Original Research

Weed flora of South Africa 2: power shifts in the veld

M. J. Wells, V. M. Engelbregcht, A. A. Balsinhas, C. H. Stirton
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1269 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1269 | © 1983 M. J. Wells, V. M. Engelbregcht, A. A. Balsinhas, C. H. Stirton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

About the author(s)

M. J. Wells, Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, South Africa
V. M. Engelbregcht, Plant Protection Research Institute, Department of Agricul­ture, South Africa
A. A. Balsinhas, Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, South Africa
C. H. Stirton, Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, South Africa

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Abstract

This paper, the second in a series analysing data from the National Weed List, concentrates on weedy changes that affect the indigenous flora. The incidence of weediness and of threatened species is used as an indication of success or failure of families under prevailing conditions of disturbance. The resulting power shifts between indigenous families and the impact of exotic weeds on the situation are reviewed.

Many power shifts are taking place between indigenous species in the veld. Superficially it seems as though a relatively few invasive species are displacing a larger number of threatened species, but evidence from Natal points to more species increasing than decreasing under conditions of over-utilization.

Amongst small families power shifts are almost as prevalent and important as at species level. Seventeen small families have over 20% indigenous weed species. Thirty small families have over 20% threatened species, and 21 small families have had their species numbers bolstered by more than  20% by exotic weeds.

A very few large and medium-sized families contain over 50% of our weeds and our threatened species. It is mostly temperate (Cape) families that are under pressure relative to more tropical families. This trend is echoed at sub-family level within the Fabaceae.


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