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Have you seen Cane tibouchina (Tibouchina herbacea)?
Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for Kauai

Cane tibouchina flowers
Cane tibouchina flowers are pink to purple and have 4 petals.

Melastomes, like cane tibouchina, have a distinctive "leaf within a leaf" vein pattern.
Cane tibouchina plant
Plants grow in an upright form up to 10 feet tall.
Images: Forest & Kim Starr

Identification: This shrub is semiwoody and can grow up to 9' tall. The young stems are angled and hairy. The leaves are opposite, 3" long by 1.4" wide, hairy, and have 5-7 prominent veins. The flowers are pink and have 4 petals with bright yellow anthers. The fruit is cup-like and extremely small. The seeds are very small and numerous.
Impacts: This plant is a prolific seeder and spread by birds. It forms dense stands in pastures and can also invade disturbed forest areas, displacing native species.
Dispersal Mechanism: This plant is a prolific seeder that can be spread by birds. It has also been known to be spread by humans who have used the plant in landscaping.
Origin, Distribution, and Habitat: This shrub is native to southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Cane tibouchina has heavy infestations on Maui and Big Island. It occurs in the northern Ko'olau range on O'ahu, as well as on Moloka'i and Lana'i, and in Hilo, including lower Saddle Road on Hawai'i. This pest is not known to be on Kauai. Please report any new sighting of this pest!

More information about this pest external link

Cane tibouchina look-alikes:

Glorybush (Tibouchina urvilleana):
Also called princess flower, this is another Melastome species that can be very invasive. It has larger, purple flowers with five petals and can grow up to 12' tall. The anthers of this plant are purple, unlike the yellow anthers of cane tibouchina. This plant can be seen in Koke'e, naturalized along the roadside.


Glory bush flowers and leaves

Glorybush has flowers with 5 petals and that are much larger than cane tibouchina.

Asian melastome (Melastoma candidum, M. septemnervium):
This is a spreading shrub that forms tangled brush between 5' to 15' tall. Each flower usually contains five to six petals, averaging 1" long. This plant is widespread across Kaua'i.


Asian melastome flower

Asian melastome flower

Last Updated: Monday January 30 2012. If you have any questions about the Hawaii Early Detection Network contact
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.