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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325010

Research Project: Evaluation of Biological Control for Invasive Weeds of the Northeastern United States

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Title: Tolerance of Swallowworts (Vincetoxicum spp.) to multiple years of artificial defoliation and clipping

item Milbrath, Lindsey
item DITOMMASO, ANTONIO - Cornell University
item Biazzo, Jeromy
item MORRIS, SCOTT - Cornell University

Submitted to: Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2016
Publication Date: 2/8/2016
Citation: Milbrath, L.R., Ditommaso, A., Biazzo, J., Morris, S.H. 2016. Tolerance of Swallowworts (Vincetoxicum spp.) to multiple years of artificial defoliation and clipping. Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts. #170.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The European vines, pale swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) and black swallowwort (V. nigrum), are invading various habitats in northeastern North America. It is unclear how these plants might respond to potential biological control agents, as they experience little herbivore damage in North America, or longer durations of mowing given the reported lack of efficacy of mechanical control. We evaluated the effect of six seasons of artificial defoliation (50% or 100% defoliation once or twice per season) and clipping (once, twice or four times at 8 cm above the soil level) on the survival, growth, and reproduction of mature plants of the two species grown in a common garden field experiment. No plants died from damage after six years. Black swallowwort produced more aboveground biomass, whereas pale swallowwort produced more root biomass and root crown buds, compared with its congener species. For most damage treatments, root biomass and the number of crown buds and stems increased over time whereas aboveground biomass and viable seeds per plant generally did not change. Substantial overlap in plant size and seed production occurred among damage treatments and species. The most severe defoliation treatment did not substantially limit growth and reproduction compared to undamaged plants. While two clippings per season sometimes prevented seed production, four clippings per season was the only type of damage that consistently prevented plant growth and eliminated seed production. Pale and black swallowwort display a high tolerance to above-ground tissue loss in high-light environments without plant competition. The annual increase in plant size calls into question the potential efficacy of a defoliating insect against field populations of swallowworts, and it seems likely the only benefits of a long-term mowing regime will be to eliminate seed production.