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Welcome wildlife into your garden with these indigenous plants

Jane Troughton of the Durban North Conservancy and Enviro Fixers has put together a pamphlet of the worst alien plant invaders in Durban North.

In a four part series, Jane Troughton will highlight common alien invasive plants and suggest indigenous alternatives to grow which will attract wildlife such as birds and butterflies to your garden. To request a pamphlet which has colour images and protocols for removing alien plants, email Troughton via: Janetroughton.mjt@gmail.com. 

Moses-in-the-Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea) is an alien invasive plant.

Alien: Moses-in-the-Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea)

“This invasive plant is so ubiquitous in Durban North you may be surprised to know it is a problem plant. If you observe it for any length of time you will notice how ecologically sterile it is, no living thing is interested in it except us. It is extremely fast growing and quickly takes up space that could be contributing to the environment in our suburb. There are many equally hardy and prodigious growers from our indigenous plant kingdom to choose from,” said Troughton.

Red Leaved Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sexangularis) is a great indigenous alternative.

Alternative: Red Leaved Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sexangularis)

Kalanchoe sexangularis is a hardy and drought-resistant succulent, with decorative red foliage, said Troughton.

“This is a real winner for your verge, rockery, and garden, and unlike many other succulents, it will also flourish in dappled shade. It produces gorgeous yellow flowers that attract bees, butterflies and other insects, and also insect-eating birds. If it gets a little scraggly after flowering, easy to cut back and use the cuttings to create more plants,” she added.

Other alternatives include Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava) and Trailing Jade (Crassula sarmentosa).

This Indian Laurel (Litsea sebifera) sapling can grow into a tree of 10 m.
This Indian Laurel (Litsea sebifera) sapling can grow into a tree of 10 m.

Alien: Indian Laurel (Litsea sebifera)

This alien invasive plant resembles an Avocado Pear tree, said Troughton.

“They are rampant in our nature reserves, verges and gardens as the seed is widely distributed by birds. They grow up to 10m. They are notoriously difficult to remove. Saplings as small as 20 cm can be difficult to hand pull because of their deep root systems. The best approach is to stump cut and apply diesel and herbicide. Large trees usually need repeat treatment,” she said.

Indigenous tree, Mitzeeri (Brideleia micrantha) helps wildlife to thrive.

Alternative: Mitzeeri (Brideleia micrantha)

Troughton said this is a fast growing large tree that can reach 20m.

“It is the food plant of the Giant Charaxes, Paradise Skipper and Morant’s orange butterflies. Birds including Purple-crested Turacos and White-eared Barbets the sweet tasting berries. It is one of our few local trees that offers golden and red autumn leaves that are replaced by fresh russet coloured ones,” added Troughton.

Other alternatives include: Red Beech (Protorhus longifolia) and Forest Mahogany (Trichilia dregeana).

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