Pachysandra terminalis

Pachysandra terminalis Siebold et Zucc. (Japan) – A very common garden plant in Belgium, at present perhaps one of the most popular ground cover plants. Relatively rarely seen as an escape but doubtlessly under-recorded. Probably first documented in 1994 when it was found growing at the foot of a wall in Berchem (urban area). Also sometimes seen on dumps or levelled soil or along forest margins (as a garden outcast). Also occurring as a feudal plant in old parks, estates, etc. (see also Sukopp & Kowarik 2008). In the past years much more often observed, sometimes in relative abundance, and probably locally more or less naturalized. An up-to-date overview of Belgian records is available here:

For quite a long time Pachysandra terminalis was poorly known outside of cultivation in Europe (not mentioned, for instance, by Clement & Foster 1994). However, in the past years it has been increasingly reported as an escape. Stace (2010) cites it as ‘running wild’ locally in the British Isles. It is also known from the Netherlands (Christenhusz & van Uffelen 2001), Germany (e.g. Fuchs & al. 2006, Feder 2009, Bochumer Botanischer Verein 2010, Brandes & Nitzsche 2013), Austria (Melzer & Barta 2002, Stöhr & al. 2007), Switzerland (Bellosi & al. 2011) and it is doubtlessly widely neglected or overlooked elsewhere.

It is unclear if Pachysandra terminalis is able to produce seeds in Belgium. Probably all records refer to throw-outs or relics of cultivation. However, once established in a suitable habitat, the species easily persists and spreads vegetatively.

Pachysandra terminalis is a very vigorous and fast-growing (strong rhizomes) species and likely to increase in the wild in a near future, especially from thrown away garden waste. It possibly is a future pest species in woodlands. It is considered an invasive weed in parts of the United States, see for instance:

Selected literature:

Bellosi B., Selldorf P. & Schoenenberger N. (2011) Exploring the Flora on Inert Landfill Sites in Southern Ticino (Switzerland). Bauhinia 23: 1-15. [available online at:]

Bochumer Botanischer Verein (2010) Bemerkenswerte Pflanzenvorkommen im Bochum-Herner Raum im Jahr 2009. Jahrb. Bochumer Bot. Ver. 1: 164-176. [available online at:]

Brandes D. & Nitzsche J. (2013) Verwilderungen von kultivierten Arten im Freiland des Botanischen Gartens Braunschweig. Braunschweiger Geobotanische Arbeiten 10: 1-27. [available online at:]

Christenhusz M.J.M. & van Uffelen G.A. (2001) Verwilderde Japanse planten in Nederland, ingevoerd door von Siebold. Gorteria 27: 97-108. [available online at:]

Clement E.J. & Foster M.C. (1994) Alien plants of the British Isles. BSBI, London: XVIII + 590 p.

Feder J. (2009) Die spontane Flora des Rhododendronparks Bremen. Bremer Botanische Briefe 3: 2-8. [available online at:]

Fuchs R., Hetzel I., Loos G.H. & Keil P. (2006) Verwilderte Zier- und Nutzgehölze in Wäldern des Ruhrgebietes. AFZ-Der Wald 12/06: 622-625. [available online at:]

Melzer H. & Barta T. (2002) Dipsacus strigosus, die Schlanke Karde, und anderes Neues zur Flora von Oberöterreich, Wien und dem Burgenland. Linzer biol. Beitr. 34/2: 1237-1261. [available online at:]

Stace C. (2010) New flora of the British Isles, 3th ed.: XXXII + 1232 p. Cambridge University Press.

Stöhr O., Pilsl P., Essl F., Hohla M. & Schröck C. (2007) Beiträge zur Flora von Österreich, II. Linzer biol. Beitr. 39(1): 155-292. [available online at:]

Sukopp H. & Kowarik I. (2008) Stinsenpflanzen in Mitteleuropa und deren agriophytische Vorkommen. Ber. Inst. Landschafts- Pflanzenökologie Univ. Hohenheim 17: 81-90. [available online at:]

Van der Meijden R. (2005) Heukels’ Flora van Nederland (23e druk). Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen: 685 p.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith