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Posted on: August 30, 2023

Invasive and Non-Native Plant Species in Desert Mountain

Weed Globe Chamomile flower

For more than a week, we have watched the devastation taking place in Maui after a wildfire destroyed the town of Lahaina. The extent of damage and death is still unknown while first responders continue evaluating the extent of the damage.

Experts have indicated that high winds and an abundance of drought-stricken invasive and non-native plants were a factor in the quick spread of the fire. Because of the fire danger associated with invasive and non-native plants, the removal of invasive and non-native species is a big part of the Firewise requirements.

Below is a list of the top 4 invasive and non-native species you'll find within Desert Mountain and how best to address removing them.

Stinknet (Globe Chamomile)

Weed Globe Chamomile flower

Native to South Africa, Stinknet is easily identifiable by its dark green “carrot like” leaves and unique rounded yellow flowers. It germinates from November to March, starting to flower in February. It readily invades new areas of deserts, crowding out native plants and forming dense mats that are highly flammable. 

Removal: Stinknet is best removed manually shortly after germination before the seeds are viable. Herbicide control may be required for established strands of this invasive plant. 

Desert Broom

Desert Broom

This native desert shrub, which is almost always green, grows quickly to nearly 10 feet high. In autumn, the blooms, containing a mass of seeds with white bristles, easily become airborne and spread freely. Desert Broom is viewed as an invasive plant because of its aggressiveness in overtaking disturbed areas (such as roadsides and newly landscaped areas), and because it burns fiercely and is a significant threat to nearby structures.

Removal: Small plants are best controlled by physical removal including root zone. Larger plants more easily addressed by cutting the plant down and immediately spraying the stump with an approved herbicide. A reapplication may be required should any regrowth emerge. 


Tamarisk-Salt Cedar

This shrubby tree grows up to 15 feet with gray-green foliage and slender branches. Pink-white flowers appear from January to October. Tamarisk spreads rapidly and forms dense thickets. Once established, it is difficult to eradicate. These trees use large amounts of groundwater causing desert springs to dry up and crowd out native trees such as cottonwood, mesquite, and desert willow.

Removal: Very difficult to control. With smaller plants, physical removal with the root zone included is possible. With most specimens, cutting/removing the plant, then treating the stump with an approved herbicide in a similar fashion to desert broom. 

Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass

This perennial bunchgrass grows up to 3 feet high and has long, slender green leaves and purple-to-white feathery spikes. Fountain Grass is a highly aggressive, fire-adapted species that crowds out native plants and spreads quickly. Fountain Grass has been used in landscaping. Native ornamental grasses should be used instead of Fountain Grass. Alternatives: Purple Threeawn, Arizona Cotton Top or Bull Grass.

Removal: Can be mitigated through physical removal/ herbicide application while green, before the seed is viable. The smaller the plant is, the easier to effectively remove it. After the plant has matured, removing the entire plant including seed heads is most effective. 

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