EXOTIC PLANTS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Eco and Env)

News-CRUX-10     3rd May 2024        
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Context: A recent study by the Kerala State Forest Protective Staff Organization suggests that removing exotic plants from forest areas in Chinnakkanal, Munnar will aid in securing food sources for wild elephants.

Exotic Plants

  • About: An exotic plant is one that is not native to an area, but which may survive and reproduce here, displacing native species and altering natural systems.

o Also known as: Alien, nonnative, nonindigenous, or introduced species, inhabit regions beyond their natural geographic range.

  • Examples: Aglaonema, Calathea Peacock Plant, Pachira Money plant, The PPP or the Philodendron Pink Princess Plant, Peace Lilies, Snake Plant etc.
  • Factors contributing to growth of exotic plants: Absence of Natural Predators, High Reproductive Capacity, Efficient Seed Dispersal Mechanisms, Production of Toxins or Defensive Structures, Asexual Reproduction Capability

Effects of an exotic plant

  • Main Threat to Biodiversity: Exotic species pose a significant threat to biodiversity by disrupting natural ecosystems' structure and function.
  • Ecological Services: Despite their threat, exotic species can occasionally offer ecological services like seed dispersal.
  • Disruption of Mutualistic Interactions: The focus of our assessment was on examining the mechanisms behind the disruption of mutualistic plant–disperser interactions.

Cryptogenic Species: Within marine science, species introduced through human activities such as exploration and trade blur the distinction between native and exotic, leading to a category known as cryptogenic.