Schefflera actinophylla - (Endl.) H.A.T. Harms
Octopus-tree
Other Common Names: octopus tree
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Schefflera actinophylla (Endl.) H.A.T. Harms (TSN 505047)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.155296
Element Code: PDARA0E090
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Ginseng Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Apiales Araliaceae Schefflera
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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: Schefflera actinophylla
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 14Feb1993
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
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United States Florida (SNA), Hawaii (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

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Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

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

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

Range Map
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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
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Schefflera actinophylla is an evergreen tree that is grown as a landscape plant in tropical areas and also as a houseplant. It can quickly form dense thickets and produces large numbers of seeds that are bird dispersed. It has invaded native species habitats in Hawaii and in central and south Florida. Schefflera actinophylla is documented as a threat to several rare plant species. It also invades undisturbed tropical hardwood hammocks. Other habitats it invades include cypress strands, hardwood forests, sand pine scrub, beach dunes, pine rockland habitat, remnant scrub habitat, wet lowland habitats, forest margins, roadsides, and disturbed sites. Its potential for range expansion is apparently limited by its intolerance to cold temperatures. However, its local range is likely to increase. Control of established stands is difficult and requires repeated herbicide treatment.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 17Nov2008
Evaluator: Tomaino, A.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia (USDA ARS 2008).

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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Established outside cultivation in the U.S. (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invasive in natural areas in the southeastern U.S. and Hawaii (Weber 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No mention of changes in abiotic ecosystem processes or system-wide parameters found in the literature; assumption is that any alterations are not high or moderate.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High/Moderate significance
Comments: An evergreen tree that reaches 10-15 meters in height, usually with several trunks (Weber 2003). Forms dense shady thickets (Weber 2003). In south Florida, quickly forms dense thickets (Randall and Marinelli 1996). In Hawaii, it is the most common tree in some forest areas (DERM 2003). Can form monospecific stands (Global Invasive Species Database 2008). Grows as a tree or an epiphyte (Weber 2003).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Outcompetes native plants (Weber 2003). Competes with native plants for light, space, and nutrients (Randall and Marinelli 1996). In Hawaii, Schefflera actinophylla threatens the federally endangered plant Lysimachia filifolia and is a potential threat to the federally threatened plant Peucedanum sandwicense (USFWS 1994). In Florida, Schefflera actinophylla shades out the state listed rare plant Lechea cernua (Langeland and Burks 1998). In southern Queensland, Australia, where it is exotic, Schefflera actinophylla is reported to come up in the thousands per hectare (CRC Weed Management 2003). Can be very dense in areas near a seed source (DERM 2003). Forms dense shady thickets (Weber 2003).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance
Comments: In Hawaii, Schefflera actinophylla threatens the federally endangered plant Lysimachia filifolia and is a potential threat to the federally threatened plant Peucedanum sandwicense (USFWS 1994). In Florida, Schefflera actinophylla shades out the state listed rare plant Lechea cernua (Langeland and Burks 1998). Although it does impact native species, the literature does not indicate that these impacts are unusual disproportionate impacts. Assumption is that any impacts are not high or moderate.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High significance
Comments: In Hawaii, Schefflera actinophylla threatens the federally endangered plant Lysimachia filifolia and is a potential threat to the federally threatened plant Peucedanum sandwicense (USFWS 1994). In Florida, Schefflera actinophylla invades endangered remnant scrub habitat and shades out the state listed rare plant Lechea cernua (Langeland and Burks 1998). Schefflera actinophylla also grows in these other habitats that may be of conservation concern or support species of conservation concern: undisturbed hardwood forests (Randall and Marinelli 1996), cypress strands, sand pine scrub, beach dunes, hardwood hammocks, pine rockland habitat (DERM 2003), and wet lowland habitats (Smith 2008).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Naturalized on the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii (Wagner et al. 2005) and in 11 counties in central and southern Florida (Wunderlin and Hansen 2008).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Listed as a category I plant in Florida meaning that it is altering native plant communities by displacing native species and changing community structures (FLEPPC 2007). In Miami-Dade County, Florida, it is illegal to sell, propagate, or plant Schefflera actinophylla (DERM 2003) . In Florida, established in 28 designated natural areas (Langeland and Burks 1998). In Hawaii, there are major infestations on Kauai in the northern valleys and on Oahu in Nuuanu and Waiahole Valleys (Smith 2008).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Inferred from distribution as currently understood (J. Kartesz, unpublished data; TNC 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Invades undisturbed hardwood forests, forest margins, and roadsides (Randall and Marinelli 1996). In Hawaii, naturalized in relatively low elevation, mesic, disturbed areas (Wagner et al. 1999), wet lowland habitats (Smith 2008), and forest areas (DERM 2003). In Florida, invades cypress strands, sand pine scrub, beach dunes, hardwood hammocks, remnants of scrub habitat (Langeland and Burks 1998), undisturbed hardwood forests, pine rockland habitat (DERM 2003). and disturbed sites (Wunderlin and Hansen 2003).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Not considered a problem in north Florida and may be used in landscaping (Gilman and Watson 2007). Intolerant of cold temperatures (Arnold 2008).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Inferred from USDA (1990) and J. Kartesz, unpublished data.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: It is still extremely popular as a landscape tree in Florida and as a houseplant in Florida and elsewhere (DERM 2003). In Miami-Dade County, Florida, it is illegal to sell, propagate, or plant Schefflera actinophylla (DERM 2003). Widely cultivated indoors in temperate regions and outdoors in tropical areas (Wagner et al. 2005). Seeds dispersed by crows, strarlings, mockingbirds, and parrots (Austin 1996 in Langeland and Burks 1998).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Low significance
Comments: Can be very dense in areas near a seed source (DERM 2003). Invades both undisturbed and disturbed areas (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High significance
Comments: "Aggressively invades intact, undisturbed hardwood forests and, to a lesser extent, pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade County, Florida (DERM 2003). "Extremely invasive in undisturbed tropical hardwood hammocks of Dade County", Florida where it grows on trees, rocks, or soil (Langeland and Burks 1998). Shade tolerant and can invade undisturbed forest (PIER 2008). Capable of invading undisturbed forests (Smith 2008). In tropical and warm temperate regions, invades undisturbed hardwood forest (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: In southern Queensland, Australia it is exotic and invades hind dune vegetation, coastal forest, riparian areas, edges of rainforests and fertile moist soils generally (CRC Weed Management 2003). In Fiji, it naturalizes in secondary forest at low elevation (Smith 1985 in PIER 2008).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Probably produces more than 1000 seeds per square meter (PIER 2008). Seeds readily germinate (Weber 2003). Rapidly matures (Arnold 2008). Quickly forms dense thickets (Randall and Marinelli 1996). Branches are capable of resprouting if left on the ground (PIER 2008). Can easily be propagated by air-layering (Arnold 2008). Seedlings grow as epiphytes in the boots of palms or the crotches of large trees until aerial roots reach the ground (Randall and Marinelli 1996). Can also grow on rocks and stone (DERM 2003). Develops extensive surface roots (Arnold 2008).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Control is difficult (Thayer 1998 cited by Langeland and Burks 1998). Tree bases or cut stumps can be treated with herbicide (Randall and Marinelli 1996). Seedlings and younger saplings can be hand-pulled (Randall and Marinelli 1996). Herbicides may take months to take effect and follow-up treatments may be required (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:High/Low significance
Comments: Herbicides may take months to take effect and follow-up treatments may be required (Randall and Marinelli 1996).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:High/Low significance
Comments: When Schefflera actinophylla grows as an epiphyte, caution must be taken to prevent impacts to host trees (Weber 2003). Herbicides may impact non-target species.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Medium/Low significance
Comments: It is still extremely popular as a landscape tree in Florida and as a houseplant in Florida and elsewhere (DERM 2003). However, it has very strong roots that damage walls, house foundations, sewer pipes, plumbing, cement, and other infrastructure (Whitinger 2008). Assumption is at least in some areas, accessibility may be a problem but problems are not severe or substantial.
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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  • Arnold, M.A. 2008. Landscape plants for Texas and environs, Third Edition. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, IL.

