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

  • Jeffrey R. Smith (a1), Judith Hough-Goldstein (a1) and Ellen C. Lake (a2)

Mile-a-minute weed or devil's tearthumb (Polygonum perfoliatum, syn. = Persicaria perfoliata) is an invasive annual vine in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States that reproduces solely through seeds. Our study aimed to identify how mile-a-minute seed viability is affected by time of year and the maturity of the fruit surrounding the achene. Full-sized immature (green) and mature (blue) fruits were collected from five field sites every 2 wk over a 3 mo period, and seed viability was assessed using a triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TZ) 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 for mile-a-minute weed 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.

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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
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