Earlier today I started getting WhatsApp messages about “Pompom weed” so I decided to research it a bit.
It turns out that this proclaimed weed is rapidly becoming the most serious threat to the conservation of grasslands in South Africa and it is getting out of hand in the Magaliesberg area.
Pompom weed is listed as a category one plant under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act No 43 of 1983).
Plants from this category are prohibited on any land or water surface in South Africa and must be controlled or eradicated where possible.
Pompom weed is drought tolerant and possibly allelopathic i.e. it might have a chemical defence mechanism that inhibits the growth of other species.
The pompom weed is believed to have been first imported from South America as a decorative plant.
The earliest record of its establishment in the wild is from Fountains Valley, Pretoria in the early 1960s and Westville near Durban in 1972 (think about that, it is only 50 years ago and the weed is now “one of the the most serious threats to the conservation of grasslands in South Africa”)
Currently the plant is most common in Gauteng, but also occurs in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State.
For some pertinant and instructive information please visit the following sites.
The Agricultural Research Council – Pompom weed page: http://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Pages/Pompom%20weed/Pompom-Weed.aspx
Farmers Weekly article from 2012
At Nyoka Wildlife Conservation, near Skeerpoort in Gauteng, volunteers tried the following herbicide eradication method with good results: http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-technology/farming-for-tomorrow/a-new-way-of-controlling-pom-pom-weed/