Friday 1 September 2023

Scadoxus Puniceus


Scadoxus puniceus

Common names:

English: Paintbrush lily, Snake lily,

Zulu: isisphompho, umgola

German: Blutblume


Scadoxus puniceus which belongs to the plant family Amaryllidaceae is native to much of southern and eastern Africa: Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), and South Africa in the Cape Provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Northern Provinces.


The spring flowering, summer growing Scadoxus puniceus is one of South Africa's most striking bulbous plants.

Scadoxus puniceus growing in the Durban area flower shoot up a flower spike followed once flowering is over by the leaves at the end of August into September bearing large dense inflorescences up to 15cm across consisting of numerous smaller scarlet flowers with bright yellow anthers. There is a white colour form. 

The flower stalk may reach up to 50-60cm and is often spotted with purple near the base. The inflorescences are borne within bracts which may be large and dark purplish red in colour. Sunbirds, Spectacled weavers, mousebirds and other nectivorous birds feed on the nectar produced by the flowers. The young inflorescence, protected by bracts and borne on the red/purple spotted flower stalk, appears first, followed by the stem which bears 6-8 leaves. The leaves are glossy green, reach 30-40cm in length and have wavy margins. They are held erect clasping at the base to form a pseudostem (false stem) which has red/purple speckled scale leaves at the base.


The large underground bulbs may be up to 10cm across and have a short thick stem at the base from which numerous fleshy roots arise. The plants are dormant in winter and use the large bulbs and roots to store moisture during this period.

The fruits are fleshy, round, shiny red berries up to ±1cm in diameter. They bear single soft pearl-like seeds inside. Ripe berries eaten by birds and monkeys.


Scadoxus puniceus is very adaptable plant in regarding to where they grow. They occur in sandy soil in dry coastal and dune forest, in inland forests they can be found growing in deep shade often in leaf mould on rocks, under trees in woodlands as well in grasslands in full sun.

Medicinal Uses:

As within many of the closely related members of the plant family Amaryllidaceae, Scadoxus puniceus is poisonous and deaths have been reported following the ingestion of the bulb. However, although it is considered poisonous in significant amounts, it is used traditionally to treat "coughs, gastro-intestinal problems, febrile colds, asthma, leprosy, sprains and bruises," and "as an antidote to poisons.'" It is also used as a diuretic. The leaves are applied to sores and ulcers to aid healing and act as an antiseptic. The plant is also traditionally consumed during pregnancy as part of an herbal regime to ensure safe labour. The alkaloids in the plant include haemanthamines, haemanthidine, 6-β-hydroxycrinamine, scapunine, and scadoxucines.

Scadoxus puniceus is ranked as one of the most-traded medicinal plant species in South Africa.

Horticultural and landscape uses:

The magnificent Scadoxus puniceus is a well-known plant which is grown worldwide as both a house plant as well as outside as a landscape plant in countries with a warm enough climate.

The striking flowers last a long time as a cut flower and if artificially pollinated will produce seeds that in time turn bright red and can be planted to produce new plants.

Scadoxus puniceus grows very well as a green roof plant.

Growing Scadoxus puniceus:

The paintbrush lily Scadoxus puniceus that is very easy to grow has been in cultivation in Holland since early 18th century. It does well planted in the ground as well as in containers both inside and outside.

Scadoxus puniceus although they will grow under very unfavorable conditions in infertile or clay soils in and in deep shade, they will grow and flower best if planted in well-drained soil to which compost has been added in a semi-shady position or full sun. Water regularly in summer and keep them reasonably dry in winter. they do not like to be overwatered or to stand in water, this could cause the roots to rot. When grown in South Africa the Amaryllis lily borer caterpillar can cause severe damage to or kill the whole plant if not controlled.

When grown in a container both inside, our outside they must be grown in a loose well drained growing medium as used to grow Clivias in, which is allowed to dry out between watering. They respond well to being fertilized with either a balanced slow-release fertilizer or liquid feed.


Scadoxus puniceus are easily propagated in large numbers from seed which must be sown fresh, however one needs to have some patience because they are slow-growing and will take 4-5 years before flowering.

