Taxonomic name: Piper aduncum L.
Synonyms: Artanthe adunca (L.) Miq. 1840, Artanthe celtidifolia (Kunth) Miq. 1844, Piper aduncifolium Trel. 1929, Piper aduncum L. var. laevifolium C.DC. 1920, Piper anguillaespicum Trel. 1929, Piper celtidifolium Kunth 1816, Piper disparispicum Trel. 1929, Piper elongatum Vahl var. laevifolium (C.DC.) Trel. 1927, Piper fatoanum C.DC. 1920, Piper flavescens (C.DC.) Trel. 1929, Piper hebecarpum C.DC. 1902, Piper intersitum Trel. 1940, Piper intersitum Trel. var. porcecitense Trel. 1940, Piper martinicense C.DC. 1898, Piper martinicense C.DC. var. genuinum Stehle 1940, Piper martinicense C.DC. var. montis-pilati C.DC. 1902, Piper multinervium M.Martens & Galeotti var. amplum Trel. 1938, Piper multinervium M.Martens & Galeotti var. kantelolense Trel. 1938, Piper multinervium M.Martens & Galeotti 1843, Piper multinervium M.Martens & Galeotti var. skutchii Trel. 1938, Piper oblanceolatum Trel. var. fragilicaule Trel. 1929, Piper pseudovelutinum C.DC. var. flavescens C.DC. 1891, Piper stehleorum Trel. 1940, Piper submolle Trel. 1929, Piper subrectinerve C.DC. 1902, Steffensia adunca (L.) Kunth 1840, Steffensia celtidifolia (Kunth) Kunth 1840
Common names: aerta ruão, anisillo, bamboo piper (English), cordoncillo, cow's foot, false kava, false matico, guayayo, higuillo, higuillo de hoja menuda (Spanish), jaborandi-do-mato (Portuguese-Brazil), jointwood, man anesi wiwiri, matico, pimenta-de-macaco (Portuguese-Brazil), Santa María negra, spiked pepper (English), yanggona ni Onolulu (Fiji), yaqona ni Onolulu (Fiji)
Organism type: tree, shrub
Piper aduncum is a shrub or small tree that is a native of the West Indies and mainland tropical America from Mexico to northern Argentina. It is an invader of disturbed areas, where it is able to form thickets and spreads by sprouts and suckers. Piper aduncum is a problem in some Pacific Islands, where it can interfere with the harvesting of the related kava plant. Piper aduncum has a number of uses, including traditional medicines and agroforestry.
Piper aduncum is a shrub or small tree up to 7m tall and 10cm or more in stem diameter, with short silt roots and medium-hard, brittle wood; foliage and twigs aromatic. Can grow as individual plants or in thickets. Branches are erect, but with drooping twigs and swollen, purplish nodes. Leaves alternate, distichous, elliptic, 12-22cm long, shortly petiolate; lamina scabrid above, with sunken nerves, softly hairy beneath. Inflorescence a leaf-opposed, curved spike on a 12-17cm peduncle, white to pale yellow, turning green with maturity. Flowers crowded in regular transverse ranks. Perianth absent; usually 4 stamens. Fruit a 1-seeded berry, compressed into greyish, wormlike spikes. Seeds brown to black, 0.7 -1.25mm long, compressed, with a reticulate surface (Waterhouse and Mitchell, 1998 in PIER, 2003).
Piper auritum, Piper hispidinervum, Piper methysticum
agricultural areas, natural forests, ruderal/disturbed
Disturbed rainforest areas and rainforest margins. Can grow up to 1700m in altitude (Bourke, 1997). In the Highlands of PNG this species goes up to 2000
m (Pers. comm., Dr. Jan Leps) . In Fiji, it is an aggressive weed from sea level to 400m, most often along roadsides and in thickets, but also sometimes in secondary forest or on forested ridges, rarely found in intact rainforests (Smith, 1981 in PIER, 2003).
Lives in areas that receive from 1500 to greater than 4000mm of mean annual rainfall. Colonizes most soil types, apart from excessively well-drained soils, where it only grows at the upper end of the rainfall range; dry soils; and salty soils (Francis, 2003).
