City thanks residents for spotting new invasive weed

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A new emerging weed has recently been spotted in the Bothasig and Hazendal areas by members of the Custodians for Rare and Endangered Wildlife (CREW).

CREW reported this to the City of Cape Town and this has enabled the City’s Invasive Species Unit to start removing these plants before they set seed during their flowering cycle, which has started.

This is the first time that the Wild Sunflower (Verbesina encelioides) has been recorded in the Western Cape. It is considered an intrusive invader because it spreads over fertile land and prevents the development of any other local plant species. It was reported to the Early Detection, Rapid Response programme (EDRR), which aims to identify new and emerging invader species and to remove them before they establish and become widespread across the City.

Annual herb from North America

The plant is an annual herb originating from North America. It was until recently known to be found in the Northern Cape, Limpopo Province, North West and Mpumalanga. The wild sunflower invades roadsides, cultivated and uncultivated land, disturbed sites and sandy watercourses. It has the potential to take over the habitat of indigenous plants and its noxious toxins are a potential threat to grazing sheep and cattle.

The spotting, reporting and identification of the wild sunflower is just one example of how Capetonians can play a crucial role in the conservation of Cape Town’s unique natural areas. By being made aware of this species before it establishes itself, the EDRR programme is able to remove it before it becomes widespread around the city.

The EDRR programme, a partnership between the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Natural Resources Management Programmes (NRMP- Working for Water) and the City of Cape Town relies on the citizens of Cape Town to report sightings on any of the target species as well as potential new invaders.

Residents wanting to participate in the programme can visit www.capetowninvasives.org.za

Further information about invasive species and their impact can be found on www.facebook.com/ctinvasives (with a Cape Town focus) and www.facebook.com/invasivespeciessouthafrica (with a more general, South African focus).

Cape Town residents are urged to report sightings of this flower to the Cape Town Invasive Species Unit. Please see: http://www.capetowninvasives.org.za/edrr/target-list

To identify this plant, click here.