Myroslav Shevera1, Oksana Kucher1, Liudmyla Zavialova1, Katarzyna Bzdęga2, Teresa Nowak2, Adrian Zarychta2 and Barbara Tokarska-Guzik2
1I.M.G. Kholodny Institite of Botany, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine 2Department of Botany and Nature Protection, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland
Grindelia squarrosa (Pursh) Dunal is a species of North American origin which was introduced to Europe as a medicinal plant at the beginning of the 19th century. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was known from botanical gardens in Montpellier, Berlin or Kew. The first records of the species outside cultivation were reported from Belgium (1920), Lithuania (1946) and Ukraine (1949). From the middle of the 20th century, the species has been recorded in 16 European countries and recently also in Georgia (Fig.1). In some countries, the species has shown rapid spread over a short period of time. In the Ukraine, for example, in the years 1970-1980, the number of records increased from 26 to 53, while during the following 20 years G. squarrosa was recorded in 91 new sites. Current data (published and herbarium materials) document the occurrence of G. squarrosa in 301 localities. Further spread of the species is likely, especially in countries in which it has been recorded in a single or at few localities. Additionally, the traits of the species may further promote its spread. Grindelia squarrosa is one of those plant species that are very well acclimatized to conditions of low precipitation, low nutrient, high elevation and large variations in temperature. It is able to colonise various type of habitats, including arid ones. Due to its healing properties, the plant is grown on plantations (e.g. in Poland). More importantly, the species is considered a promising biofuel, which has characteristics in its properties close to biojet fuel. The plants may therefore potentially be cultivated for biofuel production in semiarid and arid lands. The advantages of using this biologically derived fuel could be substantial. Furthermore, uses of G. squarrosa as a substitute to abietic acid, may also include agrochemical, medicinal, and the naval stores industries. Considering both the biological characteristics of the species and its utility for humans, it is necessary to monitor the spread of the species jointly with the assessment of its impact on native biodiversity.