Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Eragrostis lehmanniana
(Lehmann lovegrass)

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Datasheet

Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Eragrostis lehmanniana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Lehmann lovegrass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Eragrostis lehmanniana is a grass native to southern Africa and introduced to arid areas of India, the USA, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. It has become invasive, especially in the southwestern USA (primarily...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
TitlePanicle
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
Copyright©Max Licher/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
PanicleEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. Sedona, Arizona, USA.©Max Licher/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicles. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
TitlePanicles
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicles. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
Copyright©Max Licher/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicles. Sedona, Arizona, USA.
PaniclesEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicles. Sedona, Arizona, USA.©Max Licher/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
TitlePanicle
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
Copyright©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
PanicleEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); spikelet. Salero HQ, Salero Ranch, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. March, 2014.
TitleSpikele
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); spikelet. Salero HQ, Salero Ranch, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. March, 2014.
Copyright©Sue Carnahan/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); spikelet. Salero HQ, Salero Ranch, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. March, 2014.
SpikeleEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); spikelet. Salero HQ, Salero Ranch, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, USA. March, 2014.©Sue Carnahan/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); stem and ligule. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
TitleStem and ligule
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); stem and ligule. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
Copyright©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); stem and ligule. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
Stem and liguleEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); stem and ligule. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
TitlePanicle
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
Copyright©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.
PanicleEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle. On NM Hwy 80 northeast of Portal, USA. September, 2008.©Patrick Alexander/Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-SA 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); seeds. Note scale.
TitleSeeds
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); seeds. Note scale.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/Steve Hurst
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); seeds. Note scale.
SeedsEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); seeds. Note scale.Public Domain - Released by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/Steve Hurst
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); herbarium specimen. Note cm scale. Upper San Pedro River floodplain at Contention, Cochise County, Arizona, USA. Collected on 25 July 2001. Elevation: 1173 meters. Habitat: Mesquite-desert willow patch.
TitleHerbarium specimen
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); herbarium specimen. Note cm scale. Upper San Pedro River floodplain at Contention, Cochise County, Arizona, USA. Collected on 25 July 2001. Elevation: 1173 meters. Habitat: Mesquite-desert willow patch.
Copyright©Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); herbarium specimen. Note cm scale. Upper San Pedro River floodplain at Contention, Cochise County, Arizona, USA. Collected on 25 July 2001. Elevation: 1173 meters. Habitat: Mesquite-desert willow patch.
Herbarium specimenEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); herbarium specimen. Note cm scale. Upper San Pedro River floodplain at Contention, Cochise County, Arizona, USA. Collected on 25 July 2001. Elevation: 1173 meters. Habitat: Mesquite-desert willow patch.©Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle, herbarium specimen. Collected from an isolated hill, NE of Sierra Anibacacachi, Rancho La Calera, ca.10km  SW of Agua Prieta. Mexico, Sonora, Mpio. de Agua Prieta. Elevation: 1287 meters (4221ft). Habitat: Chihuahuan desertscrub on limestone.
TitleHerbarium specimen
CaptionEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle, herbarium specimen. Collected from an isolated hill, NE of Sierra Anibacacachi, Rancho La Calera, ca.10km SW of Agua Prieta. Mexico, Sonora, Mpio. de Agua Prieta. Elevation: 1287 meters (4221ft). Habitat: Chihuahuan desertscrub on limestone.
Copyright©Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0
Eragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle, herbarium specimen. Collected from an isolated hill, NE of Sierra Anibacacachi, Rancho La Calera, ca.10km  SW of Agua Prieta. Mexico, Sonora, Mpio. de Agua Prieta. Elevation: 1287 meters (4221ft). Habitat: Chihuahuan desertscrub on limestone.
Herbarium specimenEragrostis lehmanniana (Lehmann lovegrass); section of panicle, herbarium specimen. Collected from an isolated hill, NE of Sierra Anibacacachi, Rancho La Calera, ca.10km SW of Agua Prieta. Mexico, Sonora, Mpio. de Agua Prieta. Elevation: 1287 meters (4221ft). Habitat: Chihuahuan desertscrub on limestone.©Intermountain Region Herbarium Network - CC BY-NC 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees

Preferred Common Name

  • Lehmann lovegrass

Other Scientific Names

  • Eragrostis chaunantha Pilg.
  • Eragrostis lehmanniana var. chaunantha (Pilg.) De Winter
  • Eragrostis pseudoteff Peter
  • Eragrostis vansonii Bremek. & Oberm.

