Plant attributes contribute to the invasive Tecoma stans L. (Bignoniaceae) in South Africa
Lulama G. Madire
Plant Protection Research, Agricultural Research Council, Private Bag X134, Queenswood, Pretoria, 0121
Tecoma stans L. ex Kunth (Bignoniaceae) was introduced into the country as an ornamental plant and was used as a garden plant because of its yellow bell-shaped flowers and showy leaves. The absence of its natural enemies caused the plant to escape its original cause and end up invading roadsides, open and disturbed land, riparian zones and rocky sides. Tecoma stans produces thousands of papery winged seeds that are easily dispersed by wind and flood water. Seeds have contributed to the invasive behaviour of this plant as they are highly viable according to the germination trials that were conducted in the shade house under normal conditions and also according to field observations. The deep tap root also contributes to the invasive behaviour of this plant. When the plant is chopped or burned, it resprouts into multi-stems in the field. Several environmental factors also contribute to the invasiveness of this plant. This plant continues to extend its range because of its aggressive behaviour. The suitable biological control agents have been recently introduced in the field to control this plant, but it is still too early to determine their establishment and impact.