17.3 C
Mossel Bay
29th November 2023
Community & LivingNature & Nurture

Great Brak River has Dragons

What if I told you that Great Brak River is under siege by Dragons? Bright green, thick skinned, full of spikes and sprawling through the undergrowth threatening our town’s biodiversity. You would probably think that I am mad or suffering from the aftereffects of cannabis becoming “legal”. But no longer are they confined to the pages of fairy tales, they are among us and the danger they pose is real.

Being able to regenerate severed limbs, successfully able to clone itself and having the ability to survive lengthy periods with no water or nutrition, the Dragon Fruit Cactus is a formidable opponent.
Classified by Nemba (National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act) as a Category 2 Invasive means that a demarcation permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept as a gift any plants. Being that no permits will be issued for Category 2 plants to exist in riparian zones, the land owner here in Great Brak River with Dragon Fruit on their property may unwittingly be in contravention of the law.

The Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus) otherwise known as Pitaya or the Queen of the Night, is a problem because of its ability to spread wildly. Using aerial roots from its three-angled thorny stems it climbs vertically and horizontally over other plants, smothering them and creating large areas of monoculture. In Great Brak River where diversity among species is rich, this kind of singular species dominance is destructive to the ecosystem.

Small plants can be sprayed and larger ones injected with a selective herbicide. They can also be chopped down but the stem base has to be removed. It should be deeply buried or burnt. Never dump it, it will spread.

Join the fight against Dragons and other Alien invasive plant species on your own property and with the Conservancy within the River system. If you are unsure of any matters regarding Alien invasive plant species within the Great Brak River area, why not come with your questions to the Great Brak River Conservancy Market stall at the Uitspan Market on the 1st Saturday of each month. We’d be glad to help.

(Photo caption: Dragon fruit cactus in bloom, and spreading over indigenous vegetation) 

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