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Effects of light conditions and plant density on growth and reproductive biology of Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold

Bebawi, Faiz F. and Campbell, Shane D. and Mayer, Robert J. (2014) Effects of light conditions and plant density on growth and reproductive biology of Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold. The Rangeland Journal, 36 (5). pp. 459-467.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ14038

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/RJ14038

Abstract

Cascabela thevetia (L.) Lippold (Apocynaceae) is an invasive woody weed that has formed large infestations at several locations in northern Australia. Understanding the reproductive biology of C. thevetia is vital to its management. This paper reports results of a shade house experiment that determined the effects of light conditions (100% or 30% of natural light) and plant densities (one, two, four or eight plants per plot) on the growth, time to flowering and seed formation, and monthly pod production of two C. thevetia biotypes (peach and yellow). Shaded plants were significantly larger when they reached reproductive maturity than plants grown under natural light. However, plants grown under natural light flowered earlier (268 days compared with 369 days) and produced 488 more pods per pot (a 5-fold increase) over 3 years. The yellow biotype was slightly taller at reproductive maturity but significantly taller and with significantly greater aboveground biomass at the end of the study. Both biotypes flowered at a similar time under natural light and low plant densities but the yellow biotype was quicker to seed (478 versus 498 days), produced significantly more pods (364 versus 203 pods) and more shoot growth (577 g versus 550 g) than the peach biotype over 3 years. Higher densities of C. thevetia tended to significantly reduce the shoot and root growth by 981 g and 714 g per plant across all light conditions and biotypes over 3 years and increase the time taken to flower by 140 days and produce seeds by 184 days. For land managers trying to prevent establishment of C. thevetia or to control seedling regrowth once initial infestations have been treated, this study indicates that young plants have the potential to flower and produce seeds within 268 and 353 days, respectively. However, with plant growth and reproduction most likely to be slower under field conditions, annual surveillance and control activities should be sufficient to find and treat plants before they produce seeds and replenish soil seed banks. The most at-risk part of the landscape may be open areas that receive maximum sunlight, particularly within riparian habitats where plants would consistently have more favourable soil moisture conditions.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Captain Cook tree, flowering, height, seed formation, shoot and root biomass, yellow oleander.
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants
Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Deposited On:21 Jan 2015 05:22
Last Modified:07 Jun 2015 15:08

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