Satansbos (Solanum elaeagnifolium) – the return of the threat in the eastern Karoo and Free State

Satansbos (Solanum elaeagnifolium) – the return of the threat in the eastern Karoo and Free State
Justin C.O. du Toit1, Hubert Vorster2, Loraine van den Berg1
1Grootfontein Agricultural Development Group; 2Eradicate Satansbos Action Group (ESAG)

A re-emergence of the agricultural weed satansbos (Solanum elaeagnifolium) in the eastern Karoo and Free State has been postulated. Satansbos is common in eastern Karoo and Free State Towns, which act as a source of propagules (seeds and root fragments) for dispersal into other areas.  The deleterious effects of the weed are well known. Satansbos is found in arable lands, from home- gardens to large irrigation schemes. Owing to the proximity of arable land to water, there is imminent threat  of  satansbos  invading  large  catchments.  A  multi-stakeholder  group  ESAG  (Eradicate Satansbos Action Group) was formed to address the issue within the Chris Hani Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape.  ESAG’s approach is to attempt to control satansbos in towns, along roads, and in other key areas with herbicides using human resources recruited through the Expanded Public Works Program. The Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute (GADI) has registered a research program with four facets: 1) Biocontrol, 2) Research, 3) Information, and 4) Monitoring. Biocontrol will focus on establishing populations of the beetle Leptinotarsa texana at GADI for distribution to satansbos invasions. Research will focus on developing methods of control using herbicides and grazing management. Information will focus on educating farmers, townspeople, learners, and others about the plant and its potential harmful effects, whilst monitoring will focus on locating and mapping populations. This presentation aims to highlight the nature of the invasion of satansbos, describe planned and current interventions, and prompt information sharing with other interested parties towards combatting this increasingly concerning threat.