Native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia, fiddlewood (Citharexylum caudatum) was introduced to Hawai‛i in 1931 by the Hawaii Sugar Planter Association Arboretum (now Lyon arboretum). Also known as Juniper Berry, it is a common ornamental landscaping plant. Ironically, its original use was to feed nonnative birds, the same frugivorous birds that spread invasive species across Hawai‛i, including fiddlewood. It is a pest on all of the major Hawaiian islands.
- Prolific seeder easily spreading from initial planting
- Forms thickets in natural areas, pastures, roadsides, and gulches
- The dense canopies shade out and smother other plants
- Trees up to 50 ft tall
- C. caudatum has smooth leaves (5 in long by 1.5 in wide) glossy on top and dull underneath, small white bell-shaped flowers ground on tail-like clusters (up to 4 in), the fruit grows in cylindrical clusters, matures to orange, then black
- C. spinosum has larger leaves (8 in long by 4 in wide), small orange-yellow flowers growing in clusters up to 12 in long, and the fruit grows in cylindrical clusters, orange and red turning black when ripe
Fiddlewood (Citharexylum caudatum)
Photos: Forest & Kim Starr
Physical control: Seedlings and small saplings can be pulled up by hand. Cut mature trees and repeat as needed. Multiple stems will regrow vigorously from the stump. Dispose of green waste to prevent vegetative reproduction. Hire a licensed arborist for large trees.
- Effective herbicides: Pathfinder II (Triclopyr ester 13.6%) – label
- Directions: From the ground to a height of 12 to 15 inches, apply a band of herbicide ranging from 25 ml to 60 ml (0.84 – 2.02 oz). Use just enough so the herbicide doesn’t run off onto the ground. Ensure all sides are covered, including aerial roots. Wait 45 days, then repeat the process 6 inches above the initial basal bark treatment.