Publication details

Dark side of the fence: ornamental plants as a source of wild-growing flora in the Czech Republic

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Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Preslia
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Botany
Keywords cultivated plants; Czech Republic; invasion; naturalization; ornamental flora; transient flora; urban areas
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Description Ornamental plants constitute an important source of alien, and potentially invasive species, but also include a substantial part of native flora and consist of taxa that occur both in the wild and in cultivation; yet garden floras are largely ignored in ecological studies.We studied ornamental plants in the Czech Republic in order to provide detailed information, based on field sampling, on the diversity of taxa grown in cultivation in private gardens. Sampling was done in accessible public areas, private gardens and private areas in villages, town- and city neighbourhoods, garden allotments, cemeteries, areas of dispersed farmhouse settlements not accessible to the public, and in new urban sprawl. The data can be used to estimate the propagule pressure of individual taxa, measured in terms of the frequency with which they are planted in the gardens. To make the data comparable across sites, we adopted a two-level approach that resulted in producing a detailed list (including all the taxa recorded) and an aggregated list (merging closely related and similar taxa, which was necessary in order to assess the frequency of planting across sites). Each species on the detailed list was assigned an origin, status, life history and cultivation requirements. Comparing the field records with national checklists of both native and alien vascular plants we quantified particular components of the ornamental flora. The floristic inventories for 174 sites yielded 1842 taxa on the detailed list, consisting of 1642 species (standard binomials), 9 cultivars assigned to genera, 147 hybrids and hybridogenous taxa, and 44 taxa identified at higher than species level. Of these taxa 1417 (76.9%) were alien and 420 (22.8%) native. The ornamental flora consisted of not-escaping aliens, escaping aliens and cultivated natives. Of the recorded taxa, 841 (45.6%) occur both in cultivation and the wild. The aggregated list comprised 1514 taxa and resulted from merging 533 taxa from the detailed list into 205 taxa. Most alien ornamentals are native to Asia and Americas. The proportion of escaped and not-escaping aliens significantly differed from wild aliens in the spontaneous flora with underrepresentation of escaped, which originated from Australia, Africa and the Mediterranean area. Taxa from Africa and anecophytes were overrepresented and those from Australia, the Mediterranean and other parts of Europe underrepresented among not escaping aliens. The assessment of planting frequency revealed that 270 taxa were found at more than 25% of the sites, while 584 (40%) occurred at only one or two sites.Winter annuals and shrubs are most represented among the commonly planted aliens; the only native species with comparably high planting frequencies among the aliens, are Vinca minor, Hedera helix and Aquilegia vulgaris. Related to the invasion potential of ornamental garden flora we analysed the recorded taxa with respect to the transient/persistent character of their occurrence. The core (persistent) part of the flora comprised 599 taxa (32% of the total number of taxa) and the transient 240 (13%) taxa. The “grey zone” between the two included 1003 taxa (55%). The results reported here provide quantitative insights into the role of horticulture as a major pathway of plant invasions.
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