Acer rufinerve, a new invasive tree in Belgium
Acer rufinerve (Aceraceae) is a tree, native to Japan, growing up to 8-15 m high. It is described as an early successional species of temperate forests, and is characterized by a very short generation time, high survival and growth rates. It has been introduced as an ornamental in gardens and public green areas of many countries over several decades. Although invasion histories have not been described previously, A. rufinerve has been recently reported to invade the understorey of a 300 ha forest near the city of Mons in Belgium. A few individuals were planted there by foresters in 1950-1970, and today, a significant part of the forest is colonized.
A. rufinerve reproduces by seeds, and fruit production is effective when tree stems reach 10;cm in diameter. Seeds may be dispersed over distances of 250 m. The tree tends not to establish in the most dry and acidic soils (pH ; 4.0).
Young stems of A. rufinerve form very dense thickets where few herbaceous plant species are able to grow. Native plants like Convallaria majalis (Convallariaceae), Lonicera;periclymenum (Caprifoliaceae), Luzula spp. (Poaceae), Pteridium aquilinum (Dennstaedtiaceae) are likely to be outcompeted by this tree, while Rubus fruticosus (Rosaceae) often co-occurs with it, sometimes at high densities.
A rapid eradication of the tree in Belgium seems feasible but is challenging as the tree has a strong resprouting capacity. Experiments on best management practices are being developed.
Rafalowicz T, Branquart E, Halford M (2009) Acer rufinerve, a new invasive tree in Belgium. 1 p. http://ias.biodiversity.be/ias/meetings/200905_science_facing_aliens/poster_08_abstract.pdf