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Have you seen Downy rose myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa)?
Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for the islands of Maui


Downy rose myrtle flower
Flower detail
downy rose myrtle
Downy rose myrtle as seen from a roadside in Hilo, Hawaii
Downy rose myrtle leaf detail
3 main veins run from the base to the tip of the leaf
Images: Forest & Kim Starr

Identification: This shrubby tree usually grows to 1.8 m (6 ft), though it can grow substantially taller. Opposite, oval leaves up to 8 cm (3 in) are glossy green above and densely hairy below. Three prominent veins run from the base to the tip of the leaves. Produces numerous rose-pink flowers, 2.5 cm (1 in) across, followed by bluish-purple berries.
Impacts: Downy rose myrtle is popular in landscaping and has quickly spread from gardens on Kauai, Oahu, and Big Island. In Florida, it forms dense thickets that out-competes native vegetation and converts the understory to a monotypic thicket. The plant has aggressive growth rates and can spread from seeds by birds and mammals that eat the fruit. Plants are able to tolerate a wide range of elevation and environmental conditions, including slight freezes and salt spray. Other invasive characteristics include numerous seed production and a high percentage of seed germination. In addition, downy rose myrtle is fi re adapted and can resprout after fires.
Dispersal Mechanism: Downy rose myrtle is spread by humans who use the plant in landscaping. It readily escapes the garden and is further spread by fruit eating birds and mammals.It is not currently known to be on the islands of Maui or Molokai (all known locations were controlled by the Maui Invasive Species Committee, see map). If you see it anywhere else on Maui- let someone know!

More information about this pest external link


Downy rose myrtle look-alikes:


Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana):
Pineapple guava is another shrubby, multistemmed, small tree that is grown ornamentally in Hawaii. This plant also has leaves that are glossy green above and hairy below, but is missing the 3 prominent veins found on downy rose myrtle leaves.

Pineapple guava
Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana)
Last Updated: Monday January 30 2012. If you have any questions about the Hawaii Early Detection Network contact reportapest-maui@lists.hawaii.edu.
Funding and support for this project was made possible by the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry assistance, and University of Hawai'i-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.