Lopholaena coriifolia Small-Leaved Fluff-bush Pluisbos
Description: A perennial, erect (>1m high) woody shrub with briefly attractive fluffy white blooms in spring (October)); grey-green leaves succulent, leathery. Stem becomes dark and woody with growth, with dark brown flaking bark.
Origin: Indigenous to most of Mpumalanga, Limpopo provinces and Swaziland.
Occurrence: On roadsides, in open montane grassland and on rocky hillsides in wooded grassland. Often occurs in proximity to bankrotbos (Seriphium plumosum, formerly Stoebe vulgaris) in former, over-grazed lands in the Waterberg, especially in moister areas peripheral to wetlands.
Why it is a problem: Lopholaena is unpalatable to animals; once established in overgrazed veld, it spreads rapidly together with bankrotbos and can become a serious invader that causes degradation and reduced biodiversity.
Elimination / Control Methods: Problematic because the destruction of above-surface parts by fire or herbicides can stimulate rhizomes to shoot and produce more flowers; but repeated application can be successful.
Physical removal, including the removal of budding flower heads, can control and eventually eliminate the plant; physical removal is easier than for bankrotbos.
Herbicides should be applied as early as possible in the growing season, preferably before flowering. All require the addition of a surfactant (which includes a wetting agent), the name of the preferred one usually being given with the instructions for use;
All herbicides should be used when freshly mixed (do not leave the solution overnight).
NB: Follow carefully the instructions provided on herbicide label. Many herbicides can be toxic to other plants and or game and livestock if used inappropriately. (Mis-use of herbicides is also a criminal offence in terms of Act No. 36 of 1947).
Only two herbicides are registered for control of Lopholaena, both based on the active ingredient picloram, which is very successful. Registered herbicides are:
Access 240 (L4920)(picloram 240 g/L, a potassium salt):a liquid. Use the surfactant Actipron, or BP Crop Oil. Apply to foliage from November to January.
Browser (L7357) (picloram 240 g/L, a potassium salt):a liquid.
Both these products are intended for foliar application, and can be applied using a knapsack sprayer with the recommended surfactant and / or foaming agent.
Infestation of Lopholaena coriifolia on high ground, Tarentaalstraat
ARC-LNR SAPIA News 28 (April 2013). ARC – Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria. www.arc.agric.za
Bromilow, Clive (2010): Problem Plants and Alien Weeds of South Africa. Briza. Pretoria.
Schmidt, Ernest; Mervyn Lotter & Warren McCleland (2007): Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park (2nd Edition). Jacana, Johannesburg.
Van Zyl, Kathy, (compiler) (2005): Control of Unwanted Plants. Xact Information, Pretoria.
Van Zyl, Kathy, (compiler) (2012): Problem Plant Control Compendium. AVCASA, Midrand
Special thanks to Dr Gerhard Verdoorn of Griffon Poison Information Centre, to Mr Ferdie Jordaan
of Arysta Lifescience and to Ms Lesley Henderson of ARC for their invaluable advice and guidance. Their enthusiastic support for this voluntary project is greatly appreciated.