They can also be grown vegetatively using these standard methods used to propagate bulbs;


Offsets are the baby bulbs that develop naturally at the base of the parent bulb. When separated from the parent bulb and planted, offsets produce vegetative growth for a few years until mature enough to flower.


In scooping, the entire basal plate of a mature bulb is scooped out with a curved scalpel or small knife. Scooped bulbs are then placed in a warm (21 degrees Celsius) dark location for about two weeks. During the third week, adventitious bulblets will begin to form. Temperature should be increased to 29 degrees Celsius, and the relative humidity should be at 85%. When new roots form, the bulblets can be planted. It may be four to five years before bulbs flower.


In this method, three cuts are made at the base of a mature bulb to form 6 pie-shaped sections. Cuts should reach just below the widest point of the bulb. The bulb is then placed in a warm, dark, humid location for a few months. When bulblets form, the mother bulb and bulblets can be planted. It usually takes three to four years for bulblets to reach flowering size.


A sectioned bulb is cut into five to ten pie-shaped sections, each with part of the base attached. Sections are treated as scored and cored bulbs. This method is the easiest and the one that I prefer and mostly use.


This is the very first plant that I grew, having dug one out of the forest opposite my parent’s home about as a child about sixty five years ago. Amazingly it was still growing in the same position although having developed into a huge group of plants in 2006 when the house was sold.

CJM Nursery has some good information on their website at

Article written by Michael Hickman 01.09.2023

Friday 21 July 2023

Mystacidium pusillum The Small Flowered Mystacidium



Mystacidium pusillum is a miniature sized twig epiphytic, cool to cold growing South African endemic orchid that may persist to grow on older branches in particular on its principal host tree the Kei Apple, Dovyalis caffra.

Mystacidium pusillum species is known from a small number of sites in the eastern parts of South Africa including the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces where it occurs in temperate and subtropical forests at elevations of 900 to 1200 meters.

Mystacidium pusillum has short stems carrying 1 to 5, elliptic to oblanceolate, unequally bilobed apically, rounded leaves. Leaves are not always present.

Mystacidium pusillum blooms in the winter on several, pendant, 1.5 to 3.5 cm on a long, 4 to 7 flowered inflorescence. The numerous light lime green flowers measure 5 mm across.

Mystacidium, is a genus of the orchid family Orchidaceae, Epidendroideae, Vandeae, Angraecinae which is native to eastern and southern Africa from Tanzania to South Africa where 10 accepted Species are to be found.

Mystacidium pusillum is from research thought to be pollinated by settling moths with at least five species from three moth families being responsible.


In cultivation this is an easy to grow epiphytic orchid. I have them growing extremely well and relatively quickly in comparison to most other of our indigenous orchids indoors at the coast 35 km North of Durban in South Africa. I have them growing under cool white led lights giving in the region of 5000 lux to 5500 lux depending on how much light comes in through the windows with a timer that gives an 18 hour photo period from equinox to equinox in the long day hot time of year and 14 hours in cooler short day time of the year.

The photos clearly show how I am growing them above a tray of water, however they can be and I have grown them outside in the past on mounts of various materials the best being grape vine stems.

My plants get heavily misted daily both in summer and in winter giving them no dry period.


I alternate very dilute amounts of a balanced water-soluble hydroponics fertiliser formulation for flower and fruit, as well as Nitrosol, Fulvic acid, Seagro as well as tea and rooibos tea, which I apply once or twice a week in the summer and about every two weeks in winter.

Article written by Michael Hickman 21.07.2023

Monday 26 June 2023

Microcoelia exilis Pinhead Orchid

 Microcoelia exilis  Pinhead Orchid Iphamba


Microcoelia exilis  is a monopodial leafless epiphytic orchid with an extensive branching root system with long roots resembling an untidy bird’s nest hanging from the branch of a tree. The roots grow into open clumps that allow a maximum amount of light to reach all of the roots. The grey roots with orange growing tips contain the chlorophyll that aids in photosynthesis. 

Plants have a stem from which masses of very small, white flowers, the smallest of all orchid flowers naturally growing in South Africa are borne on a very long flowering stem.

There is a very distinctive spherical spur present

The flower stems of Microcoelia exilis are slender, arching and drooping, becoming from 6 cm to 12 cm long with time. The inflorescences emerge from below new roots. 

