Neophytes: Dangerous plants?


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Biologists call them non-resident plants or neophytes: these are species that were originally not native to us, but now spread in the wild - often even at the expense of native plant species. Neophytes were inadvertently introduced or intentionally introduced by humans, many of them as garden plants. We talked to the biologist Frank Klingenstein of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation about the latest developments.

Neophytes: Dangerous plants?: neophytes

Graduate biologist Frank Klingenstein

MY: "Mr. Klingenstein, what danger is posed by neophytes?"
Frank Klingenstein: "Most of the almost 400 neophytes, plants that have come to us through humans and gained a foothold in nature, are completely unproblematic: only about 40 species are invasive, that is, they displace other species, alter them specific living conditions or genetic diversity. "
"Which species are particularly problematic?"
"Particularly problematic species that have been propagated are those that have been with us for a long time and cause problems in many areas Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), Perennial persicaria (Japanese, Sakhalin and Bohemian knotweed, botanical Fallopia japonica, F. sachalinensis, F. x bohemica), the Glandular balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and the Canadian and Big Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis and S. gigantea). With some distance then trees like Robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia) and Late blooming bird cherry (Prunus serotina).
For most of the species, it is too late for effective countermeasures in most areas. Therefore, the focus should rather be on known from other areas invasive species such as ludwigia (Ludwigia grandiflora and L. peploides) in Germany not even let foothold or yet rare species such as the Big water fork (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) directly to eliminate. Horticulture plays an important role here: a quarter of the approximately 400 wild neophytes and two thirds of the invasive are (former) garden plants. "

cherry laurel

Due to climate change, the evergreen cherry laurel is now spreading in the wild

"Are there any new developments?"
"With the climate Change more species will immigrate to us, but especially from botanical and private gardens. It will benefit warmth-loving, southern (Mediterranean) species and frost-sensitive (Atlantic) species. Therefore, especially evergreen species could become more common. So the first new species, which probably migrated to Germany through climate change, is evergreen. It is the sea fennel (Crithmum maritimum) that has been growing on Heligoland since 2000. Also evergreen garden plants, especially the cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), increasingly feral in forests close to the forest. "
"Are there any positive aspects?"
"Without neophytes, not only would our wild flora be poorer, but our menu and even our gardens would be quite monotonous, so it's not about rejecting new things, but replacing the innocent handling of new plants, especially in times of climate change, against a forward-looking application. For gardeners, this means, above all, that invasive species are not or only in compliance with the Central Association Horticulture, Federal Environment Ministry and Federal Agency for Nature Conservation developed recommendations and that garden waste is not composted illegally wild. "

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