Flowers

Invasive Species Scotch Thistle Sibuya Game Reserve

October and November have at last brought good rains to finally break the long drought. The dams have filled and the grass is growing but as usually happens in reserve management, with the advantages, there are also some disadvantages!

The flush of spring growth has brought with it an explosion of Scotch Thistle.  This aggressive weed came to South Africa from Scotland in the late eighteen eighties mixed in with the bales of horse feed imported for the British troops in the Boer war and has since spread throughout the Eastern Cape.

The seed can lie dormant in the soil for years and germinates wherever the soil is disturbed or whenever the grass is eaten right down by animals and then followed by heavy rain. This robust weed grows fast and very soon the attractive lilac flowers are visible everywhere. The elephants and the eland enjoy eating these flowers but even they can't eat them fast enough. Pretty as they are, thistles are not indigenous, so we try to control them by mowing them down before the seeds are formed and scattered by the wind. 

In answer to the guest who asked, when looking around at the reserve whilst on game drive... “Who does your landscaping?” we have to finally admit... sometimes we have to!



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