Taxonomic name: Cestrum nocturnum L.
Synonyms: Cestrum parqui
Common names: ai pua e pogi (Rotuman), ala aumoe (Hawaiian), ali'I o le po (Samoan), ariki-va'ine (Cook Islands), dama de noche (Chamorro), dama di noche (Chamorro), fafine o te po (Tuvaluan), galan de noche (Spanish), ike he po (Niuean), jasmin bâtard (French-Reunion (La Réunion)), jasmin de nuit (French), jonoul ruo awa (Marshallese), kara (Fijian), kupaoa (Hawaiian), lady of the night (English), laukau po'uli (Tongan), night cestrum (English), night jessamine (English), night queen (English), night-blooming jasmine (English), night-flowering cestrum (English), night-flowering jasmine (English), onaona Iapana (Hawaiian), queen of the night (English), teine 'o le po (Samoan), thauthau (Fijian), thauthau ni mbongi (Fijian), tiare ariki va'ine (Cook Islands), ye xiang shu (Mandarin)
Organism type: shrub
Cestrum nocturnum commonly known as queen of the night, is a popular ornamental species widely distributed for its strongly fragrant flowers that bloom at night. Having bird-dispersed seeds and the ability to reproduce vegetatively has resulted in escapes from cultivation, where in some areas it aggressively colonises disturbed sites such as road edges and forest gaps forming dense impenetrable thickets and resulting in competition with and displacement of native plant species. C. nocturnum is also known to be poisonous if ingested, forming a risk to grazing livestock and has been known to produce hay-fever like symptoms in some people.
Cestrum nocturnum is a glabrous shrub that grows from 1 to 5 m tall (depending on location) with ovate-oblong, petiolate, and obtuse leaves mostly 7 - 20 cm long (Webb et al., 1988; Tharman et al., 1994; Zhang et al., 1994). It has cymose racemes which are longer than the petiole and flowers that are greenish-white or pale greenish-yellow that emit a strong sweet fragrance at night (Webb et al., 1988; Tharman et al., 1994). The flowers of C. nocturnum have a green, 5-toothed, calyx about 1/3 as long as the 2.0 - 2.5 cm corolla which has obtuse, erect or spreading lobes which are 5-6 mm long (Tharman et al., 1994). The flower also includes 5 stamens which are puberulent at their bases (Tharman et al., 1994). C. nocturnum produces small white berries about 8-10 mm long, with 1 - 3 seeds capable of being dispersed by birds (Tharman et al., 1994).
natural forests, planted forests, riparian zones, ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands, urban areas
Cestrum nocturnum is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens (Tharman et al., 1994; Vander Velde, 2003; Starr et al., 2005). Escapes are possible and can result in the establishment of dense, impenetrable thickets in scrub (Meyer et al., 1988), moist or wet forests including riparian zones (Oppenheimer, 2007), secondary forests and dense lowland forests (Meyer, 2000) as well as open areas, both natural and disturbed (Webb et al., 1988). C. nocturnum is also known as an aggressive invader of disturbed sites such as trailsides, forest gaps and landslides (Meyer, 2004).
Cestrum nocturnum is known to aggressively colonise disturbed areas (Meyer, 2004) and is capable of forming dense impenetrable thickets in the undergrowth of some forest systems (Meyer, 2004; Oppeheimer, 2007; Williams, 2008) possibly displacing other plant species and altering natural successional processes. It has been shown to be more suited to capturing and using light than native Hawaiian species in greenhouse conditions (Pattison et al., 1998) with its competitiveness thought to be partly responsible for the possible extinction of the endemic Acalypha wilderi on Rarotonga (McCormack, pers. comm., 2000; in Meyer, 2004). Like all Cestrum species, all parts of C. nocturnum are known to be highly toxic either fresh or when dried (Connor, 1977). As such, C. nocturnum forms a risk to livestock with 120 g (approximately 60 leaves) of Cestrum spp. material enough to result in the death of a 400 kg cattle beast (Environment Bay of Plenty, 2003). In humans, C. nocturnum can cause hay-fever like symptoms (Williams, 2008) and while a non-fatal poisoning of a human child was reported by Connor (1977), no poisonings have been reported since 2002 (Williams, 2008) and there have been no records of any fatal poisonings (Connor, 1977; Williams, 2008).
Cestrum nocturnum is commonly cultivated in many countries as an ornamental plant due to its fragrant flowers that bloom at night (Tharman et al., 1994; Vander Velde, 2003; Starr et al., 2005).