International Common Names

  • English: Atherstone lovegrass; common lovegrass; lovegrass

Local Common Names

  • Namibia: blousadgras; kleinbloussaadgras; knietjiesgras; ombidangolo
  • South Africa: blousaadgras; growwevleigras; kleinsoetgras; knietjiesgras; litjiesgras; soetgras; vlei gras

Summary of Invasiveness

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Eragrostis lehmanniana is a grass native to southern Africa and introduced to arid areas of India, the USA, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. It has become invasive, especially in the southwestern USA (primarily in Arizona), where it was introduced in the 1930s for range restoration purposes. E. lehmanniana is also used as a forage grass, despite only the immature plants being palatable. It reproduces primarily by seeds, which are easily spread by wind, water, animals and vehicles. E. lehmanniana impacts ecosystems by altering fire regimes and displacing indigenous species. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Eragrostis
  •                                 Species: Eragrostis lehmanniana

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Eragrostis is a large and taxonomically complex genus comprising more than 350 species, mainly in tropical and subtropical regions (PROTA, 2015).

Eragrostis lehmanniana has three botanical varieties: var. ampla,  var. chaunantha and var. lehmanniana (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015), although The Plant List (2013) does not recognize these infraspecific taxa, treating the latter two as synonymous with E. lehmanniana Nees and var. ampla as a synonym of E. curvula (Schrad.) Nees.

Description

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E. lehmanniana is a perennial grass, without rhizomes but sometimes with stolons; culms up to 90 cm tall, erect, ascending or decumbent and rooting at the nodes, branched, glabrous at the nodes (but the internodes glabrous or pilose), eglandular; basal leaf sheaths shortly pilose below or sometimes glabrous, chartaceous, ± compressed and keeled, eglandular, persistent; ligule a line of hairs; leaf laminas 6-25 cm x 1.5-3.5 mm, linear to broadly linear, flat to involute, puberulous above, eglandular. Panicle (7-)9-16(-18) cm long, ovate to narrowly ovate-elliptic, loose and open, the spikelets condensed about the branchlets on pedicels 0.5-1 mm long, the primary branches not in whorls, terminating in a fertile spikelet, glabrous in the axils, eglandular. Spikelets 4-11(-12) x 1-1.5 mm, oblong to linear, lightly laterally compressed, (4-)7-15-flowered, the lemmas disarticulating from below upwards, the rachilla persistent below, sometimes becoming fragile above; glumes 1.3-2.0 mm long, subequal, 1-veined, reaching to between half and two-thirds (even three-quarters) of the way along the adjacent lemmas, lightly keeled, narrowly oblong-lanceolate in profile, smooth or scaberulous on the keel, subacute at the apex; lemmas 1.8-2 mm long, 3-veined, lightly keeled, elliptic-oblong in profile, membranous with distinct lateral nerves, appressed to the rachilla, those in opposite rows scarcely overlapping, the rachilla ± visible between them, dark green, grey-green or reddish, faintly asperulous on the back, obtuse to acute, shallowly 3-lobed at the apex; palea persistent or rarely deciduous with the lemma, glabrous on the flanks, the keels slender, wingless, smooth or scaberulous; stamens 3, anthers 0.7-1 mm long. Caryopsis 0.6-0.8 mm long, oblong to elliptic (PROTA, 2015).

In the USA, E. lehmanniana is a warm-season, perennial bunchgrass growing with bunches somewhat open, not forming compact crowns, with numerous stem bases. It is more or less erect, with some stems procumbent, often rooting at the nodes. It forms continuous stands with individuals difficult to separate. Leaves are short and about 1.5 mm wide and 2-12 cm long (Peterson, 2003). Seeds are small, with 9.2-14.3 million/kg (Uchytil, 1992).

