Emex spinosa - (L.) Campd.
Spiny Emex
Other English Common Names: Devil's thorn, Lesser Jack, Spiny Threecornerjack, Spiny emex, Threecornerjack
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Emex spinosa (L.) Campd. (TSN 21053)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.131006
Element Code: PDPGN07020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Buckwheat Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Polygonales Polygonaceae Emex
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Concept Reference
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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: Emex spinosa
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

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 California (SNA), Hawaii (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), New Jersey (SNA), Texas (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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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
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CAexotic, HIexotic, MA, NJexotic, TXexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Emex spinosa, Spiny Threecornerjack, is similar to E. australis, the latter being a major crop weed in Australia. E. spinosa is known from only a few states in the US, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, California and Hawaii. It is unclear whether this species is still present in New Jersey and Florida. It is of most concern in southern California where it is spreading locally in areas where it's never been documented before. It is encroaching on the habitat of at least 2 endangered species, Lotus nattallianus and the California Least tern. In other states, this species occurs in waste places, and in California it occurs in naturally disturbed places, like beaches and other coastal habitats. Unfortunately, this species does have very spiny seeds which stick easily to shoes, feathers, fur, vehicles tires, so it is easily transported. This species is controlled in Hawaii by an introduced weevil. While this species isn't causing enormous damage to natural habitats currently, it does appear to be spreading, at least locally, and should be monitored.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Insignificant
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Unknown
I-Rank Review Date: 18Apr2006
Evaluator: Oliver, L.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Emex spinosa is native to Africa (Macronesia and North Africa), western Asia, and parts of Europe (Greece, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain) (GRIN).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: The Spiny threecornerjack is established as a non-native in the United States in California, Hawaii and Texas. It has also been reported in Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts, however, it isn't clear if the species is extant in those states. Kartesz (1999) reports E. spinosa from CA, TX, HI, NJ, and MA.

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Most of the places where this species occurs in the United States are disturbed waste places, however, in California this species has been documented to invade coastal and dune habitats (CAL-IPC 2006, Brusati and DiTomaso 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Unknown
Comments: It is unknown what effects on abiotic processes this species has. Considering that it is known mainly from waste places in Hawaii (Buriscati and diTomaso 2003) and in naturally disturbed habitats, such as beaches, in California (CAL-IPC 2006, Buriscati and diTomaso 2003) it may have little or insignifcant effects on natural ecosystem processes.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: Emex spinosa influences the structure of one vegetation layer, the herb layer.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Medium/Low significance
Comments: While only documented for one location as such, this species has carpeted an area in Lichty Mesa, California and if left unchecked it will it will crowd all other species (Buriscati and diTomaso 2003). While this is only one location in the United States, it does demonstrate the potential this species has to infiltrate and spread in beach and coastal habitats.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No information was found indicating that this species significantly impacts one native species more than any other native species.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: Emex spinosa has been reported to reduce the population size of the rare Lotus nuttallianus and further, it has also impacted the nesting sites of the California least tern (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Insignificant

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Insignificant
Comments: This species is known from only a small area in the United States. It is known from one collection in Florida (Garland 2004), one instance in New Jersey (Synder and Kaufman 2004), Hawaii (Kartesz 1999), several locations in southern California (CAL-IPC 2006) and Texas (Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Insignificant
Comments: The area where this species is negatively impacting biodiversity is small, and in only southern California (CAL-IPC 2006, Brusati and DiTomaso 2003) at present. It shoud be mentioned, however, that this species does appear to be aggressively in a few locations in southern California (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Insignificant
Comments: The Spiny threecornerjack is known mainly from the South Coast physiographic province in California (Hickman et al. 1993). It isn't clear which other biogeographic units this species occurs in in Texas, which is the only other state where is species may be extant. In Hawaii, this species is known from disturbed areas (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Low significance
Comments: The Spiny threecornerjack occurs in coastal and beach habitats and also in grasslands (CAL-IPC 2006, Federal Noxious Weeds Disseminules of the U.S.).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: The range of this species in the United States at present (2006), is not broad, occurring in only a few states and within those states in only a few locations. This species does seem to be expanding in southern California where it is documented from Orange Co. (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003), San Diego (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003 and the NY Botanical Garden Online Herbarium), and Riverside Co. (NY Botanical Garden Online Herbarium).

