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Have you seen Asian or Red Melastome?
Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and the Big Island Hawaii


Melastoma candidum flower
Asian melastome flower
Melastoma sanguineum
A melastome bush growing over a garden shrub in Pukalani, Maui.
Images (left, middle): Forest & Kim Starr
Melastome species
Melsastomes have a distinct vein pattern and capsule fruitImages (left, middle): R. L. Stemmerman

Identification: Asian melastome (Melastoma candidum) and red melastome (Melastoma sanguineum) are two related weedy shrubs that are difficult to tell apart. Flowers have 5 to 6 pink or light purple petals. Fruits are 10-17 mm (2/5-3/4 in) long and will DRY and SLIT OPEN AT MATURITY to reveal 5 or 6 cells full of seeds.
Impacts: Both species form dense monotypic thickets and can crowd out native vegetation.
Dispersal Mechanism: Asian and red melastome, native to Southeast Asiam are cultivated in tropical areas as ornamental shrubs. Melastoma species are spread long distances by humans in horticulture trade. From gardents, plants readily escape and are further spread by fruit eating birds and other mammals. Melastomaceae have also been observed moving inter-island hitchiking on hapu'u fern (Cibotium spp.) being sold for garden plantings. Both melastomes are currently only known to grow in a few locations in Maui County (upcountry East Maui, see map.) If you see it anywhere else on Maui- let someone know!

More information about this pest external link


Melastome look-alikes:


Koster's Curse (Clidemia hirta):
Koster's curse is widespread in Hawaii. This shrub 0.5-3 m (4.9-9.8 ft) tall with leaves 5-16 cm (2-6.3 in) long and 3-8 cm (1.2-3.1 in) wide. Leaves are covered in STIFF HAIRS and are SMALLER THAN MICONIA.

Koster's curse

Koster's Curse (Clidemia hirta)

Glory Bush (Tibouchina urvilleanea):
Tibouchinas are also widespread pests in Maui County. This shrub is 3-4 m (10-15 ft) tall with velvety leaves covered in soft hairs. These leaves have the same characteristic 3-5 arching veins as Koster's curse and the melastomes. Flowers are large (127 mm or 5 in) and deep purple with noticeable LONG YELLOW (T. herbecea) or PURPLE (T. urvilleanea) ANTHERS. FLESHY FRUITs are smalller than the melastomes and do not split open at maturity.

Tibouchina flowers

Glory Bush (Tibouchina urvilleanea)

Last Updated: Tuesday October 30 2012. If you have any questions about the Hawaii Early Detection Network contact reportapest-maui@lists.hawaii.edu.
Funding and support for this project was made possible by the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry assistance, and University of Hawai'i-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.