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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E. lehmanniana is native to South Africa (Uchytil, 1992), and is particularly abundant in Orange Free State (PROTA, 2015). It also occurs in other parts of southern Africa, including Angola and Zambia, and was introduced to East Africa (Oudtshoorn, 2002). It is present in South America in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela (Boechat and Peterson, 1995; Boechat and Longhi-Wagner, 2000; Boechat and Longhi-Wagner, 2001; Peterson et al., 2001; Soreng et al., 2014), in the USA in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma,Texas and Utah, as well as Hawaii (Correll and Johnston, 1970; Uchytil, 1992; Barkworth et al., 2003; Peterson, 2003) and in Mexico (Beetle, 1977; Espejo-Serna et al., 2000; Peterson and Valdés-Reyna, 2005; Herrera Arrieta and Cortés Ortiz, 2010; Herrera Arrieta, 2014). In Asia, E. lehmanniana is only reported in India (Bor, 1960; Oudtshoorn, 2002).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IndiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive BOR, 1960; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015

Africa

AngolaPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
BotswanaPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
KenyaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PROTA, 2015
LesothoPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
MozambiquePresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
NamibiaPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
South AfricaWidespreadNative Not invasive Boechat and Longhi-Wagner, 2001; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PROTA, 2015
ZambiaPresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015
ZimbabwePresentNative Not invasive PROTA, 2015

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Beetle, 1977; Espejo et al., 2000; Peterson and Valdés-Reyna, 2005; Herrera and Cortés, 2010; Herrera-Arrieta, 2014Chihuahua, Coahuila, Ramos Arizpe, Durango, Nuevo León, Galeana, and Sonora
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Correll and Johnston, 1970; Barkworth et al., 2003; Peterson, 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedBarkworth et al., 2003; Peterson, 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Peterson, 2003; PROTA, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedUchytil, 1992
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Barkworth et al., 2003; Peterson, 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedCorrell and Johnston, 1970; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-TexasPresentIntroduced Invasive Correll and Johnston, 1970; Barkworth et al., 2003; Peterson, 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-UtahPresentIntroducedCorrell and Johnston, 1970; Peterson, 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedPeterson et al., 2001; Soreng et al., 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
BrazilPresentIntroducedPeterson et al., 2001; Soreng et al., 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
-CearaPresentIntroducedBoechat and Peterson, 1995; Boechat and Longhi-Wagner, 2000; Boechat and Longhi-Wagner, 2001; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedPeterson et al., 2001; Soreng et al., 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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In the USA, E. lehmanniana was first introduced to the arid southwest in the 1930s for range restoration. Ranchers and government land managers established E. lehmanniana on more than 70,000 ha between 1940 and 1980. Adaptation was not good due to the species’ narrow ecological tolerance with regard to edaphic and climatic requirements, and most stands in Texas, New Mexico and central Arizona disappeared within 5 years of planting. In 1988, however, it had established in more than 140,000 ha of land in western USA, mostly in southeastern Arizona, but also the Lower Basin and Range, the Colorado Plateau, the Rocky Mountain Piedmont and the Great Plains (Uchytil, 1992). Rainfall seems to be a major limiting factor affecting spread of E. lehmanniana. In Arizona, the species invaded new areas where summer rainfall was between 150 and 220 mm, did not spread in areas with 100 mm rainfall and died in areas with lower rainfall values (Uchytil, 1992). It can spread without fire but spread may be enhanced by fire (Cable, 1971; Anable et al., 1992). It is listed as a noxious weed in Arizona and parts of New Mexico (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

E. lehmanniana has also been introduced to East Africa and India as a forage grass (PROTA, 2015).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
USA South Africa 1930s Habitat restoration and improvement (pathway cause) Yes No Uchytil (1992) Introduced by ranchers and land managers for range restoration purposes. Between 1940 and 1980 it was established on more than 70,000 ha. By 1988, it had established in more than 140,000 ha, mostly in southeastern Arizona

Habitat

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In southern Africa, E. lehmanniana grows in grasslands, on dune crests and valleys, the edges of pans and rivers as well as on river banks. It occurs in dry grasslands, wooded grasslands and bushlands in the Zambezian and Karoo-Namib regions. In South Africa it is abundant in overgrazed veld. In the Kalahari it is one of the dominant grasses on undisturbed dune veld. In the Orange Free State it is abundant in overgrazed fields in drier areas, old lands and disturbed areas (PROTA, 2015). It grows more often in areas that have been disturbed, such as overgrazed veld, old cultivated lands and road reserves, mostly in sandy soil. It also grows in undisturbed sandveld in arid regions (Oudtshoorn, 2002).

