Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Research Briefing
  • Published:

Invasion stages help resolve Darwin’s naturalization conundrum

Charles Darwin suggested that phylogenetic distance between introduced aliens and natives might determine invasion success, but he was inconclusive about the direction of the relationship. An analysis of alien plants introduced to Southern Africa for cultivation reveals that the relationship changes direction from one invasion stage to the other.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Global phylogenetic tree of cultivated and naturalized species in Southern Africa.


  1. Darwin, C. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (John Murray, 1859). This famous book by Darwin introduces species evolution.

  2. Thuiller, W. et al. Resolving Darwin’s naturalization conundrum: a quest for evidence. Divers. Distrib. 16, 461–475 (2010). A Review article that presents inconsistent outcomes of Darwin’s naturalization conundrum tests.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Richardson, D. M. et al. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Divers. Distrib. 6, 93–107 (2000). A Review article that conceptualizes the naturalization and invasion process.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Omer, A. et al. Characteristics of the naturalized flora of Southern Africa largely reflect the non-random introduction of alien species for cultivation. Ecography 44, 1812–1825 (2021). This paper reports on the implications of ignoring alien species’ introduction bias.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This is a summary of: Omer, A. et al. The role of phylogenetic relatedness on alien plant success depends on the stage of invasion. Nat. Plants (2022).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Invasion stages help resolve Darwin’s naturalization conundrum. Nat. Plants 8, 873–874 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing