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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #401169

Research Project: Development and Implementation of Biological Control Programs for Natural Area Weeds in the Southeastern United States

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: Introduction History of Rhodomyrtus tomentosa in southeastern USA

item Dray, F Allen
item Madeira, Paul

Submitted to: Florida Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/4/2024
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Discovering the origins of the invasive downy rose myrtle, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, allows researchers to survey for potential biological control agents in areas most likely to produce safe, damaging insects. Searches of herbaria, historical records, and scientific literature shows that this shrub was first imported into the southeastern US during the late 19th century, with importations continuing until WWII. Early imports derived from northern and southern India, but later imports (post-WWI) derived from southern China and Indonesia as well. Future surveys for biological control agents can focus on these areas.

Technical Abstract: Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is a shrub native to India and southern Asia that is invasive in Florida and Hawaii. Efforts to locate and develop potential biological control agents for use against this plant required determining, if possible, the points of origin of the adventive populations in Florida. Searches of herbaria, historical records, and scientific literature described herein show that earliest importations occurred during the late 19th century and derive from northern India. Importations occurring after WWI derived from southern India, southern China, and Indonesia. Thus, it is possible that both types of R. tomentosa (var. tomentosa and var. parviflora) are present in Florida.