New weed pest threatens Carolina field crops

Commelina benghalensis, commoly called Benghal dayflower, or spiderwort, has been found in several southern states and may become a threat to South Carolina growers in 2007 and possibly North Carolina growers in subsequent years.

Benghal dayflower is a double threat in that it can produce seeds from both above and below ground sites. It is tolerant of glyphosate and many other commonly used herbicides.

Once it gets a start from ditches or irrigation banks, it can rapidly spread through cultivated fields causing severe yield losses in field crops.

It has been classified as a federal noxious weed in the U.S. and is native to tropical areas of Asia and Africa.

The above ground plant has a distinctive lavender-colored flower. It can grow in a creeping, ground-hugging pattern or upright. Leaves often have red or white hairs where the sheath attaches to the stem.

South Carolina growers who believe they have this weed on their property should contact the South Carolina Department of Plant Industry in Pendleton, S.C. at 864-646-2130.

e-mail: [email protected]

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