Outcry over bee bush plant dominance

BY GAMUCHIRAI KANDEYA
Forestry commission acting deputy general manager, research and training, Joyce Gombe has bemoaned the Bee Bush the plant’s presence in the eastern highlands saying it was affecting forestry business as more input needs to be availed for the success of their business as they try to destroy it before affecting their plantations.
“It is really a problem for us interested in forestry and bio-diversity. It has proven to be a serious challenge in silvi-cultural operations in the plantations and that has increased our costs and we really look forward to a solution to the problem,” she said.

Stakeholders have called upon responsible authorities to act on declaring calls for action against the weed that has invaded parts of the Eastern Highlands.
While speaking at a stakeholder consultative meeting in Harare yesterday, Environmental Management Authority (EMA) education and publicity officer, Liberty Mugadza said there was a need to put in place measures to deal with the invasive plant which is posing danger on edible plants as well as other vegetation and livestock.

“There is evidence that it has more potential of spreading into the entire country through wind action; it is a serious weed also affecting livelihoods in the eastern highlands where we have our tea plantations, fruit orchards, timber plantations and tourism,” he said.“Our call is for it to be given national attention for management, including legislation and funding mechanisms to support awareness-raising research and eradication,” Mugadza went on to say.
vernonathura polyanthes is a shrub indigenous to Bolivia and Brazil. This new record of (the plant) in Zimbabwe is to date the only record of the species established outside of its native range.

The weed is said to be affecting indigenous plant populations in communities it is dominating. The plant was introduced as a nectar plant for bees, in the early 1990s in areas around Sussundenga, Mozambique and has spread to the eastern parts of the country through wind action.