Pretty but poisonous

Large specimens of this tree can be seen growing in gardens, neglected areas, and along watercourses in Greytown and the surrounding district.
Large specimens of this tree can be seen growing in gardens, neglected areas, and along watercourses in Greytown and the surrounding district.

SPRING seems to have truly arrived with welcome rain followed by steadily increasing temperatures.

Numerous trees and shrubs have burst into bud or new leaf after their winter dormancy.

Easily noticed at present, because of it’s masses of fragrant lilac flowers, is the Syringa, Sering in Afrikaans or umSilinga in isiZulu.

Large specimens of this tree can be seen growing in gardens, neglected areas, and along watercourses in Greytown and the surrounding district.

Apart from the Syringa being a declared category 1b invasive species, because of it’s tendency to spread easily and clog valuable water courses, it also poses a threat to human life.

After flowering, the tree produces abundant clusters of yellow-brown berries relished by birds.

These berries, which remain on the tree for a long time, constantly dropping throughout the year, are one of the most common causes of human poisoning in South Africa with fatalities having been recorded.

Young children are particularly vulnerable to poisoning because of their tendency to put everything into their mouths, or because they mistakenly eat the berries as fruit.

The Syringa is a Category 1b Declared Invasive Weed because of its characteristics that are harmful to humans and the environment. Legislation dictates that these are prohibited plants which must be controlled or eradicated.

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