Miconia calvescens: The 'purple plague' threatening our rainforests

Miconia might look beautiful, but this highly invasive species can cause devastating environmental damage to the Northern Rivers if not reported in time.

Rous County Council is dedicated to stopping Miconia from establishing locally and ruining our rainforests – including the World Heritage-listed Big Scrub and Border Ranges National Park, among many other important environmental sites.

We need your help. If you suspect you have sighted this weed, please contact us right away. Together, let's get one step ahead and stop the spread.

The ‘purple plague’ 

Miconia is commonly known as the ‘purple plague’ in Hawaii where it has wiped out natural forests by replacing the native vegetation. Initially introduced to Hawaii by a private resident in the late 1950s, it has since spread to all counties in the state.

Additionally, it is estimated that Miconia has destroyed or invaded 65% of the island of Tahiti and endemic plant species are now directly endangered. (Source.)

Closer to home, Miconia is currently growing in Australia’s northern areas, where local agencies are working hard to eradicate this weed.

Photos: (L) Monoculture of Miconia in Tahiti. (Image credit: Paul Holthus, The Nature Conservancy.) (R) Miconia could threaten our national parks.

Why is Miconia such a threat?

Miconia quickly forms monocultures by shading out its competitors. A mature tree can flower and fruit three times per year, producing up to five million seeds. These seeds can remain viable in the soil bank for up to 16 years!

Miconia thrives in tropical and subtropical areas. Our climate and terrain provide the perfect environmental conditions for a potential outbreak. 

How you can help

Since 2003, almost 200 seedlings and plants have been collected locally by our Weed Biosecurity Officers. Although this doesn’t seem like many, given how long its seeds remain dormant and how quickly it takes over, Miconia continues to be a serious environmental (and economic) risk. 

Please contact us if you have seen Miconia in NSW. Our Weed Biosecurity Officers will work with you to identify it, remove it and destroy it. 

Report a weed form   |   Email   |   Phone: (02) 6623 3800.

Other resources

Miconia fact sheet    |   Weed Biosecurity Handbook

Photo: Jesse, Weed Biosecurity Officer, with a Miconia plant to show the scale of leaf growth.