German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

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Animals, plants and fungi

Wild alien animal, plant and fungus species in Germany

Some 1,000 alien species established in the wild in Germany

Ever since people have engaged in agriculture and horticulture, trans-regional trade, travel and colonisation, they have spread alien species – either intentionally or inadvertently. So far, some 1,000 alien species – mostly from regions with similar climatic conditions – have become established and spread in the wild in Germany.


Alien species are species that do not naturally occur in a region, but are or have been deliberately or inadvertently introduced by humans. Only a small proportion of alien species endanger biodiversity and are consequently designated ‘invasive’. In total, some 1,000 alien species – mostly from regions with similar climatic conditions – have become established and spread in the wild in Germany. Alien species are divided according to the time of their introduction in a region into archaeobiota and neobiota. The year 1492 (discovery of America and the start of transcontinental trade) is taken as the dividing line. Neobiota are species introduced since 1492.

Most alien species are vascular plants

Vascular plants are by far the largest group among alien species. This relates to their varied cultivation in the open environment for horticulture, farming and forestry, resulting in their being introduced or spreading into the wild. A well-known example is giant hogweed, which was first found in the wild in Brandenburg about 160 years ago. Many wild flowers such as corn flower and poppy were first unintentionally introduced from Asia to Europe thousands of years ago with the spread of arable farming.

Most alien animal species introduced deliberately

About 20 of the alien animal species that were lastingly established in Germany before 1492 still occur in the country today. Most of these were deliberately introduced (as with fallow deer and carp) or followed humans on their travels (as with the black rat). An additional 319 alien animal species have become established in Germany since 1492. Among these is the North American raccoon.

In addition to the established species, there are currently some 1,600 alien plant species and 450 alien animal species that have so far only been recorded in isolated instances and are therefore considered to be sporadic.

It can be assumed that there are also large numbers of unreported alien species, most of all among invertebrate alien animal species and among lower plants and fungi, as these have not yet been adequately surveyed.

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