Colubrina asiatica - (L.) Brongn.
Asian Snakewood
Other English Common Names: Asian Nakedwood, Asian Snakebark, Hoop Withe
Other Common Names: Asian nakedwood
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brongn. (TSN 28521)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.147415
Element Code: PDRHA05020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Buckthorn Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Rhamnales Rhamnaceae Colubrina
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Colubrina asiatica
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06May1991
Global Status Last Changed: 06May1991
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4?

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (SNA), Hawaii (SNR)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: C. asiatica is native to tropical Asia, but is now pantropical in distribution and grows in coastal sites adjacent to the ocean (Johnston 1971). The species is regarded as native in Hawaii (J. Randall, pers. comm. 1992). C. asiatica is a relatively recent introduction to the Western Hemisphere, being first collected in Jamaica in about 1860 (Johnston 1971). Langeland (1990) reported that it was introduced into the Caribbean Islands from Asia where it escaped from cultivation.

The species was detected in Florida at Big Pine Key in the early 1950's (Dickson et al. 1953). It was not long before it spread as far north as Martin County (Alexander and Crook 1974, Austin 1978, Olmstead et al. 1981).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Not applicable. Sensitivity to cold temperatures may limit the northern expansion of this pest species. Miller (1992) stated that it has been found as far north as St. Lucie County.

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
Help
Global Range: C. asiatica is native to tropical Asia, but is now pantropical in distribution and grows in coastal sites adjacent to the ocean (Johnston 1971). The species is regarded as native in Hawaii (J. Randall, pers. comm. 1992). C. asiatica is a relatively recent introduction to the Western Hemisphere, being first collected in Jamaica in about 1860 (Johnston 1971). Langeland (1990) reported that it was introduced into the Caribbean Islands from Asia where it escaped from cultivation.

The species was detected in Florida at Big Pine Key in the early 1950's (Dickson et al. 1953). It was not long before it spread as far north as Martin County (Alexander and Crook 1974, Austin 1978, Olmstead et al. 1981).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FLexotic, HI

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
Help
Basic Description: Scandent-scrambling, essentially glabrous shrub. The common name latherleaf denotes that C. asiatica leaves contain a useful saponin-like substance (Johnston 1971).
Technical Description: Branches diffuse, pale, smooth-barked, to 15 or more m long; branchlets slender and often zigzag. Leaves persistant, alternate; petioles slender, 1-2 cm long; blades thin, glossy, 4-9 cm long, 2.5-5 cm broad basally, ovate, bases truncate, rounded or very slightly cordate, apices acuminate, margins finely crenate-serrate, each tooth with a minute gland and dark deciduous mucro, upper surfaces dark glossy green, glabrous, paler below, mostly 3-veined from base; stipules deltate, ca. 1 mm long. Inflorescence a 6-10 flowered thyrse, axillary, ca. 5-10 mm long, much shorter than the subtending leaf; flowers usually perfect, sometimes upper ones in thyrse appearing staminate, greenish, pedicles 1-2 mm long (elongating to 5-20 mm in fruit), floral tube shallowly saucerlike, 2 mm broad, a prominent nectariferous disc within; sepals 5, ovate, 1.5 mm long, spreading; petals 5, greenish-white, 1.2-1.4 mm long, each curvate and hooded about a stamen; style deeply 3-lobed. Fruit somewhat membraneous, globose, ca. 8mm in diameter, quickly dehiscent, 3-locular, each locule containing 1 seed; seed ca. 5 mm long, slightly obovate or suborbicular in outline, rounded on the outer side and with 2 flat inner faces, surface smooth, dark purplish-brown, light in weight (capable of floating). (Johnston 1971, Godfrey and Wooten 1981, Langeland 1990, Wagner, Herbst and Somer 1990).
Diagnostic Characteristics: C. asiatica (Ramnaceae) is characterized by its rambling growth over other vegetation; glossy, dark green, thin leaves; and small axillary clusters of minute greenish flowers and fruit (Godfrey and Wooten 1981, Langeland 1990). A line drawing is in Langeland (1990) and a color photo in Scurlock (1987).
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Long and Lakela (1976) and Wunderlin (1982) stated that C. asiatica flowers and fruits all year. The seeds are highly dispersable via flotation in ocean currents and may remain viable after floating in saltwater for many months (Guppy 1906, Carlquist 1966). Severe spring and storm tides can push the seed far inland (Langeland 1990). An extreme case reported by Duquesnel (1992) was a plant growing approximately 300 m from water in a coastal hammock at John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo. Because this site is higher than storm tides normally reach, some other dispersal agent, such as a bird, may have distributed this plant. Seed germination does not seem to occur on exposed rock, but appears to require loose soil (Duquesnel 1992). Fillyaw (1986), Byrd (1992), and Duquesnel (1992), reported germination and growth rate of seedlings increases with the removal of the shading canopy. Duquesnel (1992) stated that seedlings reach sexual maturity in about 1 year; even young plants produce many seeds, so open areas around plant are rapidly colonized. Solitary individuals are found only under two conditions: if they are too young to fruit or growing in dense vegetation.
Ecology Comments: Colubrina asiatica has a rapid growth rate once the foliage reaches direct sunlight. Byrd (1992) and Duquesnel (1992) reported plants increasing 10 m or more in length in one year. Its climbing growth habit allows it to grow over the vegetative canopy thereby often effectively shading out the native flora; the resulting dense walls of C. asiatica stems can be virtually impenetrable (Langeland 1990). Snyder et al. (1990) wrote that this woody vine smothers hammocks in coastal areas. Byrd, Duquesnel and J.B. Miller (pers. comm. 1992) all reported that mature plants dominate native vegetation with stems as large as 10 cm diameter at the ground and 15+ m in length. Duquesnel added that C. asiatica has been seen smothering mature Schinus terebinthifolius in some locations.

