Antigonon leptopus also known as coral creeper or coral vine is an invasive species native to Mexico. It has been widely distributed throughout the world including North, Central and South America, the West Indies, Africa, India, Australia, and islands in the Pacific Ocean. The coral vine was brought over to the Caribbean for use as an ornamental plant due to its appealing flowers.
However, this plant should not be used an ornamental plant as it can escape from gardens and spread to areas like coastal cliffs, roadsides, and forests before climbing into canopies of mature trees and forming dense monoculture stands. The coral vine can grow over other vegetation once it’s been introduced.
A. leptopus has been classified as an aggressive weed and included in the Global Compendium of Weeds. This invasive species has the potential to reproduce vegetatively by stems and underground tubers and sexually by seeds. Thus, giving it the ability to collapse and modify native plant communities, changing community structure, altering ecological functions, and displacing native species. You can read more about other invasive species like the coral vine from the policy brief ‘Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean’.
The spread of the coral vine can be prevented by the removal of the underground tubers. This then prevents the re-sprouting of the weed. Presently, Caribbean islands like St. Eustatius have 20% of the island covered by this invasive species. In the Pacific Ocean, the island of Saipan has suffered a decrease in the diversity of flora, across all habitat types. The seeds of this plant can float on water, which may transport them to new locations. Prevention is the best management measure that should be used against weed infestations before weeds are established.
Read more about this from our sources below!
CABI – Antigonon leptopus
ISSG – Antigonon leptopus
Lucidcentral – Antigonon leptopus
UFL IFAS – Antigonon leptopus
Policy Brief – Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean