City of Joburg

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

 

Johannesburg Zoo

 

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Common name: Bugweed

Scientific name: Solanum mauritianum (Solanaceae)

Alternative common names: bugtree, flannel weed, woolly nightshade (English); luisboom, groot bitterappel (Afrikaans); uBhoqo, umbanga banga (isiZulu)

bugtree

Background

A shrub or small tree up to 4m high covered with whitish-felty hairs. Dull green leaves that are velvety above and white-felty beneath which emit a strong smell when bruised. Purple flowers in compact, terminal clusters on densely felty stalks up to 10cm long all year round. Spherical berries which start off green and turn yellow, in compact terminal clusters. Hairy leaves and stems are a respiratory tract and skin irritant. Unripe fruits are poisonous

Where does this species come from?

South America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Limpopo

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous riverine and forest margin species. Also competes with young trees in plantations, particularly pines and black wattle, inhibiting growth and causing stem deformation. It is a host of the KwaZulu-Natal fruit fly which is an economic pest. It has no fodder value and the plants are generally avoided by grazing animals. The unripe fruits are poisonous and the hairy leaves and stems can cause allergic dermatitis and asthma

What does it look like?

A large, broad-leaved shrub with velvety stems and leaves growing up to 4m high. Leaves: Dull green leaves that are velvety above and white-felty beneath which emit a strong noxious smell when crushed. Flowers: Purple, in compact terminal clusters, on densely felty stalks up to 100mm long. Fruit/seeds: Spherical berries which start off green and turn yellow, in compact terminal clusters

Does the plant have any uses?

 

Ornament.