You have probably heard or read the term “invasive species” on occasion. This concept, which can be applied to both animal and plant species and has negative connotations, since it is one of the ways in which human action can threaten the biodiversity of some ecosystems.
If you want to learn more about these species that invade different regions, keep reading us in this AgroCorrn article in which we tell you all about what invasive plants are, their consequences and examples of species that have affected different lands in Spain.
- What are invasive plants – simple definition
- Consequences of invasive plants
- Invasive plants: examples of species
- Cat’s claw
- Camalot or common water hyacinth
- Killer alga
- Ailanto or tree of heaven
What are invasive plants – simple definition
In order to adequately define what invasive plants are , first we have to talk about non-native species. The non – native or exotic species are those that, either intentionally or accidentally, have been introduced by humans in places outside their natural environment.
The most common in these cases is that the species cannot thrive or adapt given the differences in the environment, but sometimes they do. Sometimes, in fact, they adapt so well that they begin to spread and multiply at great speed, endangering local biodiversity. These are the so-called invasive plants .
It is also possible that an alien species adapts to the new environment but does so in a less aggressive and more controlled way: in this case they are called naturalized species , since they do not endanger the rest of the ecosystem.
Invasive species tend to share some general characteristics, which are often the cause of their uncontrolled expansion:
- They have no predators or natural enemies, so they multiply without a controlling factor.
- They are fast growing and multiplying. Their high reproduction rates allow them to spread much more quickly.
- Its seeds are long-lived, so they can be kept in a vegetative state for years before germinating when the right conditions are met.
In summary, these are species with a great capacity for adaptation and some can even produce substances that prevent the growth of other species in their territory.
To learn more about this topic, we recommend reading this other AgroCorrn article in which we talk about the Introduction of exotic species, their causes and consequences .
Consequences of invasive plants
Given their high ecological impact , these invasive species can extinguish other native species or force them to move, thus reducing biodiversity. In addition, they compete with local species for the advantage over pollinating insects, which in turn reduces the reproduction of these species, and sometimes they can change the composition of the soil, allowing the arrival of new pests or diseases. In the case of crops, they can have a strong economic impact, by forcing control and eradication plans.
In summary, the most negative impact of invasive plants is that they reduce indigenous biodiversity and transform ecosystems . Here you can learn more about the Loss of biodiversity: causes and consequences .
Invasive plants: examples of species
Next, we present some examples of invasive plants and in the following sections we delve into the characteristics of some of them.
- Cat’s claw ( Carpobrotus )
- Camalot or water hyacinth ( Eichhornia crassipes )
- Killer alga ( Caulerpa taxifolia )
- Ailanthus or tree of heaven ( Ailanthus altissima )
- Mimosas (Acacia spp.)
- Mosquito fern ( Azolla spp. )
- Butterfly bush ( Buddleja davidii )
- Pampas grass or feather duster ( Cortaderia spp. )
- Robinia o falsa acacia (Robinia pesudoacacia)
- Reed or cane ( Arundo donax )
- Pita ( Agave americana )
This plant, which is actually two species ( Carpobrotus edulis and Carpobrotus acinaciformis ), spread throughout almost the entire Spanish coast due to its popularization as an ornamental plant . The threat of cat’s claw as an invasive plant is that they grow forming a blanket so dense that it prevents the growth of any other species in that area it occupies, seriously altering the local ecosystem.
Camalot or common water hyacinth
Also called the bora flower ( Eichhornia crassipes ) , this plant originates from South America . It is a species that tends to colonize water courses such as rivers or springs, occupying them with a great speed of growth and reproduction and eventually obstructing them. In Spain it can be found in Mérida, since this invasive species has caused great damage in the Guadiana basin.
In this other article we talk more about the Camalote, a very invasive plant .
The Caulerpa taxifolia is one of the 100 invasive species most harmful of the world according to IUCN. This algae arrived in the Mediterranean as a result of an accident in the Monaco aquarium and, since then, has spread rapidly, colonizing the Posidonia oceanica meadows. There are cases of poisoning in humans due to the consumption of a fish that feeds on the caulerpa.
Ailanto or tree of heaven
Scientific name Ailanthus altissima , this tree is native to China . This invasive plant species has the ability to produce toxins in its bark and leaves that, when they accumulate in the soil in sufficient quantity, prevent the development of other species. It is very strong and fast-spreading, and its roots are strong enough to damage sidewalks and foundations.
Find out more about invasive species in Spain and their consequences with this other AgroCorrn article in which we talk about both plants and animals.
If you want to read more articles similar to Invasive plants: what they are and examples of species , we recommend that you enter our Biology category .
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