly acute to acuminate at the tip; surfaces pubescent to subglabrous,l upper side darker with red to yellow veinns, veins of lower side often pubescent; margins entire; petiolule 1-5 mm long. Inflorescence a terminal or upper-axillary, widely branching, many-flowered panicle 8-30 cm long, with a densely pubescent axis; flowers unisexual, trees dioecious. Calyx deeply divided into 5 subround lobes 0.5-1 mm long, subsessile. Corolla rotate, with 5 white to pink, orbicular petals 1.5-2 mm long. Ovary of female flower superior; styles 3, each with a short terminal stigma; ovary vestigial in the male flower. Stamens of male flowers 5, free, absent in the female flowers. Fruit a shiny black, compressed-ellipsoid drupe 3-5 mm in diameter. Flowering typically from March to September (but sometimes beyond this, e.g., December), fruiting during most months (and perhaps persisting on the inflorescence), but not at the same time as flowering, with a peak from April to October (Trail n.d.). ¶Distinguishable by its large tree habit; milky sap; alternate, odd-pinnately compound leaves that are reddish when young; large dense panicles of tiny white to pink, 5-parted flowers; and small, shiny black drupes." (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, pp. 21-22)

Habitat/ecology:  "In Samoa, the tree is common to abundant in disturbed forest, and often dominates mature secondary forest, on all the main islands, reported from near sea level to 750 m elevation. Its abundance in what appears to be mature primary forest indicates some past major disturbance, such as clearing for temporary plantations or recent hurricane damage. . . . The fruits are a favorite food for pigeons and doves, which readily disperse the seeds." (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 20)

". . .it is essentially a secondary forest species and seedlings were seen [PIER ed.: on Niue] only in relatively well illuminated places. . . .this species was a pioneer on Eua, Tonga. . . .the pioneering ability might be due to the secretion of substances that inhibited the growth of competitors." (Sykes, 1970, p. 42)

In Palau, flowers observed from June-August and in December; fruits observed July-October. (Forests of Palau)

On Ta'u (American Samoa), "Common to abundant in lowland and especially secondary forest, reported from 10 to 700 m." (Botanical Inventory of Ta'u Unit, pp. 41-42)

In Tonga: "in forest, top of mountains..., alt. 100 m."; "[f]requent throughout Tonga"; "lower margin of slope forest"; "clearing near center of island, infrequent"; "open forest near center of island"; "forest, terrace"; "open forest near...village." (Plants of Tonga, pp. 171-172)

Propagation:  (no propagation information known by PIER)

Native range:  "Probably indigenous from the Philippines and Malaysia to the Society Islands." (Sykes, 1970, p. 43)

"This tree is indigenous to Samoa, and elsewhere in Polynesia occurs in 'Uvea, the Horne Islands, Tonga (all the main high islands), Niue, and the Society Islands (Tahiti and Mo'orea), but is strangely absent from the Cook Islands." (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 20)

Impacts and invaded habitats:  (no invaded habitats or impacts known by PIER; please let us know if you know of such information we should add here)

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
American Samoa
Manu‘a Islands
Ofu Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
American Samoa
Manu‘a Islands
Olosega Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
American Samoa
Manu‘a Islands
Ta‘u Island native
Whistler, W. A. (1992) (pp. 27, 41-42)
Voucher cited: Yuncker 9245
American Samoa
Tutuila Islands
Tutuila Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
‘Atiu Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Federated States of Micronesia
Chuuk Islands
Chuuk Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Federated States of Micronesia
Yap Islands
Yap (Waqab) Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
French Polynesia
French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Society Islands native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Îles Ouvéa (Ouvea Atoll) native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
as 'Uvea
Niue
Niue
Niue Island Sykes, W. R. (1970) (pp. 42-43)
Vouchers cited: CHR 170294, CHR 170295, CHR 170296, CHR 170297nd seedlings were seen [PIER ed.: on Niue] only in relatively well illuminated places." (Sykes, 1970, p. 42)
"...it is essentially a secondary forest species and seedlings were seen only in relatively well illuminated places." (Sykes, 1970, p. 42)
Niue
Niue
Niue Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Pacific
Pacific
Melanesia native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
Pacific
Pacific
Polynesia   Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 172)
"Philippines to Polynesia."
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island native
Kitalong, Ann Hillmann (2008) (p. 15)
In Palau, flowers observed from June-August and in December; fruits observed July-October.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Koror (Oreor) Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Palau Islands (main island group)   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands   Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 172)
"Philippines to Polynesia."
Samoa
Samoa
Samoa native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
"on all the main islands" (going to see if there is more info and/or specimens cited in Plants of Tonga)
Samoa
Samoa
Samoa   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Samoa
Western Samoa Islands
Western Samoa Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Ha‘apai Group
Kao Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 171)
Voucher cited: Yuncker 15972
Tonga
Ha‘apai Group
Kao Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Ha‘apai Group
Lifuka Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 171)
Voucher cited: Yuncker 15773
Tonga
Ha‘apai Group
Tofua Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Tonga Islands
Tonga Islands native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 171)
"Frequent throughout Tonga."
Tonga
Tonga Islands
Tonga Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
‘Eua Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (pp. 4-5; 33; 171)
Vouchers cited: Hüaut;rlimann 250; Yuncker 15365
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Kanatea Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 171)
Vouchers cited: Yuncker 10566; Hüaut;rlimann 139
Tonga
Tongatapu Group
Tongatapu Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Tonga
Vava‘u Group
Niuatoputapu Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 172)
Voucher cited: Hüaut;rlimann 346
Tonga
Vava‘u Group
Vava‘u Island native
Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 171)
Source cited: Crosby
Vanuatu
&Icarat;les Torrès
Tégua   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Banks Islands   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Êfaté (Efete) Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Erromango Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Espirito Santo Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Vanuatu (Republic of) native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna (Horne) Islands
Futuna Island native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
as the Horne Islands
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna (Horne) Islands
Futuna Island   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) native
Whistler, W. A. (1984) (p. 20)
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of)   Consortium of Pacific Herbaria (2018)

Comments:  "Some authorities consider that Rhus simarubaefolia Gray, which was described from Fiji, is synonymous with R. taitiensis." (Sykes, 1970, p. 43)

". . .most authors now consider this [Rhus simarubifolia] to be included in Rhus taitensis." (Rainforest Trees of Samoa, p. 20)

Control:  (control info not known by PIER)


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

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This page was created on 12 SEP 2017 and was last updated on 17 JUN 2018.