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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS FOR INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENING THE EVERGLADES & OTHER NATURAL AND MANANGED SYSTEMS

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: Variable Seed Viability of Mile-a-Minute Weed (Devil's Tearthumb, Persicaria perfoliata)

Authors
item Smith, Jeffrey -
item Hough-Goldstein, Judith -
item Lake, Ellen

Submitted to: Invasive Plant Science and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 28, 2013
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Repository URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1614/IPSM-D-13-00056.1
Citation: Smith, J.R., Hough-Goldstein, J., Lake, E.C. 2014. Variable Seed Viability of Mile-a-Minute Weed (Devil's Tearthumb, Persicaria perfoliata). Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management. 7(1):107-112.

Interpretive Summary: Mile-a-minute weed, Persicaria perfoliata, is an invasive vine in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. Mile-a-minute weed is an annual plant that only reproduces through seeds. The goal of this study was to identify how seed viability is affected by the time of year the seed is produced and the maturity of the fruit surrounding the seed. Immature (green) and mature (blue) fruits were collected from five field sites every two weeks over a three-month period and returned to the laboratory where seed viability was assessed using a triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) assay. In mid-August, only 35% of seeds from immature fruits were viable but by late September 84% were viable. Nearly all seeds from mature fruits (96%) were viable at all collection dates. Land managers using physical or chemical methods to control mile-a-minute weed should apply these controls before seed production begins.

Technical Abstract: Mile-a-minute weed or devil's tearthumb is an invasive annual vine in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. It reproduces solely through seeds, and therefore a key aspect of mile-a-minute weed biology and control concerns the production of viable seed. Our study aimed to identify how seed viability is affected by the time of year the seed is produced and the maturity of the fruit surrounding the seed. Immature (green) and mature (blue) fruits were collected from five field sites every two weeks over a three-month period and returned to the laboratory where seed viability was assessed using a triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) assay. At the onset of seed production in mid-August, 35% of seeds from immature fruits were viable. This percentage increased steadily, peaking at 84% in late September before declining at some sites around the time of the first frost. In contrast nearly all seeds with mature fruits (96%) were viable at all collection dates. Thus land managers who apply physical or chemical control methods should do so before the onset of any seed production and not simply before fruit maturation. If it is necessary to apply control methods after fruit set, it should be done as early in the season as possible.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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