Clidemia hirta (L.) D. Don (syn. Melastoma hirta L.) is in the family Melastomataceae, tribe Miconieae. The Miconieae comprise approximately 1800 species in 19-23 genera and are exclusively neotropical (Michelangeli et al. 2008). The genus Clidemia, established by David Don in 1823, currently contains about 180 species (Gleason 1939, Manickam et al. 2000, Kriebel and Almeda 2009) with new species still being described, particularly from Costa Rica and Panama (Kriebel and Almeda 2009). The species name hirta is derived from the Latin word for ‘hairy’ or ‘scrubby’.
Several varieties of C. hirta have been described: C. hirta var. hirta, C. hirta var. elegans Griseb., C. hirta var. chrysantha Cogn. and C. hirta var. tiliaefolia (Gleason 1939, DeWalt and Hamrick 2004). The elegans variety is distinguished by broader leaves and a cordate base while the variety chrysantha is not readily distinguishable from other varieties (Gleason 1939). Clidemia hirta var. hirta was introduced into Hawaii (Dewalt and Hamrick 2004). No clidemia species are native to Australia, but some members of the Melastomataceae, including the genera Medinilla, Melastoma, Memecylon, Osbeckia, Otanthera and Pternandra are native to Queensland and other states (APC 2010). Other melastomes such as Dissotis rotundifolia (Sm.) Triana, Tristemma mauritianum J.F.Gmel. and several Arthrostemma, Tibouchina and Miconia species are considered exotic.
Cite this article as:
Breaden, R., Brooks, S. and Murphy, H. (2012). The Biology of Australian weeds 59. Clidemia hirta (L.) D. Don. Plant Protection Quarterly 27(1), 3-18.