Year 2009

Examples of Invasive Alien Species

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Title: Miconia calvescens (Purple plague or cancer vert)
Description: Miconia calvescens: A highly ornamental tree from South America, Miconia calvescens was introduced to a botanical garden on the island of Tahiti in 1937. Its huge red and purple leaves made Miconia calvescens highly desirable for gardeners and was spread into the wild by fruit-eating birds. Today, more than half of Tahiti is heavily invaded by this plant. Miconia calvescens has a superficial and tentacular rooting system that contributes to landslides. It has also become the dominant canopy tree over large areas of Tahiti, shading out the entire forest understorey. Scientists estimate that several of the island’s endemic species are threatened with extinction as a result of habitat loss due to Miconia calvescens. It has been introduced to other Pacific islands, including Hawaii where it was introduced as an ornamental in the 1960s. The plant has since been found in many locations on the Hawaiian Islands. It is still sold as an ornamental plant in the tropics. (Credit: Global Invasive Species Database)
Date: 2009-02-12
Credits: Jean-Yves Meyer