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Projects - Corallita Project

Introduction

St Eustatius native vegetation is in competition with the Mexican Creeper vine also called Corallita (Antigonon leptopus). This vine was introduced to St Eustatius many years ago as an ornamental species and has become an invasive plant on St Eustatius. Native trees are overgrown with Corallita, fences around private houses are torn down by the weight of the vine allowing for roaming animals to enter and destroy yards. Large trees are killed by the vine which grows over and chokes them.

The Corallita vine has tubers buried deep (2 meters) in the soil. At present, to control the spread of the Corallita vine, one has to dig up the vine tubers one by one. This solution would be effective if Corallita was not given a chance to spread all around the island particularly by roaming animals (goats, sheep, etc). Since the vine has grown so much and has not been controlled on a regular basis, there is a need to conduct research to find an effective solution that could be used by islanders to properly control the growth of this vine on St Eustatius.

Project implementation

In January 2005, Stenapa sent out an appeal for help with the problem of the invasive species. The wish was expressed to set up a project to search for ways of controlling this species on the island. The proposal came to the attention of tropical biologist, Dr Pieter Ketner in the Netherlands. He contacted Wageningen University in search for an MSc student who could monitor, analyze and produce guidelines as a result of this research. In June, Dr Ketner agreed to take on the project with the assistance of Ing Joris Ernst, who would be responsible for the monitoring, data analysis and production of final recommendations.

Research aims

  • Mapping of distribution of the plant
  • Find out more about the plant phenology and factors relating to growth
  • Setting up pilot plots to determine control mechanisms

The first project visit took place in November 2005 with a mapping exercise, establishment of experimental plots at the Botanical Garden and instruction of the ranger in data collection.

Following six months of data collection and analysis, a second visit in June 2006 took place to set up further experiments, carry out further mapping of distribution and give a public talk about the project.

The project was completed in January 2007, at which time a report was released with recommendations for the general public to control Corallita. Due to the fact that so little is known about the plant, and that our research had to start with basic phenological data collection, it is highly likely that another research project will be required to further explore control mechanisms.

In January 2007, a handout was published containing the results and recommendations from this project. These results and recommendations are available as a download from this web site.

 

 

The pink flowers of the Corallita vine can be found all over Statia

 

The experimental plots need to be inspected on a regular basis