Aliens among us

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 3 February 2011 11:06

I find it quite galling that an invasive naturalised species is a tick just as much as a nationally rare native is a tick as far as your pan-species list is concerned. How could it be another way? As I have not been that good at keeping a list of the established alien plant species I have seen, I scoured the texts and added nine  vascular plants to my list putting me on 3081. From False Acacia growing on the heathland restoration at Farnham Heath RSPB to Silver Ragwort abounding on the vegetated shingle at Shoreham Harbour. 
This one however was a little more interesting. I found this growing along the banks of the River Rother (West) near Fyning Moor in May 2010. It's Perennial Honesty and gave me a run for my money as it wasn't in any of the books I usually use and didn't look that out of place.  At first I was convinced I had found a huge native crucifer that I had for some reason never once noticed in the books but in the end I found it in an old photographic guide and it was indeed an alien species. I'm certainly not celebrating these plants being part of our flora but as far as your pan-species list is concerned, New Zealand Pygmyweed and Lady's-slipper Orchid both count the same: one! So I better make like Fox Mulder and be a little more vigilant with my alien spotting. Fades out to music from The X-Files...

2 Response to "Aliens among us"

LauraJ Says:

You could list the alien species with an asterisk, like the records of baseball players on steroids. The problem is, what date do you use as a cutoff? I was enchanted in a grubby suburb of Boston to find stinging nettle brought by English settlers to the New World, but (so I hear) to England by the Romans. And what could be more English than a Red Admiral?

And the wallabys.

I do love the parrots trying to settle in New York and San Francisco. And I just had a beekeeper here in New Hampshire singing the praises of purple loosestrife (lovely, vv invasive, and bad for natives) as a late-season pollen plant. But honeybees are alien here too.

I admire what you are doing and enjoy your posts.

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks for the comments. There is certainly a great degree of uncertainty as to what is truely native and what isn't. In the cases I highlight as being 'alien' or 'naturalised', it's usually when there is a clear cut case that this is so (neophytes). As for the archaophytes, that is where much of the uncertainty lies. Interesting stuff!

Glad you are enjoying the blog and thanks for the comments.

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