New legislation for alien plants

2016-04-06 06:00

WHEN buying plants at a nursery, most people at one time or another have asked for advice regarding the habitat of a plant and how to maintain its health. Nurseries can also be a very good source of information and advice regarding alien plants.

“Nurseries frequently sell plants that are registered as alien plants, so my suggestion is that if you want to buy one, find out from the nursery whether it is a sterile cultivar,” says plant expert, Gill van Wyk.

“If you would like to place an alien plant in your garden, I would suggest you ask your nursery for one that is sterile so that it won’t produce seeds,” she added.

Sterile cultivars have been specifically developed to be sold in nurseries. An example of these is Lantana, which is available in a variety of colours.

“Many alien plants have been introduced to South Africa for their beauty as garden ornamentals, and some even arrived in feedbags during various wars. Because our climate is so conducive to plant growth, they have grown out of control and many have become a problem,” says Van Wyk.

“The water hyacinth and water lettuce that are clogging up our rivers are directly related to people using them in their garden ponds. They have been accidently spread to rivers through flooding in the rainy seasons. The financial knock-on effect of this is massive because of the cost of labour and herbicides that are needed to remove these plants from the rivers,” explains Van Wyk.

Government is getting tough on landowners who have alien invasive species on their property as well as individuals and businesses who deal in listed species. According to a law that came into effect in October 2014, any individual or business caught exchanging invasive plants without a licence is liable to prosecution.

Regarding landowners, if they sell their property and know there are alien plants on their property, the seller is liable to be fined up to R1 million.

If you would like to learn more about identifying and eradicating alien plants, contact Van Wyk atshack or 071 403 0320. - Supplied.

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