Local News

Tropical Spiderwort Weed Proves Troubling Above, Below Ground

Posted August 29, 2003 11:59 a.m. EDT

— A new weed, called tropical spiderwort, has popped up in North Carolina and could bring big problems for farmers and homeowners.

"In Georgia, for example, where a couple of years ago it was almost a curiosity, it is now a very serious problem," said Dr. Alan York, a researcher at North Carolina State University.

York is a weed scientist who carefully examines pots growing in a high-security greenhouse at N.C. State.

Tropical spiderwort was first spotted in North Carolina about two years ago. It flowers above and below the soil.

"These flowers don't open, so they aren't going be a pretty yellow or purple or any color flower, but there will be seed formed within here," York explained.

The seed spreads the federally-listed noxious weed from above and below, but that is not the only reason it is so troubling.

"The real concern with this weed is because it's so difficult to control with our typical herbicide control programs," York said. The plant is not hurt by the most commonly used herbicides.

Tropical spiderwort

looks a lot like a common weed, called



To identify tropical spiderwort, pull the weed out of the ground and look for the small white nodules that grow at the root.

Tropical spiderwort is already a major problem in cotton and peanut fields in Georgia and Florida. Both crops are grown in North Carolina.