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Extract from the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA KZN NEWS)
As usual at this time of the year particularly in Coastal KwaZulu-Natal, Mother Nature is at her bountiful best. Neat tidy little winter gardens suddenly resemble jungle patches and Madam is rather sorry that she had fallen for all those plants that were on sale at the local Nursery the previous year. Surprisingly many of her purchases have just run wild and are seeding themselves everywhere or are aggressively swamping everything else in her garden. She tells 'John' that he must trim here and prune there and remove all this rubbish. When John asks what he should do with the mountain of Pereskia fronds, seed-laden branches of Camphor trees, Yellow Bells, piles of Mexican Sunflower heads, the accumulated heads of Wild Canna, Wedilia Tickseed, Sword fern, Chandelier Plant and many many more, Madam is faced with a dilemma! There is no room in her tidy garden for all this unwanted plant material. What should she do?
Madam, in her ignorance sets in motion an inexorable chain reaction that
is set to cost the country millions for the subsequent eradication and
control of these garden escapees. She instructs John to take his barrow-loads
of alien infested rubbish and to dump them on the vacant plot just down
the road. Other gardeners in the area follow suit and soon there are 50
or 60 or more declared invaders let loose in the area.
Chromolaena odorata: (left) Public enemy No. 1 Also known as Triffid. Believed to have arrived in Durban with packing material during the Second World War. This Category 1 invader from Central and South America is already costing South Africa millions of rands in lost grazing and eradication. Each plant can easily disperse millions of seeds which are carried by wind, water and birds. If left unchecked it will scramble up the tallest trees eventually smothering and killing them. Uproots easily but beware... in damp conditions it will send roots down from the stem where it lies on the ground. An alien nightmare!
If you see them kill them!
Lantana camara: Rated as one of the ten worst weeds in the world. Compact bushy shrub or untidy scrambler. Will smother trees up to ten meters tall. Has square stems with rows of small thorns. Flowers pink and orange are followed by fruits which become purple black when ripe. Birds rodents and monkeys help spread the seed. Lantana is poisonous to humans and domestic animals. Lantana and all its hybrid forms are proclaimed noxious weeds throughout South Africa. Not to be confused with indigenous harmless Lantana rugosa (Birds Brandy) which is much smaller and has light purple edible fruit.
Bugweed: Solanum mauritianum. Originally from South America this plant can grow to the size of a small tree. Even young plants produce clusters of fruit which are soft and yellow when ripe. Poisonous to humans but extremely attractive with birds who unwittingly propagate this alien invader. Bugweed has large oval leaves and purple flowers at the end of the branches. Like most aliens it grows very fast. Care must be taken when clearing these plants as they dislodge fine hairs which contain toxins that may cause allergic and breathing problems in workers.
Melia azedarach. Originally from Asia this attractive, deciduous
tree is rapidly invading large areas of the Palmiet Reserve.In spring
the tree is hung with clusters of fragrant, pretty, pale mauve flowers.
These are followed by drooping clusters of brownish-yellow berry's that
become wrinkled when ripe. Individual parts of the tree have varying toxicity.
There are many reports of death after eating fruits or other parts of
this tree. Birds especially Purple Crested Turacos (Formally Loeries) use the fruit and spread
To Kill... Debark and follow up with suitable herbiside
Curtain of Death... A Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum) above strangles the locals in the Palmiet Nature Reserve while a Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronariusm) below prepares to propagate more seeds. South Africa's indigenous wild Ginger is now extinct in the wild mainly through muti collection. Herbariums are attempting to preserve the species in indigenous plant nurseries..
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