POMPOM wEED on the trail

This is Campuloclinium macrocephalum better known as Pompom weed, yes it’s a weed!!

Even though this plant is rather pretty, it is actually quite damaging to our environment. The roots produce an enzyme that inhibits the growth of locally occurring species of grazing grass.

Pompom weed originates from South America and was initially introduced into South Africa as a garden plant. However, Pompom weed has since spread into much of our country and continues to grow and spread at an alarming rate. Pompom weed thrives in disturbed soil, often near human development, such as roadsides and construction sites. Additionally, veld fires, flower picking and improper removal of this weed also aid its already rapid spread.

There are a number of ways in which this weed is managed throughout the country. These methods include burning, herbicides, cutting back and introduction of natural predators such as Liothrips tractabilis and the rust fungus Puccinia eupatorii.

The weed can however regenerate from its root system (Rhizomes) which is generally hardy and resistant to veld fires.

The cutting back method would require covering the flower with a bag to prevent spread of seeds and returning to cut back again throughout the season (Once the plant is cut back it promotes the regeneration of additional stems and will need to be monitored). The bags containing the flowers can then be frozen, burned or left out to rot in the sun.

Remembering our Leave No Trace Principles: Even though these flowers (weeds) are pretty, picking them helps them germinate! Pompom weed is classified as a Category 1B invasive plant. This means that it is illegal to harbour, plant, propagate or sell Pompom weed.

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