Experts have warned against an invasion from an ornamental flower that could seriously harm ecosystems in Yunnan Province.
Solidago canadensis has grown in popularity in flower shops in Kunming, capital of the southwest China province.
Peng Hua, a researcher with the Kunming Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that if the plant spread, it could endanger local ecosystems and plants.
This is the first time for Solidago canadensis has been found in Kunming, a sub-tropical area rich in fauna.
Nobody knows where the plant came from.
In Shanghai and Nanjing, the plant was introduced in the 1930s as a decorative plant and has done great harm to local species.
The type of plant has become one of the most insidious weeds in Shanghai and cause the disappearance of more than 30 local plants.
The plant also affected Shaoxing and Yuyao of east China's Zhejiang Province.
Solidago canadensis spreads through roots and seeds and has a strong reproductive ability.
It can spread over a large area from a single plant in three years and kill all other vegetation, experts said. Peng advised the local government to adopt effective measures to map out areas where the plant has laid roots either in Kunming or in the entire province.
"The government should inform farmers planting the Solidago canadensis of its harm and to strengthen preventive measures," he urged.
The plant, now growing wild in Kunming, should be destroyed, the expert said.
"The government should strengthen management of invasive species," Peng said.
"A warning system should be established to monitor the invasive species to guarantee the biological diversity in China."
An official with the Kunming Municipal Bureau of Forestry in charge of administration of invasive species, said she knew nothing of the plant.
According to the official, government authorization is needed to introduce foreign endangered species.
"For other plants excluded from the endangered species list there is no need to apply to relevant authorities," she said.
There are at least 380 types of invasive plants, 40 types of invasive animals and 23 types of invasive microorganisms throughout the country, according to sources with the Ministry of Agriculture.
The State Environmental Protection Administration has announced the first batch of 16 types of invasive species that have to be destroyed as soon as possible, including water hyacinth and bullfrog.
The economic losses caused by the major invasive species in China reach 57 billion yuan (US$7 billion) per year.
Some experts even predicted that the total damage could be as high as US$150 billion per year.
(China Daily October 26, 2004)