Native to: Japan, eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, India, Pacific islands.
This attractive ornamental was introduced to the North Carolina coast in the mid-1980s for beach stabilization, but its invasive characteristics were quickly recognized. It has now been reported in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Populations are very limited in size and range in Florida and it is treated as a early detection and rapid response species in efforts to prevent further spread. If you see this plant, please contact your local IFAS Extension office and/or report it via EDDMapS.
Habit: Woody, deciduous shrub growing 30 to 60 cm tall, procumbent stems sprawling to 5 m or more, rooting at nodes, forming dense mats with age.
Leaves: suborbicular, opposite, 2 to 7 cm long, blue-green above and light greenish-white below, pubescent, with spicy aroma when crushed.
Flowers: blue-purple, to 2 cm long, in short terminal panicles to 8 cm long.
Fruit: globose fleshy drupe. Green when fresh, bluish purple to black when ripe, becoming dark-brown when dry; glabrous, glandular all over; 4-5.5 mm long, 5-6.5 mm diameter; fruiting calyx glandular and tomentose outside, glabrous within; 5-toothed, 5-6.5 mm diameter. The seeds are difficult to remove from the fruit.
Distribution in Florida: Reported from coastal areas in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Franklin, Nassau, and St. Johns Counties.
This species has a very rapid growth rate and a short generation time, reproduces sexually and asexually, is readily dispersed by water, and stem fragments can readily form new plants. It outcompetes native strand and dune species, including Federal Threatened and Endangered plant species. It significantly reduces light levels underneath its canopy and forms dense mats that affect native species. It also restricts nesting by endangered sea turtles. Although it was initially promoted for dune stabilization, beach vitex is actually less effective at stabilizing dunes than native dune grasses that have more fibrous root systems.
Do not plant.
Pull immature plants, being sure to remove all propagative parts. Replace in the landscape with native plants.
Imazapyr is effective when painted onto wounds of stems created using a machete. Allow the plants to stay intact for 6 months following treatment. Repeat this process until there is zero regrowth. Triclopyr has also been successful when used on seedlings and small-caliper resprouts. Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations.