Monday, 5 September 2016

'Hairy Panic' for Australian city

The rural Australian city of Wangaratta, Victoria, has recently been suffering from an outbreak of 'hairy panic' - the common name given to the tumbleweed Panicum effusum - a grass native to inland Australia.
Recent dry conditions have caused the tumbleweed to appear in unusually huge quantities, threatening to overwhelm the homes of local residents and returning even after it has been cleared away.
The tumbleweed can pile up to several metres high outside homes, making it difficult to deal with.
The source of the hairy panic is thought to be an area or former farmland which is now unused and unmanaged.
The spectacle was captured by a local television station, which brought people from other parts of Australia to see the outbreak for themselves.
There are a number of other similar types of grass, but Panicum effusum is particularly troublesome because it grows quickly and can form tumbleweeds, which are normally intended for the purpose of seed dispersal, helping to propagate the plant.
The local council of Wangaratta has said that it is considering using large vacuums attached to street sweepers to combat the problem.

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