Ehrharta calycina | Féar veld ilbhliantúil
Regulated Invasive Alien Species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].
First reported in the wild
Not present in Ireland or Northern Ireland
Invasive species - risk of Medium Impact
Introduction pathways - 1
Release in Nature
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
Other intentional release
Introduction pathways - 2
Release in Nature
Introduction pathways subclass - 2
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Ehrharta calycina is perennial species of tussock-forming grass that expresses green to reddish-purple leaves and inflorescence and can grow to 30-75 cm in height (Invasive Species Ireland, 2021). The leaves are flat with leaf blades 7-20 cm in length and 2-7 mm in width (CABI, 2021). inflorescence is expressed as a contracted to open panicle (a loose branching cluster of flowers) that is 10-15 cm long, containing spikelet’s that are 5-8 mm long (CABI, 2021).
Ehrharta calycina can commonly be seen growing in dense tufts and can amass large, persistent seedbanks of up to 75,000 seeds per square meter (CABI, 2021).
Biodiversity - Ehrharta calycina has the potential to negatively impact biodiversity levels as it is highly competitive and can dominate native plant communities, ostracising them and transforming the composition of the habitat in to a grassland (Visser, 2018).
The result of the dominance exerted by Ehrharta calycina is the formation of monospecific stands which inhibit growth of other species through competitive exclusion (out-competing another species that occupies the same niche) , leading to decreased species richness and biodiversity levels (Visser, 2018).
Socio-economic - Potential costs come with controlling the invasion of Ehrharta calycina in an area, as it can be highly dominant and requires specific management aimed at its control. Additionally, due to the fire hazard that comes with this species, controlling wild fires may represent another cost related to the control of this invasive species (Visser, 2018).
Ehrharta calycina can be found in a variety of habitats that provide suitable growing conditions such as sand dunes, dune scrub, coastal grasslands, maritime chaparral, oak woodlands, disturbed road sites and heathland (CABI, 2021).
Ehrharta calycina can reproduce by seed and through rhizomes but its wind dispersed seeds are the primary method of reproduction in this species (CABI, 2021). After being moved via wind for some distance, the seeds will settle on the surface or within the top 1-2 cm of soil and will attempt to germinate (Smith, Bell and Loneragan, 1999). Seeds will typically germinate after a period of rain in winter and will grow and subsequently flower during the rainy season, right in to early summer (CABI, 2021).
Mechanism of impact
As Perennial veldt grass is listed as an Invasive Alien Species of Union concern under the EU Regulations of Invasive Alien Species, it cannot be imported, traded, or released to the wild. Measures must also be taken to prevent spread of existing populations of it (European Commission, 2017).
As Ehrharta calycina has the potential to be introduced to EU countries as a contaminant of hay, all imports should be checked and subsequently certified as free from any plant material before they are transported (Visser and Ray, 2018). In a similar vein, agricultural machinery from areas where Ehrharta calycina occurs should be checked and cleaned before entering the country in order to avoid accidental introduction of the invasive species (Visser and Ray, 2018).
If a population of Ehrharta calycina was recorded in Ireland, a containment zone should be quickly put up surrounding the known plant species. This zone will encompass a 25m wide area around the population, as this is the maximum seed dispersal distance (Visser and Ray, 2018). The zone would then be treated with herbicides in an ongoing management plan to eradicate the species and hopefully, prevent its spread before it establishes itself (Visser and Ray, 2018).
Physical control methods such as grazing, cutting or pulling of plants may only be effective with smaller populations of Ehrharta calycina as it may not make sense from a cost benefit perspective with larger populations (Visser and Ray, 2018). Where physical control is feasible, cutting or pulling the plant can be effective once the operator ensures the crown is removed. Repeated removal over a number of years should reduce the ability of this species to spread in an area (Visser and Ray, 2018). Correctly disposing of plant material should be considered to reduce chances of plants re-establishing themselves.
Grazing in a heavy stocking density may be a highly effective method of controlling Ehrharta calycina (Visser and Ray, 2018). As this species can survive relatively intense grazing, high stocking densities of suitable grazing species would need to be introduced to effectively control its spread (Visser and Ray, 2018).
Chemical control with compounds such as glyphosate may be effective methods for controlling the spread of Ehrharta calycina but there is notable data deficiency on this topic (Visser and Ray, 2018). These herbicides can be applied through various techniques such as broadcast treatments or spot treatments and are recommended to be used in addition to mowing and controlled burning to increase effectiveness (Visser and Ray, 2018). It is possible that chemical control can help to control Ehrharta calycina but it is uncertain if it can fully eradicate the species in the long term (Visser and Ray, 2018).
There are similar looking species in the same genus such as E. erecta, which grows to a slightly lower height with smaller leaves. E. longiflora is also similar in appearance with leaves of around the same length but are slightly wider (CABI, 2021). Neither of these similar species are currently present in Ireland so if Ehrharta calycina was to become established, they could not act as confusion species.
Ehrharta calycina is native to southern Africa but has spread to other countries such as North America, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and Tunisia where it has become invasive (Invasive Species Ireland, 2021).
In its native region of south Africa, Ehrharta calycina can be found in South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia.
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022
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How can you help
Report any sightings of this species to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, including a photograph, if possible.
Dispose of unwanted specimens in a responsible manner that does not allow them in to the natural environment.
Avoid purchasing this species for ornamental purposes.
CABI Invasive Species Compendium: https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/114037
Encyclopaedia Of Life: https://eol.org/pages/1114923
Invasive Species Ireland: http://invasivespeciesireland.com/species-accounts/potential/terrestrial/perennial-veldtgrass
CABI, 2021. Ehrharta calycina (perennial veldtgrass). [online] Available at: <https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/114037> [Accessed 1 Jul. 2021].
European Commission, 2017. Invasive Alien Species of Union concern. [online] Luxembourg. Available at: <https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/pdf/IAS_brochure_species.pdf> [Accessed 25 Jun. 2021].
Invasive Species Ireland, 2021. Perennial veldtgrass Ehrharta calycina. [online] Available at: <http://invasivespeciesireland.com/species-accounts/potential/terrestrial/perennial-veldtgrass> [Accessed 1 Jul. 2021].
Smith, M.A., Bell, D.T. and Loneragan, W.A., 1999. Comparative seed germination ecology of Austrostipa compressa and Ehrharta calycina (Poaceae) in a Western Australian Banksia woodland. Austral Ecology, Available at: <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1442-9993.1999.00944.x> [Accessed 1 Jul. 2021].
Visser, V., 2018. Pest risk assessment for Ehrharta calycina. [online] Available at: <https://circabc.europa.eu/faces/jsp/extension/wai/navigation/container.jsp?FormPrincipal:_idcl=FormPrincipal:_id1&FormPrincipal_SUBMIT=1&id=10834c92-8fbf-4e68-be43-307f49654d74&javax.faces.ViewState=7J0yjkmZ1aO9y2H7wfUz2O2gkmxLKEC%2FMiGahVMPBkCxeLPsVrtGMg> [Accessed 30 Jun. 2021].
Visser, V. and Ray, C.A., 2018. Information on measures and related costs in relation to species considered for inclusion on the Union list: Ehrharta calycina. [online] Available at: <https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/a/48b0eb45-08a5-4342-b981-9a0e310e7ba5/TSSR Task 2018 Ehrharta calycina.pdf> [Accessed 1 Jul. 2021].