There is a difference here between ‘exotic’ as in the way that we refer to it, as gardeners that love growing more tropical and lush looking plants (that generally don’t grow in this climate) and the true term of exotic, meaning a foriegn plant that is generally unsuitable!. 

Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae exotic tropical flower at LEndemic species are plant species that are indigenous to only one geographical area. This means it is unique to a particular region and nowhere else. 

Related: What is a meaning of the “native plant” and why is it different in different places?

There are two subcategories of endemism. They are paleoendemism and neoendemism. Paleoendemism refers to species that used to live in a large area but are now limited to a smaller area. 

Neoendemism refers to the recent appearance of species that are closely related to the main species in a particular area but are classified as separate species. They may be the result of hybridization, divergence or polyploidy. Examples of endemic species in the UK include Fumaria purpurea, Athyrium flexile, Sorbus anglica and Ulmus plotii. 

On the other hand, Exotic species are those introduced into a geographical area they are not native to. This may be spread deliberately or by accident. Some examples of exotic species present in the UK are rhododendron, knotweed, water primrose and floating pennywort. Both endemic and exotic species are beneficial to the ecosystem.

Major Differences Between Endemic and Exotic Plants

  1. Endemic species refer to plant species that are restricted to a specific geographical area while exotic species are plant species introduced into an area it is not native to.
  2. Endemic plants species are generally harmful because they are native to the ecosystem. On the other hand, exotic species could be harmful because many are invasive species introduced from different ecosystems.
  3. The growth rate and reproduction ability of endemic species vary depending on the species. In most cases, exotic species have a fast growth rate and are able to reproduce rapidly.
  4. Endemic species cannot be used as a form of biological control. This is because they are not natural competitors and do not have an effect on other native species. On the contrary, exotic species can be used as a form of biological control. In fact, they can completely replace native species within a short period of time.

Effects of Exotic Species on Endemic Species

Exotic species can harm endemic species by competing with them for nutrients and space. This could damage the endemic species in that area and eventually cause death.

Factors that hinder the growth of exotic species may be absent in its new habitat. This greatly improves their ability to grow and multiply rapidly. Eventually, they would outcompete and kill off endemic species in that habitat.

Introducing exotic species (in the true sense of the word) into a particular area can have a negative impact on the variety of endemic species in that area. It could result in reduced hybridisation and eventually cause these endemic species to become extinct.

What Is The Meaning Of An Exotic Species?

Exotic species are organisms introduced into an area where it does not naturally occur, they are not native to the particular ecosystem in which they are found. Also known as alien species, invasive species, or bioinvaders, some exotic species can be spread intentionally or accidentally. 

An example of intentional spread is when they are planted as a form of biological control to outcompete weeds. On the other hand, fragments of exotic species may attach to vessels, equipment, animal hoofs or footwear which may move from one habitat to another. This is considered an accidental spread.

Effects of Exotic Species on Native Species

Exotic species are not generally considered unharmful until they cause harm to a certain ecosystem or native species.

  1. When exotic species are newly introduced into an area, they grow and multiply rapidly because factors such as specific pests or diseases that may slow down their growth are most likely absent in this new environment.
  2. Exotic species may compete with native species for nutrients and habitat. They will become harmful to these native species, eventually killing them off.
  3. They can greatly affect biodiversity. This means that the variety of plants and animals in a particular habitat would be altered and ultimately lead to the extinction of the native species in that area.
  4. Exotic species may have a huge impact on the economy with regard to the quality and quantity of crop production. They also have fundamental disruptive effects on the ecosystem resulting in increased environmental pollution as well as global warming.

Control of Exotic Species

It goes without saying that the best form of control is prevention. If the growth of exotic species cannot be prevented, you must control its spread or totally eliminate them.

  • Physical control: This refers to the manual destruction of exotic species. You can do it by pulling or digging them out with your hand and may also consider the use of fire as a control method.
  • Mechanical control: This involves the use of gardening and farming techniques such as hoeing, mowing, and tilling. It also involves the use of tools or machines to construct barriers against these species.
  • Chemical control: This refers to the appropriate use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides to control or kill exotic species.
  • Biological control: This is a form of intentional manipulation that involves introducing animals that are known to feed on a certain exotic species into the habitat. You may also cause infection with diseases that are lethal to them.
  • Cultural control: This has to do with changing human behaviour in order to increase the mortality of exotic species. This can be done by creating awareness and educating people about habits that can cause the spread of exotic species.

No matter what you choose to grow here in the UK, you must be aware of plant rules and regulations when it comes to importing plants and growing seeds you may have ‘collected’ on holiday


Last Modified: December 24, 2023