Final report: Corallita Pilot Project, Study on the ecology and possible control methods of the invasive plant species Antigonon leptopus (Corallita or Mexican Creeper)
This one-year pilot project aims to provide an insight in the ecology of Antigonon leptopus (Corallita) an invasive vine, which is overgrowing the native vegetation (Photo 1). This pilot project is just a first step in controlling the Antigonon leptopus. This research was done on a small scale and under controlled circumstances. Our ideas are just for small scale use in town but also to eradicate ‘hotspots’ to prevent further spreading especially near the National Parks. The government with STENAPA as a consultant should take further actions to continue this project and put it as a high priority. The first step was made and we hope this will contribute in containing the species and monitoring the species closely. More research on the life circle and possible natural enemies and its sensitivity for herbicides should be done in order to start a larger scale eradication campaign. The project does not stand on its own, the vine contributes in the prevention of soil erosion on the island. A full size project including replanting/reforestation with native species and renewed agricultural activities should be set up for the long term.
- The primary research aim is to reduce and control the growth of Corallita on St. Eustatius and to prevent the species from invading the national parks. In order to achieve this, it is necessary.
- To gather information about the ecology of the species, such as its life cycle, dispersal, germination capacity, use of the species by animals etc. • To gather information about how the species will react on different potential control methods.
- Inform the local community about control methods if usable results are obtained.
Discussion and conclusion
Three weeks after the first treatment at Gallow Bay no regrowth was observed, this means the herbicide does work with smaller concentration (12.5% and 25%) on short term. After six weeks the first regrowth was observed. The tubers are still intact after the first treatment. It is not known how many times the treatment with these concentrations is needed.
In both plots of Sandy Road the plants have regrowth after 7½ weeks. Our observation on 13th January 2007 showed that a lot of Corallita was growing from the border into the plots covering the soil. The treatment did work but probably needed a second treatment if there is regrowth of 30-40cm. Further monitoring of large plots (during one year) is needed to make sure smaller concentrations will kill the plants. Tubers should de dug up and checked on viability. New plots should be selected.