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Barbarians at the gates win the competition with the natives

Who decides if the species that invade or are unknown in our native environments will survive? Which ones endanger Polish flora and fauna?

The Canadian goldenrod or woundwort (Solidago candensis) or the giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) recently they spread and thrived…on Facebook. Threatened by invasion, citizens traditionally call for something to be done. They condemn the irresponsibility of their fellow countrymen and lament the future of the planet. But they are surprised that the first examples of the species have been present on Poland since the second half of the nineteenth century. The mass autumnal flowering has been a phenomenon for at least ten years.

The subject is continuing to develop. The next candidates for the role of a horseman of the apocalypse are waiting. It’s a somewhat modest number. They form less than one percent of general Polish flora, that is to say 30 species from three and a half thousand that are making themselves known in adapting. They are known in Polish parlance as IGO (inwazyjne gatunki obce) or invasive alien species.

Rogues’ gallery

In the expert analysis on the Polish governmental website ,, at the top of the list among the invaders is the ailanthus altissima or “tree of heaven” (Ailanthus altissima) . In the Far East it is regarded as sacred often planted by temples grounds. In Europ it is often planted in parks as a decoration. But their roots are fast growing and can damage the foundations of nearby buildings or canals.

Next is the common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia). It has antibacterial properties, but is a strong allergen and s so it can destroy crops. It can form dense areas, choking off native species.

Then we have one of the tallest herbs in the world, the hogweeds Mantegazzio (Heracleum mantegazzium) and Sosnowski (Heracleum Sosnowskyi). They are known for their strong phototoxic furanocomarins or toxic chemical structures. Contact with these may mean blistering and a wound that takes a long time to heal. But in Lituanania at least it’s possible to buy honey, harmless, from its flowers.

There are many kinds of reynoutria, flowering plants; Japanese, Sakhalin and Czech (Reynoutria japonica, sachaliensis, bohemica). They are nasty, many-leafed shrubs that root up to three metres deep and can be grown from a piece of rootstalk measuring as little as a centimetre or so.

Click here to read the full article.

By Hanna Pasierska

Translated by Jan Darasz

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