African Lovegrass has been increasingly encroaching upon farmland, bushland, and roadsides throughout the ACT and southern NSW over the past three decades. South Australia and Victoria are similarly affected. There have been various studies and meetings to discuss the problem. On a local level African Lovegrass is included in the Australian Capital Territory’s Environmental Weed Control Operations Plan, but it continues to spread, particularly through the southern suburbs. From an environmental point of view African Lovegrass has the ability to quickly take over native grasslands forming a dense monoculture.
Thought by some to have originally come to Australia via sailing ships restuffing mattresses in Africa en-route to the colony, African Lovegrass thrived in the dry climate. Weed guideline fact sheets describe it as ‘a densely tufted, perennial (long-lived) grass growing from 30 to 120 cm high. The leaves are dark green to blue-green, narrow, and 25 to 35 cm long. The flowering stems rise above the tufted leaves and carry a loose fanlike grey-green flower head. Seeds germinate in spring and autumn. Growth slows or ceases in winter and plants re-sprout the following spring as temperatures rise. Flowering begins in early summer and ripe seeds are present from January to March.’ African Lovegrass can vary in form, height & colour, so it’s not easy for novices to identify. The good thing however is that once you learn what it looks like you get your eye in and can spot it a mile away.
Generally speaking graziers are well aware of lovegrass and ways to limit its impact. There is an abundance of fact sheets aimed at Primary Producers, perhaps the best being the NSW Primary Industries ‘Primefacts - African lovegrass management’.
The urban community however appears blissfully unaware of its existence. The Southern ACT Catchment Group is currently in the process of producing a poster and a complimentary pamphlet with the aim of raising the awareness of ALG amongst the general community.
The one thing that stands out as the greatest vector of African Lovegrass is mowing along urban and rural roadsides. It is not only the general community that needs to be more aware of the threats associated with African Lovegrass - Government Agencies need to look at how, where and why they mow roadsides and develop a better approach. Simple things like mowing back toward roadside infestations would help control African Lovegrass infestation boundaries.
We need to act now with an effective, long-term and integrated plan to control the spread of African Lovegrass in our region. This starts by removing it from your backyard, street and neighbourhood to prevent it from spreading further, every single plant removed helps the cause.
You can help now by:
Act – Learn to identify African Lovegrass. If you see a plant, always dig it, bag it, bin it;
Garden care – if you have it in your lawn, mow it low before it seeds (stop it producing flowers and seeds from October to May);
Garden hygiene – wash your mower to stop accidental spread;
Neighbourhood watch - be vigilant, see that it doesn't grow in your garden, your street verge or your neighbourhood park;
Speak out – let everybody know, tell it, blog it, tweet it, write it;
Report it – tell the Government Agency responsible and ask your local Member to initiate and support an effective, long-term and integrated plan to control the spread of African Lovegrass in our region.