Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A rapid survey of naturalized and invasive eucalypt species in southwestern Limpopo, South Africa.

Abstract

Numerous eucalypts (species in the genera Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia) have been introduced to South Africa over the past two centuries. Several species have become naturalized or invasive and are the focus of control programmes. Because many eucalypts are difficult to identify in the field, the distribution patterns of many species in the country are poorly documented. A recent assessment of the distribution of E. camaldulensis highlighted two invasion hotspots in South Africa: the Western Cape, and the Modimolle region in southwestern Limpopo. Records for all eucalypts (many of which list only "Eucalyptus sp.") show similar hotspots. We conducted a rapid assessment to determine the species identity, extent of plantings, and invasive tendencies of eucalypt species at 113 localities in southwestern Limpopo. We recorded five species at the various localities, two of which have not been recorded in this area previously: E. blakelyi Maiden and E. distans Brooker, Boland & Kleinig. Two other species (E. camaldulensis and E. grandis) were observed invading river courses at numerous localities and are of concern. The South African Plant Invaders Atlas (SAPIA) and iNaturalist have only 73 records of eucalypts known from this area, in contrast to the 113 we recorded in this study. Besides providing new records of species, the survey highlighted the paucity of information on the identity and introduction status of eucalypts in South Africa. A systematic study to provide an inventory of eucalypts and their introduction status for the entire country is needed to serve as the foundation for strategies to manage species to capitalize on their benefits and minimize their impacts.