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Alien Invasive Plant Awareness Campaign – Cotoneaster

Municipal Plant of the Month – Cotoneaster: (glaucophyllus), (simonsii), (pannosus (Silver leaf)) and (salicifolius).

An upright or arching shrub (usually growing 3-5m tall) with many branching stems. Younger branches are reddish-brown with fine hairs; older branches become hairless and turn grey or dark brown. It flowers in white clusters in spring and summer. The flower stalk is densely hairy. The fruit, which is small and globe-shaped, turns orange-red, scarlet or a dull deep red when mature.

Invasive status: Listed as a Category 1b invasive weed, it is a habitat transformer, especially in Gauteng, the Free State and Limpopo. It must be removed as it is a significant environmental weed that forms thickets under tall trees. Dense infestations will shade the indigenous ground flora and impede the regeneration of over-storey plants. It is spread by birds as well as by fruit washed along watercourses. The fruit is poisonous to humans. This species can also act as a host for bacterial fire blight, a disease common in orchards.

Control: Seedlings can be uprooted by hand and plants up to 3 m tall sprayed with a herbicide. Taller plants should be either ring-barked and poisoned or cut down and the stump chemically treated. Regular follow-up is essential.

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