Native to Brazil, Tibouchina urvilleana was introduced as an ornamental in 1910 to Kurtistown, Hawaiʻi Island. Only seven years later the superstar botanist/naturalist Joseph Rock reported it as naturalizing. A limited amount of seeds produced are viable, this invasive species mostly spreads vegetatively. The middle elevations on the wet sides of the state seem most prone to invasion. All 350 plants in the genus Tibouchina are on the Hawaiʻi State Noxious Weed List. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources has designated this species as one of Hawaiʻi’s Most Invasive Horticultural Plants.
Description and Dispersal:
- A branched shrub up to 12 ft tall
- Hairy leaves (5 in long by 2 in wide) grow in an opposite pattern and have 5-7 prominent longitudinal veins from the base
- Large purple flowers (3-4 in) with 5 petals with sickle shaped purple anthers
- Cup shaped fruit is covered in hairs and filled with numerous spiral shaped seeds
- Spreads from root suckers, vegetatively and by seed.