Menzi Nxumalo – south african national biodiversity institute
Phakamani Mlaba – department of economic development, tourism and environmental affairs
Zuki Zulu – department of environmental affairs
Lindelani Zuke – sabeliwe environmental services
Sanelo Mchunu – ethekwini municipality
The spread of invasive alien plants (IAPs) across countries does not only reduce indigenous biodiversity richness and degrade environmental integrity of local environments, but it also threatens ecosystem services. Invasive alien plants pose negative impacts on the cultural application of indigenous plants. Indigenous plants, as constituents of biodiversity, have an intrinsic value and are also used for various reasons including traditional medicine, food, shelter and cultural rituals. Within the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, indigenous plants are traditionally well known by their isiZulu common names. With the influx of IAPs, confusion between indigenous and alien plants has crept in. In some instances, an indigenous plant and an alien plant which resemble each other share the same isiZulu common name. This is a concern when people specifically intended to harvest indigenous plants for medicinal use. Additional problems arise when the intention is to propagate an indigenous species and yet an IAP is propagated instead. Furthermore, where indigenous plants have been over-utilised, switching to an IAP that resembles the scarce indigenous plant occurs. Finally, when it comes to naming IAPs (since the process is unregulated), IAPs are given attractive, positive names that further create a misconception that “these plants are good”. A model for naming IAPs into indigenous languages is presented. This work advocates for the engagement of indigenous communities in the naming of IAPs into indigenous languages and that the naming process should be regulated. Existing common names, including English common names, should be reviewed and IAPs should be given negative names.