Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Corey V. Ransom


Corey V. Ransom


Steven A. Dewey


Ralph Whitesides


Mike Ralphs


Goatsrue is an introduced perennial plant that has proven to have great invasive potential, leading to its classification as a noxious weed in many states and at the federal level. This research focused on seed biology, herbicide control, and toxic dynamics of goatsrue. Physical dormancy of mature goatsrue seed was tested through scarification using sulfuric acid with exposures of up to 60 minutes resulting in 100% germination. Comparison of dormancy for 26-year-old and 6-month-old goatsrue seed indicated aged seeds had reduced dormancy levels compared to newly harvested seeds, but had similar viability. Goatsrue seedling emergence was inversely related to burial depth; emergence was greatest at 0.5 cm soil depth (93%), and no emergence occurred from 12 and 14 cm. Goatsrue seed density ranged from 14,832 seeds m-2 to 74,609 seeds m-2 in the soil seed bank of five goatsrue-infested areas. Viability and dormancy of seeds recovered from the soil seed bank survey ranged from 91 to 100% and 80 to 93%, respectively. Goatsrue was most sensitive to the ALS inhibitor herbicides chlorsulfuron and imazapyr in greenhouse trials. Field studies showed that plots treated with dicamba, chlorsulfuron, metsulfuron, aminopyralid, triclopyr, and picloram provided at least 93% control of goatsrue 12 months after treatment at two field sites and increased perennial grass cover at one site. All treatments at one site decreased seedling goatsrue cover 11 months after treatment. The concentration and pools (dry weight x concentration) of the toxin galegine, found in goatsrue, vary over plant tissues and phenological growth stages. Galegine concentration is significantly different among plant tissues; reproductive tissues have the highest levels of galegine (7 mg/g), followed by leaf (4 mg/g), and then stem (1 mg/g) tissues. Galegine pools or the total amount of galegine per stalk was lowest at the vegetative growth stage and increased until reaching a maximum at the immature pod stage, but decreased nearly in half at the mature seed stage. Average galegine concentration also peaked at the immature pod stage and decreased by half at the mature seed stage. Thus, goatsrue is most toxic in its phenological development at the immature pod stage.