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Duranta erecta

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Duranta erecta is a species of flowering shrub in the verbena family Verbenaceae, native from Mexico to South America and the Caribbean. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical gardens throughout the world, and has become naturalized in many places. It is considered an invasive species in Australia, China, South Africa and on several Pacific Islands. Common names include golden dewdrop, pigeon berry, and skyflower. In Mexico, the native Nahuatl name for the plant is xcambocoché.<ref>O’Gorman, Helen. Mexican Flowering Trees and Plants. publisher:Ammex Associados, 1961</ref> In Tonga it is known as mavaetangi (tears of departure).

Duranta is registered as an invasive weed by many councils of Australia. It is a prolific, fast growing weed that is spread by birds from domestic areas to natural reserves. It was introduced and marketed as a hedge plant some years ago. Many people now fight to keep this thorny pest under control. It is highly ranked in the most invasive weeds in Australia. [1]

Description

Duranta erecta

Duranta erecta is a sprawling shrub or (infrequently) a small tree. It can grow to Template:Convert tall and can spread to an equal width. Mature specimens possess axillary thorns, which are often absent on younger specimens. The leaves are light green, elliptic to ovate, opposite, and grow up to Template:Convert long and Template:Convert broad, with a 1.5 cm petiole. The flowers are light-blue or lavender, produced in tight clusters located on terminal and axillary stems, blooming almost all year long. The fruit is a small globose yellow or orange berry, up to Template:Convert diameter and containing several seeds.<ref name="Huxley">Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening 2: 117. Macmillan Template:ISBN.</ref> The leaves and berries of the plant are toxic, and are confirmed to have killed children, dogs and cats.<ref>Template:Cite paper</ref> However, songbirds eat the fruit without ill effects.<ref name=usfs>Template:Cite web</ref>

Taxonomy

The genus name is in honor of Castore Durante, a fifteenth-century Italian botanist.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The specific epithet erecta means "upright" in Latin. The plant is also known as D. repens, from the Latin for "creeping". The latter name was originally used to identify smaller-leaved varieties of the species.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Ecology

Duranta erecta

Duranta erecta is native to the Americas, from Mexico and the Caribbean south to Brazil and Argentina. There is some debate about whether the plant is also native to the southern United States, in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California, or is an introduced species there.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In its natural state, it commonly grows in rocky or sandy coastal areas with full sun, or moister, disturbed sites inland. Prior to maturity, the plant will grow at a rate of up to half a meter per year.

Cultivation

Golden dewdrop is widely grown as an ornamental plant throughout tropical and warm subtropical regions.<ref name=usfs /> Its showy flowers and fruit make it a desirable addition to gardens, and the blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds.<ref name=usfs /> There are a wide variety of cultivars available, including 'Alba', 'Aurea', 'Aussie Gold', 'Gold Mound', 'Geisha Girl', 'Sapphire Showers', and 'Variegata'.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Invasive potential

The plant has been identified as an environmental weed in Australia, South Africa, and China,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and is described as invasive in Hawaii, Fiji and French Polynesia.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It has been introduced to other habitats but has not become invasive.

Gallery

References

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External links

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