1. Understanding the mechanisms that affect invasion success of alien species is a major issue in current ecological research. Although many studies have searched for either functional or habitat attributes that drive invasion mechanisms, few researchers have addressed the role of phylogenetic diversity of alien species.
2. Here, using data from 21 urban floras located in Europe and eight in the USA, we show that the phylogenetic diversity of alien species is significantly lower than that of native species, both at the continental scale and at the scale of single cities.
3. Second, we show that if archaeophytes and neophytes (non-native species introduced into Europe before and after AD 1500, respectively) are analysed separately, archaeophytes show lower phylogenetic diversity than neophytes, while the phylogenetic structure of neophytes is indistinguishable from a random sample of species from the entire species pool.
4. Our results suggest that urban aliens are subject to environmental filters that constrain their phylogenetic diversity, although these filters act more strongly upon archaeophytes than neophytes.
5. Synthesis. Despite the huge taxonomic diversity of plants imported into European and American cities, the strong environmental filters imposed by cities constrain the functional diversity of urban floras, which is reflected in their generally low phylogenetic diversity. Urban alien floras are mainly composed of phylogenetically related species that are well adapted to anthropogenic habitats, although these filters are stronger for species groups with longer residence times.