Lepinia (Lepinia taitensis)

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Lepinia taitensis branch showing leaves, flower buds and fruit
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Lepinia fact file

Lepinia description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderGentianales
FamilyApocynaceae
GenusLepinia (1)

With less than 500 mature individuals left in the wild, Lepinia taitensis is one of a growing number of Critically Endangered plants (1) (2). The most remarkable feature of this small tree or shrub, is the conspicuous basket-like fruit that hang pendulously from its branches (2) (3).

Size
Height: 2 - 10 m (2)
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Lepinia biology

There is no information available on the biology of Lepinia taitensis.

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Lepinia range

Lepinia taitensis is endemic to the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti and Moorea. (2)

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Lepinia habitat

Found in wet forest from altitudes of 100 to 600 metres (2)

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Lepinia status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Lepinia threats

The single greatest threat to the native flora of the Polynesian Islands is invasive alien plants (4). In Tahiti in particular, the invasive South American tree Miconia calvescens has displaced as much as 70 percent of the island’s native vegetation (5). The dense stands formed by this vigorous species severely limit the regenerative ability of the smaller understorey plants, by preventing their seedlings from receiving sufficient sunlight. It is reported that in forest dominated by Miconia calvescens on Tahiti, seedlings comprise only 7 percent of the Lepenia taitensis population, compared with 60 percent in intact native forest on Moorea (4).

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Lepinia conservation

As a direct threat to the survival of a large number of French Polynesia’s endemic plants (4), considerable effort is being made to develop an efficient means of controlling the spread of Miconia calvescens (5). Thus far a biological control programme initiated in Tahiti in 2000 has been of limited success (5).

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Find out more

To find our more about the control of Miconia calvescens and other invasive alien species see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Meyer, J.Y. and Butaud, J.F. (01/01/0001 00:00:00) The impacts of rats on the endangered native flora of French Polynesia (Pacific Islands): drivers of plant extinction or coup de grâce species?. Biological Invasions,.
  3. Mueller-Dombois, D. and Fosberg, F.R. (1998) Vegetation of the tropical Pacific islands. Springer-Verlag, New York, USA.
  4. Meyer, J.Y. (2004) Threat of invasive alien plants to native flora and forest vegetation of eastern Polynesia. Pacific Science, 58: 357 - 375.
  5. Global Invasive Species Database (March, 2009)
    http://www.invasivespecies.net/database/species/ecology.asp?si=2&fr=1&sts
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Image credit

Lepinia taitensis branch showing leaves, flower buds and fruit  
Lepinia taitensis branch showing leaves, flower buds and fruit

© Jean-Yves Meyer, Délégation à la Recherche, Tahiti

Dr. Jean-Yves Meyer
http://www.jymeyer.over-blog.com

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