In the USA, E. lehmanniana occurs in desert scrub, chaparral and desert grassland ecosystems in southeastern Arizona, at elevations between 1000 and 1460 m (Uchytil, 1992). It grows at altitudes below 1700 m in California, but performs best between 1000 and 1500 m (FAO, 2015).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural
Deserts Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Deserts Principal habitat Natural
Arid regions Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Principal habitat Natural

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Aristida strictaPoaceaeWild host
Bouteloua (grama)PoaceaeWild host
Digitaria californicaPoaceaeWild host

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Chromosome numbers of 2n = 40 and 60 have been recorded for E. lehmanniana in South Africa (Spies and Jonker, 1987; Spies and Voges, 1988). Voigt et al. (1992) identified diploid (2n = 2x = 20), tetraploid (2n = 4x = 40) and triploid (2n = 3x = 30) plants, but morphological differences observed for the different ploidy levels were not sufficient to clearly differentiate genetic from environmental variation.

E. lehmanniana has been hybridized with E. trichophora [E. cylindriflora] to develop new cultivated varieties, such as cv. Cochise, for range improvement (Holzworth, 1980).

Reproductive Biology

E. lehmanniana reproduces by apomixis and it was not until 1992 that sexual reproduction was reported for the first time. Voigt et al. (1992) located sexual germplasm which included diploid (2n = 2x = 20), tetraploid (2n = 4x = 40) and triploid (2n = 3x = 30) plants. Diploids were sexual and required cross pollination for seed set. Triploid and tetraploid plants were facultative diplosporous apomicts.

For E. lehmanniana seed, germination usually does not occur on silt loam, loam or clay loam soils, regardless of planting depth. Best germination occurs when seeds are buried shallowly as they require exposure to red light to germinate, so preferred soils are light, especially sand, loamy sand or sandy loam. If they are deeply buried or under dense plant cover, germination will not occur.

Germination of seeds is close to 90%, especially after exposure to dry heat and a certain level of red light (USDA Forest Service, 2014; PROTA, 2015). There are 15.5 seeds per kilogram (FAO, 2015).

E. lehmanniana is weakly stoloniferous, but procumbent stems in contact with soil may root at the nodes. After fire, surviving individuals may reproduce vegetatively by nodal propagation (Uchytil, 1992).

Physiology and Phenology

In the Kalahari in southern Africa, flowering takes place from summer into autumn and winter. Different varieties show slight differences in flowering times (PROTA, 2015), but generally the species is indifferent to day length for flowering (FAO, 2015).

Nearly all fresh seeds are dormant, requiring at least 6 to 9 months of after-ripening. Dormancy may be broken by fire, high summer seedbed temperatures or scarification. As Lehmann lovegrass is capable of reseeding itself quickly to recover from disturbance. it is very competitive and tends to replace native species over time (Uchytil, 1992). It may die back during unfavourable seasons, but the base remains alive and allows for vegetative recovery (PROTA, 2015). It also accumulates seed in soil seed banks (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Longevity

E. lehmanniana is a perennial. Additionally, it forms seed banks which can survive long periods of drought.

Associations

E. lehmanniana in western and southwestern USA is associated with the following plant communities: mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus) - oak (Quercus) scrub; creosote bush (Larrea tridentata); creosote bush - bursage (Ambrosia); creosote bush - tarbush (Flourensia cernua); grama (Bouteloua) - galleta (Hilaria jamesii) steppe; grama - tobosa (Hilaria mutica) shrub steppe; and Trans-Pecos shrub savanna (Uchytil, 1992).

