Autograph tree (Clusia major) HPWRA: 9 High-Risk Family: Clusiaceae
Impact: First documented as naturalized in 1934, this remains a commonly used landscaping tree even as it invades both cultivated and disturbed sites. It quickly escapes cultivation where it can epiphytically strangle any host trees in cultivation. It is both shade tolerant (can invade densely shaded forests) and self-compatible (it can reproduce on its own). This species can form dense thickets effectively shading out other species. It reaches reproductive age in less than three years. The seeds are produced at a rate of more than 1,000 seeds per square meter per year which are bird dispersed. At this time, there are no known management techniques making eradication and control almost impossible. All these factors land the autograph tree on Hawai`i’s Most Invasive Horticultural Plants list.
Description: Native to the Carribean, this tropical tree thrives in Hawaii where it can reach heights of 65 feet. The smooth green leaves are about 6 inches by 5 inches and arranged opposite each other. Scarring on the leaves remains persistent long after damage (or writing, hence the common name). The pinkish flowers are short-lived and have approximately 6 to 8 petals. The numerous seed capsules split open to reveal many red seeds contained within. As a hemiepiphyte, this tree can grows as an epiphyte or from the ground.