Assessing the distribution, invasion status and management of Epipremnum aureum in South Africa

Assessing the distribution, invasion status and management of Epipremnum aureum in South Africa
Desika MOODLEY1,2,3, Şerban Procheş1, John R. Wilson2,3
1School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus, Private Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa
2Invasive Species Programme, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Centre, P/Bag X7, Claremont 7735, Cape Town, South Africa
3Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland 7602, South Africa

Epipremnum aureum, a creeper and climber, from the family Araceae, is highly invasive in Hawaii and Sri Lanka, and recently considered as a potential invader in South Africa. However, no study has examined the invasiveness of the species. We mapped the species’ current distribution in South Africa, modelled its potential distribution, identified factors that drive its invasiveness, and explored control methods. We only found records of the species from KwaZulu-Natal, and all surveyed populations were already naturalized. E. aureum tended to invade sites that have high numbers of stems in the population (used as proxy for propagule pressure), tall plants, as well as, illegal dump sites. The species has a high potential to expand its range into other parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape if introduced to these areas. Therefore, we recommend that all populations be removed. To achieve this, herbicide application is the best option for controlling the species. These results provide correlates on the invasiveness of E. aureum, its potential range and control options which can be used for proactive management.