The spread of plants from one country to another through intentional and unintentional human activities is a serious threat to the world’s biodiversity; second only to habitat destruction. However, a number of studies have shown that invasive alien plant species can positively contribute to rural economies. This paper is an attempt to document a few of these species ‘positive contribution to rural inhabitants’ well-being in and around Thulamela Local Municipality in Vhembe District of South Africa. Information on the uses of invasive alien plant species were obtained in 2010 through interviews with local inhabitants and traditional healers. Twenty one plant species, from 15 families, were found to be utilized by rural inhabitants. These species are important sources of food and medicine, provide firewood, and are of aesthetic value. They have become alternative sources of utilization, where the indigenous vegetation has been decimated by overexploitation. This study postulates that their extensive use, under careful management, could form part of a strategy for social upliftment and environmental management in poor rural municipalities.
Key words: Invasive alien species, Thulamela Local Municipality, utilization.
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