Bob Doren (pers. comm. 1992) called latherleaf a seriously invasive exotic as advantitious roots develop wherever the stem contacts the ground. Miller (1992) stated that the stems may grow upwards (7 m or more) to the top of the canopy, fall back to the ground where they reroot and then grow upwards again. Duquesnel (1992) noted that the roots resprout following disturbance to the stems.

Estuarine Habitat(s): Forested wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Sand/dune
Habitat Comments: Alexander and Crook (1974) noted 20 years ago that C. asiatica could cause problems by overgrowing native vegetation near the seacoast. A report from the South Florida Research Center (Olmstead et al. 1981) nine years later noted that C. asiatica had been known to "locally engulf stands of buttonwood and has been regarded as a possible severe threat to native vegetation".

In Florida, it is naturalized in relatively frost-free coastal areas of the southern peninsula and the Florida Keys (Godfrey and Wooten 1981). The current northern boundary of the species is Sewell Point, Martin Co. (R. Roberts, pers. comm. 1992). In the very recent Exotic Woody Plant Control guide edited by Langeland (1990), C. asiatica is listed as one of the most aggressive exotic plants in Florida along with Casuarina spp., Schinus terebinthefolius and Melaleuca quinquenervia.

Natural communities where C. asiatica is found include beach dune (Long and Lakela 1976, Wunderlin 1982), coastal strand (Norma Jeanne Byrd pers. comm. 1992),maritime hammock (Wunderlin 1982, Myers and Ewel 1990), tidal marsh (Jim Duquesnel pers. comm. 1992), and tidal mangrove swamp (Godfrey and Wooten 1981, Olmstead et al. 1981, Byrd, 1992). It is most often found growing in the uplands - submerged lands interface (Langeland 1990) or between beach dune and maritime hammock (Duquesnel 1992). Duquesnel (1992) stated that, unlike some exotic pest plant species, C. asiatica can become established and grow in undisturbed sites of natural vegetation.