From 20 to 80 tiny white flowers may be found in one spike, a flower less than 2 mm in diameter. A brownish anther cap is visible in each flower centre. There is a very distinctive spherical spur present, 1 mm in diameter.

Flowering can occur nearly throughout the year, mostly from mid-summer to early autumn.

Exilis means thin, weak or meagre in Latin, probably referring to the inflorescence.

Distribution and habitat

Microcoelia is an orchid genus consisting of 31 species endemic to Africa.

The species Microcoelia exilis  is an epiphytic perennial that grows primarily in the seasonally dry tropical biome.

Its range includes South Africa , Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Madagascar where it grows on the small branches and twigs of trees  in gallery forests, woodland, secondary forests and plantations, at elevations of up to about 1,800 m (6,000 ft)

In the South Africa I have found Microcoelia exilis growing in Sand Forest, a region of ancient dunes northern KwaZulu-Natal in deep shade on Cola greenwayi and Drypetes arguta. In the Durban area I have seen them growing on Syzygium cordatum, and in deep shade on Mangifera indica (mango)

Cultural uses

In South Africa it is used as a love charm.


I have grown these orchids in Durban South Africa for nearly 50 years both outdoors as well as more recently indoors. Microcoelia exilis is an easy to grow epiphyte that possesses a nearly complete disregard for whatever it might be mounted on. An occasional root or two might attach to its host to stabilize its growth but the vast majority of the plant thrives in the open air. In cultivation they can be suspended tied to a piece of string, placed on a piece of plastic mesh, tied to a wooden mount or simply placed on top of an empty pot which has a stone placed into it to give it stability. I have even grown them to a potted shrub.

They grow easily and well under both low, medium and high light intensities requiring plenty of water and very little feeding, in fact too high concentrations of feed very easily damage or kill them, be sure to soak them frequently in pure water to remove any salt concentrations that may collect on your plant.

My plants are watered daily, a few times a month I add a very dilute amount of feed to the water followed the next day with a heavy drench of water or I soak the plant in a bucket of water for 15 minutes to remove any excessive accumulation of salts from the roots.

When happy they grow and multiply extremely quickly in comparison to most other of our local orchids and when happy and well established they flower almost continuously throughout the year.

Article written by Michael Hickman 27.06.2023

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Oeceoclades lonchophylla


Oeceoclades lonchophylla

Distribution and habitat

Oeceoclades lonchophylla is a terrestrial orchid species found growing in deep shade in leaf litter in coastal forest in  northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Eswatini, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Comoros islands.

Oeceoclades lonchophylla that I have seen in the wild have all been growing in relatively dry coastal forest on deep alluvial sands, where they were found growing in leaf litter in association with Sansevieria concinna and Scadoxus membranaceus both of which have leaves that are very similar in appearance making it hard to spot them growing together with these plants. Other plants growing together with Oeceoclades lonchophylla have been Scadoxus multiflorus, Scadoxus punicious and Microsorum scolopendrium.


The Oeceoclades lonchophylla look and feel as if they are made of plastic.

The shiny leave blades of Oeceoclades lonchophylla are very thin being only 0.7mm, they are see through, a dull green colour with cross hatching with a darker green along the length of the parallel venation. The averaging length of the blade being 130 – 140 mm and between 50 – 55 wide, with petioles averaging 200mm in lenght.

The pseudobulbs are conical 30 – 40 mm long and 15 mm at the base, they are same dull dark green as the petioles and leaves.

The inflorescence which is 3.4 – 4 mm in diameter is between 500 – 600 mm long carrying between 

50 – 65 individual blooms is produced in December and January has a fairly long flowering time.


Annually in early summer Oeceoclades lonchophylla produces a new leaf, the inflorescence following shortly thereafter. Healthy plants will occasionally create a new additional lead.

In cultivation I have found that Oeceoclades lonchophylla grows well indoors under relatively low light conditions 250 – 350 lux in a loose sandy very well drained growing medium with a little added coarse compost and partly decomposed twigs and bark. I ensure good air movement at all times from open widows in the cooler months of the year and the additional use of a fan in the hot humid summer months. The relative humidity varies from around 55 percent in the winter up to 95 in the summer the average being around 75 percent.

Watering and feeding.

I ensure that the roots remain moist throughout the year increasing the amount of watering during the period of active growth, however I am careful not to over water them or allow the growing medium to become waterlogged. To prevent waterlogging and to increase gas exchange in the root zone it is advisable to have spacers under the pots to allow for free drainage and for air to enter the pots from below.

I feed frequently at very low concentrations usually one quarter or less than the recommended application rate with a variety of feeds, being EasyGro™ Flower and Fruit 3:1:6(46) hydroponic feed distributed by  Rolfes Agri, Seagro, Nitrosol, fulvic acid as well as with both black as well as rooibos tea.

Periodically I flush out the pots with clean tap water to remove any buildup of salts or other harmful substances of decay in the growing medium.

General care

The leaves are cleaned with water and a cloth from time to time to remove dust and other contaminants.

The leaves get a very light misting most mornings with tap water in the winter months I use warm water of about 40 degrees Celsius.

I lightly sprinkle the growing medium with a granular systemic neonicotinoid insecticide as a preventative measure against insect pests in particular those that attack the roots and the bases of the pseudobulbs that usually go unnoticed until the plant shows advanced signs of damage.

Article written by Michael Hickman 24.01.2023



Wednesday 21 December 2022

Growing Asplenium prionitis indoors

Asplenium prionitis

Asplenium prionitis

The specie name prionitis means like a saw, this fern has toothed pinna margins.


On ground or boulders along streams or river courses, deep shade in wet coastal forests.

Distribution in South Africa

Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Comoro and Mascarene Islands.


I have established that Asplenium prionitis makes a great very easy to grow houseplant, growing well indoors under relatively high light conditions but they do not tolerate full sun conditions for long without burning.

My plants originate for a small plant that I collected in the forest on the eastern side of the Wentworth hospital in Durban about 40 years ago.

Asplenium prionitis appear to grow in any well drained growing medium that has a high organic component. My plants are presently growing well in a mixture of coco fiber chips with a little added charcoal.


I water heavily about once per week to flush out the growing medium and mist daily using an insecticide sprayer.

The sprayer I use to water and feed my plants


I feed frequently using a very dilute amount of a variety of plant feeds such as

EasyGro™ Flower and Fruit

is a 3:1:6(46) water soluble fertilizer, high in concentrations of Potassium ideally suitable for crops during the flowering and fruiting stages.

SEAGRO™ Bio-Fertiliser

Bionutrient with Enhanced Amino Acids. A fish emulsion rich in micro & macro elements and 17 amino acids. Seagro is used as organic fertilizer in agricultural practices for maintenance of crop health. Seagro has a remarkable impact on crop quality as well as yield through the activation of key metabolic processes. Seagro serves not only as a nutrition and stress reliever, but also plays an important role in the vitality of the microbial population in the soil.

Nitrosol Original Biological Fertiliser

is the original formulation developed by Dr. Peter Kauzal, a veterinary surgeon, from ruminant blood and bone. Nitrosol Original has a balanced NPK of 11.5.7 plus trace elements and minerals and recommended for use in all horticultural crops and home garden.

Fulvic acid.

Fulvic acid is group of chemicals formed when plants and animals break down. It is found in the humus (organic matter) part of soil and peat, and is also found in streams and lakes.

Fulvic acid benefits of increases root respiration and formation,enhance plant growth and yield. Humic fulvic acid can enhances pH buffering capacity, enhances photosynthesis and respiration, increases cationic exchange.

Brings about an improvement in the transport of nutrients, making them available in the areas of need. Increases the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, which will facilitate the action of enzymes formed with some amino acids and micro-nutrients.


I also feed and mist regularly with a week solution of both black tea and rooibos tea which appears to be very beneficial to both my ferns as well as my orchid plants.


Asplenium prionitis propagates very easily from spores if one has the patience to wait a few years for a good sized mature plant, the plus factor is that one can easily propagate large numbers of new plants.

