Keep your property neophyte-free

There are over 600 alien plants in Switzerland - the so-called neophytes. Native plants can be displaced and thus also lead to economic costs. Some neophytes can even be the cause of health problems for humans and animals. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the annual costs of controlling these plants exceeds CHF 90 million Swiss francs.

In recent years, this problem has therefore often been the subject of political discussions and is continuously gaining in importance. Particularly due to globalization and global warming, the spread of invasive alien species in Switzerland is increasing. Now the federal government has also asked private individuals to help in the fight against neophytes. Indeed, 17 species of neophytes can be found in our Swiss gardens, 4 of which are particularly common.

Check your plants now to see whether they could be neophytes or read more about the 4 most common neophytes in Swiss gardens.

Here are the 4 most common invasive neophytes in Swiss gardens

1. Buddleia (lat. Buddleja davidii)

Description & dangers

The Buddleia is a woody shrub and can grow to over 3 meters. It blooms from July to September and forms up to 3 million seeds per bush. In winter, the frost attacks the branches who sprout again in spring. It originally comes from China and Tibet. It is still widely sold and planted as an ornamental plant. Nevertheless, it is mainly spread by the wind.

The intense smell of the flowers attracts numerous butterflies. However, by colonizing alluvial areas, Buddleia supplant the precious flora specific to these ecosystems. As a result, the forage plants of rare butterfly caterpillars are missing, which has a negative effect on their population. Otherwise, according to the current state of knowledge, it is harmless to humans and animals.

Buddleia

2. Staghorn sumac (lat. Rhus typhina)

Description & dangers

The Staghorn sumac comes from North America and reaches a maximum height of 8 m. It is dioecious, i.e. it grows as female or male clones. The young shoots are densely covered in rust-colored hairs. The fall colors of the leaves are very attractive and make him an ornamental tree of choice.

The Staghorn sumac spreads mainly by rhizomes (underground stems) and can then form large colonies. This has an unfavorable influence on the habitat of native flora. In addition, the sap of the Staghorn sumac is slightly toxic, it can cause inflammation of the skin and eyes when ingested.

Staghorn sumac

3. Tree of heaven (lat. Ailanthus altissima)

Description & dangers

The Tree of heaven originally comes from East Asia. It can be up to 25m (50 feet) high. Like the Staghorn sumac, it is dioecious. The tree grows quickly and develops many suckers and root sprouts. Suckers appear especially when the tree is felled.

With garden soil, suckers can get into the wild, where they overgrow in dense stands and displaces the native plants. They can even grow through asphalt and thus damage the roads.

Tree of heaven

4. Cherry laurel (lat. Prunus laurocerasus)

Description & dangers

The cherry laurel is native to Asia and is very often planted in gardens as a hedge and ornamental plant. It is an evergreen shrub from 3 to 8 m in height with shiny, leathery leaves and forms delicate, white flowers. They bloom from April to June and often again in autumn. The fruits of the cherry laurel are cherries, black when ripe.

The cherry laurel ends up scattered in the wild through illegal disposal of garden material. Birds like to eat its cherries, thus contributing to it's spreading through the seeds in their droppings. The whole plant, with the exception of the fruit flesh, is poisonous!

Cherry laurel