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×Sorbaronia mitschurinii: from an artificially created species to an invasion in Europe: repeating the fate of invasive Amelanchier ×spicata, a review


By intervening in natural events, relocating species to other areas, purposefully hybridizing them, as well as reducing the habitats required for them, humans have created conditions for new hybrid species to emerge. As long as hybrids exist in our gardens and fields, we have no reason to worry. However, problems arise with the expansion of these hybrid species into natural habitats, where such hybrid species cannot always be recognized and remain unnoticed, and in most cases they are often mistaken for natural parent species. Two hybrid species, Amelanchier ×spicata and ×Sorbaronia mitschurinii have historically developed in Europe with different scenarios of origin. It has been suggested in the past that both species are of hybrid origin, and recent molecular studies have confirmed the previous assumptions. There is no doubt that A. ×spicata originated in a natural way of hybridization, when the two parental species came into contact in Europe, but ×S. mitschurinii is a purposefully created species, crossing ×Sorbaronia fallax with Aronia melanocarpa. Produced as a result of different scenarios, these two hybrid species have become invasive in Europe, and ×S. mitschurinii has started to follow in the footsteps of the highly invasive A. ×spicata, spreading in the wild, where it predominantly expands in pine forests and in wetland forests along water bodies and bogs. Moreover, ×S. mitschurinii occupies the same habitats in Europe as one of its parent plants, A. melanocarpa in North America, and this species is a threat to wetland forest habitats. Given that ×S. mitschurinii has long been regarded as one of Aronia species, the exact distribution of the species in Europe is unknown, but the following countries are currently reporting the presence of the species in Europe: Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine and United Kingdom. In the light of current knowledge, further studies on ×S. mitschurinii invasion in Europe are needed, as well as the need to correct the information in international databases, such as CABI, NOBANIS, to separate ×S. mitschurinii data from what applies to Aronia taxa.

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The author thanks Inese Šinta (Institute of Horticulture) for her help with some older sources of literature and Andrejs Svilāns (National Botanic Gardens) for his permission to use his photographs of ×S. mitschurinii taken in the wild. The author also thanks the anonymous reviewers for important suggestions for improving the language and content of the manuscript. The issues of plant taxonomy have been studied as part of the project No. lzp-2020/1-0179 funded by the Latvian Council of Science.


The issues of plant taxonomy have been studied as part of the project No. lzp-2020/1–0179 funded by the Latvian Council of Science.

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Correspondence to Arturs Stalažs.

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Stalažs, A. ×Sorbaronia mitschurinii: from an artificially created species to an invasion in Europe: repeating the fate of invasive Amelanchier ×spicata, a review. J Plant Res 134, 497–507 (2021).

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  • Aronia melanocarpa
  • Aronia ×prunifolia
  • Artificial species
  • Escaped hybrids
  •  ×Sorbaronia fallax
  • Sorbus aucuparia