Introduction of Lantana camara L. and Chromolaena odorata (L.) King and Robins to India and their spread to Kerala: political ecology perspective.
Studies on invasive plants focus on their biology with little knowledge over socio-political reasons for invasions. The increasing realization that the socio-political scenario favoring invasion is the primary cause of biological invasion has changed the perception and facilitates to identify policies and pathways alterations which are needed to prevent future invasions. This study attempts to explain the social dimensions of invasion of two major invasive plants of Kerala-Lantana camara and Chromolaena odorata. Different literatures-books, journals, popular articles, state manuals, state reports, checklists and personal communications were referred to identify the socio-political reasons for the introduction of these species. The study identified that the solemnity of British to exchange and introduce plants across their empire through Agri-horticultural societies, Botanical Gardens and missionaries provided beneficial situations for the purposeful introduction of L. camara to the Calcutta Botanical Garden, India from London. The study also identified species introduction to the Lalbagh Botanical garden, Bangalore from Sri Lanka. These circumstances also led to the accidental introduction of C. odorata to the Calcutta Botanical Garden along with intentionally introduced plants. Lantana camara was reported from Kerala in 1872 indicating its spread facilitated by the admixture of various agents- missionaries, shifting cultivation, linear intrusions, botanical gardens, human movements and birds. The need of survival during Second World War led to the accidental introduction of C. odorata to Kerala from Assam along with the labourers returning from war. Circumstances during the war period led to the movement of people from Kerala to Assam, Sri Lanka and other War participating countries as labourers and militants.