Submitted to: Leafy Spurge Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 1999
Publication Date: July 1, 1999
Citation: Anderson, J.V., Davis, D.G., Foley, M.E., Horvath, D.P. 1999. "know thine enemy"-understanding weed management through biological research. Leafy Spurge Symposium Proceedings.
Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is an invasive perennial weed which infests greater than 3 million acres of range land in the United States and prairie provinces of Canada. In the U.S., 36 of the 50 states report infestations with the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming suffering the greatest environmental and economic impact. Leafy spurge is a major concern to ranchers and environmentalists because left unchecked, leafy spurge can quickly out compete native vegetation. The Nature Conservancy has termed leafy spurge as "one of the dirty dozen of America's least wanted invasive species of U.S. ecosystems." Plants classified as weeds possess 12 or more unique characteristics that collectively impart a weedy growth habit. Several of these characteristics deal with reproductive behavior. Most annual weeds reproduce by seeds; however, perennial weeds like leafy spurge also have the ability to reproduce from vegetative root buds. It is the variable growth and development of reproductive organs (seeds and root buds) that allows weeds to avoid conventional weed control measures. Dormancy is a term used to denote variation in the growth and development of seeds and root buds and is a characteristic of most weeds. The fundamental basis for dormancy in plants is poorly understood. The Plant Science Research staff is investigating many facets of dormancy in leafy spurge, wild oats and red rice, as well as the physiology, biochemistry, and genetics of weeds. To paraphrase the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu - 'know thine enemy and victory will be forthcoming'. The impact of understanding dormancy in weeds will improve our knowledge and help us to develop new and useful strategies for weed management.