Ensuring the survival of endangered
plants in the Mediterranean

New alien species for Italy found in Catania during the project workshop

On his way to the workshop from the hotel Valerio Lazzeri of the CCB found Oxalis debilis Kunth growing in a street near the Orto Botanico in Catania. This attractive plant is native to South America, and is considered an alien species in the Italian flora. In Italy Oxalis debilis has been recorded in the wild both in southern and central-northern regions but it has never before been observed in Sicily!

Flower of Oxalis debilis Kunth

Photo 1: Flower of Oxalis debilis Kunth. (Photo: T. Gil)

It is a potentially dangerous invasive plant due to its effective propagation strategy. It produces large quantities of bulbils at the axil between the bulb and the stem.

The current record of plants growing in urban habitats should not be underestimated since many plant invasions are thought to have begun from cities. Many invasive plants have previously been widely cultivated as ornamentals or related to economic activities (contamination of seed lots, agronomic cultivation etc.).

This plant can be distinguished from its close relative, the widespread Oxalis latifolia Kunth. by the  shape of the leaflet lobes which  are more or less triangular in Oxalis latifolia but rounded  in Oxalis debilis.

Oxalis debilis Kunth

Photo 2: Oxalis debilis Kunth. (Photo: T. Gil)

Oxalis debilis Kunth. growing in Via Antonino Longo in Catania (Photo: T. Gil)

Photo 3: Oxalis debilis Kunth. growing
in Via Antonino Longo in Catania (Photo: T. Gil)


Posted at Apr 30, 2013 | By : | Tags : Cataniaalien species