Environmental Requirements

Lehmann lovegrass has a narrow range of environmental requirements. It grows best on sandy loam-textured soils in areas where minimum winter temperatures rarely fall below 0°C and summer rainfall is between 150 and 220 mm (Uchytil, 1992). In California, USA, it occurs in areas with 250-375 mm rainfall and prefers light to medium soils of pH 7.0 to 8.5, being more tolerant of high pH caused by calcium and magnesium rather than sodium (FAO, 2015). In southern Africa, it grows in areas where rainfall is between 200 and 500 mm, preferring areas with lower rainfall; for example, in Botswana it grows where between 300 and 350 mm rain falls in the period November to April (PROTA, 2015).

Although basal leaves stay green throughout the winter and stems stay green after autumn frosts, temperatures below zero may kill established plants (FAO, 2015).

The different botanical varieties recognized by PROTA (2015) occur at distinct altitudes: var. lehmanniana between 200 and 2300 m, and var. chaunantha between 800 and 1300 m in southern Africa.

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 40 200 2300

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 0

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall150500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Dipodomys Herbivore Seeds not specific Heske et al., 1993
Hodotermes mossambicus Herbivore Whole plant not specific Glus et al., 1972

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In South Africa, dry material of the grasses E. lehamnniana, E. curvula and Tragus spp. is the preferred forage of harvester termites (Hodotermes mossambicus), which can remove an average of 56 kg DM/ha from natural veld annually (Glus et al., 1972). Kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) are significant seed predators of E. lehmanniana in the Chihuahuan Desert of southwestern USA (Heske et al., 1993).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Seed of E. lehmanniana is spread naturally by wind and water. This grass establishes quickly, produces high quantities of viable seed during its first season of growth, and can spread at a rate of 175 m/year (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Vector Transmission

Seed of E. lehmanniana is also spread by animals and vehicles. In the Chihuahuan Desert in the southwestern USA, the cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) uses E. lehmanniana as nest construction material, thus aiding seed dispersal (Milton et al., 1998)

Intentional Introduction

Use as a forage grass has allowed E. lehmanniana to reach areas beyond its native range with arid or semi-arid climates (such as northeastern Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, southern USA, Mexico and India) (Uchytil, 1992; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Digestion and excretionUsed as a forage grass; seeds excreted by livestock remain largely viable Yes Yes PROTA, 2015; Uchytil, 1992
DisturbanceSpreads by seed and stolons Yes Uchytil, 1992
ForageCultivated for hay, used as a forage grass in arid areas Yes Yes FAO, 2015; PROTA, 2015; Uchytil, 1992
Habitat restoration and improvementUsed for reseeding degraded areas in southwestern USA Yes Yes FAO, 2015
Hitchhikerseed spread in hay, cattle and vehicles Yes Yes USDA Forest Service, 2014
Seed tradeUsed as a forage grass Yes Yes Uchytil, 1992

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehiclesSpecies is common on roadsides and trails, seeds adhere to vehicles Yes Yes
LivestockSeeds dispersed as livestock is sold or transported Yes Yes USDA Forest Service, 2014
Machinery and equipment Yes USDA Forest Service, 2014
Plants or parts of plantsIntroduced as a forage grass to arid areas of the world Yes PROTA, 2015; Uchytil, 1992
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds may be present in soil, gravel etc being used in rangeland maintenance Yes Yes
Water Yes Yes USDA Forest Service, 2014
Wind Yes USDA Forest Service, 2014

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain) Yes

Vectors and Intermediate Hosts

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VectorSourceReferenceGroupDistribution
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillusseed dispersed when grass used as nesting materialMilton et al., 1998. OtherArizona

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Lehmann lovegrass is aggressive and spreads by displacing indigenous species. Its high competitive ability is attributed to its low palatability during summer, resulting in cattle preferentially and selectively grazing on indigenous grass species, allowing it to grow best while native species lose vigour. Its ability to produce seed stalks early in the summer, and to produce new stands from seed quickly after disturbance also aid its invasion of native grass and scrub lands. Additionally, Lehmann lovegrass seeds mature earlier than seeds of native perennial grasses (Uchytil, 1992). Invasion by Lehmann lovegrass has altered natural fire regimes in desert communities in southwestern USA, resulting in more intense fires occurring with greater frequency (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Impact on Biodiversity

In Arizona it has replaced Arizona cottontop (Trichachne californica), threeawn grasses (Aristida spp.) and grama grasses (Bouteloua spp.) over much of the Santa Rita Experimental Range (Cable, 1971; Uchytil, 1992). When a natural area and an area invaded by E. lehmanniana and Cenchrus ciliaris in southern Texas were compared in terms of biodiversity, overall bird abundance was 32% higher in native than in invaded grasslands and some species, such as lark sparrows (Chondestes grammacus), were 73% more abundant. Arthropods were 60% more abundant in native grassland. Native grass and forb cover and species richness were also higher in uninvaded areas (Flanders et al., 2006).

