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ABSTRACT:

Potential importance of vegetative spread and fragment regeneration for invasiveness of Clematis vitalba

Article; Early Access

Jarvis-Lowry, B; Harrington, KC; Ghanizadeh, H; Robertson, AW

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2024

WEED RESEARCH

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Identifying characteristics of invasive species or growth forms that facilitate their range expansion is critical for management. Clematis vitalba L. (old man's beard) is an invasive temperate liana in many areas of its introduction, yet its seedlings do not thrive in circumstances where resources are limited. Although some lianas in both tropical and temperate climates have been shown to spread by clonal stems along the ground, the bulk of previous research on C. vitalba reproduction has focused largely on aspects of seed ecology. The vegetative growth of the species is poorly understood. The first objective of our study was to evaluate the use of vegetative spread by C. vitalba as a means of local dispersal and population growth. We excavated ten 1-m(2) plots in infested riparian zones and found an extensive, branching network of creeping stems, both above and below ground. Our second objective was to test the ability of C. vitalba stem fragments to act as vegetative propagules. After 4 months, similar to 50% of two-node fragments had regenerated, from both creeping and climbing stems. These studies help explain how a temperate liana forms populations and dominate ecological communities. The findings provide good evidence that C. vitalba may rely quite heavily on asexual reproduction. In addition, the results document liana stem phenotypic plasticity; fragmented climbing stems are just as likely as fragmented creeping stems to reprogram shoot tissue systems, generate roots and regrow as independent plants.

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