Overview

Brief Summary

History in the United States

The velvet tree was brought to Hawaii in 1960 as an ornamental plant. Although initially sold at nurseries for its appealing foliage, it was officially named a Hawaii State Noxious Weed in 1992.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution in the United States

Velvet tree is found on four of the eight main islands of Hawaii (Oahu and Hawaii Islands, Maui, and Kauai).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Native Range

South America
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Velvet tree is an evergreen tree that grows to about 50 feet in height when mature. Its large (up to 3 feet long), attractive leaves are dark green above and purple underneath, with three distinct veins that run roughly parallel from the base to the tip of the leaf. Flowering and fruiting begin after four to five years, when trees are about 12 feet tall, and can reoccur several times per year. Flowers are numerous, sweet-scented, white to pink in color, and very short-lived (12-24 hours after opening). The dark purple fruits are about one-half inch in diameter, sweet-tasting, and very attractive to birds.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Type Information

Isotype for Miconia velutina Triana
Catalog Number: US 1480604
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): L. Schlim
Locality: Ocasia Prov., Colombia, South America
Elevation (m): 1067 to 1067
  • Isotype: Triana, J. J. 1873. Trans. Linn. Soc. London. 28: 113.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Chocó-Darién Moist Forests Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Chocó-Darién moist forests ecoregion, one of the most species rich lowland areas on Earth, with exceptional abundance and endemism over a broad range of taxa including plants, birds, amphibians and arthropods. The biological distinctiveness is exceptional, with considerable biodiversity.

There are three principal geomorphologic types in the ecoregion: alluvial plains of recent origin, low mountains formed by the relatively recent dissection of sediments from the Tertiary and Pleistocene periods, and the complexes in mountain areas consisting of mesozoic rocks. The high precipitation and the topography mean that the ecoregion includes a complex of great hydrographic basins, the most important being those of the Atrato, Baudó, and San Juan Rivers and the Micay and Patía Rivers in the south. The force of the water in many of these rivers form deep gorges cutting through the mountains, creating spectacular rapids and waterfalls in the mountains. At lower elevations, large rivers become very wide and with many meanders. Given the high precipitation in the region, it is not surprising that the soils are severely leached and poor in nutrients. Most of the ecoregion has typical laterite soils with reddish clay, although the soils are younger and less leached in some areas, especially close to the base of the Andes and in the floodplains of the major rivers. Of particular botanical interest are the white clay soils in the region of Bajo Calima in Colombia, which are associated with the gigantic sclerophyllous leafed and unusually large fruited vegetation.

Depending on the altitudinal gradient, soil water content and the effect of the sea, there are various types of vegetation that make up the ecoregion. In broad terms, in the northern part of the ecoregion, the lowland rainforests correlate to the Brosimun utilis alliance, including communities dominated by the deciduous Cuipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia), the Espavé wild cashew (Anacardium excelsum), the Panamanian rubber tree (Castilla elastica), Brosimum guianense, Bombacopsis spp., Ceiba pentandra, Dipteryx panamensis, and others. In the undergrowth Mabea occidentalis, Clidemia spp., Conostegia spp. and Miconia spp. are abundant. In zones that are occasionally flooded, the Cativo (Prioria copaifera) flourishes as well. In the southern part of the ecoregion, these rainforests have multiple strata, with two layers of trees, lianas, and epiphytes with vigorous growth rates. The number of deciduous plants increases in the north and south, where there is a dry season, particularly near the coast. The forests at higher altitudes, starting at 600 meters, have communities with the following species: Guamos (Inga spp.), Billia columbiana, Brosimum sp., Sorocea spp., Jacaranda hesperia, Pourouma chocoana, Guatteria ferruginea, Cecropia spp., Elaegia utilis, and Brunellia spp.

There are at least 127 species of amphibians in the Choco-Darien, including the following endemic anuran species: Isla Bonita robber frog (Craugastor crassidigitus); Kokoe poison frog (Phyllobates aurotaenia NT), found on western slopes of the Cordillera Occidental , along the Ra­o San Juan drainage south to the Ra­o Raposo; Golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis EN); La Brea poison frog (Oophaga occultator); Andagoya robber frog (Pristimantis roseus); Antioquia beaked toad (Rhinella tenrec); Atrato glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium aureoguttatum); Blue-bellied poison arrow frog (Ranitomeya minuta); Colombian egg frog (Ctenophryne minor), known only to the in the upper Ra­o Saija drainage; Condoto stubfoot toad (Atelopus spurrelli VU); Flecked leaf frog (Phyllomedusa psilopygion); LeDanubio robber frog (Strabomantis zygodactylus). An endemic salamander present in the Choco-Darien is the Finca Chibigui salamander (Bolitoglossa medemi VU).

Some other non-endemic anurans found here are: Anatipes robber frog (Strabomantis anatipes); Banded horned treefrog (Hemiphractus fasciatus); Black-legged poison frog (Phyllobates bicolor NT); Horned marsupial frog (Gastrotheca cornuta EN), known for having the largest amphibian eggs in the world; El Tambo stubfoot toad (Atelopus longibrachius EN); Elegant stubfoot toad (Atelopus elegans CR). Endemic caecilians in the ecoregion include the Andagoya caecilian (Caecilia perdita).

