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Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae)

Miconia (Miconia calvescens) is The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)'s number one priority species for control because of the severity of the threat it poses to Hawaii's natural areas and watersheds.

All species of Miconia are included in the list of plant species designated as noxious weeds PDF icon by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources has designated miconia as one of Hawaii's Most Invasive Horticultural Plants.

Native to South and Central America, miconia trees grow to 50 feet tall and have up to 3-foot long leaves that are purple on the undersides. Miconia was introduced to Tahiti in 1937 and has since overwhelmed two-thirds of Tahiti's forests, and is directly responsible for threatening 25% of their native forest species with extinction. Miconia was introduced into Hawaii in the 1960s. Large infestations occur on the windward sides of the Island of Hawaii and Maui; smaller populations have been discovered on Kauai and Oahu.

Miconia trees grow quickly and close together, shading out nearly all other forest plants and potentially reducing the amount of rainwater that seeps into the watershed. Miconia also has a shallow root system and consequently can cause increased erosion and landslides.

Miconia can begin producing fruit after four years, and can flower and fruit several times in a year. An average full-sized tree can have 100 inflorescences, each with 300 berries that are black and about the size of peas. Each berry can contain 100 sand grain-sized seeds. Therefore, a single mature tree can produce approximately 3 million seeds several times per year.

Miconia seeds are brown in color and are easily spread by birds and other animals when they eat the fruit. Seeds are also spread by humans when contaminated dirt or mud sticks to shoes, clothing, equipment, or vehicles. Some miconia seeds can remain in the soil for 6 or more years before sprouting, which means that periodic surveys of areas with established seed banks are an essential part of controlling this species.

For more information about pampas grass and MISC's efforts to control it, check out MISC's August 2006 Maui News column PDF icon.

miconia (Miconia calvescens)
(Miconia calvescens)

More information on miconia:

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The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project is currently funded by the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) through PIERC (USGS) with support from HCSU (UH-Hilo). More details are available online. Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)

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This page was created on 24 March 2004 by EMS, and was last updated on 06 Febuary 2007 by LF. The source material for the content of this page was provided to HEAR by MISC. Valid HTML 4.01!