Invasive alien plants in China: diversity and ecological insights.
China's current invasive alien plant species were analyzed with regard to their floristic status, biological attributes and invasion status elsewhere. Most of the 270 species identified were annuals, followed by perennial herbs. Woody perennials made only about 10% of the species. The invasives were comprised of 59 families, the largest being Asteraceae, Poaceae, and Brassicaceae. The genera with most invasive species were Amaranthus, Ipomoea, and Solanum. Most of the species originated from the New World, notably from South America. About one-third of the species were serious invaders of natural habitats in countries other than China. The proportion of invasive alien plants in province floras ranged from 0.5 to 3.8%, absolute numbers from nine to 117 species per province. Density of invasive species was correlated positively with native species density at provincial scale. The results demonstrate that in China invasive plants are present throughout the country, with a particularly high species richness in the Southeast. The ecological diversity of invasive plants suggests wide ranging impacts which need to be assessed.