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An Australian Town Is Buried in a Tumbleweed Called ‘Hairy Panic’

A rural city in Australia is fighting to keep its streets clean from a persistent tumbleweed.

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Americans love to complain about shoveling snow. It’s heavy, it’s wet, and the salt that melts it leaves awful stains on your shoes.

But imagine instead being challenged with  cleaning up an insurmountable “hairy panic” — a fast-growing tumbleweed that invaded the southeastern Australian city of Wangaratta this week.

“Hairy panic” is a pretty accurate description of the perennial tumbleweed, which is native to Australia but has been particularly prevalent this year because of dry weather during what is now summer in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the English translation of the weed’s real scientific name, Panicum effusum.

For days, Wangaratta residents have woken up to find the brown-yellow tumbleweed built up so high that it covers the entrances to their homes. Within a few hours of being cleared, the tumbleweed will blow right back, burying everything all over again. In some instances, the weeds have piled up so quickly they’ve even covered up to and over the roofs of homes.

Luckily, other than being an incredible nuisance, the weed isn’t harmful to humans or their domestic pets. But what could be at risk are herds of sheep that live in the area. The weed contains a dangerous toxin that, if consumed by livestock, can cause a rare condition called “yellow big head” —  an even stranger name than “hairy panic.”

Street-sweepers will reportedly be sent out Friday to try to clean up the mess. Until then, it’s up to residents to clear their yards. Below, watch some of them give it a shot:

Photo Credit: Twitter

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