The sporangium containing the spore can be clearly seen under the leaves

The method that I use is to obtain a large glass jar into which a place a layer of small crushed stone topped with a thin layer of silica sand used for swimming pool filters. Over this layer I place a thin layer of peat or coco peat that is salt free onto which I sprinkle the ripe spore. To water I use a small insecticide spray bottle watering enough that the water creates a small reservoir of water approximately half way up the crushed stone. I then cover the jar with a piece of cling wrap that can be fastened by an elastic band of piece of string and place the jar in an area of bright light that does not receive and direct sunlight or under lights giving around 5,000 lux for between 12 -14 hours.

Asplenium prionitis seedlings growing in the jar they were planted in

When large enough I pot the seedlings into small pots and place in a very humid place usually over a tray of water.

Asplenium prionitis seedling that was planted out six months ago

Pest control

To date I have not encountered pests on my plants however I treat them on a regular basis As I do with my other indoor plants as a precaution because other Asplenium species that I grow are prone to soft scale and mealie bug attack. In the past I sprayed my plants which entailed the use of spray overalls, googles and respirator which was a major task and was both hazardous to my health as well as made the entire house stink for a day or two. Furthermore, this process needed to be repeated on a regular basis. I now use a granular Insecticide with great success and no fuss at all. The product that I use is , Efekto Granules Plus active ingredient Imidacloprid (chloro-nicotinyl) which I apply to the roots and is taken up by the roots and evenly distributed to the entire plant which is highly effective against most sucking insects and provides long term control between 4 – 8 weeks. Efekto Granules Plus is a Neonicotinoid a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine compared to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonicotinoids are less toxic to birds and mammals, and therefore very safe to use within the home environment.

However, Neonicotinoid has a very bad name for very good reasons for widespread agricultural use, for reasons that do not apply at all for very limited indoor use, in fact it is an ideal insecticide for indoor application due to its low toxicity for humans and its very targeted use in comparison to sprayed insecticides.. Neonicotinoids have been studied in relation to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), and declining populations of insect-eating birds. In 2013, the European Union and some neighbouring countries restricted the use of certain neonicotinoids. In 2018 the EU banned the three main neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) for all outdoor uses, but in 2020, France re-allowed the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet crops. Several US states have restricted neonicotinoids out of concern for pollinators and bees.

Article written by Michael Hickman 21.12.2022

Thursday 16 November 2017

Eragrostis lehmanniana

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana

Common names
Lehmann love grass, Lehmann's love grass

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana is one of the many grasses that I have collected and have growing on my property in  Mount Moreland. This particular species that I collected in Jwaneng in Botswana has been grown because of its most beautiful blue to grey colouration.

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana is a tufted perennial grass. The culms are up to 60-90 cm high with narrow leaves 1-3 mm wide. Panicles are 10-20 cm long, lax and open. Its bunch habit is somewhat open in that individuals do not form a compact crown with numerous stem bases.

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana inflorescens

Eragrostis lehmanniana is native to Southern Africa where it occurs over much of the summer rainfall area. Eragrostis lehmanniana is adapted to semi-arid, tropical and subtropical summer-rainfall areas and is fairly tolerant of drought.

Eragrostis lehmanniana flourishes in areas of low rainfall of 300-500 mm in particular in sandy soils of pH 7.0-8.5. Eragrostis lehmanniana is common in several habitat types such as Acacia woodland and Kalahari grasslands and savanna. It tolerates high pH caused by calcium and magnesium rather than by sodium. It is often found in areas where disturbance or over grazing has taken place.
Eragrostis lehmanniana is a very productive grass. In South Africa, reported yields are 6-7 tons dry mass per hectare per year.

Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmannianashowing the colour of the stems

Eragrostis lehmanniana is a valuable grazing grass in the more arid regions where it is one of the first grasses to sprout in the spring and after rains. Eragrostis lehmanniana is also widely used for reseeding disturbed areas because it gives a rapid soil cover. 

Forage management
Eragrostis lehmanniana should not be too closely grazed and must be well established before being grazed. Only half the annual growth should be grazed off, but it can be continuously grazed for maximum production. However, a late summer rest improved the total available carbohydrates, crude protein and phosphorus contents, and allows the grass to seed.

Article written by Michael Hickman 16.11.2017

Saturday 26 August 2017

The Danger of using Picloram in Environmentally Sensitive Areas

In 2013 I first began noticing what was very clearly herbicide damage and death being caused in particular to two species of tree being Grewia occidentalis and Trema orientalis. I took photos of the affected trees but could not establish the source of or the herbicide that had caused the damage.