Further, it should be noted that while this species may not be showing a drastic invasion in the United States, it is hypothesized that global warming may be influencing species with a similar attributes to spread into countries where they have not been recorded previously. There have been reports of range extensions of Meditteranean thermophilous plants, such as E. spinosa, which normally occur in North Africa, into Corsica where they were not known previously (Mytilini 2000).


11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: E. spinosa, or Spiny threecornerjack, is presently known from waste places, beach, coastal and grassland communities (Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules of the U.S., CAL-IPC 2006).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: The seeds of this species are transported by wind, animals and human activities, including adhereing to vehicle tires (APHIS). More specifically, in California it is noted that this species might be spread by border patrol activities (dirt smoothing) and it is also noted that the 'spiny seeds stick to anything' including fur and feathers (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003). It is likely that this non-native could spread throughout the range of the California Least Tern given that E. spinosa has dominated the nesting sites of this bird in Mission Bay, CA.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High significance
Comments: In southern California this species is spreading rapidly in localized areas. In Lichty Mesa, CA it is reported that this species was absent as of 2003, however, currently it is prevalent in endangered plant habitat and if left unchecked it crowds all other species. It is spreading along trails and then into undisturbed areas as well. Finally, it is also spreading rapidly in Mission Bay, CA (Brusati and DiTomaso 2003).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: This species is spreading into endangered species habitat and into undisturbed places in southern California (Brusati and DiTomaso (2003).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Medium/Low significance
Comments: This species is a known problem in southern Australia, but specifically which habitats it occurs in isn't clear. The other species of Emex which is quite problematic in Australia, 'australis' is rapidly spreading and competes with crops and pasture (Yeoh and Scott 2006).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Emex spinosa and E. australis, can remain dormant in the soil for up to 7 years (Yeoh and Scott 2006). This species also blooms througout the year (Flora North America vol. 5).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Unknown

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Low significance
Comments: It is known that a biological control program was set into place to manage against this species in Hawaii. A weevil, Perapion antiquum, was used and was considered 'highly successful in controlling Emex in Hawaii' (Yeoh and Scott 2006). It isn't clear how expensive or how much effort was required to implement this control.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Unknown

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Unknown

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Unknown
Authors/Contributors
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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
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  • APHIS. As of September 8, 2000. Federal noxious weed list. Available: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/permits/fnwsbycat-e.PDF. (Accessed 2004).

  • Bruscati, E. and J. DiTomaso. 2003. Plant Assessment Form [Emex spinosa]. For use with 'Criteria for Categorizing Invasive Non-Native Plants that Threaten Wildlands' by the California Exotic Pest Plant Council and the Southwest Vegetation Management Association'. Accessed online on April 17, 2006: http://www.cal-ipc.org/file_library/20387.pdf.

  • California Invasive Plant Inventory (CAL-IPC). 2006. CAL-IPC Publication 2006-02. California Invasive Plant Council: Berkeley, CA. Available. www.cal-ipc.org.

  • Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules of the U.S. Emex spinosa (L.) Campdera. Accessed online at: http://www.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/FNW/#.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2005. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 5. Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae: Caryophyllales, Polygonales, and Plumbaginales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. vii + 656 pp.

  • Garland, M. A. 2004. Plants in chapter 5B-57.007, Florida Administrative Code, Noxious Weed List. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Accessed online on April 17, 2006 at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/invaspec/2ndlevpgs/pdfs/noxiousweedtable1.pdf

  • Hickman, J. C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1400 pp.

  • 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.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Mytilini, L. 2001. Report on A RICAMARE workshop Biodiversity and Conservation in Changing Mediterranean Landscapes. eds. a. Troumbis, J. M. Moreno and F. Medail. Available online at: http://medias.obs-mip.fr/ricamare/interface/document/biodiv_report_final1.pdf. Accessed on April 17, 2006.

  • Synder, D. and S.R. Kaufman. 2004. An overview of nonindigenous plant species in New Jersey. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, Office of Natural Lands Management, Natural Heritage Program, Trenton, New Jersey. 107 pp.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2005. December 9 last update. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) Online Database. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Available: http://www.ars-grin.gov2/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl (Accessed 2006).

  • Yeoh, P. and J. Scott. 2005. Emex (Emex australis) CSIRO Entomology. Accessed on line: http://www.ento.csiro.au/weeds/emex/index.html on April 17, 2006.

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