Koster's curse




pronounced: mell-ass-tom-uh-TAY-see-eye

the melastome family


Melastoma is derived from the Greek μελας (melas), black and στωμα (stoma), the mouth, referring to the black-stained mouth obtained from eating the fruit. Members of the family are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees, having the major leaf veins usually 3 – 9-palmate and running in a parallel fashion from the base of the leaf to near the tip. The leaves are normally opposite and decussate; rarely, they become alternate by the abortion of one of the members of each pair. The flowers are bisexual, borne either singly or in terminal or axillary paniculate cymes. The fruit is a capsule or a berry.

A well-known member of the family is Clidemia hirta (Koster's curse), a serious pest introduced into Hawaii, Australia, South-east Asia, and East Africa.

The family is undergoing taxonomic reform, and the 7 genera of the family Memecylaceae are now included.


Photograph by Forest & Kim Starr via Wikimedia Commons