  • CRC Weed Management. 2003. Enviroweeds Archive - Potential Weeds - Schefflera actinophylla. Online. Available: http://www.weedscrc.org.au/potentialweeds/potential_weeds_s.html (Accessed 2008).

  • Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. 2008. Schefflera actinophylla. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). Online. Available: http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/node/404 (Accessed 2008).

  • Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC). 2007. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's 2007 List of Invasive Species. Online. Available: http://www.fleppc.org/list/07list_ctrfld.pdf (accessed 2008).

  • Gilman, E.F., and D.G. Watson. 2007. Schefflera actinophylla: Schefflera. Univseristy of Florida, IFAS Extension Publication #ENH-743. Online. Available: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ST585 (accessed 2008).

  • Global Invasive Species Database. 2008. March 14 last update. Schefflera actinophylla interim profile. Online. Available: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1250&fr=1&sts=&lang=EN (accessed 27 November 2008).

  • 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.

  • Langeland, K.A. and K.C. Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. University of Florida. 165 pp. [http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/identif.html]

  • Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). 2003. Prohibited Plant Species - Queensland Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla, Brassaia actinophylla). Online. Available: http://www.miamidade.gov/derm/plant_queensland_umbrella.asp (accessed 2008).

  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). 2008. 4 January last update. Schefflera actinophylla. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Institute of Pacific Island Forestry. Online. Available: http://www.hear.org/pier/species/schefflera_actinophylla.htm (Accessed 10 November 2008).

  • Randall, J.M. and J. Marinelli (eds.) 1996. Invasive Plants: Weeds of the Global Garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden: New York. 111 pp.

  • Smith, C.W. 1998. Schefflera actinophylla. Alien Plants of Hawaii. University of Hawaii, Botany Department. Online. Available: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/cw_smith/sch_act.htm (accessed 10 Novembver 2008).

  • Staples, G. W., C. T. Imada, and D. R. Herbst. 2002. New Hawaiian plant records for 2000. Records of the Hawaiian Biological Survey for 2000, Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 68: 3-18.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Determination of Endangered or Threatend Status for 24 Plants from the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. Federal Register Vol. 59, No. 38 (February 25). pp. 9304-9324.

  • USDA Agricultural Research Service. 1990. USDA Plants Hardiness Zone Map. Misc. Publ. Number 1475.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2008 last update. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, MD. Online. Available: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl (Accessed 2008).

  • Wagner, W. L., D. R. Herbst, and D. H. Lorence. 2005. Flora of the Hawaiian Islands website. Online. Available: http://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/index.htm (accessed 2008).

  • Wagner, W. L., and D. R. Herbst. 1999. Supplement to the Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Pages 1855-1918 in W.L. Wagner, D.R. Herbst and S.H. Sohmer. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Univ. Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.

  • Wagner, W.L., D.R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Volumes 1 and 2. Univ. Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1919 pp.

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

  • Whitinger, D. 2008. Dave's Garden: PlantFiles. Online. Available: http://davesgarden.com/pf/ (Accessed 2008)

  • Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Online. Available: http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu. [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. and B.F. Hansen. 2003. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida. 2nd edition. University Press of Florida, Tampa. 788 pp.

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