Plant regulators test response plan for invasive weed

By Peter Kent

two men talking, photo by Peter KentFarmers in the Southeast are facing a fast-spreading weed called tropical spiderwort, Commelina benghalensis, also known as Benghal dayflower. This native of Africa and south Asia is currently the most troublesome weed in Georgia cotton, with annual control costs exceeding $1.2 million. It competes for water and nutrients, and its sprawling dense growth can smother crops.

To control the plant before it becomes a serious problem in South Carolina, Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry tested its plan to identify and eradicate the noxious weed. During a three-day exercise at the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, plant industry teams checked fields in several counties near Georgia. While no plants were found, the event provided practice and feedback for improvement.

“The tropical spiderwort has recently moved beyond cotton,” said David Howle, Regulatory Services assistant director. “In 2005, it was found in container ornamentals shipped from North Carolina. Tropical spiderwort is on the Federal Noxious Weed List, meaning it’s prohibited from being sent across state lines. Stopping further spread of this weed is vital to keeping down costs to control it.”

For information: Christel Harden, 864-646-2135,