Biological Invasions

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 181–194

Biological characteristics of an invasive south African species


DOI: 10.1007/s10530-004-8978-5

Cite this article as:
López-García, M. & Maillet, J. Biol Invasions (2005) 7: 181. doi:10.1007/s10530-004-8978-5


Senecio inaequidens, a south African species that has recently invaded parts of Europe, especially human disturbed habitats, was examined under laboratory and glasshouse conditions to assess the germination of achenes, soil seed banks, growth of seedlings and its breeding system. These observations allowed identification of ecological characteristics that may contribute to the invasiveness of the species. Achenes derived from three populations of S. inaequidens were germinated over a wide temperature range (from 14/6 °C day/night temperatures to a constant temperature of 30 °C). They exhibited a rapid achene germination especially when temperatures reached 20 °C. Germination of seeds from soil samples also exhibited a prolonged germination over time suggesting therefore different types of dormancy. Growth response was studied along a nitrogen gradient from 0.33 to 16.0 mmol l−1 and data were interpreted using growth analysis. Seedlings of S. inaequidens exhibited a slow growth in low nutrient availability and a rapid growth rate when exposed to high nutrient availability, which contributed to producing a large leaf area and biomass. Four types of pollination were studied in S. inaequidens. Hand-pollinations showed that S. inaequidens was mostly self-incompatible. Self-pollinated capitula only showed 7.6% viable achenes, significantly lower than insect-pollinated and cross-pollinated capitula. Some individuals were more self-fertile than others ensuring the production of some offspring in a situation of colonisation. Natural pollination occurred with generalist insects. Most of these results confirm the invasive ability of S. inaequidens.


breeding systemgerminationgrowth analysisinvasionnitrogen availabilityseed bankSenecio inaequidens

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ENSA.MUFR Biologie, Ecologie et Pathologie VégétalesPl. VialaFrance