Invasive Species Of Plants in India

While most plants are local, we have some plants that spread across territories alien to them and grow aggressively. These are species that grow and spread quickly and have the potential to cause harm are called ‘invasive’. They can threaten plants, animals, or any other aspect of biodiversity. Invasive plant species are usually found in remote regions of the world because they can harm the human.

From Where Do Invasive Species Come?

Most of the time, invasive species are introduced to a new environment deliberately. The Tropical American Shrub, Lantana, is a classic example of that. It was introduced in India in the initial 19th century as an ornamental plant. Ironically, this now invades our diverse habitats, such as forests and scrublands.

Another reason for this is the accidental introduction of these plants. These plants can stick to your clothes, and you will act as a carrier. Just how Parthenium entered India 1965 through imports from the United States.

Impacts of Invasive Plant Species

Invasive species are very damaging to nature. It can occupy native flora in many ways. Moreover, it can act as a catalyst in forest fires and soil erosion.

Similarly, it has severe effects on animals and humans. A study has shown that the presence of invasive plant species has resulted in decreased bird diversity. It causes human health by prompting breathing and skin diseases. Finally, it also has economic impacts, as it invades the agricultural lands. So in our PlantScience facts series, today we will explore some of the invasive species of plants in India.

Some of the Invasive Plant Species In India

1. Black Wattle

File:Acacia mearnsii - black wattle at Mannavan Shola, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala (1).jpg

This plant was delivered in India from southeast Australia. Black Wattle is widely distributed in the Western Ghats. It is also known as Acacia Mearsii. As it has a tendency to grow rapidly even after a forest fire, it was sown for afforestation. Black Wattle has a high density of long-lived seeds in the soil. This invasive species can be found in high altitudes. Though it is used in tanning industry and as firewood, it is considered the worst species of invasive plants in the world.


Pic Credit: Vinayaraj

2. Goat Weed

Download free photo of Ageratum,flowers,lilac,garden flowers,ageratum  conyzoides - from needpix.com

It is one of the species that is distributed throughout India. Goat Weed is an aggressive colonizer of dry farmlands and open areas. It invades gardens, forests, and fields and troubles their growth. This invasive plant species was introduced from Tropical America. Invasive species grab the land from other species and grow and spread. Make it difficult for local species to survive. They extract nutrients from the earth, which belonged to others. Ageratum Conyzoides is the preferred scientific name for goat weed. It causes crop yield reduction and affects biodiversity. The plant was local to Brazil mostly and has medicinal properties – used for healing diarrhea and dysentery.

3. Needle Bush

File:Needle Bush - Hakea lissosperma (6248744495).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Pic by Amada44

As the name suggests, it is a type of rigid shrub or can be a small tree. The original nativity of this invasive plant species is Tropical South America. Spread all over India, it is harmful to biodiversity. It can be found in scrubs and degraded forests. It is used in the manufacturing of perfume, tanning and making dyes.

4 Black Mimosa

Mimo pigra 080209-4579 ckoep.jpg
Image credit: Wibowo Djatmiko (Creative Commons)

Introduced in India from Tropical North America, is found in Himalaya and the Western Ghats. This invasive species, Mimosa Pigra, is usually found in flooded wetlands and watercourses. It is a very aggressive colonizer and spreads actively.  It is also listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species and forms dense, thorny, impenetrable thickets, particularly in wet areas though the flowers look very artistic. As the flowers are equipped with hairs on the segments allow them to float on water and stick to hair or clothing, they can travel long distances and colonise. Did you know that the seeds of Mimosa Pigra can survive up to 22 years on sandy soils and still sprout?

5. Lantana Camara

Lantana, Lantana Camara, Ornamental Plant, Yellow

Also known as wild sage, because of its wild and destructive capabilities. This is also an aggressive colonizer found in forests, plantations, scrublands, and habitation. It was introduced from Tropical America and is spread throughout India and 50 other countries. It can thrive in almost any situation and its seeds are very toxic to livestock and humans. The colorful flowers produce sweet nectar and invite several birds, especially the hummingbird, which help in pollination.

Final Words

Simply put, the plants which have negative impacts on flora and fauna are called invasive plants. It affects biodiversity, harms human health, and even causes economic imbalance.

What do you think is the reason plants become invasive and move aggressively to different areas? Do they like conquering and colonizing other countries like humans? Interesting thought. Isn’t it? What we admire in these plants is their ability to survive, endure and thrive.

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