Native to: Japan to northern India
TOXIC TO LIVESTOCK. Coral Ardisia is a small upright shrub that is used and sold extensively in the horticulture industry as an ornamental plant (often sold as Christmas berry). Ardisia escaped cultivation in 1982, spreading into wooded areas. In the landscape, ardisia is known and grown for its persistent red berries, glossy foliage and low maintenance.
Coral ardisia has invaded and established in many natural areas across Florida. It can be found in hardwood hammocks, becoming a significant pest. Coral ardisia shades out native seedling and understory plants, preventing their growth and development and disrupting native plant communities. Mature plants are prolific seed producers and can be surrounded by many seedlings, also leading to reduced seed germination of valued native species. Their seeds have a nearly 90% germination rate.
Ardisia is usually seen in fairly large colonies with its persistent red berries. Recent research has also shown the presence of large seedling clumps in association with larger plants. These seedlings can remain juvenile for quite some time and once removal of the larger, dominant specimens occurs, the seedlings begin to grow.
Coral ardisia is not recommended by UF/IFAS. Coral ardisia is a prohibited plant according to the FDACS Florida Noxious Weed Index. The UF/IFAS Assessment lists coral ardisia as prohibited and it is listed by FLEPPC as a Category l invasive species due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.
The first step in preventative control of coral ardisia is to never plant and remove existing plants within the landscape. If possible, removal should occur before seeds are produced. Since seeds remain on the plant for several months, care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.
Native alternatives to coral ardisia for use in home landscaping or natural areas include marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides), wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) and myrsine (Rapanea punctata).
Physical management is difficult once the plant has established, but persistent effort to control and a healthy ground cover will limit seedling establishment.
Mechanical methods can be grouped into several strategies. With small or isolated infestations, hand-pulling is effective for seedling control. Larger plants can be cut or burned, but regrow from underground rhizomes and root crowns. Disking can be very effective if the disking operation is frequent and sufficiently deep to cut the rhizome/rootstocks. However, the use of disking is very limited due to the type of areas that ardisia is most problematic – woodlands. It must also be noted that any type of mechanical operation, whether it be disking or burning, should be monitored for at least one year to inspect and remove seedlings and/or resprouts.
There are no known biological control agents for coral ardisia.