1. Built environment
February 18, 2016updated 16 Jul 2021 1:37pm

A strain of tumbleweed named “hairy panic” is swallowing an Australian town

By Barbara Speed

An Australian town is being consumed by hairy panic.

This doesn’t mean a sudden allergy to beards, or the kind of “hairy situation” the Famous Five once found themselves in. No, “hairy panic” is a name for a fast-growing breed of tumbleweed which, thanks to particularly dry conditions, is exploding over a row of homes in Wangaratta, a rural town, in southeast Australia.

Residents have been forced to hack back the weed every day, and are blaming an overgrown field belonging to a local farmer for the epidemic. Here’s one of the houses:

Image: 7News.

And this is someone’s garden:

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Image: 7News.

The plant’s Latin (and more official-sounding) name is Panicum Effusum, and it grows all over Australia. It is distinguished from other types of tumbleweed by the long hairs all over its leaves. 

Luckily for the Wangarattans, the plant doesn’t pose a threat to humans (apart from being extremely annoying). But if eaten in large quantities it can produce a potentially fatal condition called “yellow big head in sheep. 

A local vet told Austrlian network 7News that he’s not particularly worried about local pets, but it just makes a hell of a mess

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