EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 04 - 2016 Num. article: 2016/088

General public’s perception of invasive plant species in Switzerland

The general public’s support and participation in the prevention, management and regulation of invasive alien plants is essential to the success or failure of implementing such methodologies. However, knowledge of the issues regarding invasive alien plants, such as negative impacts and costs expended in the management of these species may vary considerably within the population. A layperson’s perception of invasive species management may significantly differ to that of stakeholders working in the field of conservation or natural resource management especially when the removal of charismatic species is being discussed. The present study investigated the perception of invasive alien plants by more than 700 laypersons in Switzerland by asking the participants to complete a questionnaire in the summer of 2009. The questionnaire consisted of two parts where in part 1, the participants were asked to identify eight species from photographs using their common names (see Table below) and to characterize each species by five opposing attributes (ugly – beautiful, extraordinary – ordinary, exotic – indigenous, unfamiliar – familiar, unwanted – wanted). The second part of the questionnaire sought perceptions on different types of management, where following a short introduction on invasive alien plants, the participants were asked to choose among four different types of management:

1) no intervention,
2) no removal of aesthetically pleasing plants but removal of less appealing ones,
3) removal of only those species which incur serious problems and costs,
4) removal of all invasive plants in order to conserve unique habitats.

Almost all of the eight species were perceived as beautiful and wanted. On average, Ludwigia grandiflora (EPPO A2 List) was considered the most beautiful. Only 75 of the participants correctly identified at least one of the species. Buddleja davidii and Heracleum mantegazzianum (both EPPO A2 species) were most often correctly identified. B. davidii, Solidago canadensis (EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants) and Trachycarpus fortunei were on average the species people were most unwilling to remove from established areas. There was a general consensus that invasive alien plants that incur serious costs and negative impacts should be managed.

Table. The eight species highlighted in the questionnaire
Solidago canadensis
Herbaceous perennial
N - America
Buddleja davidii
Perennial shrub
Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Herbaceous annual
N - America
Senecio inaequidens
Herbaceous perennial
Trachycarpus fortunei
Perennial tree
Heracleum mantegazzianum
Herbaceous biennial
Central Asia
Impatiens glandulifera
Herbaceous annual
Ludwigia grandiflora
Herbaceous perennial (aquatic)
S- America


Lindemann-Matthies P (2016) Beasts or beauties? Laypersons’ perception of invasive alien plant species in Switzerland and attitudes towards their management. NeoBiota 29, 15–33.