Native Range: Tropical America: Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama; Caribbean: Cuba (PIER, 2010, USDA-ARS, 2010).
Known Introduced Range: United States: California, Texas, Louisiana, Hawaii, Georgia, Florida (USDA-NRCS, 2010); Caribbean: Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands (USDA-RCS, 2010); Pacific Islands: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Galapagos Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Midway Islands (PIER, 2010); Asia: China, India, Ogasawara Islands (Japan) (Zhang et al., 1994; Reddy et al., 2008; PIER, 2010); Australasia: Australia (WWF, 2006), New Zealand: Auckland (Webb et al., 1988).
Introduction pathways to new locations
For ornamental purposes: Cestrum nocturnum is commonly cultivated in many countries as an ornamental plant due to its fragrant flowers that bloom at night (Tharman et al., 1994; Vander Velde, 2003; Starr et al., 2005).
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Cestrum nocturnum produces small white berries about 8-10 mm long, with 1 - 3 seeds capable of being dispersed by birds (Tharman et al., 1994).
Garden escape/garden waste: Starr et al. (2005) state that Cestrum nocturnum is commonly cultivated in Hawaii for its fragrant flowers that bloom at night. Garden escapes from cultivated plants have been observed in some locations (Starr et al., 2003).
On animals: The presence of cattle and horses is thought to contribute greatly to the spread of invasive plant species including Cestrum nocturnum at the Monasavu water catchment on Viti Levu Island, Fiji (Tuiwawa, 2005).
Vegetative reproduction: Cestrum nocturnum is capable of reproducing vegetatively from cut roots or buds from creeping roots (Williams, 2008).
Water currents: The prevalence of Cestrum nocturnum in some riparian zones on Maui Island suggest that some form of aquatic dispersal may be likely for this species (Oppenheimer, 2007).
Preventative Measures: A Risk assessment of Cestrum nocturnum for Australia was prepared by Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) using the Australian risk assessment system (Pheloung, 1995). The result is a score of 16 and a recommendation of: reject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be of high risk (Pacific).
In New Zealand C. nocturnum has been included in the Auckland Regional Pest Management Strategy as a "Research Organism" and as such there are no rules or regulations restricting their propagation and growth (ARC, 2007). It has not been included in the National Plant Pets Accord, primarily due to a lack of information on current distribution and potential effects (Biosecurity New Zealand, 2010). While not included in any other Regional Pest Management Strategies, C. nocturnum is apparently prohibited from sale in the Northland Region (Williams, 2008) and Cestrum spp. in the Bay of Plenty Region have been prohibited from propagation, sale and distribution (Environment Bay of Plenty, 2010).
Physical Control: Small plants can be hand pulled all year round and left on site to rot down (Weedbusters, 2010). As stems can resprout and reinfestation can occur through the seed bank, bared sites should be replanted to prevent regrowth (Weedbusters, 2010).
Chemical Control: Good control results for C. nocturnum have been reported using triclopyr ester at 20% in crop oil applied basal bark (Katie Cassel, pers. comm.; in Motooka, et al., 2003) with C. nocturnum probably sensitive to foliar application of triclopyr (Motooka et al., 2003). Cutting and painting the cut surface with a herbicide solution can be done all year round (Weedbusters, 2010) with Environment Bay of Plenty (2010) recommending the use of one part Tordon Brushkiller to 20 parts of water (50 ml / L), and Weedbusters (2010) recommending 100 ml / L of Tordon Brushkiller, 100 ml / L of triclopyr 600 EC or 500 ml / L of Yates Hydrocotyle Killer. Larger infestations should be sprayed (Environment Bay of Plenty, 2010), ideally in spring or summer (Weedbusters, 2010) with Environment Bay of Plenty (2010) suggesting the use of 50 ml of Tordon Brushkiller in 10 L of water and Weedbusters (2010) recommending the use of triclopyr 600 EC (30 ml/ 10 L) or Yates Hydrocotyle Killer (15 ml / L).
Cestrum nocturnum produces small white berries about 8-10 mm long, with 1 - 3 seeds capable of being dispersed by birds (Tharman et al., 1994). Seeds are produced after 18 months of establishment and can remain dormant in the soil for many years (Williams, 2008). Vegetative reproduction is also possible from cut roots or buds from creeping roots (Williams, 2008).
Compiled by: Comité français de l'UICN (IUCN French Committee) & IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Monday, 13 September 2010