Visit

Of thorn apples and added spice

Thu 25 Apr 2019

Our volunteers do all kinds of work in the Reserve to try and bring back nature as it used to be before there were cattle farms. This week’s chore was to eradicate plants that don’t belong in the bush but thrive nevertheless. And by doing so, threaten the indigenous species. Time to roll up some sleeves!

Everywhere in the world, there are plants that should not be there. People have imported them to enrich their gardens or because they thought they would be useful in some way. And some have gone rogue, spreading like mad and displacing native plants. Usually they are not eaten by the indigenous animals or attacked by local insects, so spread unchecked.

There are four different invasive weeds at Limpopo-Lipadi and us volunteers have this week been trying to control thorn apple. This spiky pest is usually found around old farmsteads and waterholes, where it was most likely introduced by the landowners. At least it is an annual and is fairly easy to pull up. However, we need to get them out before they set seed, so there is some urgency to the task. Some grow right beneath very thorny bushes, others surrounded by burr grass, so it is not easy to get every last one. And get them all out we must, because if only one throws out its seeds, there will be hundreds more again next year. This isn’t the most inspiring of tasks for volunteers, but unlike back home in Europe, there is just a little bit of added spice. You just do not know if hidden in the grass there is a cobra, or if a lion might be sleeping behind the next bush.