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      Leaves of Ardisia elliptica - Click for full size   Flowers of Ardisia elliptica - Click for full size   Ardisia elliptica infestation (Photo: Tony Pernas, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org) - Click for full size   Ardisia elliptica foliage (Photo: Ken A. Langeland, University of Florida, Bugwood.org) - Click for full size   Ardisia elliptica flowers (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org) - Click for full size   Ardisia elliptica fruits (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org) - Click for full size
    Taxonomic name: Ardisia elliptica Thunberg
    Synonyms: Ardisia humilis Vahl., Ardisia squamulosa Pr.
    Common names: ardisie elliptique (French), ati popa'a (French Polynesia), shoebutton ardisia (English)
    Organism type: tree
    Ardisia elliptica is a shade tolerant evergreen tree whose fast growth and attractive fruit made it a popular ornamental plant in the past. It has escaped from private and public gardens to invade natural areas. Due to high reproductive output and high shade-tolerance, carpets of seedlings can form underneath adult trees. High seed viability (99%) and seed consumption by both avian and mammalian frugivores can lead to rapid spread across a landscape.
    Description
    Ardisia elliptica is a tropical understorey shrub that can reach heights of up to 5 metres. Undamaged plants in forest habitats are characterised by a single stem, producing short, perpendicular branches. Leaves are elliptic to elliptic-obovate, entire, leathery and alternate. Most plants in South Florida have pink to red coloured petioles, although some populations have light green petioles. Umbellate inflorescences develop in leaf axils of branch leaves. Petals are light pink. Fruits are drupes that first turn red as they mature and then deep purple/black. Pulp from the fruits will stain fingers a deep purple. Seeds are approximately spherical with a diameter of about 5mm.
    Occurs in:
    natural forests, ruderal/disturbed
    Habitat description
    Ardisia elliptica readily invades moist disturbed forests, however, it has also been able to invade relatively undisturbed sites. Its fast growth and attractive fruit made it a popular ornamental plant in the past. From private and public gardens it has invaded natural areas. Close resemblance between it and A. escallonioides in Florida led to its introduction to the Everglades National Park in 1947. Because its fruit is readily consumed by both avian and mammalian frugivores, rapid spread across a landscape is possible. High seed viability (99%) greatly increases the success of rare long-distance dispersal events.
    General impacts
    Ardisia elliptica readily forms dense monotypic stands that exclude native species. Due to high reproductive output and high shade-tolerance, carpets of seedlings (>400 plants per square metre) can form underneath adult plants under ideal conditions (moist soil and shallow litter). Seedling carpets and increased shade levels inhibit recruitment by native species.
    Notes
    Ardisia elliptica readily invades moist disturbed forests, however, it has also been able to invade relatively undisturbed sites. Its fast growth and attractive fruit made it a popular ornamental plant in the past. From private and public gardens it has invaded natural areas. Close resemblance between it and A. escallonioides in Florida led to its introduction to the Everglades National Park in 1947. Because its fruit is readily consumed by both avian and mammalian frugivores, rapid spread across a landscape is possible. High seed viability (99%) greatly increases success of rare long-distance dispersal events.
    Geographical range
    Native range: Ardisia elliptica is native to the west coast of India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Guinea. It has naturalised in Hawaii, Southern Florida, Okinawa and Jamaica.
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    Nursery trade: Sold as an ornamental.
    Taken to botanical garden/zoo: Although this method has not been documented, it is a likely invasion path.


    Local dispersal methods
    Consumption/excretion: Frugivorous birds are the principal dispersal agents, attracted to the numerous red to blackish fruits.
    Garden escape/garden waste: Escape from gardens via bird and mammal dispersal is probably the main method with which it has spread to natural areas.
    Management information
    Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Ardisia elliptica for Hawaii 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 the Pacific islands (Daehler et al. 2004).

    Physical: Hand pull seedlings.

    Chemical: "In areas with a dense groundcover of seedlings, a broadcast spray of a glyphosate herbicide is effective, but be careful to avoid damaging desirable plants. Mature specimens should be treated with a basal application of a triclopyhr herbicide mixed with an oil diluent" (Hammer, 1996).

    Nutrition
    A shade-adapted species that can survive under extreme low light levels. In Florida it grows in alkaline soils and limestone substrates. Prefers moist forests. Seedlings can tolerate submergence for short periods.
    Reproduction
    Ardisia elliptica is highly autogamous. Given ideal conditions, individuals can reach reproductive maturity in 2-4 years in the field and 1-2 years in a shade house. Large adults in bright forested sites have been measured producing up to 400 fruits. However, adults can also successfully set fruit under shady conditions.
    Lifecycle stages
    Seeds do not have any long-term dormancy (i.e., greater than 6 months), however, seedlings and juveniles can survive under very shady conditions for many years. Given enough light, juveniles rapidly develop into reproductive adults. In Florida (USA) habitats, there is very little adult mortality. Fruits are readily eaten by frugivores.
    This species has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders
    Reviewed by: Anthony L. Koop, University of Miami, Department of Biology, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.
    Compiled by: Anthony L. Koop, University of Miami, Department of Biology, Coral Gables, Florida, USA & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Wednesday, 13 April 2005


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland