Clidemia hirta clean-up

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class went out to clean-up Clidemia hirta. Clidemia hirta, also known as Koster's Curse, is a recently introduced invasive species and has been given the local moniker riahpen rot, literally meaning the "dark curse."

The class first went to see pisetikimei (Melastoma malabathicum var. marianum), a local native plant that is used medicinally and is in the same family. I wanted the students to recognize the difference between pisetikimei and riahpen rot.

Nayleen poses with the pisetikimei. After viewing the pisetikimei, we hiked back into the forest past Dissotis rotundifolia. Then the class walked deeper into the forest where the Clidemia hirta grows.

Nick, above, pulls up a "string" of the sometimes bushy, sometimes viney mess of a plant.

Kristina, above, works on pulling "baby" plants from a previously cleared area.


Hermina and Malcolm above with a load of the dark curse.
Below, Nayleen and Beautrina prepare to carry out their Clidemia hirta plants.

Below, Aaron and Nick pose with their bag full of Clidema hirta.

After an hour of pulling, there were still many more plants than any crew could ever hope to pull up. The plant loves the sun, the plant loves the dark places, the plant loves growing on land, the plant thrives on growing in water. The plant does not die immediately on being uprooted, branches freely re-root. This plant is the Borg of plants, assimilating everything in its path. The perfect invasive species. Unstoppable. Aggressive. Seed spread by birds. After a while the plant even looks evil.

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