Unoriginal plants in Slovakia

20. 10. 2015

RNDr. Pavol Mereďa, PhDThe theme Unoriginal plants in Slovakia approached in his lecture in the Bratislava Scientific confectioners a guest - RNDr. Pavol Mereďa, PhD., who graduated at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Comenius University in Bratislava, department Biology, specialization Botany. He has been working in the Institute of Botany SAS in Bratislava since 2003, where he became a Head of the Department of Vascular Plant Taxonomy since 2012. The event took place in the premises of the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information of SR on 20th October 2015.

Unoriginal plant is a plant that got to a certain territory through direct or indirect human impact. It is a species of plant that is normally not present here. However, these plants belong to a permanent part of our nature.

nepôvodne rastliny na Slovensku

Among the current trends effecting the vegetation (flora) belong many different factors. It is a huge movement of vehicles, goods and people, the gradual disappearance of natural (geographical) boundaries, construction activities, as well as the global warming. Living organisms are increasingly moving from the South to the North and from the lowlands to the mountains, which affects our flora of course. Many times, they are invasive organisms that are able to survive an adverse period (drought, flooding, unsuitable conditions for germination), they have high reproductive ability, and thanks to efficient diffusion mechanisms, such as wind or water, are able to float and, in particular, they do not have the natural enemies.

In Slovakia in the open nature, there are 4 286 species, subspecies and hybrids of higher plats. There are 78 % original plants, 21.5  % unoriginal plants and the rest 0.5 %  are  plants of uncertain origin.

From unoriginal plants is a small percentage of the invasive plants (3.3 %).

Rastlinstvo Slovenska - základný štatistický prehľad

Negative impacts of unoriginal plants are mainly environmental, i.e. they displace native species from their natural biotopes, disrupting the equilibrium of ecosystems and modify the appearance of the landscape. From a health perspective they are the source of allergenic pollen, contains toxic substances and are hosts of new pests. There is also a huge economic impact, for example livestock deaths, reduced forage yields and also costs for treating allergic and disposal of plants.

Author of the lecture in detail informed students about different ways of spreading unoriginal plants and about the history of this. For example, after the discovery of America, many plants were imported there - acacia, common sunflower, maize, potatoes, tomatoes, bean and others. The expansion of the Roman Empire to our territory is linked to the beginning of viniculture, so the cultivation of grapes and the cultivation of Mediterranean plants expanded.

Migrations on the 4th - 6th century, migration of entire tribes of population with animals and personal needs brought here especially vegetation from the Black Sea steppe. Foundation of monastic and castle gardens in the early to high Middle Ages brought the cultivation of medical, ornamental and crop plants such as: horseradish, carrot, European walnut, garden plum, common peach.

pôvod rastlínThe origin of exotic plants divided by continent shows the picture in the right.

The most of unoriginal plants is situated in
the towns and villages, in the vicinity of roads and railways, on the banks of rivers, in the floodplain forests and in an abandoned fields and stock-yards.

The least of unoriginal plants is situated in high mountain communities, but above 1 300 metres above sea-level has not been occurred any unoriginal plant so far. As the cause is indicated the fact that in these areas a human occurs a very little.

If we want to talk about the records in this field, an author of the lecture introduced the plantlets which have their "the most". Some selected examples are:

  • the most allergen plant is ambrosia (North America)
  • the most toxic plant is a giant hogweed (Caucasus)
  • the most bristly plant is swamp locust (North America)
  • the first flowering plant is spirea winter (Mediteran)
  • the plant with the largest number of seeds is tumbling pigweed (South America)
  • the most dangerous parasitic plant is field strangle-weed (North America)
  • the best simulator - strawberry Indian (SE Asia) and others

boľševičnik obrovskýFor example, a giant hogweed causes on the skin irritations up to burns after touching it. 

If we asked ourselves what the vegetation would look like after 100 years, we must balance with all the mentioned facts. We will get a result that will predict less space for greenery,  fewer weeds on the fields, so there will be less rare field weeds and warmer climate means that here will be less alpine species and with less populations but there will be more warm-requiring species. The inflow of new unoriginal plants and spread of already acclimatised plants on new locations will carry on.

The end of the lecture was traditionally enriched by dozens of very interesting questions of students and the most active of them were rewarded with a small cake from the hands of the deputy of the National Centre for the Popularisation of Science and Technology in Society, a department of the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information in SR.

Image Source: Presentation of RNDr. Pavol Mereďa, PhD.

Photo: Alena Oravcová, SCSTI SR

Prepared by: Mária Izakovičová, SCSTI SR

Photo gallery at portal NCP S&T

Translated by: LŠ

Biological Sciences, Popularization of Science and Technology

Natural sciences