Mystery Plant # 31
Species: Pittosporum undulatum
   Family: Pittosporaceae

Please send information to about species identification and/or potential for invasiveness of the depicted species.

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Mystery plant #31
Pittosporum undulatum

Mystery plant #31 submitted by: Forest and Kim Starr

sapling found in Maui, Hawaii

Feedback from viewers: David Cameron (Senior Botanist, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research) said: I agree that image #31 is of a Pittosporum and that it resembles P. undulatum, however, the regular leaf undulations and silvery sheen on the upper surface suggest the New Zealand species Pittosporum eugenioides rather than P. undulatum. The most reliable feature distinguishing the two is the unit inflorescence shape which is a complex panicle in P. eugenioides and one to several simple stalked umbels in the axil of each subtending leaf in P. undulatum. The two are easily confused. The image seems to suggest a compound inflorescence hiding under the foliage in the upper right quadrant but the image quality is too poor to confirm this. Whilst P. undulatum is the more likely species to naturalize in warmer climates, P. eugenioides may well be suited to submontane elevations even in Hawaii. The closeup image #32 seems unmistakeably consistent with P. undulatum but still lacks the diagnostic features required to confirm the identity. If the scale of the image were known then capsule size might be conclusive since the capsule of P. undulatum is around one cm long while that of P. eugenioides is half that length.

John Westaway (Department of Environment and Conservation, Australia) said: "Yes, this is Pittosporum undulatum, a native of wet sclerophyll and some warm rainforest associations in south-eastern Australia. The species has become naturalised in adjacent parts of Australia (eg Melbourne), where once established, it appears to alter mircoclimatic conditions and fire regimes facilitating compositional change to forest understorey. Introduced birds are involved in dispersal of its seed." (ref.: e-mail mystery plant 31 20041027)

Tim Scanlon (NSW North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee, New South Wales) saie: "yep. Sorry to tell you but it sure is Pittosporum undulatum. Another common name is Sweet pittosporum. Tho probably a bit more bitter sweet for you. Birds love it. It will love your climate and it especially loves nutrient-rich soils." (ref.: e-mail mystery plant 32 20041027)

If you have further information about this plant--especially identification confirmation or knowledge/examples of its invasive potential--please e-mail!

Thanks for all of the responses!

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