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Article Dans Une Revue Botany Letters Année : 2022

Monographs on Invasive Plants in Europe N°7: Rhododendron ponticum L.


This report presents information on all aspects of the biology, ecology and invasion behaviour of Rhododendron ponticum L., particularly R. ponticum subsp. baeticum (Boiss. & Reut.) Hand.-Mazz. The main topics presented are: taxonomy, distribution, history of introduction and spread, ecology, biology, impacts, and management. The subspecies baeticum is native to the Iberian Peninsula, where it is close to extinction. This shade-tolerant evergreen shrub has been broadly introduced throughout Europe since the 18th century, mainly for ornamental purposes. The invasive taxon likely results from artificial introgressive hybridization with the Appalachian species R. catawbiense Minchx. It is now naturalized in many countries across western Europe and has become a serious invader in the British Isles. In continental Europe, it mostly invades forest ecosystems of the Atlantic domain, especially on acidic, nutrient-poor but moist soils. R. ponticum subsp. baeticum has perfectly adapted to the humid temperate climate of these regions. As a shade-tolerant species, it can spread out its dense canopy below tree canopies, thereby shading out most herb species and tree seedlings and saplings. Its thick litter likely impacts soil chemical and biological features and hence alters ecosystem processes. Though it produces thousands of seeds, the species mostly propagates vegetatively via layering and forms extended clonal thickets. Long-distance dispersal occurs via seeds, but those can only germinate on moss mats, decaying wood and bare soil and seedlings are very vulnerable to drought. The shrub is also known to be a reservoir for phytopathogenic oomycetes of the genus Phytophthora, including P. ramorum and P. kernoviae. R. ponticum subsp. baeticum invasion is an emerging threat to natural habitats and their associated fauna and flora in western continental Europe. Control is still challenging since management operations are not only expensive and time-consuming but also poorly effective due to vigorous resprouting from stumps after cutting and herbicide resistance.
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Dates et versions

hal-04011330 , version 1 (02-03-2023)



Marion Casati, Thomas Kichey, Guillaume Decocq. Monographs on Invasive Plants in Europe N°7: Rhododendron ponticum L.. Botany Letters, 2022, 169 (2), pp.213-236. ⟨10.1080/23818107.2022.2052182⟩. ⟨hal-04011330⟩
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