Miconia are small trees or sprawling shrubs with very large leaves. They form dense thickets, outcompeting other plants in both open areas and in rainforests.
Miconia are fast growing trees or sprawling shrubs that:
Four species of Miconia have been found in Australia. Miconia calvescens is a small tree that can grow to 15 m tall. Most mature plants found in NSW have been 6-12 m tall.
M. racemosa, M. nervosa, and M. cionotricha are all sprawling shrubs that grow up to 3 metres tall.
For all four species:
Seeds are about 0.5 mm in diameter.
Only Miconia calvescens has been found in northern NSW. During the 1970s and 80s it was a popular ornamental plant and sold by nurseries in QLD and NSW. Since 2010 an eradication program has removed all known cultivated and wild Miconia calvescens plants in the Lismore and Byron Shire Council areas. Seedlings still continue to be found during regular extensive searches in the Tweed Shire Region.
All four species of Miconia (M. calvescens, M. racemosa, M. nervosa, and M. cionotricha) have been detected in Queensland.
Miconia species are native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. They are highly invasive weeds on Pacific Islands where they have displaced native plants and animals.
Miconia plants thrive in tropical and subtropical areas where there is more than 1600 mm of rainfall each year. They prefer partial to full shade, closed canopy environments. Plants can tolerate full sunlight if the rainfall and soil moisture are high.
On the North Coast of NSW plants have been most commonly found in rainforest gullies, riparian zones and steep embankments or road cuttings with exposed clay soils. Seedlings are often found growing under or within close proximity to tree ferns.
Miconia has been occasionally grown as an ornamental plant.
Mature trees (4–5 years old) can flower and fruit three times per year producing up to 5 million seeds. Miconia seeds can remain viable in the soil bank for up to 16 years. Most seeds stay dormant until stimulated by sunlight from an opening in the canopy. However some seeds will germinate under heavy shade.
Most seeds are spread by birds that eat the fruit and spread the seeds. Other small animals also eat the fruit. Seeds stuck in mud can spread on muddy clothes, shoes, tyres and machinery.
Stems and branches of living trees that touch the soil can grow new roots and form daughter plants. Cut trunks can resprout and limbs that have been cut may regrow if touching the soil.
Csurhes SM (1997) ‘Miconia calvescens, a potentially invasive plant in Australia’s tropical and sub-tropical rainforests,’ Proceedings of the first regional conference on Miconia control, Tahiti, 72–77
Global Invasive Species Database (2021) Species profile: Miconia calvescens. Retrieved 23 July 2021 http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=2 .
Meyer, J-Y (1998). Epidemiology of the invasion by Miconia calvescens and reasons for a spectacular success. Proceedings of the First Regional Conference on M. calvescens control, eds J.Y. Meyer and C.W. Smith, pp. 72-7. (Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia).
Meyer, J. Y. (1998). Observations on the reproductive biology of Miconia calvescens DC (Melastomataceae), an alien invasive tree on the Island of Tahiti (South Pacific Ocean) 1. Biotropica, 30(4), 609-624.
Murphy, H.T., Brooks, S.J., Bradford, M.G., Metcalfe, D.J. and Westcott, D.A. (2008). Recruitment and growth dynamics of Miconia calvescens (Melastomataceae) in tropical forest impacted by Cyclone Larry. Proceedings of the 16th Australian Weeds Conference, eds R.D. van Klinken, V.A. Osten, F.D. Panetta and J.C. Scanlan (Queensland Weeds Society, Cairns).
Murphy, H.T., Metcalfe, D.J., Bradford, M.G., Ford, A.F., Galway, K.E., Sydes, T.A. and Westcott, D.J. (2008). Recruitment dynamics of invasive species in rainforest habitats following Cyclone Larry. Austral Ecology 33, 495-502.
NSW Agriculture. State Weed Management Plan for Miconia
Please do not attempt to treat or dispose of this weed yourself. Report this plant if you see it anywhere in NSW by calling the helpline listed at the top of this page immediately.
NSW DPI will lead an initial response for the treatment and disposal of the plant to stop it from spreading.
Control needs to be carried out carefully to prevent the re-establishment of massive numbers of seedlings from the soil seedbank.
See Using herbicides for more information.
PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate per 1.5 parts water
Comments: Cut stump or stem-scraping application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate
Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L
(Vigilant II ®)
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate
The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.
|All of NSW||General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
|All of NSW||
A person who deals with prohibited matter or a carrier of prohibited matter is guilty of an offence. A person who becomes aware of or suspects the presence of prohibited matter must immediately notify the Department of Primary Industries
All species of Miconia are Prohibited Matter in NSW