Alien bamboos in South Africa: a socio-historical perspective

Susan Canavan*, David M. Richardson, Johannes J. Le Roux, John R.U. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Changes in fashions and economic imperatives underlying plant introductions have a profound influence on the movement of species around the world. Using bamboo introductions into South Africa as a case-study, we explore these issues by assessing historical trends through a literature review and determining current human perceptions based on a questionnaire distributed via social media. We identify five main phases of introduction and distribution of bamboos in South Africa associated with: (1) the intra-African migration of people; (2) the arrival of Europeans; (3) growth of the agricultural and forestry sectors; (4) small-scale domestic use by landowners; and (5) the rise of the “green economy.” Our narrative is built around 27 alien bamboo species (taxa mentioned in the literature that could be linked to currently accepted nomenclature). Bamboos were among the first plants introduced to South Africa by European settlers, and they are still used and valued by many landowners, although on a small-scale. Bamboos now create conflicts of interest because they are both valued and perceived to be weeds (the latter particularly by people who do not utilise them).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)121-133
    Number of pages13
    JournalHuman Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


    • Alien species
    • Biological invasions
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Human usage
    • Perceptions
    • South Africa


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