Can some Australian plants be invasive

R.H. Groves, CSIRO Plant Industry and CRC Weed Management Systems, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2614, Australia.


Some plant species native to Australia have become weeds when introduced to regions outside Australia in that they have major negative impacts on the biodiversity of natural ecosystems in those countries. In the same way, some native plants are invasive in natural ecosystems within Australia when they are moved from one biogeographic region to another, usually for horticultural purposes. Furthermore, some native plants, especially bird-dispersed species, may respond to changes in local environments and move beyond their indigenous range to impact on other ecosystems within the one biogeographic region.

Examples of Australian plants in all three situations are given and discussed. Management of Australian plants as weeds may use some combination of classical methods of biological control, strategic herbicide application and/or mechanical removal to reduce negative impacts on biodiversity. Better knowledge of the ecology and population dynamics in the indigenous range will provide a sound basis for enhanced management of invasive populations of such plant species. Horticultural industry programs to reduce the sale, distribution and planting of those Australian plants known to be weedy will be a further way to reduce the number of plant species native to Australia with potential to become weeds. I conclude that there will be more examples of Australian plants becoming weeds as more and more species are planted in parks and gardens or used to revegetate areas adjoining nature reserves near Australian cities and towns, as well as in other countries.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2001) 16 (3) 114-117.