The Cochise pincushion cactus (Coryphantha robbinsorum [Escobaria robbinsorum]) is classed as a threatened species in Arizona, as well as in Sonora, Mexico. E. lehmanniana is mentioned as one of the alien invasive grass species threatening Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert ecosystems by competing for resources and increasing the risk and intensity of fires, thus increasing mortality of the Cochise pincushion cactus and altering important habitat microclimates (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007). Lehmann lovegrass is one of the top 20 invasive plant species threatening Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) habitat in Arizona (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Escobaria robbinsorum (Cochise pincushion cactus)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened species; ArizonaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007
Gopherus morafkai (Sonoran desert tortoise)No DetailsArizonaUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

E. lehmanniana is cultivated for hay in South Africa (FAO, 2015). Although not very leafy, it is a valuable forage grass in arid areas, and one of the first grasses to start growing in spring (Oudtshoorn, 2002). It is palatable when green, but of low palatability once it  matures (FAO, 2015). Although not particularly palatable, it is considered important where it occurs due to its abundance. In the Kalahari region of southern Africa it is considered a forage grass of inferior value by cattle farmers. In Botswana it is considered moderately palatable (PROTA, 2015).

In dry areas of the USA, this grass has high forage value for cattle in the winter and early spring because it produces more green foliage than native grasses and has higher protein content and nutritional value at these times of year. In the summer when its palatability is lower, native grasses are preferred (Uchytil, 1992).

In general, E. lehmanniana in its introduced range supplies forage at the times of year when native grasses are not growing well, and is easy to establish, although areas can only be grazed after two years after planting to allow for proper establishment (Uchytil, 1992).

Social Benefit

The species has been used by Europeans in the Transvaal, South Africa, to treat diarrhoea and other digestive system disorders such as colic (PROTA, 2015).

Environmental Services

E. lehmanniana has been used as ground cover to remediate soil erosion, for roadside stabilization and for mine site reclamation (USDA Forest Service, 2014; PROTA, 2015). It is often used to resow exposed soils in arid areas (Oudtshoorn, 2002).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Revegetation
  • Soil conservation

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Seed trade

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Thorough cleaning of vehicles, farm machinery and equipment is recommended to prevent seed dispersal. To prevent E. lehmanniana seeds being excreted, quarantine for cattle transported from infested areas should be used. Landscape disturbance should be minimized to reduce invasion (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Gravel and road materials transported into uninfested areas should be free of seed contamination. Farm vehicles and equipment should be cleaned and washed before being taken to uninfested areas (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Public Awareness

Education about invasive alien species and their impacts on ecosystems is an important component in reducing or preventing the current practice of using introduced species (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Eradication

Lehmann lovegrass may be difficult to eradicate, so management strategies might better focus on accepting low densities of the species mixed with native species. Any control effort requires persistence and several interventions before it can achieve results (USDA Forest Service, 2014). Eradicating new infestations while small, and prioritizing areas which function as pathways or are relevant to threatened or endangered species, is a good strategy to avoid further spread (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Tilling with a deep plough or disc will exhaust carbohydrate reserves stored in roots, but will not eliminate seed banks. Leaving tilled vegetation on top of the soil (mulching) will reduce germination of seeds. Lehmann lovegrass is susceptible to repeated mowing because it stores carbohydrates primarily in its crown. Grasses should be mown to a height below 5 cm when possible, and clippings left in place to function as mulch, which will help reduce seed germination from the seed bank. In southwestern USA this treatment has given best results between September and November (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Fires kill most mature plants, but Lehmann lovegrass recovers quickly and increases its dominance in mixed stands, especially with grama grasses, as it establishes more easily from seed and forms seed banks (Uchytil, 1992). Burning operations must be carried out in the autumn, as this is the time of year when the species takes longest to recover (Uchytil, 1992); follow up is required and dominance must be avoided until the seed bank is exhausted. Lehmann lovegrass can recover quickly after fire, so single burning efforts are not recommended (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Physical/Mechanical Control