There are a number of reptilian taxa within the ecoregion, including: Adorned graceful brown snake (Rhadinaea decorata); the endemic Black centipede snake (Tantilla nigra); Boulenger's least gecko (Sphaerodactylus scapularis VU); the endemic Iridescent ground snake (Atractus iridescens); the endemic Cauca coral snake (Micrurus multiscutatus); the endemic Colombian coral snake (Micrurus spurelli); the endemic Dark ground snake (Atractus melas); the endemic Colombian mud turtle (Atractus melas VU); and the endemic Echternacht's ameiva (Ameiva anomala).

There are 577 species of birds recorded; Tyrannidae is listed as the most diverse avian family, presenting 28 genera and 60 species within the ecoregion. The Choco-Daroemis is a center of avian endemism of the Neotropics; moreover, according to Stattersfield, this ecoregion spans two Endemic Bird Areas, one in Central America and one in South America.

Between these two Endemic Bird Areas there are over sixty restricted range species, including the Chocó tinamou (Crypturellus kerriae VU), Chestnut-mantled Oropendola (Psarocolius cassini EN), Viridian dacnis (Dacnis viguieri), Crested ant-tanager (Habia cristata), Lita woodpecker (Piculus litea), and Plumbeous forest-falcon (Micrastur plumbeus EN). Also to be noted is the presence of the Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), the Black and white crowned eagle (Spizastur melanoleucus), taxa increasingly rare in many areas of the Neotropics, and possibly the Speckled antshrike (Xenornis setifrons EN) although one has not been recorded in Colombia since the 1940s.

The region is rich in mammalian taxa, but the larger animals have received inadequate research. These include the Bush dog (Speothos venaticus NT); Chocó tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi EN), the Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii EN), the Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla VU), the Brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fuscipens CR), the Puma (Puma concolor VU), the Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis LC), and the jaguar (Panthera onca NT).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© C. Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan

Trusted

Article rating from 1 person

Average rating: 5.0 of 5

Habitat in the United States

The velvet tree occupies neotropical forests. It can be found as high as 6500 feet in elevation but also threatens lower elevations that receive high average annual rainfall of 6 to 7 feet or more.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Biology and Spread

After four or five years of age, velvet trees can flower and produce seed, which remains viable in soil for five or more years. Each velvet tree plant can produce an estimated three million seeds, several times each year, creating a massive soil seed bank. Birds are the primary vectors for dispersal of velvet tree seeds but, because the seeds stick to shoes, clothing, tires and other materials, humans also contribute to the spread of this noxious tree.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Ecological Threat in the United States

Velvet tree stands create a dense canopy of shade that native plants cannot tolerate, but its own seedlings can. Masses of it ensure very little light reaches the ground. The shallow root system of velvet tree allows for increased soil erosion in previously more stable areas.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

U.S. National Park Service Weeds Gone Wild website

Source: U.S. National Park Service

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Miconia calvescens

"Bush Currant" redirects here. Not to be confused with Currant Bush (Carissa spinarum).

Miconia calvescens, the velvet tree, miconia, or bush currant, is a species of flowering plant in the family Melastomataceae. It is native to Mexico and Central and South America[1] and it has become one of the world's most invasive species.

Miconia trees can flower several times a year and bear fruit simultaneously. The inflorescences are large panicles of white to light pink blossoms. The tiny purple fruits are about half a centimeter in diameter and packed with about 120–230 minuscule seeds. The sweet fruits are attractive to birds and other animals which disperse the seeds. A young tree with only two flower panicles can produce 200,000 seeds in its first fruiting season. This heavy seed production and potential for long-distance dispersal help make miconia an invasive threat. The seeds can lie dormant in the soil of the forest for more than 12 years, and whenever a break in the canopy allows sun to shine through to a patch of soil the seeds there undergo germination. Once the plants grow to full height, their enormous leaves shade out all the space below them, preventing any other plant from growing nearby. It also has a shallow root system that facilitates soil erosion.[2]

The tree can grow to a height of 15 metres (49 ft) and has very large leaves, each up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length. Its purple and green leaves with flashy white veining made it attractive as an ornamental, and it was imported to Hawaii and other new areas in the mid-twentieth century.

Invasive species[edit]

The Invasive Species Specialist Group list the tree as one of the world's 100 most invasive species in the Global Invasive Species Database.[3]

The seeds are dispersed from gardens into natural forest habitats by fruit-eating birds. Once dispersed into tropical moist forests it takes hold vigorously, invading any spot in the understory that receives patches of sunlight, and becomes a noxious weed.

It is known for being the worst invasive plant in Hawaii, where it is commonly referred to as the "purple plague", and threatens to destroy entire ecosystems. Hawaiian populations of miconia were first discovered in the 1990s, and since the plant's invasive potential was already well-known, control and eradication efforts began immediately. Uprooting and herbicides are used to remove plants, but biological control has not yet met with great success. Teams of volunteers often lead expeditions into the forest to remove miconia plants by hand.

The tree has become an invasive species in Tahiti and a quarter of the rainforest on the island is now made up of miconia stands. For this reason, it is frequently called the "green cancer" on the island.

In Sri Lanka it invades upcountry mountain forest areas. It forms monospecific stands that shade out native vegetation.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Miconia calvescens". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1997-12-10. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 103–104.
  3. ^ "100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species". Global Invasive Species Database. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 103–104.
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!