Economic Attributes
Help
Economic Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG, INDUSTRIAL/CHEMICAL USE/PRODUCT, Soap/Solvent
Management Summary
Help
Stewardship Overview: C. asiatica asiatica is an aggressive exotic invader of native coastal vegetation in South Florida, which has invaded The Nature Conservancy's Blowing Rocks Preserve and other natural areas. Its seeds are constantly being dispersed at a rapid rate by ocean currents. Other seed vectors may also exist. Plants grow rapidly in full sun; they can cover and even kill native flora. Current practices of herbicide and manual control of C. asiatica are very labor intensive and thus expensive. Research is needed on improving control methods of this noxious pest species.
Management Requirements: This element requires active management to prevent its spread and the resulting domination of natural communities.

Manual removal can be done on young plants in the beach dune or coastal strand where they are easily detected (Byrd, 1992). Removal by machinery is usually not practical due to latherleaf's habit of growing in and over desirable native species (Langeland 1990). At the Blowing Rocks Preserve, machinery removal was effective in an area where no native understory existed and where latherleaf and Australian pine removal could be coordinated (N.J. Byrd, pers. comm. 1992). Herbicide control is very labor intensive and difficult due to latherleaf's rambling habit and difficulty in identifying the main trunk (Langeland 1990). Herbicide on a stem will kill it only to where it is rerooted by ground layering (Miller 1992). Guidelines for a herbicide control program in Langeland (1990) recommend basal bark applications of Garlon 4 diluted to 2% concentration with diesel fuel. The herbicide is applied directly to the bark around the circumference of each vine up to 40 cm above the ground. Hand-held equipment or backpack sprayers are ususally used.

Duquesnel (1992) recommended different herbicide treatments depending on the number of latherleaf plants. His general guidelines were: less than 20 - cut stump, more than 20 - basal bark, more than 100 - foliar, as C. asiatica would cover all other vegetation. The cut stump treatment consisted of one individual cutting the vines off near the ground with a machete (or loppers in areas of dense vegetation), followed by another individual spraying herbicide on the entire exposed cambium layer. He recommended using up to a 50% concentration of Garlon 3A diluted in water - the sooner the Garlon was applied after cutting, the more effective the results and the less concentrated a solution necessary. Duquesnel (1992) used a 6% Garlon 4 solution in diesel fuel for basal bark treatment as described in Langeland (1990). The foliar spray application was of Garlon 3A diluted to a 6% solution in water with the addition of a surfactant to aid in sticking. The foliar spray technique is appropriate only where damage to non-target vegetation is not a concern. Areas may require re-treatment every 3-4 months to prevent regeneration. Initial treatment should be applied around the perimeter of a dense stand to prevent continued expansion on the far side of a treated population.

Both Duquesnel (1992) and Miller (1992) added that marker dyes are very useful for keeping track of the treated vegetation. Details on application methods (including color photographs) are given in Langeland (1990).

Byrd (1992) related a situation at TNC's Blowing Rocks Preserve where C. asiatica was growing in the shade of large Casuarina equisetifolia. Once these trees were removed from the site, C. asiatica flourished in the full sun. Byrd now recommends eradicating latherleaf prior to any canopy removal. Duquesnel (1992) cautioned against inadvertantly spreading C. asiatica seed by hauling away cut branches. The seed pods easily shatter when dry and seeds can be disseminated along roadsides.

Monitoring Requirements: Populations of C. asiatica are increasing and being dispersed readily by ocean currents. Their spread to new areas should be closely monitored, as should contraction or expansion of existing populations.

Ground surveys for new populations of this element should be conducted several times per year. Aerial surveys can detect large populations in relatively unaccessable areas such as in Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.


