What are Alien plants and how can they be identified?

Alien trees threaten biodiversity, increase the risk of more intense and frequent wildfires and also guzzle water. This is an important factor in water scarce regions, like South Africa, that experience droughts.

Invasive alien plants are a threat to South Africa. They consume more water than local plants, depleting our valuable underground water resources, take over our ecosystem and contaminate our underground water supply. More than 559 alien species are considered as invasive and a further 560 are listed as prohibited and may not be introduced into South Africa.

According to the Conversation, alien trees are invading mountainous areas across South Africa. These are important water generating regions and the trees threaten water supplies in several cities, among them Cape Town and Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth). Both have experienced water shortages in recent years.

Gumtree list some of the most invasive alien plants affecting flora in South Africa:

  • Rooikrans is a tree originally from Australia brought to Cape Town as an ornamental tree in the 1800’s. It does not shed leaves and is usually multi-stemmed.
  • Black Wattle – is native to Australia and can be distinguished by its olive green leaves and yellow or white small round balls as well.
  • Port Jackson – is a willowy shrub that is indigenous to South Western Australia and introduced into South Africa in 1848. The tree does not have true leaves, but leaf-shaped stalks called phyllodes.
  • Silky Hakea – is a tree that can grow to the length of 5-metres and is made distinctive because of its dark-green, smooth, needle-like leaves.
  • Long-leafed Wattle – is a tree that has long bright green leaves and its flowers are bright yellow and in a cylindrical shape. It originates from Australia and Tasmania.
  • Stinkbean – it is a shrub that originates from Australia and is commonly found in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. It has dark green leaves and cream-coloured flowers.
  • Australian Myrtle – it is a highly-invasive tree that features dull green, almost grey leaves and blooms the occasional flower during the middle of the year.
  • Spider Gum – also known as the Bloekom or spinnekop tree – it has light green leaves and is primarily found in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local automotive vehicle information close to home.

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