Remove invasive species from your garden

Discover the four categories of invasive species

Did you know that 379 invasive plants in South Africa? Now is the time to check if you have any of these invaders in your garden and to get rid of them.

It is estimated that there are approximately 27 000 indigenous species in South Africa and 9 000 foreign or exotic plant species that have been introduced to the country over the past few centuries. Of all these plants, only 379 have been listed as invasive species in government legislation.

What is NEMBA?

A total of 559 invasive species are governed by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act no. 10 of 2004). The Alien and Invasive Species Regulations (AIS) for this legislation became law on 1 October, 2014. A further 560 species are listed as prohibited from entering the country.

The National List of Invasive Species includes 559 species divided into the following groups:

Terrestrial and freshwater plants (379), marine plants (4), mammals (41), birds (24), reptiles (35), amphibians (7), freshwater fish (15), terrestrial invertebrates (23), freshwater invertebrates (8), marine invertebrates (16) and microbial species (7).

Invasive species are divided into 4 different categories that must be controlled. Under this legislation, ‘Control’ means “the systematic removal of all visible specimens of an alien or invasive species from within a specified area of or the whole of the Republic”.


Invasive species are divided into four categories:

Category 1a

These are invasive species which must be combatted and where possible, eradicated. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited. Category 1a species are usually species which are newly established and have small populations. These fall under the mandate of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in terms of control and management. 1. Category 1a-Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus){Lukas Otto} copy

Category 1a – Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus)

2. Category 1a-Snake Grass (Equisetum hyemale) (Lukas Otto} copy

Category 1a – Snake grass (Equisetum hyemale)

Category 1b

These are established invasive species which must be controlled and wherever possible, removed and destroyed. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited and landowners are obligated to control Category 1b plants and animals on their properties. A species management plan should be drafted for large properties.

Copy of 1. Chandelier plant (Bryophyllum delagoense) {Lukas Otto} copy

Category 1b – Chandelier plant (Bryophyllum delagoense)


Category 2

Invasive species or species deemed to be potentially invasive, in which a permit, issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs, is required to carry out a restricted activity.

5. Category 2-Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) {Lukas Otto} copy

Category 2 – Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

6. Category 2-European blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) {Lukas Otto} copy

Category 2 – European blackberry (Rubus fruticosa)

Category 3

Invasive species which may remain in prescribed areas or provinces. Further planting, propagation or trade is however, prohibited.

7. Cotagery 3-Common Mulberry (Morus alba) {Lukas Otto} copy

Category 3 – Mulberry (Morus alba)

Why are invasives a problem?

Invasive alien plants (IAPs) are highly adaptable, vigorous growers that easily invade a wide range of ecological niches.


* Have invaded and taken over 10% of the country. This is well over 10 million hectares of land (or an area the size of KwaZulu-Natal).

* Use 7% of the water resources in South Africa. This is roughly the same amount of water needed by humans to survive in this country.

* Threaten our rich biodiversity by replacing indigenous and endemic vegetation. This will result in a loss of insect species that are dependent on these plants and the ripple-effect loss of the birds, reptiles and mammals that feed on those insects.

* Invade land better used for crops and livestock grazing.

* Are often toxic to man or animals.

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