Climate change drives ornamental invasion

Climate change drives ornamental invasion

Climate change could mean that garden plants become a problem on the other side of the fence

Research at the University of Konstanz in southern Germany by Emily Haeuser and colleagues, published in the Journal of Ecology, examined three categories of plants: recently introduced garden plants, natives and ‘alien residents’ – plants that have escaped from gardens and have since naturalised. The researchers ran experiments in greenhouses to see how plants in these three categories reacted in simulated warmer environments.

They found that the most recent introductions could be worse off in the simulated climate, with flowering reduced. However, the two other categories did even worse, with the native plants doing worst of all. Newly introduced plants were therefore found to be effectively more competitive in a warmer, drier climate than the plants already at home in southern Germany – which suggests that a changing climate is likely to help exotic plants to escape from gardens and become invasive in the wider landscape.

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Meanwhile, a University of Reading PhD student, Tomos Jones, would like UK gardeners’ help in identifying the invasive plants of the future. Gardeners can be the first to observe the warning signs, he says, and his research will help to identify which plants could become invasive in the wider environment due to climate change. He’d like you to complete a two-minute survey, naming up to three ornamental plants which you have noticed taking over in your garden.

Go to to take part.

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Photo: Campanula (bellflower)

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Steve Ott
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