An Invasive Becomes a Striking Plant

July 10, 2018


Photographer: Menashe Davidson 
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson 

Agriculture activity regular disturbs plant habitats. This photo, taken in a citrus plantation in the Sharon region of Israel, shows the beautiful flowers of a geophyte plant known as Purple Grape Hyacinth or Leopolidia comosa of the family Lilliaceae (Asparagaceae). It wasn't found here until recently. The shift in Israel to intensive evergreen citrus cultivation resulted in an increase in plant density and shading by the tree canopy. Implementation of irrigation systems keeps the soil wet all the year long. Thus fertilizer and herbicide use has increased. It seems that these changes have acted as filters on the weed community, selecting species with particular combinations of traits. Leopoldia comosa isn't native to this region, but when it arrived it evidently found the conditions suitable and naturalized easily, becoming a colorful and attractive invasive species. The flower stems carry clusters of brilliant violet blossoms (sterile) held above creamy-brown (fertile) flowers. Fortunately, in this case, the invasiveness hasn't caused any economic damage. Photo taken on March 6, 2018.