Requires high light levels and a bare soil surface, which means that disturbance is necessary for this species to establish. Moderately intolerant of shade, as it requires at least partial exposure to sunlight for it to reach a large size and flower (Francis, 2003).
A pest in the Pacific, where it can become mixed with the kava (Piper methysticum) crop during harvesting, lowering its quality. Also competes with kava and other crops. May act as a host for kava pests and pathogens (Plant Protection Service, 2001).
Provides food and cover for wildlife, can be used for revegetating disturbed areas, and contributes to the biomass of forests (Francis, 2003). P. aduncum stakes are used in Papua New Guinea to create terraces for agriculture and to prevent erosion (Bourke, 1997).
Wood can be used for basic construction, fuel, stakes and fences. Has ornamental value and the fruit is used to season food. Essential oils from this species have antibacterial properties and may also be used as an insecticide and a molluscicide. Tea made from the leaves and roots is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, ulcers, and can also be used for the control of bleeding (Francis, 2003).
In Fiji the red-vented bulbul (Pycnotus cafer), an introduced bird, is the chief disperser of P. aduncum seeds (Metcalfe, 1995).
Native range: West Indies and tropical America.
Known introduced range: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Christmas Island, United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Panama, Hawai‘i. The species is now present in New Guinea in the provinces of Morobe, Madang, Sepik, Chimbu in the Highlands (Pers. comm., Dr. Jan Leps).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Agriculture: Used for making agricultural terraces (Bourke, 1997).
For ornamental purposes: Widely planted as an ornamental tree (Francis, 2003).
Forestry: Used for agroforestry (Bourke, 1997).
Seafreight (container/bulk): Thought to have been introduced to Fiji in packing materials at Suva port (Plant Protection Service, 2001).
Translocation of machinery/equipment: Movement of equipment has allowed this species to spread between land masses (Francis, 2003).
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Seeds are spread by birds and bats (PIER, 2003).
For ornamental purposes (local): Used as an ornamental tree (Francis, 2003).
Natural dispersal (local): Spreads by shoots and suckers (PIER, 2003).
Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Piper aduncum for Hawai‘i and other Pacific islands was
prepared by Dr. Curtis Daehler (UH Botany) with funding from the Kaulunani
Urban Forestry Program and US Forest Service. The alien plant screening system
is derived from Pheloung et al. (1999) with minor modifications for use
in Pacific islands (Daehler et al. 2004). The result is a score of 18
and a recommendation of: "Likely to cause significant ecological or economic
harm in Hawai‘i and on other Pacific Islands as determined by a high WRA score,
which is based on published sources describing species biology and behaviour in
Hawai‘i and/or other parts of the world."
Physical: Young plants can be uprooted by hand, although care must be
taken to ensure that no pieces of rhizome are left behind in the soil (UF/IFAS,
Chemical: Basal bark application of 20% Garlon 4, or cut stems
at ground level and apply 50% Garlon 3A to the stump (UF/IFAS, 2000).
Seeds can be dispersed by birds and a number of species of bat (PIER, 2003; Lobova and Mori, 2002). May be introduced into new areas on machinery, particularly logging equipment. Locally, it spreads by suckers, forming large clumps (PIER, 2003).
Propagation of this species can be carried out by planting cuttings directly into soil (Bourke, 1997). Piper aduncum flowers and fruits year-round. Seeds have a low germination rate, while cuttings are more successful (Francis, 2003). The seed weight reported is 0.17 mg (Leps et al. 2002). Also Garcia et al. reported that P. aduncum was the most common in viable seeds in faeces of bats.
Sprouts and suckers are able to grow more than a metre in their first year. Individual stems can live from 2 to several years, but through sprouting they can live for much longer (Francis, 2003).
Reviewed by: John K. Francis. US Department Of Agricuture. USA.
Dr. Jan Leps. Department of Botany Faculty of Biological Sciences University of South Bohemia. The Czech Republic.
Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Wednesday, 27 July 2005