Forming a “National Working Group on Alien Grasses”

Vernon Visser –University of Stellenbosch

We have 113 naturalised grasses species in South Africa and 7 CARA category 1 grass species.

The idea is to establish a national working group in South Africa aiming at developing a national strategy for alien grasses and conducting a national risk assessment of potential alien grass invaders.

The grasses form the fourth largest plant family with over 11,000 species with some of the most important crop and pasture species, so it is not surprising that many grass species have been extensively moved around the world.

Some of the best examples of invasive species causing radical ecosystem transformations are also the result of introduced grasses—e.g. radically altered fire regimes—with grasses of African origin having often the largest impacts.

Comparatively, Africa appears to have suffered far smaller impacts from invasive grasses, with some notable exceptions, e.g. giant reed (Arundo donax), Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) and a number of annual grasses of Eurasian origin.

For more information please see the fact sheets below:

Giant reed (Arundo donax) 

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