Trema orientalis that has been damaged by a very small dose of the herbicide picloram 

More and more I began noticing trees that had been affected or had been killed by what was very clearly as the result of herbicide poisoning but again I could not establish what herbicide had caused the death of the trees and when the spraying had occurred, in some areas the last spraying had occurred a few years previously.

About a year after first observing the herbicide damage to trees and other plants I accidentally discovered the culprit herbicide. 

I had removed a narrow band of bark down to the cambium on three trees on my property and carefully applied a very narrow band of Kaput Gel containing Triclopyr and Picloram in a band of about 50 mm on the bottom half of the area where the bark had been removed. Within a few days I noticed that two trees growing within a few meters of one of the trees started to show signs of herbicide poisoning and within two weeks one of the small trees Hippobromus pauciflorus was completely dead, the second small tree affected was Obetia tenax which very nearly died but eventually after more than three years recovered. For up to three meters along the line of the main roots all dicotyledonous ground cover plants were affected. A wild grape Rhoicissus tomentosa growing about six meters from one of the other trees was also very badly affected clearly from herbicide leached from the tree that had been treated with Kaput gel, eventually over ninety percent of the very large vine died what is left at the time of writing being August 2017 has not completely recovered.

Obetia tenax two years after having been poisoned by picloram which leached from the roots of a tree that was treated some distance away
Once that I had noticed how very small doses of picloram had affected other plants growing nearby I investigated what herbicides had been sprayed in the areas where so much herbicide damage had occurred and discovered Plenum containing Picloram has been sprayed to control weeds in adjoining grassland. In most areas where Plenum containing Picloram had been sprayed 100% of Trema orientalis trees had died.

Trema orientalis that has been killed by a very small amount of the herbicide picloram note the two trees growing beneath it have not been affected
Since then I have kept a very close eye on where ever I have seen contractors spraying or applying herbicides. Time and again I have found that Herbicides containing Picloram have caused excessive amounts of damage and death to a number of species.

I have observed that the following trees as extremely sensitive to very low doses of picloram

Barringtonia racemosa

Brachyleana discolor

Celtis africanus

Croton  sylvaticus

Dombeya cymosum

Ficus lutea

Grewia occidentalis

Hippobromus pauciflorus commonly known as false horsewood

Obetia tenax

Scadoxus puniceus

Trema orientalis

Wild grape Rhoicissus tomentosa

Croton sylvaticus dying after picloram following heavy rains in an area that had been sprayed a year or two before

Research on the internet confirmed what I had recorded but also brought to light some alarming facts as to the danger of using Picloram in sensitive natural areas or near to them.

 As a result of my own observations as well as what information I have obtained from the internet and a number of experts that  I have discussed the danger of applying Picloram with I will certainly never spray with any Herbicide containing Picloram in any natural area neither would I recommend any one else to do so.

I would go as far as to say do not under any circumstances ever spray with any herbicide containing Picloram in environmentally sensitive areas for instance in conservation areas or any other area when no damage to indigenous vegetation may occur. Also do not use herbicide gels containing Picloram and if there is absolutely no alternative then do so with extreme caution and only on plants that cannot be controlled with other herbicides because as reported above picloram leaches from the roots from the roots of plants that have been treated with it killing or damaging desirable plants growing nearby.

Barringtonia racemosa protected tree has been killed by the uninformed and careless use of picloram at the uMdloti river lagoon by an NGO doing alien plant eradication
Damage that has been cause to Barringtonia racemosa a protected tree in South Africa at the uMdloti river lagoon by an NGO doing alien plant removal

This sort of damage to the natural environment and protected trees can be avoided

There is no need at all to use Picloram in natural areas because there are herbicides that are just as effective and are far safer to use so please do not use this nasty herbicide in these areas.

The following information in regards to picloram has been published on the internet.

Picloram is a systemic herbicide that belongs to the pyridine family of compounds, used for general woody plant control. It also controls a wide range of broad- leaved weeds excepting mustards (crucifers). Most grasses are resistant to picloram so it is used in grassland management programs

Picloram can be sprayed onto foliage, injected into plants, applied to cut surfaces, or placed at the base of the plant where it will leach to the roots. Once absorbed by the foliage, stem, or roots, picloram is transported throughout the plant.

