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Invasive Species in Zambia: Giant Sensitive Plant

The Giant Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pigra L.) is an invasive plant that has become a problem in many parts of the world, including Zambia. It is a thorny shrub/tree that can grow up to 6 meters tall and is native to South and Central America, but has been introduced to many tropical regions. In Zambia, it has invaded wetlands, riverbanks, and other areas with high water availability especially along the Kafue Flats.

Plants spread through seed with a single large mature plant able to produce thousands of seed per year. In such circumstances, it can form dense thickets that prevent access to water and grazing areas, and it can also impede the flow of water in rivers and streams. In addition, its thorny branches are a hazard to humans and animals.

Controlling the Giant Sensitive Plant can be difficult due to its ability to quickly spread through its prolific seed production in addition to the deep root system that can resprout even after being cut back. Mechanical methods such as cutting and uprooting can be effective for small infestations, but for larger areas, herbicides are sometimes employed but must always be done under strict application methods to avoid damage to surrounding vegetation.

Overall, the Giant Sensitive Plant is a significant threat to biodiversity and agriculture in Zambian wetlands and efforts should be made to control its spread and prevent its introduction to new areas.