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   Pittosporum undulatum (tree, shrub)     
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      Pittosporum undulatum (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr Photo # starr-040828-0002) - Click for full size   Pittosporum undulatum fruits and seeds (Photo: Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, Photo # starr-020719-0057) - Click for full size
    Taxonomic name: Pittosporum undulatum Vent.
    Synonyms:
    Common names: Australian cheesewood (English), mock orange (English), native daphne (English), orange pittosporum (English), sweet pittosporum (English), Victorian box (English), Victorian laurel (English), wild coffee (English-Jamaica)
    Organism type: tree, shrub
    Pittosporum undulatum is an evergreen tree that is often used as an ornamental plant, due to its attractive fragrant flowers. It is native to south-eastern Australia but has now spread to a number of islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, as well as islands in the Atlantic and to South Africa. It is also invasive In Australia outside its native range. Research is being carried out in Jamaica to determine the most effective methods of control for this species.
    Description
    A slender-branched shrub or tree, can grow to 12m tall in its natural habitat, with smooth, gray bark. It has a straight bole, regular whorls of branches, and a dense crown. Leaves alternate, often crowded at ends of slender, light brown branches, 6-15cm long, 1.5-4cm wide, lanceolate, pointed at both ends, shiny, with prominently wavy margins. Flowers almost white, few, fragrant, borne on the youngest branches in terminal clusters about 2-3cm long; petals 5, abruptly bent downward at end. Fruit globe-shaped, compressed, usually 16mm long, leathery, about 25-seeded. Seeds angular, 3mm long and 1mm thick, dark brown, smooth (Haselwood, 1966 in PIER, 2003). In Jamaica this species has a maximum recorded height of 22m (also a Diameter Breast Height (DBH) of 65.6cm and a wood density of 0.8-1.0 g cm-3) (McDonald and Healey, pers. Comm, 2003)
    Similar Species
    Pittosporum viridiflorum

    More
    Occurs in:
    natural forests, range/grasslands, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands
    Habitat description
    Pittosporum undulatum is native to the coastal belt and mountains of south-eastern Australia (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997). Prefers moist to wet areas in rainforest gullies and sclerophyll forest (ASGAP, 2002). Can grow to 1200m in elevation (Wagner et. Al. 1999 in PIER, 2003). Takes advantage of disturbance, as shown in Jamaica, where it was able to dramatically increase its range after Hurricane Gilbert struck in 1988 (Goodland and Healey, 1996). In Jamaica it has been recorded to 1740m altitude (McDonald and Healey, pers. Comm, 2003). Appears to adapt to high nutrient soils better than other plant species, allowing it to outcompete them in human-modified habitats (ASGAP, 2002)s. Able to tolerate maritime exposure (Plants For a Future, 2003).

    P. undulatum exhibits great versatility: as a coloniser of open/disturbed habitats, as well as being very shade tolerant, casting a dense shade. It supports a dense seedling bank and soil seedbank and has a good capacity to resprout after cutting (McDonald and Healey, pers. Comm, 2003)

    General impacts
    The leaves contain toxins that can inhibit the growth of other plants (Bushcare, 2003). Invades native forest areas and can shade out native plants (ASGAP, 2002).
    Uses
    Can be grown as a windbreak hedge. The wood may be used in the manufacture of golf clubs (Plants For A Future, 2003). It also makes good firewood, can be used to produce charcoal, and may be utilised for timber. It is popular as an ornamental tree and its high rate of nectar production makes it good source of food for honeybees (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997).
    Notes
    Pittosporum undulatum is on the French Polynesia exclusion list (PIER, 2003).
    Seedling densities can reach 5000 m² in areas with high light intensity (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997).
    Chemicals known as saponins are found in this plant. These are toxic to humans but are poorly absorbed by the body, therefore causing few problems. Other organisms, such as fish, are much more affected. Plants containing saponins have been used traditionally as a method of killing or stunning fish by adding quantities of them to waterways (Plants For a Future, 2003).
    P. undulatum has been known to hybridise with P. bicolor and maybe P. revolutum in Australia (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997).
    Geographical range
    Native range: south-eastern Australia.
    Known introduced range: Guam, Hawai‘i, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Canary Islands, Jamaica, South Africa, Cuba, French Polynesia, St. Helena. Also present in continental Portugal, the Azores and Madeira.
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    For ornamental purposes: The attractive flowers of P. undulatum mean that it is often used as an ornamental tree (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997).
    Taken to botanical garden/zoo: This plant has become a problem in Jamaica after escaping from the Cinchona Botanic Garden, where it was first introduced in 1883 (Goodland and Healey, 1996).


    Local dispersal methods
    Consumption/excretion: The seeds are spread by frugivorous birds (ASGAP, 2002).
    For ornamental purposes (local): The attractive flowers of P. undulatum mean that it is often used as an ornamental tree (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997).
    Management information
    Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Pittosporum undulatum 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 7 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: Research on management options for P. undulatum has been undertaken in Jamaica, where it is a serious problem. Uprooting seedlings by hand is successful, but they must be disposed of properly, as they will reshoot if left lying on the ground. Bark stripping is effective in preventing sprouts, but only if all bark, from 0.3m down to soil level, is removed.

    Chemical: In South Africa a mixture of 2,4,5-T and diesel has proved effective when applied to stumps cut above ground level. Applying concentrated Roundup® (glyphosate) to cut stumps has also worked in Australia, as has injecting glyphosate into holes drilled in plant stems. Glyphosate is recommended as a herbicide because of its effectiveness and low risk to human and environmental health.
    When managing P. undulatum in heavily infested areas consideration must be given to the effects of its removal. The eradication of a large number of trees may facilitate an invasion by undesirable non-woody plant species that thrive in disturbed areas (Goodland and Healey, 1997a).

    Reproduction
    Flowers are usually unisexual and are insect-pollinated. Seeds are bird-dispersed, with blackbirds (Turdus merula) being important vectors in Australia. Seedlings coppice (form thickets) if the shoot is removed, and blown-down trees have the ability to sprout along the trunk. (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997). Flowering starts at around 5 years of age and fruit takes about 6 months to mature. Fruit capsules contain 20-40 sticky orange seeds (Binggeli and Goodland, 1997). A single tree can produce more than 37,500 seeds (Goodland and Healey, 1997a).
    Lifecycle stages
    Germination of seeds takes place in late autumn to spring (Bushcare, 2003).
    Reviewed by: Dr. Morag McDonald and Dr John Healey, School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences University of Wales, Bangor. Wales.
    Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Friday, 30 December 2005


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland