Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Rauvolfia vomitoria
Afzelius, Apocynaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 21 (Go to the risk assessment).

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: cui tu luo fu mu

English: swizzle stick

Habit:  shrub/tree

Description:  "Shrub or tree 0.5-20(-40) m high; trunk 1-80 cm in diameter; bark smooth, striate or fissured, light to dark grey-brown or dark brown; wood light yellowish to white; branches pale to dark brown, or grey-brown, smooth, lenticellate; branchlets in whorls of 3-5, pale to greenish brown, smooth. Leaves in whorls of 3-5; blade elliptic or narrowly elliptic, 3.4-27 cm long, 2-9 cm wide, apiculate at the apex, acumen 1-18 mm long, glabrous, with 8-17 pairs of secondary veins; petiole 6-35 mm long. Inflorescence in whorls of 1-4, dense, 15-450-flowered, puberulous in all parts; peduncle 1.5-8.6 cm long; pedicels 1-4.5 mm long. Flowers fragrant; sepals ovate, 1-2.2 mm long, 0.9-2.1 mm wide, acute at the apex; corolla hypocrateriform, greenish white to yellow; tube 5.8-10(-12) mm long, glabrous outside, puberulous inside in 3 small belts; lobes dolabriform, 1.1-2.1 mm long, 1.1-4 mm wide, glabrous; stamens included, inserted at 4.3-7(-8.6) mm above the corolla base; disk 0.7-2 mm high, cupular; pistil (3.8-)4.2-9.2 mm long; ovary of two partly fused carpels, ovoid or cylindrical; style (2-)2.4-5.2 mm long; pistil head 0.5-1.2 mm long, stigmoid apex 0.1 mm long. Fruits bright orange or red, usually 1 mericarp developing, globose, ovoid or ellipsoid, 8-14 mm long, up to 9 mm in diameter; seeds ellipsoid, 6-8 mm long." (Flora of Tropical East Africa as cited by/included on JStor's Global Plants compilation entry for Rauvolfia vomitoria)

"Shrubs to 5 m tall, glabrous. Stems erect, stiff. Leaves whorled; leaf blade broadly ovate or ovate-elliptic, 5-12 x 3-6 cm; lateral veins 8-17 pairs. Cymes usually 4 together. Corolla greenish or pale green, tube subcylindric, 6-12 mm, inflated at throat, pubescent inside; lobes dolabriform, 1-2 mm. Stamens inserted at corolla throat; disc ringlike, shorter than ovaries. Ovaries distinct. Style filiform, pubescent at base; pistil head fleshy, base membranous. Drupes 2, distinct, ovoid or ellipsoid, 0.8-1.4 cm x 6-9 mm"  (Flora of China online).

"Rauvolfia vomitoria is a shrub or small tree up to 8 m. Older parts of the plant contain no latex. The branches are whorled and the nodes enlarged and lumpy.  Leaves in threes, elliptic-acuminate to broadly lanceolate.  Flowers are minute, sweet-scented, branches of inflorescences are distinctly puberulous with hardly any free corolla lobes.  Fruits are fleshy and red in colour"  (Agroforestree database).

Habitat/ecology:  "Occurs naturally in gallery forests but is mostly found in forest regrowth where fallow periods are prolonged.  Mean annual temperature: 26 deg C.  Mean annual rainfall: 1 375 mm" (Agroforestree database).

Propagation:  Seed.  "A hermaphroditic species. Fruit dispersal is by birds"  (Agroforestree database).

Native range:  Africa, cultivated in Asia (GRIN).  Endangered in its native range  (Agroforestree database).


Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
Kennedy, Barbara H./James, Shelley A./Imada, Clyde T. (2010) (pp. 19-20)
Voucher cited: M. Purell s.n. (BISH 734216)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
Imada, Clyde T./Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. (2013)
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden

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This page was created on 13 DEC 2008 and was last updated on 30 DEC 2011.