What are the main invasive plants in Spain?

View of the leaves of Carpobrotus edulis

View of the leaves of Carpobrotus edulis

Humans tend to take a clone or seeds of plants that we liked, often without thinking about the possible consequences that this seemingly innocent gesture can have in our area. Thus, it is not surprising that there are many, and more and more, invasive plants that inhabit territories that do not belong to them.

All of them arrived like this, because of “the fault” of human curiosity, and the desire to have these species in their gardens or balconies. It’s a shame, as none should be considered harmful to the environment. Of course, for that we would have to leave them where they have been growing for hundreds or thousands of years, something that is not always easy for us to do. TO Next we will talk about the main invasive plants.

What is an invasive plant?

View of the Pennisetum setaceum, an invasive plantView of Pennisetum setaceum, an invasive plant

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Marshman

First of all, we are going to clarify concepts. What do we mean when we talk about invasive plants? Well, to this: to a plant species that is artificially introduced (that is, by humans) to a natural environment where it has no or very few predatorsand where it also enjoys very favorable conditions to grow even better than at origin.

Once you adjust, something you can do in a matter of days or weeks, begins to root and grow rapidly. And that’s when the problems arise: the growth rate of the invasives is faster than that of native plants, so that it does not take long to literally grow on them, preventing them from capturing the sunlight they need. Thus, they end up dying, leaving the site to species that not only come from outside, but can end up destroying the landscape, also reducing the number of animal species that live in it.

What are the main invasive plant species in Spain?

American agave

View of an Agave americana plant

View of an Agave americana plant

Known as american agave or pita, is a perennial plant native to Mexico and the southern United States that has managed to become naturalized in practically all the warm-temperate regions of the world, including the Mediterranean Basin or Australia.

The leaves are succulent, leathery, up to 2 meters long by 25cm wide.bluish-green, bluish-white, greyish-white or variegated. It blooms only once in a lifetime, something known as monocarpism. It produces a terminal inflorescence 3-5 meters high composed of a multitude of flowers that will become elongated capsules filled with seeds.

Due to its colonizing potential, it is considered an invader in Spain.

Ailanthus altissima

View of the Ailanthus altissima tree

View of the Ailanthus altissima tree

Known as ailanthus, tree of heaven, tree of the gods or false sumac, it is a deciduous tree native to China. It grows to a height of up to 27 meters, with a more or less straight trunk whose bark is gray.. The leaves are made up of eight pairs of leaflets and give off an unpleasant odor. The fruit is a samara.

It was introduced to Europe in the mid-XNUMXth century with the intention of repopulating the mountains, but due to its rapid growth and poor quality of wood the project failed.

you eat carboprotus

View of Carpobrotus edulisVista del Carpobrotus you eat

Image – Wikimedia / W. Rebel

Known as cat’s claw or lion’s claw, it is a creeping succulent plant native to South Africa. Its leaves are fleshy, up to 10cm long, green in color.. The flowers, which appear from spring to summer, are purple, yellow or orange, and are 6 to 9 cm in diameter.

Today it has become naturalized especially in the coastal areas of the warm-temperate regions of the world, where it prevents native plants from taking root.

Cortaderia Selloana

View of the duster

duster view

Known as grass of the pampas, plumage, cuttlefish, gypsy, foxtail or feather duster, is a plant that forms a dense mass of evergreen and long leaves up to 3m long. The flowers are grouped in panicles, also dense, of white color.

It was introduced in Europe and North America as an ornamental plant, but considering that each plant can produce more than a million seeds each with a very high probability of germinating and reaching adulthood, it is very, very harmful. .

Eichhornia crassipes

View of water lettuce in bloomView of water lettuce in bloom

Image – Wikimedia / Wouter Hagens

Known as water hyacinth, bora flower, camalote, aguapey, lechuguín, tarope or tarulla, it is an aquatic plant native to the fresh waters of the Amazon and Plata basins. It forms rosettes of ascending leaves, from 2 to 16 cm, and produces flowers in spikes of blue to light blue color. The fruit is a 1,5cm capsule.

Due to its great adaptability and rapid growth, it is considered one of the most damaging exotic species for the environment.

Opuntia fig-indica

View of the leaves and fruits of the prickly pear

View of the leaves and fruits of the prickly pear

Known as tuna, prickly pear, nopal, fig tree of shovel or palera, and also by its previous scientific name opuntia maximais a shrubby cactus native to Mexico. It forms clumps of up to 1 or 1,5 meters, composed of flat, oval, green segments or cladodes with almost no spines.. The flowers are yellow or red, and the fruit is an oval berry between 5,5 and 7cm in diameter and 5-11cm long.

By multiplying very easily and quickly by stem cuttings, it is invasive. Now, as it produces edible fruits, its cultivation and trade is legal as long as it is not introduced into the natural environment.

pennisetum cetaceum

View of the Pennisetum setaceumView of Pennisetum setaceum

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Frank Vincentz

Known as cat’s tail, it is a plant native to eastern and tropical Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia that reaches a height of up to 75cm. It is a lively grass that develops long, thin leaves and a white or pink inflorescence. (depending on the variety).

It is especially dangerous for the environment: not only does it grow at a fairly rapid rate, but it also tends to increase the risk of intense forest fires.

Pistia stratiotes

View of water lettuceView of the water lettuce

Image – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Known as water lettuce or water cabbage, it is a floating aquatic plant native to Africa, perhaps native to the Nile River or Lake Victoria, or both. It is a perennial plant with leaves up to 14cm long, wavy and covered by white hairs.. The flowers are dioecious, and are kept hidden. The fruit is a small green berry.

Today it has become one of the most serious plant-related problems in the United States, and also in Spain. It grows so fast that it has become a weed.

In the blog you will see what more invasive plants there are in our country. We hope you find it useful.

What are the main invasive plants in Spain?

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