LAWRENCE, Kan., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A giant invasive weed is threatening the ecosystem along southern U.S. rivers and could hamper security efforts on the U.S.-Mexico border, researchers say.
Scientists writing in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management report areas of giant reed, Arundo donax, are encroaching on the waters of the Rio Grande River in Texas, overrunning international border access roads and creating a dense cover for illegal activities.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has called for a plan to control the giant reed, more commonly known in Texas as Carrizo cane, a non-native bamboo-like plant that can grow more than 32 feet tall.
Aerial surveys have provided the first accurate estimates of the infestations and will prove useful not only to government agencies but also to land owners, researchers said.
To support its rapid growth rate, Carrizo can consumes large amounts of water relative to that consumed by native vegetation, and can destroy wildlife habitat, they said.