All About Invasive Plant Species - Environment Skip to main content

All About Invasive Plant Species – Environment

All About Invasive Plant Species


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  • An invasive or alien species is an introduced species to an environment that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. 

  • They can be introduced to an area by ship ballast water, accidental release, and most often, by people. 

Common characteristics of IAS include 

  • Rapid reproduction and growth,
  • High dispersal ability,
  • Phenotypic plasticity (ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions), and 
  • Ability to survive on various food types and in a wide range of environmental conditions. 

Senna Spectabilis

  • Senna spectabilis is a deciduous tree native to tropical areas of America.
  • It grows up to 15 to 20 metres in a short period of time and distributes thousands of seeds after flowering.
  • The thick foliage of the tree arrests the growth of other indigenous tree and grass species. 
  • Allelochemicals produced by Senna spectabilis prevent germination of many native species.
  • Thus, it causes food shortage for the wildlife population, especially herbivores.
  • It is categorised as ‘Least Concern’ under IUCN Red List.

Prosopis Juliflora

  • Prosopis juliflora (Vilaiti Keekar), a non-native and invasive tree species, belongs to South and Central America.
  • It is a shrub or small tree, commonly known as Seemai Karuvelam.
  • It has superior ability to adapt and establish itself in the given environment as it is capable of growing in a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions. 
  • Prosopis was introduced into India’s arid landscapes in the late 19th century owing to misplaced beliefs that deserts and grasslands were wastelands and hence needed trees. 
  • It has encroached over half Banni, one of Asia’s largest grasslands in Gujarat. 
  • Prosopis was introduced in Banni to keep the salt flats of the Rann of Kachchh in check.
  • Affects the nesting success of birds as it produces less oxygen and more carbon dioxide.
  • Causes drying up of water bodies and ground water as it absorbs more than 4 litres of water to obtain one kg of biomass.
  • Causes stomach poisoning in livestock by inducing a permanent impairment of its ability to digest cellulose.

Lantana camara

  • Lantana camara is a small perennial shrub, which forms extensive, dense and impenetrable thickets.
  • It is native to Central and South America.
  • It is an invasive species which was introduced in tropical regions as an ornamental plant (introduced in India in 1807). 
  • The thickets covered vast tracts of land, stopping the natural light and nutrition for other flora and fauna.
  • The toxic substance in its foliage and ripe berries affected the animals.
  • It has also invaded various wildlife reserves, river banks and the Project Tiger areas.
  • In some regions, the plant has invaded pastures and shrunk the cattle grazing areas, affecting the livelihood of villagers.  

Mission Lantana

  • It was a special drive to uproot the invasive lantana bushes in the famous Sajjangarh wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district.
  • It was a month-and-a-half-long campaign accompanied by the plantation of native species on the cleared patches of land.
  • The drive involved collective efforts and ‘shram daan’ (voluntary physical work) by the forest officials, police personnel, wildlife lovers, representatives of voluntary groups and local villagers.

Water Hyacinth

  • Water hyacinth, also known as, Eichhornia crassipes, is an aquatic weed common in waterbodies across South Asia, including India.
  • This is not an indigenous species but was introduced to India during British colonial rule as an ornamental aquatic plant from South America.
  • The plant produces beautiful purple flowers that have high aesthetic value.
  • Aka the terror of Bengal. 

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