Both plants are similar in appearance and aggressiveness; both share the same native land in the Philippines. Medinilla magnifica has been in cultivation since mid-1800, cultivation dates of M. cumingii are not recorded. Both species have escaped cultivation around the same time, and both thrive in damp places. The bird-dispersed fruit and epiphytic nature of the plants mean it can be found growing on top utility poles, living trees, and even rain gutters. They are both listed on the Hawaiʻi Department of Forestry and Wildlife’s list, “Hawaiʻi’s Most Invasive Horticultural Plants.” Both species are on the ‘no grow’ species list for the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) Plant Pono program.
Description and Dispersal:
- Shrubs up to 8 ft tall with strongly veined leaves (6-15 in long) and small (1/4 in) pink, red, or black berries
- M. magnifica has 4-winged stems and showing flowers, small pink or red flowers (5 pedals) grow in drooping clustered panicles (up to 18 in long) hooded by large, showy leaf-like pink bracts
- M. cumingii has a square stem and flower clusters 10 in long with small pink flowers (1 in, 4 pedals)
- Prolific seeder, seeds spread by birds