USER CONTROL PANEL
A case for
daisies and kwerekwere
18 Aug 2017
language of xenophobia is applied by South
Africa’s security cluster and United States
President Donald Trump, but it is also applied to
plants. The above words were also used of the yellow
daisy bush in the eastern Lesotho Highlands. Efforts
to eradicate the plant and people have dominated
discussions by environmentalists and politicians.
The yellow daisy bush, Chrysocoma ciliata L (Asteraceae),
is also known as sehalahala and bitterkaroobossie.
The last name is a clue to where the botanists say
it belongs naturally, where it is native or
indigenous — to the dry, arid Karoo.
So why is it in the eastern Lesotho Highlands? It
must be eradicated, evicted. It is seen as an
indicator of veld deterioration and Karoo
encroachment. It must be removed.
The recent words of Deputy Police Minister Bongani
Mkongi echo this sentiment: “How can a city in South
Africa be 80% foreign national? That is dangerous.”
He spoke of foreigners and economic sabotage, the
threat to land and warned that they would spread
throughout South Africa.
Trump’s “America first” sums up his attitude to
“aliens”. Stronger borders to keep them out; they
are a threat.
Then a few years ago, Clinton Carbutt of Ezemvelo
KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife suggested the daisy species
may not be an invasive plant: it thrives under harsh
conditions, such as eroded cattle stations; the
indigenous alpine wetland species in the eastern
Lesotho Highlands struggle to survive in eroded
And in a case of accidental science, researchers
recently announced they have found evidence that the
daisy bush has been growing in the Lesotho Highlands
for more than 4 000 years. Researchers at the
University of the Witwatersrand’s school of
geography, archaeology and environmental studies and
the Evolutionary Studies Institute used fossil
pollen records to solve the debate regarding the
daisy bush in eastern Lesotho and whether it is
(Back to Mkongi for a second: Has he forgotten that
humans evolved in Africa about 200 000 years ago and
that all people today trace their ancestry to a
population from Africa about 50 000 to 80 000 years
Jennifer Fitchett and her co-authors Marion Bamford,
Stefan Grab and Anson Mackay (University College
London) found the pollen of Chrysocoma ciliata at
intermittent levels throughout the depth of the
sediment profile they were studying.
Because the plant does well under drought
conditions, it colonises degraded land, for example
in abandoned cattle stations in the Lesotho
Highlands, where overgrazing caused the loss of top
soil and vegetation, causing economic harm.
The problem is not the bush but poor land use
management. The same can be said about the policies
and attitudes of politicians to people.
The scientists now have a new description for this
daisy bush — it’s a “niche coloniser”, probably
“native to the eastern Lesotho Highlands”.
And, like “foreign” people, we don’t need to deport
Banks in Lesotho
Banks in SA