Volunteers remove pom pom weeds at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)
Volunteers remove pom pom weeds at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Volunteers remove pom pom weeds at Rietvlei Nature Reserve

By Chelsea Ntuli Time of article published Jan 25, 2021

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Pretoria - Pom pom flowers might look like a beautiful sight from a distance, but the dangerous weed is reducing the grazing grass available to the animals at Rietvlei Nature Reserve.

The City of Tshwane has already spent R1 million during the past year on removing this pest.

Dedicated nature lovers from Pretoria turned out in their gardening outfits at the weekend to volunteer and help in the removal of the invasive species.

On Saturday, one of the volunteers who has been closely associated with the Rietvlei Nature Reserve family for a long time, said the weed was taking food away from the animals, particularly the rhinos.

“People come here and they want to see the animals, and so when the pom pom takes over, there will be no food for the animals and that means there will be no animals to see.

“According to the Biodiversity Act, we actually need to eradicate it and we also know that it cost the city council R1m to remove it, but it grew back and it’s like almost nothing was done.”

She said when pom pom seeds fell to the ground and stayed in the soil for years they cut the purple flowers so that the seeds don't go into the ground.

She noted how herbicides registered for use on pom pom were expensive and using them on wetlands would kill all the other plants around it.

This is the end of their growing season and from September they will start growing again.

From 6am, 52 volunteers showed up to help clear the field and managed to remove 170 refuse bags of the flowers that they cut under the scorching sun.

The volunteer added that they did this as often as they could although last year they were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic which was challenging because they were wary of the volunteers’ safety.

“Today we stopped earlier because the sun was getting too hot but we will probably arrange to come back next weekend and continue the work.

“There is so much to experience and see here at the reserve, with different kinds of animals and that is what people love about Rietvlei so that is why we are passionate about saving it,” she said.

People contributed to spreading of the seeds through carrying them in the mud on their vehicles’ wheels or by picking and discarding the mature flowerheads.

Pretoria News

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