Formosa Lily (Lilium formosanum) is flowering at the moment (March) and there seem to be masses more than last year. These invasive plants from Taiwan have spread alarmingly over the past few years, seeding prolifically along roads. It also invades grasslands and wetlands transforming these habitats and replacing indigenous plants. With less than 3% of the original moist mist-belt grasslands formally protected, we can’t afford to lose anymore.
The purplish brown stems reach 1,5 to 2 m high and are topped with up to 10 white trumpet shaped flowers flushed with burgundy on the outside. The 20 cm long funnel-shaped flowers are fragrant and have been widely cultivated in the past – escaping from gardens to become a serious weed in the wild. The narrow linear leaves are shiny dark green. Formosa lily is listed presently as a Declared Invader Category 3 plant which means it cannot be planted and needs to be controlled.
Please pick armfuls of these flowers before the seed heads carrying 1000’s of seeds form and burst! You do need to dig out the bulbs as well while you are there, or they will be back with a vengeance next season. The flower heads and bulbs should be incinerated to dispose of them properly – if you just dump them, they will grow again.
SANBI, in conjunction with Working for Water is sending clearing teams to the Karkloof, Dargle and other areas soon. If you see an infestation that you can’t handle, please report it to Ntombifuthi Mthimkhulu N.Mthimkhulu@sanbi.org.za; and Vusi Mkhize V.Mkhize@sanbi.org.za