Help curb invaders

2015-10-13 06:00

The City of Cape Town’s invasive species unit is calling on residents to report sightings of the internationally notorious Australian bluebell creeper, which can be identified by its delicate blue, bell-shaped flowers.

This invasive creeper is one of the species that will be discussed at a series of public forums during Invasive Species Week. Its rapid spread is causing concern among conservationists because the smothering and displacement of indigenous vegetation could result in ecological damage.

The City’s green jobs unit (which includes the invasive species unit) is launching a public campaign to locate known plants. The national invasive species list comprises 559 invasive species in four categories.

Invasive species public forum meetings

The first meeting of the series will be held in Fish Hoek at the Fish Hoek Community Hall today from 10:30 to 12:30. The other areas will be announced later.

The topics for discussion include a landowner’s duty, how to deal with the four categories of invasive species, the relationship between fire and invasive plants, how the City of Cape Town’s invasive species management plan affects landowners and the City’s invasive species management programme in the far south.

Invasive Australian bluebell creeper

The invasive Australian bluebell creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) is a climbing plant or shrub with branches that twine around the stems of other plants.

The foliage of the bluebell creeper smothers native vegetation. The plant is toxic and can cause skin irritations and nausea.

In South Africa, landowners must control, remove and destroy the plant (and any seed) on their property.

The bluebell creeper can be identified by its dark, hairless green leaves about 50 mm in length. The upper surface of the leaves is distinctly glossy, with the under surface being lighter in colour with a prominent mid-vein. The bell-shaped flowers are 10mm long and blue-mauve (sometimes pink or white) in colour, with five petals occurring in drooping clusters of between one to five flowers at the tips of the branches. Flowers are usually seen from September to April. The cylindrical fruits (seed pods) are 20mm long and are initially green in colour, turning purple-black when ripe.


The City calls on members of the public to assist by never disposing of the bluebell creeper as part of waste, taking a picture and reporting sightings to and learning more about the plant on

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