Montpellier broom (Genista monspessulana) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) in South Africa: an assessment of invasiveness and options for management
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The legumes (Fabaceae) Genista monspessulana and Spartium junceum are major invaders in several other parts of the world, but not yet so in South Africa. We determine their current distributions in South Africa at different spatial scales, assess population structure (soil seed banks and size at reproduction) evaluate current management activities, and provide recommendations for control (including assessing the feasibility of nation-wide eradication). G. monspessulana occurs at nine localities in three quarter-degree cells, covering a total of 22.7 ha. S. junceum is much more widespread, occurring in 33 quarter-degree cells and is frequently cultivated in private gardens. All naturalised or invasive populations are in disturbed areas, mostly along roadsides. Once established, G. monspessulana and S. junceum accumulate large, persistent soil-stored seed banks, ranging in size between 909 and 22,727 (median 1970) seeds/m2 and 0 and 21,364 (median 455) seeds/m2 for the two species respectively. Both species resprout vigorously after cutting and stump herbicide application (60% of G. monspessulana and 43% of S. junceum plants resprouted) which necessitates regular follow-ups. We estimate that over 10 years, at a cost of about ZAR 81,000 (1 ZAR = 0.114 US$ as on 6 October 2012), G. monspessulana could be extirpated from South Africa. S. junceum is far more widespread and coupled with low effectiveness of control, abundance of seeds and seed longevity, eradication is unfeasible. We recommend that control methods used for S. junceum be improved to prevent resprouting, and that areas are managed to limit the movement of seeds and avoid further spread and establishment. Further studies are required to understand why these two species have failed to replicate the invasiveness shown in other parts of the world.