Durban Invasives Target List

Check out this list of alien invasive plants in Durban:

No syringa though?

Red Sesbania
Red Sesbania
aliens garden

What is this plant?

I have this plant in my garden and I need to know what it is, it is a very fast grower and already higher than the roof. The leaves grow cylindrical around the stems and it now has green berry like “fruit” in a cluster. Can someone please help?


SA tightens alien species regulation

The Department of Environmental Affairs has set aside R200 million to further regulate invasive alien species. The amount budgeted over the next three years is in addition to the R4.2-billion budget to control alien species through the Working for Water Programme. Invasive alien species are species that have been introduced into an area and are able to out-compete and displace indigenous or useful alien species. They may be plants, animals or microbes, including diseases, and are widely regarded as among the biggest threats to the productive use of land and water, the ecological functioning of natural systems, the populations’ health and the economy. Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, has warned that pine trees from Europe, Asia and North America that are invading SA’s mountain catchments could have unaffordable consequences for water security, as they use far more water than the indigenous plants they displace. Amended Alien and Invasive Species Regulations Last week Friday, the department published the amended regulations on Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act. The AIS Regulations are aimed at preventing the introduction of more species that may be potentially invasive. This includes monitoring the deliberate and accidental introduction of species through airports, harbours, land borders and mail.

Parthenium hysterophorus


Minister Molewa said those who want to bring species into the country will be required to have a risk assessment done to establish the potential harm from introducing the species. One of the 559 invasive species listed in the Regulations is famine weed (Parthenium hysterophorus), which is an inconspicuous, daisy-like plant from South America that is spreading across northern KwaZulu-Natal. Famine weed has the potential to invade the driest parts of South Africa and most of Africa. Minister Molewa has warned that neither South Africa’s stock nor game species can survive in these invaded areas. “Crop production will be unaffordable. Allergies and skin lesions in humans will abound and respiratory diseases will worsen. It is truly a Frankenstein plant, an unwanted and relentless gate crasher in our country,” she said. Although still an emerging species in many parts of the country, famine weed is so invasive that it is already classified as Category 1b. Minister Molewa is, however, optimistic that suitable biological control agents will be found to combat the threat of famine weed. South Africa currently has tens of thousands of alien species, most of which are not necessarily a problem. “A relatively small percentage of these have become invasive. Nevertheless, the impact of these invasive species on the country’s economy is estimated in the hundreds of billions of rands, and the impact is rapidly increasing. “The most difficult category is the Category 2 species. These are species that have value, such as plantation trees and fish-farming species, and yet can invade with very negative consequences outside of where they are being utilised,” she said.

Spotting the Opportunities

The department wants to optimise the economic benefits of these species, while minimising the damage they cause. Permits are granted for their utilisation, but they must be controlled outside of what is allowed in terms of the permit. The minister said that the department is striving to take a balanced approach for species that have value. For example, many invasive gum (Eucalyptus) species from Australia have a negative impact on water, biological diversity and in terms of the spread of wild fires. Minister Molewa, however, pointed out that Eucalyptus is also an excellent source of wood, shade, beauty and food for bees. “The regulations make provision for optimising their benefits, whilst curtailing their most negative impacts,” said the minister. She also said the department has accommodated public sentiment by not listing the much-loved jacaranda tree from South America in urban areas, and allowing large specimens within 50 metres of farm homesteads. “In these urban areas, there will be no control required for the species. It will be as if we are treating urban areas as plantations and the trees can continue to be grown as street trees and ornamental garden trees. “This is not a battle that government can win on its own. These regulations, coupled with the investments made through the Working for Water programme, have the potential to reverse the cancer of invasions in our country,” she said.

aliens indigenous

National Invasive Animal Forum Launched

Invasive animals are just as detrimental to the environment and conservation efforts as invasive plants. Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) threaten the genetic integrity of some indigenous ducks, while house crows (Corvus splendens) compete against indigenous bird species for resources and spread human enteric diseases. These are just two examples of many alien invasive animals threatening our ecosystems.

nat invasives

The National Invasive Animal Forum (NIAF) was formed on 7 March 2013 in Cape Town with the aim of gathering experience and expertise in the field. It is hoped that the forum will be able to assist conservationists and urban managers deal with the conflict associated with animal invasions. The forum is also a meeting place for scientists, biologists, conservationists, policy-makers and other interested stakeholders concerned about issues relating to invasive animals. Chaired by Tim Snow, many of the forum’s members originally sat on the National Problem Bird Forum and came to the newly constituted forum with a wealth of experience.

Second meeting

A second meeting of the NIAF was recently held on 12 June 2013 at the KZN Sharks Board in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal. The control and management of mallard ducks and house crows were two topics under discussion, and representatives from the City of Cape Town Invasive Species Unit, Endangered Wildlife Trust Crane Programme, Ezemvelo-KZN Wildlife, Birdlife SA, Grain SA and Environmental Programmes: Nursery and Pet Trade Partnership, were present. Other matters raised included the current population explosion of gerbils (a small rodent) which is causing havoc across agricultural regions, particularly for maize and sunflower producers. Maize producers have lost an estimated R70 million in maize production due to this rodent, which tracks down and eats the germinating seeds. It also causes a hazard for tractors and equipment which become stuck when colonial burrows collapse.

The aim of the National Invasive Animal Forum is to co-ordinate efforts among all stakeholders and prioritise research efforts and implementation plans. It is open to anyone interested or involved in invasive animal management. Future  meetings are scheduled to take place in KZN and in the Cape, and these intend to bridge the gap between people working on all forms of invasive organisms by creating awareness and collaboration. For more information, email Tim Snow at


aliens sustainability

New Durban Invasives website goes live

The ‘Durban Invasives’ website was recently launched and will assist invasive species managers to effectively manage targeted invasive plants in the Durban metropolitan area. Residents of Durban, as well as visitors, can also report sightings of targeted invasive plants which will be earmarked for eradication.

The website is user-friendly and currently lists 10 targeted species that are increasingly becoming problematic in Durban. This list may be revised, updated and added to in the future. Currently listed plants include:

Port Jackson willow (Acacia saligna)

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

Pompom weed (Campuloclinium macrocephalum)

Lollipop climber (Diplocyclos palmatus)

Mauritius hemp (Fucraea foetida)

Formosa lily (Lilium formosanum)

Parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus)

Kudzu vine (Pueraria montana var. lobata)

Red sesbania (Sesbania punicea)

Ant tree (Triplaris americana)

durban invasives

Individuals interested in recording sightings of these listed species can register as Spotters on the website. Spotters can then enter locality information on the map provided on the website, or upload geotagged photos. This information will be used by the Durban invasive species managers to assess the extent of invasions and then implement the appropriate control methods.

For more information, visit The website is a partnership between the eThekwini Municipality, the Natural Resource Management Programmes (a division of Environmental Programmes, Department of Environmental Affairs) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s invasive species programme.