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This biodiversity stewardship project aims to provide formal conservation protection for the area of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, and beyond. 

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Pom Pom - An invasive alien plant

The invasive alien Pom-Pom bloom from early spring to late autumn, spreading air-borne seeds in the wind. If you are not already taking action against this alien plant, your URGENT response is called for.

The Doornranje area has an organised program to combat the Pom-Pom. Neighbours have recognised that working in isolation is ineffective. In the Oori and Vlakfontein, Lynne Clark has taken a team of workers through for two years running to treat pom pom spread on behalf of residents.

This plant is a Category ONE Invasive plant. What that means to you is:

" These are plants that must be controlled on land or water surfaces by ALL land users."

This category includes Lantana, Bugweed, Pampas Grass, Cat's Claw creeper, Oleander, and Balloon Vine.

Please note that if you are found guilty of neglecting to attend to these plants a fine of 4 years jail term or R10 000 or BOTH applies.

What to do, when and how

The Pompom is dormant in winter, and is would be pointless to take action once the leaves begin to yellow.  The best time to spray this invader with herbicide is during the growing phase, and preferably before flowering.

The Pompom spreads by rhizome and by seed.  Cutting the plant down, or burning is NOT effective.  The experience in the RNC is that this practice encourages vigourous growth, and rapid spread through the rhizome.  THe rhizome (root system) is well protected under the soil, not affected by burning, and leaves the Pompom ready to grow.

The Pompom thrives in disturbed or degraded soil.  Pay close attention to these areas.

In the RNC action has in the past often been taken too late. This may be because the flowring season begins when we all want to go on holiday, and wind down for the year.  This is when the pompom "gets busy"!

When the pompom is already flowering, many owners have included de-heading in their treatment regime.  The flowers are cut off, bagged and burnt.  This activity adds greatly to the duration and cost of the treatment intervention.  Also, walking through the flowering plants, some already seeding, disperses the seeds quickly and widely.

If you are able to apply herbicide while the plant is growing, i.e. before the flowering commences, the intervention will be more effective.

Try to use "spot application" rather than dispersed spraying.  Spray only the pompom plant, focusing on the leaves.

After 3-5 days the plant will appear to be wilting.  Leave in place and undisturbed as the plant will die over 10-14 days.

leaves of the pom pom weed

Learn to recognise the leaves of the Pom Pom - and treat BEFORE the bloom appears!

Here are some guidelines:

Do not leave your herbicide mixed and "ready-to-use" - use it all on the day that you mix it

Do use a crop oil with the herbicide; this assists the herbicide to "cling" to the leaves

Do use a dye in the sprayer so that you can see where you have sprayed - you will get confused!

Do not spray in the heat of the day. The plant protects itself from water loss, and this reduces the take-up of the herbicide.

Use your herbicide in the recommended dose

Do not use herbicide in a watercourse

Pompom weed, (Campuloclinium Macrocephalum).

This is an invader, one which has been lurking silently and prettily for some time. It’s a tall herb with conspicuous, light purple to pink flowerheads growing in large numbers along roadsides and in grasslands. One reaction is to cut these beautiful flowers for home. When the flowers die, they are thrown away – but they are not gone – the seeds spread easily and this is one of the reasons why the plant has become so widespread. Beware – attractive as its flowers may be, this alien plant spells trouble for the environment.

It belongs to the family Asteraceae (the daisy family) and is closely related to weeds. It is a native of Brazil but is also known in Paraguay. The genius Campuloclinium has a total of 20 species, all of which are indigenous to the tropical Americas.

The pompon weed is a herb with a perennial rootstock and several erect stems, growing each spring from a rhizome (modified underground stem). The upright stems may be green or purplish, and both the stems and leaves are covered with dense, bristly hairs. In summer, from December to March, numerous pink to light purple flowerheads are visible at the tip of the stems. Each flowerhead, about 25mm in diameter, consists of hundreds of tiny purple, strap-shaped florets surrounded by purple bracts. The florets mature to produce tiny, brown, one seeded fruits, about 5mm long, with tufts of bristles that promote dispersal by wind. Pompon weeds reproduce both through seeds and vegetatively.

Vegetatively reproduction refers to the plant’s ability to produce new plants from its underground rhizomes. A rhizome is a modified, nutrient filled underground stem that has numerous nodes along its length. Each of these nodes can give rise to a new plant. It has been reported that the roots secrete a chemical into the soil which prevents indigenous plants from germinating in its vicinity. Because it is unpalatable, livestock do not eat it. As a result, it gradually replaces the more palatable plant species and thus tends to become one of the only surviving plant species in overgrazed areas.

Other useful artciles on this website:

Guide to Invader Species (includes images to assist with identification of weeds and information on herbicides)

Dormant Danger: the pink peril

How to deal with Pompom, Lantana, and Syringa

(see also article from Department of Agriculture )