The Liane papillon

Hiptage benghalensis

Of Indo-Malesian origin, it was in 1967 that it was observed for the first time in La Réunion. It has now invaded several gullies from the coast to the wind. It completely covers the northern rampart from La Rivière des Galets to the Cap Noir, visible on the right bank of La Grande Chaloupe as well as the banks of La Rivière Saint-Denis. It completely covers the foliage of the native trees and gradually suffocates them.

It is composed of single leaves opposite to the elliptic limb and which are 8 to 15 cm long. It carries 2 glands at the base of the petiole. Its cluster of zygomorphous flowers has an Orange Blossom scent. Its petals are white and yellow-stained and are uneven while its stamen is one cm long. The fruit of Hiptage is a samara with 3 unequal wings.

This species climbs on shrubs and on trees and strangles them by exerting a physical traction towards the ground. As to native species, it thoroughly covers their foliage, even the largest, and then progressively stifles them. This vine forms impenetrable monospecific thickets which completely replaces the initial vegetation.

Control of this species is essentially manual. Its elimination is indeed very difficult (treatments not very effective, large areas are invaded, sites are inaccessible for control) and very expensive. The Liane Papillon represents a real threat to the dry forest of La Réunion. It forms a carpet-like layer at the foot and on the flanks of the gullies covering the plant species present there. In the event of a fire, it can accelerate the propagation of flames.