Hand removal, grubbing and hoeing may be effective for controlling initial infestations of E. lehmanniana, especially where no seed bank has been established, but these are difficult methods requiring intensive labour. Plants must be discarded in plastic bags and properly disposed of in sanitary landfills, or piled up and covered to decompose on site to avoid further spread. Reseeding with native species is highly desirable (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Biological Control

No classical biological control agent is available for this species (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Chemical Control

E. lehmanniana can be controlled by spraying with herbicides, and subsequent sowing of native grasses (Uchytil, 1992). As glyphosate-based herbicides are used for controlling species in the genus Eragrostis such as E. plana, they should work for E. lehmanniana (as inferred from practice and control information on the I3N Brasil (2015) Invasive Species Database. In the USA, glyphosate and imazapyr are the main herbicides used, and sethoxydim also provides good control, especially in the warmer days of spring or autumn. The foliage should be at least 50% green when sprayed, and best effectiveness is achieved when foliage is at least 80% green. As E. lehmanniana tends to become green before most native grasses (2-4 weeks in southwestern USA), this is the best time to carry out chemical control, minimizing damage to non-target species (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

IPM

As Lehmann lovegrass is difficult to eradicate, it is important to combine mechanical, cultural, biological and chemical control methods (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Control by Utilization

Grazing to contain growth is an option, especially to control fuel loads and avoid intense wildfires, but it is not an effective control method to avoid further spread, and should be used as a part of integrated management. Intense grazing has better results in winter, spring and autumn when cattle are most likely to select this grass, using a mineral supplement to increase digestibility and nutrition (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Mitigation

Seeding native species in addition to controlling priority areas infested with Lehmann lovegrass can help contain further spread and maintain ecosystem functions (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

Ecosystem Restoration

Maintaining healthy, conserved areas helps reduce invasion by Lehmann lovegrass, especially avoiding overgrazing. In addition to controlling lovegrass, complementary restoration techniques such as seeding native species, avoiding disturbance and mulching can help minimize seed germination and enhance restoration efforts (USDA Forest Service, 2014).

References

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Anable ME, McClaran MP, Ruyle GB, 1992. Spread of introduced Lehmann lovegrass Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees. in southern Arizona, USA. Biological Conservation, 61(3):181-188.

Barkworth ME, Capels KM, Long S, Piep MB, eds, 2003. Flora of North America. Volume 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 783 pp.

Beetle AA, 1977. Noteworthy grasses from Mexico. V. Phytologia, 37(4):317-407.

Boechat S de C, Longhi-Wagner HM, 2001. The genus Eragrostis (Poaceae) in Brazil. (O gênero Eragrostis (Poaceae) no Brasil). Iheringia, Série Botânica, 55:23-169.

Boechat SC, Longhi-Wagner HM, 2000. Geographic distribution patterns of Brazilian Eragrostis taxa (Poaceae, Chloridoideae). (Padrões de distribuição geográfica dos táxons brasileiros de Eragrostis (Poaceae, Chloridoideae)). Revista Brasileira de Botanica, 23(2):177-194.

Boechat SC, Peterson PM, 1995. New reports of Eragrostis (Poaceae: Chloridoideae) from Brazil. SIDA Contributions to Botany, 16(4):769-771.

Bor NL, 1960. The grasses of Burma, Ceylon, India and Pakistan (excluding Bambuseae). Oxford, London, New York, Paris: Pergamon Press, xviii + 767 pp.

Cable DR, 1971. Lehmann lovegrass on the Santa Rita Experimental Range, 1937-1968. Journal of Range Management, 24(1):17-21.

Correll DS, Johnston MC, 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Renner, Texas, USA: Texas Research Foundation.

Espejo Serna A, López-Ferrari AR, Valdés-Reyna J, 2000. Poaceae. Mexican monocotyledons: a floristic synopsis. (Poaceae. Monocotiledóneas Mexicanas: una sinopsis florística), 10:7-236.

