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Invasive Miconia species in Australia

Publication Date
Fri, 05 Mar 2010, 00:00
Last Updated
July 6, 2023, 5:53 a.m.
Report Number
Pest Id
Miconia calvescens - (MICCA)
Report Status
Invasive trees and shrubs
Pest Status (old values from ISPM 8 -1998 )
  • Present: under eradication
Pest Status (ISPM 8 - 2021)
  • Present: not widely distributed and under official control
Geographical Distribution
M. calvescens has been found along the east coast of Australia. Most occurrences in Far North Queensland and two sites are in northern NSW/south east Queensland. M.nervosa is only known at one location in Far North Queensland in and abutting the Daintree National Park. M. racemosa is only known at one location, in Kuranda, Far North Queensland

Three species of Miconia have been found in Australia. M. calvescens is a small tree, which grows up to 15 m tall. It has large leaves that have iridescent purple undersides. M. nervosa and M. racemosa are both shrubs that grow up to 3 m tall. The seeds of these three species are contained in small black-purple or brown fruit that are dispersed primarily by birds. All three species are a significant threat to Australia's rainforests.

Miconias also have the potential to degrade crop, plantation and pasture areas. Birds are attracted to the fruit, which can be spread large distances from the parent tree. Seeds can persist in the soil for more than eight years.

Gardeners value the attractive large, purple leaves of M. calvescens and have spread it as a garden ornamental. M. calvescens has become a major weed in the Society Islands (which includes Tahiti), the Hawaiian Islands and other Pacific islands. In the Hawaiian Islands, this plant is known as the ^^purple plague^^; and it is considered the greatest plant threat to the remaining wet forest ecosystems on the islands.

In Tahiti, M. calvescens has become established over 65% of the island (70 000 hectares) in dense stands, with up to 880 trees per hectare.

Miconias are aggressive trees and shrubs that have the ability to invade rainforest areas, displace native plant species and affect the habitat of native fauna. The ecosystems at risk are primarily the coastal tropical and sub-tropical rainforests of eastern Australia, including the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Contact for info
Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer Australian Government Department of Agriculture, GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia [email protected]
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