Candleberry myrtle

Alert

Have you seen Candleberry myrtle?

Be on the lookout for Candleberry myrtle and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Candleberry myrtle.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands, candleberry myrtle is an evergreen shrub or small tree that displaces native trees. It is a serious weed of Hawaii.

Candleberry poses a serious threat to native plants in lowland forests and shrublands, where it forms dense, single-species stands. On the island of Hawaii, it forms a dense canopy with an understory devoid of other plant life. The roots of candleberry myrtle manufacture nitrogen, which allows it to invade recent, nutrient-poor sites much sooner than native plants. Invasion by candleberry myrtle prevents typical plant community succession from occurring.

Candleberry myrtle is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Morella faya

Other names

  • Fire tree

Description

  • Evergreen shrub or small tree up to 8m tall.
  • Stem and branches are covered with reddish peltate hairs.
  • Leaves are leathery, egg shaped, 4-11cm long, 1-2.5cm wide. They are dark green, shiny, smooth, aromatic, and alternate along the stem.
  • Flowers are usually branched catkins borne among leaves of the current year's growth, they range in colour from green, yellow and red. Male flowers have four stamens and occur in small hanging clusters near the branch tip. Female flowers, also grouped in small hanging clusters, occur in threes, further from the branch tip.
  • Fruits are produced in clusters, fleshy, drupe like, up to 6-8mm in diameter, with a rough waxy coating.
  • Fruits ripen from green to red-purple containing 1-5 seeds.

Habitat

  • Tropical to sub-tropical regions.
  • Invades a wide variety of habitats and soils from thin ash over lava to deep, well developed, silty-clay or loam soils.

Distribution

  • Not recorded in Australia.

Life cycle

  • Small fruits produced in June (northern hemisphere summer).

Impacts

Environmental

  • Out-competes native plant species and capable of forming dense, single-species stands.
  • Modifies forest habitat by significantly increasing nitrogen levels in the soil, which makes the area inhabitable to native plants, but more suitable for other invasive species.
  • Able to colonise as wide range of habitats due to its ability to alter soil chemistry.

How it is spread

  • Spread by fruit-eating birds.
  • Planted as an ornamental.

Control

  • Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be candleberry myrtle to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Candleberry myrtle is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, given away or sold without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of bitter weed spreading until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information