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November 2013

This month, we describe the first two alien invaders that are currently quite evident in our area as they are early spring bloomers. These are:

  • Syringa or Persian Lilac (Maksering) Meliaazedarach
  • Yellow Bells (Geelklokkies) Tecomastans

Syringa (introduced tree no. X604)
The Syringa is known throughout our country and originates from Asia and Australia. It was originally cultivated for ornamental and shade purposes and is now naturalised throughout Southern Africa, particularly invading stream banks and waste areas such as roadsides, railway embankments and open urban areas.
Description: A deciduous, spreading, fast growing tree to 20m. Bark on young stems reddish-brown and smooth later becoming greyish and fissured. Leaves: Deep green and glossy above, turning yellow in Autumn; occur alternately on opposite sides of branchlets; are twice-compound; leaflet margins serrated; egg-shaped with tips drawn to a point. Flowers: Lilac with purplish central column in large open sprays at the end of branches in Spring. Fruit: Berries; green, becoming yellow when ripe; thinly fleshy, becoming wrinkled and persisting after the leaves fall; considered poisonous though eaten by birds.

Yellow Bells (introduced tree no. X981)
The Yellow Bells is possibly less well known than the Syringa but is regrettably becoming more evident as it invades our natural areas. It is thought to originate from Mexico and the Southern USA. Cultivated in South Africa as an ornamental plant, it belongs to the same family as the Jacaranda and the spectacular Yellow Trumpet Tree (with which it is often confused as both flower now). It is more prevalent in the escarpment and Lowveld areas than on the Highveld.
Description: Densely leafy evergreen shrub or small tree to 4m. Leaves: Bright green above and paler below; leaves are compound with leaflets arranged in two ranks on opposite sides of the stalk with a single terminal leaflet; leaflets 5-13mm; margins sharply toothed. Flowers: Bright yellow; trumpet shaped; about 50mm long; in terminal sprays. Fruit: Brown, shiny pod; 150mm long; splitting open to release papery winged seeds which are wind dispersed.

Control: Both of the above species coppice freely when cut down and must therefore be treated with a herbicide. Herbicides containing the active ingredient Mazapyr such as Chopper or Hatchet can be used as a 5% solution in water and are registered for the control of Syringa but should be effective against Yellow Bells as well. The stump must be cut as low as possible and the herbicide applied immediately with a low pressure hand sprayer, avoiding run-off into the soil.

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January 2014

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December 2013

Since 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Biological Control of IAP’s in South Africa, it is appropriate that we take a closer look at this programme in this, the last issue of 2013.



November 2013

This month, we describe the first two alien invaders that are currently quite evident in our area as they are early spring bloomers

Read more


October 2013

One of the prime causes of habitat degradation - namely the introduction of alien plant species.

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September 2013

Biodiversity is the all-encompassing term to describe the variety of all life on Earth.

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February 2014

This month, we revert to our series on Alien Invader Plants (AIP’s) and how to identify and eradicate them.

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March 2014

As promised last month, our next “candidate” is the notorious weed Lantana camara.

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