Be on the lookout – Invasive Plants

Invasive plants are harmful non-native herbaceous plants, trees, and shrubs that are spread by gardening, trade, animal, and human transport. They invade forests and roadsides by preventing native plants from growing. Native flora and fauna can experience negative impacts due to the introduction of invasive alien species. 

Many invasive species pose threats to agriculture due to their ability to spread, deteriorate soil quality and outcompete native plants. Once they have taken hold, they are time-consuming and costly to remove. 

Below is a listing of invasive plants in the Caribbean: 

Firstly, the (Asystasia gangetica) Creeping foxglove, coromandel, Ganges primrose, or Philippine violet. It is native to Sri Lanka and India and this plant was first brought over for ornamental purposes. It invades waste areas, roadsides, open woodlands, forest margins, disturbed sites, and coastal habitats. It forms dense stands across large areas and can smother native plants. This invasive plant competes for soil nutrients and is a major weed of oil palm, rubber, coffee plantations, and other crops. 

Secondly, the (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) lilac tree, margosa, neem or Indian lilac is an invasive plant, origination form parts of Myanmar, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh. It grows alongside forest edges/gaps, urban open spaces, disturbed areas, coastal forests, savannah, roadsides, and pastures. It was brought over for the purpose for restorations, erosion control, shade, fuelwood, and ornaments. This invasive plant can displace native plant species and form dense strands.  

Thirdly, the (Jasminum Fluminense Vell) Gold coast jasmine, Brazilian jasmine, or jasmine, originates from the Arabian Peninsula and tropical Africa. It can lead to the collapse of native plant communities as it has been known to smother vegetation by climbing into vegetation. It invades croplands, urban open space, pastures, roadsides, riverbanks, disturbed areas, and forest edges/gaps. 

Fourth, is the (Spathodea campanulata P. Beauv (known as tulip, Nandi flame, or Nile flame which originated from parts of Africa. It reduces biodiversity and displaces many native plants due to the shading effects of the tree’s large leaves. It has been known to invade riparian areas, forest edges/gaps, disturbed land, and roadsides. It was introduced for the purpose of fuelwood, carving, medicine, and bee foraging. 

Fifth is the (Terminalia catappa L.) known as Malabar almond, Malay almond, sea almond, bastard almond, and Indian almond. It originated from parts of Asia, India, and Australia. This invasive plant is detrimental to native flora and fauna and can establish dense stands. It is a host for the invasive fruit fly ‘Bactrocera invadens’. It can invade urban open space, coastal forests, forest edges/gaps, and disturbed areas.  It was introduced as fuelwood, edible fruit, and ornament purposes. 

Sixth is the (Antigonon leptopus) also known as a coral vine or coral creeper is an invasive species native to Mexico. It can grow over other vegetation once it’s been introduced. If it escapes from the garden area, it can spread to roadsides, forests, and coastal cliffs before climbing into canopies of mature trees and forming dense monoculture strands. Learn more about other tagged invasive plants like the coral vine from our policy brief, ‘’Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean.’’ 

Seventh, is the (Tradescantia zebrina Bosse) known as an inch plant, striped wandering Jew and wandering Jew, originating from Mexico. It can form dense monospecific stands, displacing native animals and plants. This invasive plant has been known to invade savannahs, roadsides, coastal scrubs, and forest edges. It was first introduced as an ornament.  

Lastly is the (Parthenium hysterophorus) White top. It is an invasive plant that is native to North and South America.  It can cause socioeconomic impacts to crop production. A single plant can produce up to 100,000 seeds in a single lifecycle. This plant has caused the death of some humans. For further reading, check out our previous article, ‘’ Ten Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean.’’ 

Learn more about this from our sources below! 


Policy Brief – Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean 

Invasive Species centre  – Invasive Plants  

Caribbean Invasives – Asystasia gangetica 

Caribbean Invasives – Azadirachta indica A. Juss 

Caribbean Invasives – Jasminum fluminense Vell 

Caribbean Invasives – Spathodea campanulata P. Beauv  

Caribbean Invasives – Terminalia catappa L 

Caribbean Invasives – Tradescantia zebrina Bosse 

Caribbean Invasives – Parthenium hysterophorus 

Caribbean Invasives – Why coral vines make the worse ornamental plants