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Tumbleweed overtaking an Australian town

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Residents of the Australian town of Wangaratta are by no means thrilled at what they woke up to. This town, which is north east of Victoria, appears to be covered with Panicum effusum, or more commonly known as “hairy panic grass”.

This short lived perennial is native to inland Australia and occurs every summer. But this year the fast growing tumbleweed which can grow up to 1.6 feet, appears to be especially bad due to the dry weather conditions and strong winds. The local farmer might also be to blame as most of it is coming from an untended paddock.

While those of us far away from the problem can be amused at the sight of backyards, garages and in some cases houses being covered with this grass, locals are far from finding anything funny about it. A few local residents said that “it’s physically draining and mentally more draining.” Another one said that “It is frustrating. You know that you've got a good couple of hours work ahead of you and that's always sort of displeasing.”

The local council spokesman said that the grass was “like a dandelion on steroids” and it is “very, very light, but it sticks together like anything”. Unfortunately there is not much the council can do as the wind really dictates where the grass goes to next.

This grass can also be dangerous for farm animals. If they eat too much of it, it can cause if photosensitisation or “yellow big head” which creates blisters on hairless or light coloured areas and can be fatal.

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