Dr Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, April Webb (CAWR intern) and Dr Kevin Walker (BSBI)
Sustainable Development Goals
Plant Alert is a long-term citizen science project designed to help prevent future invasions of ornamental plants. Gardeners are asked to report ornamental plants from their gardens that are spreading and difficult to control using an online submission form. Gardeners are among the ﬁrst to notice traits that have also been recognised to contribute to successful invasions, such as vigorous growth, prolific self-seeding, and longer ﬂowering periods. Similarly, problems with removing plants which are spreading to the extent that they have to be controlled to prevent them from overgrowing other plants or parts of the garden indicate potential control problems in cases where such plants establish outside gardens.
Ornamentals escaping from gardens are the main pathway for non-native plants that are now outnumbering native plant species in the British flora, with some of them having high negative impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity and the built environment.
All records received through Plant Alert go into the database of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (clearly marked as garden records) and are used for risk assessments and developing prevention policies.
The main aim of Plant Alert is to prevent possible future invasions from ornamental plants by identifying problematic plants early on in a possible invasion process. At the same time, the project raises awareness for the problem of ornamental plant invasions through extensive public engagement.
Results of the project will be analysed on an annual basis and shared with the public, researchers, horticulturalist and relevant authorities. They will also be useful in identifying species for which detailed risk assessments should be conducted as well as in the risk assessment process itself.
Follow the project on Twitter @Plant_Alert.
Working with gardeners to identify potential invasive ornamental garden plants – testing a citizen science approach