Mystery Vine

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This is an image of an invasive vine growing in Mongmong. The owner of the land that it is growing on is concerned because this weed is starting to spread. He contacted the Guam Department of Agriculture for advice and was referred to the University of Guam Cooperative Extension Service.

Responding to a request for identification based on the above image, Lauren Gutierrez responded:

"I believe this vine is Tinospora crispa (L.) Hook. f. & Thomson.  I have found this in the Matgue river area also.  Another Tinospora, T. cordifolia was also seen in Toto. T. cordifolia is considered a medicinal plant but where we saw it growing it was very invasive.   We have an endemic Tinospora, but the stem is smooth and is found along western coastlines in Agana thru Asan."

Lauren has a great image of Tinospora crispa forming an impenetrable thicket.

Armed with the scientific name, I was able to search for previous reports of this weed on Guam. My search turned up one of my own blog posts from December 2008:

"UOG Horticulturalist, Dr. Jim McConnell reports that he has found a new weed on Guam, tentatively identified as Tinospora rumphii (Family Menispermaceae).  This is a vine which forms impenetrable thickets and it is also a host for the fruit piercing moth, Eudocima fullonia.  Dr. McConnell who suggests that eradication should be considered before the weed spreads.  As far as he knows there is currently only one small infestation on island."

I informed the Guam Department of Agriculture of the potential threat from this weed by email in December 2008: 

"In accordance with our draft Emergency Response Plan for Invasive
Species, I am reporting detection of a weed, Tinospora rumphii (Family
Menispermaceae). This is a vine which forms impenetrable thickets and
it is also a host for the fruit piercing moth, Eudocima fullonia. A 
small single infestation was recently discovered on private land by Jim
McConnell, who suggests that eradication should be considered."

I have again reported this invasive species to the Guam Department of Agriculture and have been told that they do not have funding and staff to do anything about it. The owner of the site in Mongmong is attempting to remove the plants and burn them.

For more info see: According to this web page, T. crispa and T. cordifolia are synonyms of T. rumphii.

Locations of T. rumphii on Guam

map 13.47191N 144.77013E Phoebe Wall, Oct. 10, 2012

If anyone has coordinates for other sites on Guam, please send me email (

Email Dialog with Jim Space, Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk Project (posted with permission)

Hi Aubrey --

 Sure, that would be fine.  I've added the two species to the PIER database and am in the process of gathering whatever information I can find on them, but since they're present on Guam you folks are in the best position to provide information, photos, etc..  I'm doing some other updates and the next on-line edition of PIER will not be posted for another month or two, so as long as you get information to me in that time frame it will be added to the database and posted.
I'll also be glad to add any other Guam invasive plants (or potential invasives) that are not presently on PIER.
Best regards,
James C. Space
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
On Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 6:57 PM, Aubrey Moore <> wrote:
Hi Jim,

Thanks for your email. I will respond when I have more data.
Would it be OK to post your email on my website. I am trying to build a publicly accessible dossier on the Tinospora situation on Guam.

All the Best,

- Aubrey

On 10/11/2012 12:40 AM, Jim Space wrote:
Dear Dr. Moore --
According to two reliable taxonomic web sites (GRIN and TROPICOS), Tinospora rumphii Boerl. is a synonym of Tinospora crispa (L.) Hook. f. & Thomson, with the latter name being the accepted binomial. Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Hook. f. & Thomson is listed as a separate species.

I’ll be glad to list both species on the PIER web site, but would appreciate it if you could provide some additional information:

Positive identification of the species. Citation of any voucher specimens in the U. of Guam Herbarium (collector name, specimen number, date collected, name of person doing the identification, etc.) would be especially useful. Lacking that, who identified the species and are they positive of their identifications?

Nature of the infestations. Are they escapes from cultivation, how large are the infestations, are they spreading rapidly, how do they spread (seed, vegetatively?), are they just slowly spreading outward from one or a few sources or do they seed in away from the primary infestations?  What kind of habitat do they seem to like?

Status of infestations. Are they being controlled or eradicated or just continuing to spread? Any plans for future control or eradication?

Photos for posting on PIER. They’ll be properly acknowledged and shown as copyrighted, if desired.  I'd like to have photos of the habit, leaves, flowers and fruit of both species, if possible, plus photos of any other identifying characteristics.

Any other information that would be useful to post on the PIER web site.

Thanks very much for reporting these new species to me. If you have others you would like to see added to PIER, please let me know.

Jim Space

James C. Space
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

On Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 3:39 PM, Aubrey Moore <> wrote:
I suggest that Tinospora rumphii  should be added to the PEAR list of weeds threatening Pacific Islands. Please see:


Email Dialog with Lauren Gutierrez (posted with permission)


Hi Aubrey...sure...use what you think may be helpful.  is the link to photos. lauren 

On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM, Aubrey Moore <> wrote:
Hi Lauren,

Thanks for all the info. If you could send latitude and longitude for the sites you know about, this would be very useful.
Would it be OK to post your email on my website? I am trying to build a publicly accessible dossier on the Tinospora situation on Guam. I'd also like to provide a link to your Flickr images.

All the Best,

- Aubrey

On 10/11/2012 10:00 AM, lauren gutierrez wrote:
Hi Aubrey,
I use a taxonomic web site that incorporates GRIN, TROPICOS and other institutions that you might find useful:
I have uploaded some photos of Tinospora crispa and T. cordifolia on flickr site under invasive collection.  I am sure the herbarium has both specimens and they may be digitized already.
The population of T. crispa that i have observed is localized, a small area, but thickly draped in tangled stems in the understory.  This one area is in the Matgue River basin, however Jim McConnell is aware of another site.  I will try to obtain some more is in the same area as those darn little fire ants...not fun. Habitat is ravine, humid, tolerates shade, slowly creeping/spreading.  The area is highly disturbed by pigs and humans in secondary forest habitat. Did not see flowers or fruit, but was in a hurry to leave due to rain and the fire ants sticking to me.
The T. cordifolia where i took photos was in Toto, on an exposed, sunny, human disturbed site.  The vine has quickly invaded the home owners lot and the abandoned sites surrounding it.  Very fast growing.  The more the vine was cut the more it came back with a vengence. I did not see any flowers or fruit.  I worry about this species getting moved about by cuttings.  I believe another area where i saw this plant taking over was in santa rita near the water tank but not a positive id.
Another pressing species that concerns me is Tetrastigma pubinerve (tentitive ID name).  It is a member of the Vitaceae (grape) family.  I have seen this plant marching over the island in numerous places.  Listed in PIER.  Mangilao, Apra, Agana Springs, Asan.  Covers large areas very fast.  Is a climber and takes overs trees rapidly by shading them out.  I will be in an area where i can get some better photos tomorrow (if no rain).  Have not seen flowers or fruit.  
Thanks for all you do aubrey, lauren