Name of Plant: Koster’s Curse
Type of Plant: Weed!
1) Plant History & General Information:
a) Scientific & Other Names: Clidemia hirta
b) Region of Origin: Originally from the American Neotropics (Mexico to Paraguay as well as the Caribbean), it has been introduced to Australia, Southern Asia and East Africa. It was introduced to Hawaiʻi in the 1940s; by 1978 it had spread to over 90,000 acres (360 km2) of land on Oʻahu. In 1972 Koster’s Curse was first spotted on the Big Island.
c) General History: The epitheton hirta means “scrubby” in Latin. “Koster’s curse” is a commonly used name in places where the plant grows as a noxious weed, such as Hawai’i. Koster was the man who between 1880 and 1886 accidentally introduced seeds of C. hirta to Fiji in coffee nursery stock, where its problematic nature was first noticed around 1920 (Paine, 1934; Simmonds, 1937).
Originally only known as “the curse” for the damage it did to coconut plantations, its vernacular name became a model after which those of other invasive plants were patterned, such as Ellington’s Curse on Fiji, McConnel’s curse in Australia, Curse of India in East Africa or Burbank’s Folly in the Pacific Northwest. Introducing the plant to Australia can be fined with up to $60,000 (Australian).
2) Plant Uses:
a) As Food: The human edibility factor of this berry has not been fully explored. The tannin inside of the fruit is not harmful to humans and a delicious syrup may be made from the fruit. The syrup has a beautiful indigo blue color and may be used to enhance and remove the bitterness of teas such as yerba mate.
b) As Medicine: /
c) Other Uses: /
3) Growing Instructions
a) Growing: /
b) Best time to Harvest: /
c) Sunlight Requirements: /
d) Soil Requirements: /
e) Propagation: /
f) Controlling Spread: Cut down new sprouts, can mow while small. Do NOT machete large stalks because the stems are so rubbery that the machete can bounce back and hit you!
g) Difficulties with this plant: /
h) History of this Plant at Hedonisia: /
i) Location on Property: In the volcanic crater