First reports of Gamochaeta pensylvanica and Verbesina encelioides in the United Arab Emirates
Two new records of alien Asteraceae, Gamochaeta pensylvanica and Verbesina encelioides (EPPO Observation List of IAP), have been published from the United Arab Emirates during floral explorations conducted in 2013-2014. G. pensylvanica is native to the Americas and is present in the EPPO region in Belgium, Israel, Italy, Portugal and Spain. In the United Arab Emirates, G. pensylvanica was identified from the Dubai emirate in the Deira area where 20 individual plants were found growing along the roadside. Shahid (2014) notes that this is the first time this species has been identified in the Arabian Peninsula and surveys should continue as the species may cause damage in farmland.
V. encelioides was recorded along roadside habitats in Ras al-Khaimah in the Umm Urge area in the United Arab Emirates. The species is widespread throughout the EPPO region as a casual alien plant. Native to North and South America, V. encelioides can have negative impacts on crop production and the species has been shown to be toxic to livestock. In the Hawaiian islands, V. encelioides can form dense monocultures that outcompete native plant species and reduce suitable nesting habitats for ground birds. In Israel and Morocco, V. encelioides has invasive behaviour in cropping systems. It is underlined that careful monitoring of this plant should take place in the United Arab Emirates to enable appropriate measures and avoid negative impacts on agriculture and biodiversity.
Shahid M (2014) New records for the alien Asteraceae species in the United Arab Emirates. Journal on New Biological Reports 3(2), 115-119.