Monday, June 2, 2014

Piper aduncum L. invasion in Allah Valley Protected Landscape

Piper aduncum L. is a shrubby tree belonging to the family Piperaceae. It is commonly known as "matico" or spiked pepper. It is a native of the West Indies and Central America from Mexico to northern Argentina. It can form thickets and spreads by sprouts and suckers. It grows up to 8 m tall with a diameter of 10 cm or more. Leaves are alternate, distichous, elliptic, 12-22 cm long, shortly etiolate and softly hairy beneath. Flowers are cord-like, white to yellow inflorescence spikes that contain minute black seeds.

It inhabits disturbed rainforest areas and margins of up to 2000 m in altitude. It is also found along agricultural areas, roadsides, secondary forests or on forested ridges. It can live in areas with greater than 4000 mm of mean annual rainfall. It can colonize most soil types. It requires high levels of sunlight and a bare soil surface, indicating that disturbance is necessary for its establishment. 

Piper aduncum at the Allah Valley
Protected Landscape (photo taken
by Marianne Saniano, 14/06/09)
In the Philippines, it is locally known as "buyo-buyo". It was intentionally introduced in the 1960's as a reforestation species and for pulp and paper industry in Zamboanga. However, its fiber quality is poor and the plantation was eventually abandoned. Currently, it is perhaps the most invasive alien plant species dominating Mindanao Region. Extensive invasions of this shrub are found in South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur and Siargao Island. It is also abundant in northern Samar and western Leyte in the Visayas Region. It has been invading open areas in the Allah Valley Protected Landscape since the year 2000.

Allah Valley Protected Landscape, although a Protected Area, is a special consideration because it is occupied by indigenous people, the T'Boli, who claim that it is their ancestral domain. Once the T'Boli have utilized a land for agricultural purposes, e.g., corn plantation, and leave them to look for other planting grounds, P. aduncum will surely invade the open space resulting to mountains and mountains of P. aduncum invaded areas. Through time, the T'Boli have used the wood as an alternative material for firewood, charcoal making and construction material for houses.

Piper aduncum shrubs (yellow green in color) have taken over areas that were once cleared for corn plantation in Allah Valley Protected Landscape (photo taken by Danilo Tandang, National Museum of the Philippines, 13/06/16).
Currently, FORIS Project is conducting an experiment for the control and management of the invasive "buyo-buyo".

Global Invasive Species Database. [Accessed 14/05/08].
Taylor, L. 2014. Matico (Piper aduncum L.). The Raintree Tropical Plant Database.  [Accessed 14/05/08].
Hartemink, A.E. Piper aduncum - the great plant invader (1995-2006). Alfred E. Hartemink Homepage. [Accessed 14/05/08].
Proposed management plan for the control of Piper aduncum in the Allah Valley Protected Landscape (draft). 

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