Cynodon dactylon proposed as a Category 2 invasive species

//Cynodon dactylon proposed as a Category 2 invasive species

Cynodon dactylon proposed as a Category 2 invasive species

Why is indigenous Cynodon dactylon grass targeted by government?

Indigenous Cynodon dactylon turf grass is under attack by government.

On 16 February, 2018, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs published amendments to the regulations and lists relating to the National List of Invasive Species.

Published in the Government Gazette, draft updates have been proposed for the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations.

The proposed draft legislation includes the listing of indigenous and water wise Cynodon dactylon (otherwise known as kweek, couch or bermudagrass) as a Category 2 invasive species.

Category 2 invasive species can only be propagated, owned, transported, planted or sold with a permit.

Under NEMBA, all cultivars and hybrids of Cynodon dactylon will be also require a permit to be owned, propagated, transported, planted and sold.

The month for public comment ended on 16 March 2017. Comments could be sent to

Why has South Africa placed Cynodon dactylon on the proposed invader list?

* International invasion biology scientists:    The Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW) (Randall, 2012) lists Cynodon dactylon as one of the top 12 cited invasive weeds in the world and is regarded as one of the most ‘serious’ agricultural and environmental weeds in the world (Holm et al., 1977). The GCW database currently contains 1,243,026 plant names with an associated 5,202,814 sourced records.  GCW also lists Cynodon transvaalensis as a world invader.

* Kenya:   In Kenya, Cynodon dactylon is declared a ‘noxious weed of agriculture’ under the Noxious Weeds Act CAP 325, in Kenya. Accordingly, the Minister of Agriculture can compel Kenyan land owners who have such declared noxious weeds growing on their land to eradicate or have it otherwise removed.

* United States of America:  In the USA, Cynodon dactylon is known as bermudagrass. In the USA, it is regarded as one of the three most troublesome weeds in crops such as: surgarcane, cotton, corn and vineyards.

Against this backdrop, interspecific hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis) is widely used on turfgrass playing surfaces for sports, particularly golf (Beard 2002).

In 2007, bermudagrass was grown on 32 % of the total golf course acreage in the USA, and 80 % of putting green acreage in the southern agronomic region (Lyman et al. 2007). Bermuda grass putting greens cover approximately 3642 hectares across the US (Lyman et al. 2007)

Which turf grasses in South Africa are affected by the proposed NEMBA AIS legislation?

  • Cynodon dactylon turf grass varieties:  Sea Green, Princess, Prince Blend, Hollywood and Barbados.
  • Cynodon dactylon x C. transvaalensis turf grass hybrids and varieties: Gulfgreen, (see image below), Royal Blue, Tifdwarf, Tifgreen, Tifway, Tifsport and Silverton Blue.

Which turf grasses in South Africa NOT affected by the proposed NEMBA AIS legislation?

  • Cynodon transvaalensis turf grass hybrids and varieties: Bayview, Florida, Skaaplaas, Harrismith.
  • Dactylotenium australe – LM / Berea
  • Pennisetum clandestinum – Kikuyu
  • Stenotaphrum secundatum – Buffalo

What does this proposal mean for turf suppliers and landscapers?

What happens if this proposed legislation is not challenged … and indigenous and water wise Cynodon dactylon becomes a Category 2 invasive species?

  • Every time a landscaper wants to plant Cynodon dactylon or any of its cultivars, they will need to apply for – and be granted – a R100 permit to grow, transport and sell this species. Permits can take from 2-6 weeks to obtain. Every customer will need a permit to possess the turf that is delivered.
  • All government ministries, national parks, national botanical gardens, municipalities, landowners, sports administrators, landscapers and gardeners across the country will have to buy a R100 permit to make their indigenous Cynodon dactylon on their property legal.
  • Every municipality or organ of state in the country will have to obtain ‘area’ permits to legalise all the indigenous and water wise couch grass (Cynodon dactylon) growing in their parks, sports fields and along their road verges.
  • Indigenous Cynodon dactylon and its many cultivars are used extensively in the horticultural and landscaping industry as an alternative to waterholic kikuyu. This proposed legislation will lead to an unprecedented increase in the planting of alien and waterholic kikuyu grass.
  • Cynodon species make up a large proportion of the turf mixes used on sports fields, waterwise landscapes, gardens and parks across South Africa.
  • Hundreds of schools across the country will have to go to the expense of permitting their fields.

For many environmentalists, conservationists and green industry professionals, the concept of indigenous Cynodon dactylon becoming a Category 2 invasive species is unworkable for South African society.

By | 2018-03-30T14:48:05+00:00 March 5th, 2018|SALI Posts|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. clare burgess March 8, 2018 at 7:21 AM - Reply

    This is another example of how the NEMBA regulations impact on a citizens who have not been involved with drawing up the legislation. Whilst there may well be a severe threat to bio diversity and particularly natural areas and national parks, the reality is that in cities, where most of the people live, work and play, are also threatened by this type of blanket legislation. The landscape industry and other concerned and affected groups such as bee keepers have fought against this type of heavy handed imposition of law in the past and I am sure that reason and logic will prevail again. SALI and other green industry organisations must comment and object to this proposal. In addition, it is time that the alien invasive lobby start to take into consideration the fact that cities are where most of the population of the world live and as such, there is a need for resilient and tough plant species to be encouraged in these harsh, concrete jungles where weeds are often the only plants that survive to provided oxygen and sequester carbon dioxide and link people to nature of the most basic type. I recommend people read The New Wild by Fred Pearce for a new and different way of thinking about so called invasive alien species.

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