FAO, 2015. Grassland species profiles: Eragrostis lehmanniana. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/gbase/data/pf000245.htm

Flanders AA, Kuvlesky WP Jr, Ruthven DC III, Zaiglin RE, Bingham RL, Fulbright TE, Hernández F, Brennan LA, Vega Rivera JH. 2006. Effects of invasive exotic grasses on South Texas rangeland breeding birds. Auk, 123(1):171-182.

Glus CFLE, Nel JJC, Opperman DPJ, 1972. How much to spend when combating termites. Farming in South Africa, 47(11):30-33.

Herrera Arrieta Y, 2014. Additions and updated names for grasses of Durango, Mexico. Acta Botanica Mexicana, 106:79-95. http://www1.inecol.edu.mx/abm/

Herrera Arrieta Y, Cortés Ortiz A, 2010. Floristic listing and ecological aspects of the family Poaceae in Chihuahua, Durango and Zacatecas, Mexico. (Listado florístico y aspectos ecológicos de la familia Poaceae para Chihuahua, Durango y Zacatecas, México.) Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 4(2):711-738.

Heske EJ, Brown JH, Guo QinFeng, 1993. Effects of kangaroo rat exclusion on vegetation structure and plant species diversity in the Chihuahuan Desert. Oecologia, 95(4):520-524.

Holzworth LK, 1980. Registration of 'Cochise' atherstone lovegrass. Crop Science, 20:823-824.

I3N Brasil, 2015. Invasives information network. Florianópolis - SC, Brazil: Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development. http://i3n.institutohorus.org.br

Milton SJ, Dean WRJ, Kerley GIH, Hoffman MT, Whitford WG, 1998. Dispersal of seeds as nest material by the cactus wren. Southwestern Naturalist, 43(4):449-452.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Oudtshoorn F van, 2002. Guide to grasses of southern Africa, 2nd edn. Pretoria, South Africa: Briza Publications, 288 pp.

Peterson PM, 2003. Eragrostis Wolf. In: Flora of North America. Volume 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, (part 2) [ed. by Barkworth, M. E. \Capels, K. M. \Long, S. \Piep, M. B.]. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 65-105.

Peterson PM, Soreng RJ, Davidse G, Filgueiras TS, Zuloaga FO, Judziewicz EJ, 2001. Catalogue of New World grasses (Poaceae): II. Subfamily Chloridoideae. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 41, 255 pp.

Peterson PM, Valdés-Reyna J, 2005. Eragrostis (Poaceae: Chloridoideae: Eragrostideae: Eragrostidinae) from northeastern México. SIDA Contributions to Botany, 21(3):1363-1418.

PROTA, 2015. PROTA4U web database. Grubben GJH, Denton OA, eds. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.info

Soreng RJ, Davidse G, Peterson PM, Zuloaga FO, Judziewicz EJ, Filgueiras TS, Morrone O, 2014. Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae). http://www.tropicos.org/Project/CNWG

Spies JJ, Jonker A, 1987. Chromosome studies on African plants 5. Bothalia, 17(2):135-136.

Spies JJ, Voges SP, 1988. Chromosome studies on African plants. 7. Bothalia, 18(1):114-119.

Uchytil RJ, 1992. Eragrostis lehmanniana. Fire Effects Information System (Online). USDA Forest Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/eraleh/all.html

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007. Cochise pincushion cactus (Coryphantha robbinsorum). 5-year summary and evaluation. Phoenix, AZ, USA: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Office, 15 pp. http://www.gov/ecos/ajax/docs/five_year_review/doc1061.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species assessment and listing priority assignment form. Scientific name: Gopherus morafkai. Washington, DC, USA: US Fish and Wildlife Service, 98 pp. http://ecos.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2014/r2/C07G_V01.pdf

USDA Forest Service, 2014. Field guide for managing lehmann and weeping lovegrasses in the Southwest. USDA Forest Service, Southwestern Region, 10 pp.

Voigt PW, Burson BL, Sherman RA, 1992. Mode of reproduction in cytotypes of lehmann lovegrass. Crop Science, 32(1):118-121.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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29/09/2015  Original text by:

Sílvia R. Ziller, Consultant, Santa Catarina, Brazil

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