Management Programs: Doren (1992) stated that no active management is currently being done at Everglades National Park. DNR is managing against C. asiatica spread in the Florida State Park system. Key contacts are Jim Duquesnel and J.B. Miller. TNC's Blowing Rocks Preserve is also working to eradicate C. asiatica (contact Norma Jeanne Byrd).
Monitoring Programs: Everglades National Park is currently monitoring the spread of C. asiatica and has a map of its range available (contact Bob Doren). DNR is monitoring in the Florida State Park system. Key contacts are Jim Duquesnel and J.B. Miller. Jeff Weber, DNR biologist (pers. comm. 1992) relates that C. asiatica is not yet found in state parks along the Gulf of Mexico. The Nature Conservancy is currently monitoring distribution of C. asiatica at the Blowing Rocks Preserve (contact Norma Jeanne Byrd). Infestations of latherleaf in Biscayne National Park are under observation (C. Lippincott, pers. comm. 1992).
Management Research Programs: Karen Brown (pers. comm. March, 1992) at the Center for Aquatic Plants, IFAS, searched the Aquatic Plant Information Retrieval System data base for C. asiatica and found only Langeland (1990) as a published reference. None of the above identified research needs are being worked on at this time.
Management Research Needs: Biological control of C. asiatica needs to be investigated. Apparently no research is currently underway or planned (Dan Austin, pers. comm. 1992, Langeland 1990). However, because other species within the genus and family are native in Florida, biocontrol efforts should be approached cautiously.

Factors affecting the susceptibility of C. asiatica to herbicides need study. These include identification of the best time of year and stage of plant development to apply and the frequency of application necessary to obtain optimal results. The exact times of flowering and fruiting needs to be determined: no information exists on whether latherleaf reproduces seasonally or all year round. Identification of seed dispersers other that water should be conducted. Research might also identify allelopathic properties of C. asiatica that suppress the growth of other plants.

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Jun1992
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gary E. Schultz, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Management Information Edition Date: 01Jun1992
Management Information Edition Author: Gary E. Schultz, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Jun1992
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Gary E. Schultz, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Alexander, T. R. and A. G. Crook. 1974. Recent vegetational changes in southern Florida. Pp. 61-72 in Environments of south Florida: present and past (P.J. Gleason, ed.), Memoir 2: Miami Geological Society, Coral Gables.

  • Austin, D. F. 1978a. Exotic plants and their effects in southeastern Florida. Environmental Conservation 5(1).

  • Carlquist, S. 1966. The biota of long-distance dispersal. I. Principles of dispersal and evolution. Q. Rev. Biol. 41(3):247-270.

  • Dickson, J. D., III, R. O. Woodbury and T. R. Alexander. 1953. Check list of flora of Big Pine Key, Florida, and surrounding keys. Florida Scientist 16(3).

  • Fillyaw, J. W. 1986. Findings on Removal of C. asiatica asiatica at MacArthur Beach. [Unpublished letter in TNC file from John Fillyaw, Park Manager, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park to Richard E. Roberts, District VII Biologist. DNR Interoffice Memrandum. September 12, 1986].

  • Godfrey, R.K., and J.W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern United States: Dicotyledons. Univ. Georgia Press, Athens. 933 pp.

  • Guppy, H. B. 1906. Plant Disperal: Observations of a Naturalist in the Pacific between 1896 and 1899, Vol. 2. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., London.

  • Johnston, M. C. 1971. Revision of C. asiatica (Rhamnaceae). Brittonia 23(1):2-53.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Langeland, K. (ed.). 1990. Exotic woody plant control. IFAS Circluar 868. University of Florida, Gainesville.

  • Long, R.W., and O. Lakela. 1971. A flora of tropical Florida. Univ. Miami Press, Coral Gables, Florida. 962 pp.

  • Neal, M. C. 1965. In gardens of Hawaii. Bishop Museum Special Publication 50. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 924 pp.

  • Olmstead, I. C., L. L. Loope and R. P. Russell. 1981. Vegetation of southern coastal region of Everglades National Park between Flamingo and Joe Bay. National Park Service, South Florida Research Center. Report T-620.

  • Scurlock, J.P. 1987. Native trees and shrubs of the Florida Keys: A field guide. Laurel Press, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. 220 pp.

  • Snyder, J. R., A. Herndon, and W. B. Robertson, Jr. 1990. South Florida rockland. pp. 230-280 in: R. L. Myers and J. J. Ewel. (eds.) Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando.

  • Wagner, W.L., D.R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Univ. Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1853 pp.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.