Picloram kills susceptible plants by mimicking the plant growth hormone auxin (indole acetic acid), and when administered at effective doses, causes uncontrolled and disorganized plant growth that leads to plant death

Picloram is the most persistent member of its family of herbicides which does not bind strongly with soil particles and is not degraded rapidly in the environment, allowing it to be highly mobile and persistent. The half-life of picloram in soils can range from one month to several years.

As a result Picloram can move off-site through surface or subsurface runoff and has been found in the groundwater. Picloram may also “leak” out of the roots of treated plants, and be taken up by nearby, desirable species.

Concentrations in runoff reported by researchers are often adequate to prevent the growth of non-target terrestrial and aquatic plants, and therefore, picloram should not be applied near water.

Picloram is a dicot-selective, persistent herbicide used to control a variety of annual and perennial broadleaved herbs and woody species. It can persist in an active form in the soil from several months to years, and can also be released from the roots of treated plants into the soil, where other non-target species may take it up and be injured or killed (Hickman et al. 1989). The cut-stump treatment is typically used to control woody species. Picloram is metabolized slowly by microbes and can be degraded through photolysis when directly exposed to sunlight. The half-life of picloram in soils can vary from one month to three years depending on soil and climate conditions. Other methods of chemical degradation do not occur readily. Picloram does not bind strongly with soils and can be highly mobile, moving to soil depths of two meters and laterally to one km.


Picloram is not readily degraded in soils and can be persistent and mobile. Estimates of the persistence of potentially toxic concentrations vary from a few months to three years, depending on soil and environmental conditions (Scrifres et al. 1972; Fryer et al. 1979; Johnsen 1980; Norris et al. 1982; Neary et al. 1985; Smith et al. 1988; Bovey & Richardson 1991; Close et al.1998). In soils where picloram persists for long periods of time, it has high potential to move vertically and horizontally, which can lead to contamination of water sources and non-target (terrestrial and aquatic) sites. Smith et al. (1988) reported that one and two years after treating a site with 3.38 kg/ha of picloram, residues were found in the soils and groundwater of an untreated site one km away


Because picloram is water-soluble and does not bind strongly to soil, it is capable of moving into local waterways through surface and subsurface runoff (Michael et al. 1989). The extent to which picloram enters a waterway depends largely on the type of soil, rates of application, rainfall received post-application, and distance from point of application to nearest water body or groundwater (Trichell et al. 1968; Baur et al. 1972; Mayeux et al. 1984). In general, the larger the buffer between treated sites and surface water bodies or groundwater, the smaller the potential for water contamination


In non-susceptible species such as grasses, picloram is metabolized rapidly, while in susceptible species, picloram can remain intact for extended periods (WSSA 1994). When applied to soil, picloram is readily absorbed by plant roots. When applied to foliage, the majority of picloram (70-90%) remains in the leaves and only a small percentage is conducted to stems and roots (Meikle et al. 1966; Cessna et al. 1989; Hickman et al. 1990). Unabsorbed picloram remaining on leaf surfaces may photo degrade in sunlight or be washed off with rainfall or irrigation.

Picloram absorbed by plants can be released into the soil by passive transport through the roots and then taken up by roots of other nearby plants (Hickman et al. 1990). Therefore, even selective application of picloram to specific target plants could potentially harm nearby desirable plants.


Chemical name:               4-amino-3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinecarboxylic acid

Chemical class/use:         chlorobenzoic acid herbicide

Picloram is sold in South Africa under the following brand names






Picloram is found in various herbicide mixes in South Africa under the following names

Plenum - Active Ingredients: Picloram (80g/l), Fluroxypyr (80g/l)

GLADIATOR 160 ME – Active ingredients: Fluroxypyr 80 g/l, Picloram 80 g/l

There are probably other trade names of herbicides containing picloram so please check before you apply herbicides in sensitive areas.


Weed Control Methods Handbook, The Nature Conservancy, Tu et al. 

Extension Toxicology Network, A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis.

Article written by Michael Hickman 20.08.2017