Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

New records of alien and potentially invasive grass (Poaceae) species for southern Africa.

Abstract

Background: The grasses (Poaceae) of the Flora of Southern Africa (FSA) region (i.e. Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) are relatively well documented, for both native and non-native species. Visiting taxonomic expertise nevertheless reveals new FSA and in-country records, particularly of non-native species. Such records provide an opportunity for improving biosecurity relating to potentially invasive but hitherto undetected non-native Poaceae in the FSA region. Objectives: To improve floristic data for non-native Poaceae occurring in the FSA region. Method: Field collections were made, herbarium collections, databases and relevant literature were studied. Results: New records are presented for non-native grasses that were encountered as locally common populations in the Drakensberg Mountain Centre of Floristic Endemism (DMC, Lesotho and South Africa). Festuca rubra and Agrostis capillaris are newly reported for sub-Saharan Africa and southern Africa and are also the first verified specimens reported for the African continent, with previous reports from northern-most Africa (Morocco, Algeria and/or Tunisia) uncertain. Jarava plumosa, introduced from South America and previously known for the whole of Africa from a single population in the Western Cape, South Africa, is newly reported from the border between the Eastern Cape, South Africa and Lesotho. The ecological implications, including the potential to become invasive, are discussed for each species, with taxonomic notes given to help differentiate them from closely resembling taxa. Conclusion: These new records of alien grass species raise concerns over their potential ecological impact, particularly as they are found in an area of conservation importance. Future efforts to monitor their distribution are of importance.