Alien plants are those which naturally occur elsewhere but were introduced by man and nowadays occur spontaneously in our region as well. Some of them are rare and you find them only locally, others adapted so well that they spread all over – often in the absence of natural enemies – and since have a negative impact on our native biodiversity, our health, sometimes even on our economy. We name such species invasive. A typical and well-known example is giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). Thanks to its long seed vitality (up to 7 years), its dimensions (up to 3 m high), and its large beshadowing leaves, this species managed to conquer several habitats where it hinders the development of the native herbaceous vegetation. Furthermore, contact with the sap may lead to serious skin inflammation. Meise Botanic Garden is currently a partner in a research project that tries to predict the spread of new weeds and based on such information suggests policies and management directives that should stop the advance of species such as giant hogweed. By participating in this project, you will thus be contributing to this pertinent ecological research!
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The Belgian Herbarium:
Meise Botanic Garden holds the largest herbarium collection of Belgian plant specimens. Each of these herbarium specimens has a label with valuable information such as the plant’s identification, and when, where, and who collected the plant. These specimens can be used in many domains of research, such as conservation, evolution, ecology and systematics. These data help us to better understand the plants of Belgium, their history and that of people who collected them. There are about 200,000 specimens in the Belgian Herbarium of Meise Botanic Garden and we want to document them all! These data will then be made available online at www.botanicalcollections.be.
Belgium, Alienae, Hortus Botanicus Meise, Botanica.