Miconia is a tree averaging 12-15 m tall with large opposite strongly
trinerved leaves (up to over 1 m in length). The leaves are entire, dark
green above and purple below. The inflorescence is a large panicle with
showy sweet-scented white to pinkish flowers. The fruit is a berry containing
as many as 100 tiny seeds.
Miconia can flower two-to-three times per year resulting in prolific
seed production. All stages of flowering as well as mature and immature
fruits can be observed on a single tree (flowers, mature and immature
fruits). The fruits are eaten by and the seeds are dispersed by frugivorous
birds. The soil beneath the trees can contain large seed banks. These
seeds lie dormant under dense shade but are stimulated to germinate by
openings in the canopy.
A mature tree casts dense shade that eliminates the ground cover. Its
shallow root system does not hold the exposed soil, resulting in severe
erosion. Miconia can spread to all moist habitats, including farms, pastures,
roadsides, and forests. A single plant can produce millions of seeds that
are widely dispersed by birds or people who inadvertently carry the tiny
seeds to new areas on their vehicles or muddy boots.