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FLIP

FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

Common Name(s): Rose myrtle

Origin

Tropical Asia

Ecological Impact

Invades the understory of native pinelands in Florida, forming dense monoculture thickets that displace native flora and fauna through overcrowding and competition. Has the potential to alter the natural fire regimes of invaded areas. Listed as a category I invasive species by Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) and as Noxious weed by Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Description

Evergreen shrub to 2 m (6 ft) tall, with dense, short, soft hairs on young stems. Leaves opposite, simple, entire, elliptic-oval, to 7 cm (3 in) long, glossy green above, densely soft-hairy below (tomentose), with 3 main veins from blade base. Flowers rose-pink, to 2.5 cm (1 in) across, in one- to few-flowered clusters at leaf axils; 5 sepals, hairy; 5 petals; many stamens, with pink filaments. Fruit a globose, few-seeded berry to 1.3 cm (0.5 in) across, dark purple, with sweet, aromatic flesh.

Identification Tips

Resembles an azalea or camellia, although it is in a different family. Downy rose myrtle is in the same family as stoppers (Eugenia spp.) and its foliage resembles them somewhat.

History

Introduced prior to 1924 for ornament and fruit. Some humans reportedly harvest the sweet, blueberry-like fruit to make jam. 

Range

Vouchered herbarium specimens have been collected in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Lee, Collier, Orange, Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Pasco Counties.

Management Strategies

Seedlings can be manually removed. Mature shrubs may be removed using a chainsaw or brush cutter.

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants