In Spain - or at least in Andalucia - along every river, stream and crook the caña grows tall. I spoke with a local farmer the other day and he told me that it had been imported from India some 50 years ago and now it is eating up everything (I've seen it growing in the middle of fields), and it kills the trees even. We have a little growing behind our spring - but mostly it is oleander that grows there. Fourther down in our valley there is another spring and some grows there too - but also oleander, olives, carob, black berries etc etc. now I don't know if that is because it just hasn't really spread here yet or if there is some other reason.
I can't help think that they are there for a reason? The Spanish have been so preoccupied with getting the water /away/ when it rains that they have cleared everything around rivers etc. but I'm not sure at all.
Anybody in here knows anything about it? And if it is indeed invasive - what can be done, any trees that can survive and shade them out eventually?
Dawn Hoff wrote:
But then how come at least two older farmer have told me that it was not there when they were kids?
It comes and it goes. I've noticed it as far east and north as Crimea. It takes a lot of nutrients to support a dense stand. I suppose that after a heavy infestation has depleted the soil, it might stay absent for a couple of decades (or longer) before new seeds blow in and restart the cycle.
We have it here in Georgia, but it doesn't seem to spread from its established stands. Could be that we have other things that can out-compete it -- kudzu, blackberries, Johnson grass, willows, etc.
Dawn Hoff wrote:But then - if we build should up here, will the little we have spread?
It's probably easier to keep from invading than people fret about. Why is it a big problem in Southern California, where it is considered an exotic invasive? Because it clogs up the seasonally wet river beds. What areas get no attention from private property owners or local governments -- seasonally wet river beds.
If you burn it down, that leaves the root system, which is ready to grow like gangbusters the next time it gets warm and wet. Can you send in the animals to mow it down? No, it builds up silica particles in the leaves, which makes it extremely rough forage so they will prefer anything else and leave it alone. That leaves mowing it and then yanking out the roots, a laborious method to get control over it, so you better not let the stand get too big. On a well attended permaculture property, you will spot it and remove it before it becomes a problem. If you are trying to conquer a new area where it has just established itself, it can be done, but you have your work cut out for you.
Maybe the name "elephant grass" is the clue here. They are the only herbivores big enough and persistent enough to keep it under control. They can use their trunks to rip it out by the roots, and maybe they like the gritty taste of the leaves.
Constant short mowing hurts most grass and kills most everything else. If the situation won't accommodate a power mower, a cordless electric hedge cutter can be used to maintain it as short as half an inch. Elephants rip it out and let it recover. With short mowing, there is no recovery period. Few plants can withstand this.
Do the next thing next. That's a pretty good rule. Read the tiny ad, that's a pretty good rule, too.
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