New aliens!

snakegrass&periwinkle

New NEMBA (National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act) regulations have just been passed with regards to Invasive Alien Species in SA. For a proudly South African, pro-indigenous, biodiversity-aware person like me, this news borders on being described as exciting (seriously!)

I’m primarily interested in the plant side of things, and these new rules put an additional 93 plants into category 1 – the most ‘heinous’ of states (well, if you’re one of the offending plants!) For those of you who don’t know much about these things, the short explanation is that category 1 plants need to be removed and destroyed. They are effectively “Enemy No 1!” from a biodiversity perspective.

Even more interesting, is that a number of them are fairly common garden plants which you’re likely to find in slightly older gardens, or mass-planted in unimaginative landscape designs like that of my very own townhouse complex! Many of the ‘offending’ garden plants are what the gardening world calls “ornamentals”, which leads me to suspect they ended up here thanks to some misguided colonialists back in the day who insisted on having their native plants in their gardens regardless that they were now on a different continent.

Check out this article on the wonderful Invasives.org.za website which highlights the plants you may well find in your (or your mom’s) garden and which you now need to launch an attack against. I’m willing to bet that even if you aren’t an avid gardener you will recognise ones like the yellow iris, snake grass, periwinkle and the mock strawberry.

Personally, I’m off to break the news to my “mother-in-law” and my body corporate that they need to pull up all their precious periwinkle…  should make for some interesting conversations!

PS: I would like to take a quick moment to express much gratitude to Kay Montgomery of Invasives.org.za and Lesley Henderson of SANBI who responded very quickly and comprehensively to a list of questions I sent through to them with regards to these new regulations.  I will be writing an article about these regs for the Joburg Green Map also, so I needed a bit extra info to arm myself with in case I’m confronted by an irate or confused gardener…

Header images: Equisetum hyemale (snake grass) via Invasives.org.za and Vinca major (periwinkle) via Wikipedia.