The alien invasive vines black and pale swallowwort are currently spreading across eastern North America, invading parklands, old fields, restored forest sites, and other natural areas. These plants spread by wind-borne seed and can form dense stands where they become established. Although their current geographic ranges overlap, there is little known overlap locally. Preliminary observations and anecdotal information have associated black swallowwort with low-pH inceptisols and pale swallowwort with high-pH alfisols. We conducted a common garden field experiment repeated over two years and a growth chamber germination experiment to assess whether seedling emergence and performance of these two swallowworts are affected by soil type and/or soil pH. Soil pH was artificially modified. In the common garden experiment, plants of both species grown on the Onondaga County soil type (an alfisol) produced a smaller root mass than on the Orange County soil (an inceptisol). Also, in one of two years more seedlings emerged and plants produced more follicles on the Onondaga County soil. Soil pH did not affect seedling emergence, although plants grown on low pH soils had a smaller root dry mass compared with plants grown on higher pH soils. Soil pH effects on stem length, stem dry mass, and follicle production were inconsistent among years. Species differences were also evident, with more pale swallowwort seedlings emerging than black swallowwort seedlings, whereas black swallowwort plants mostly had greater biomass and fecundity than pale swallowwort plants. In the growth chamber experiment, final percentage seed germination was greater on the Onondaga County soil than on the Orange County soil. The germination speed index as well as the probability to reach 50% germination for black swallowwort was higher on the Onondaga County soil than the Orange County soil, but only at lower pH levels. The germination speed index of pale swallowwort on the Orange County soil was higher than black swallowwort at low, but not high, pH levels. In contrast, black swallowwort had a higher probability of reaching 50% germination than pale swallowwort on the Orange County soil at higher pH levels. Contrary to our expectations, interactions between the two swallowwort species with their associated soil type or with their presumably preferred soil pH were weak, contradictory, or non-existent in both experiments. This suggests that these two species can colonize and grow well in a relatively wide range of soil pH conditions. From a management perspective, our results suggest that the current range and local overlap of these two species will continue to increase and that early detection rapid response (EDRR) programs should be established in susceptible regions not yet colonized by these two invasive vines.
Nomenclature: Black (or Louise's) swallowwort, Vincetoxicum nigrum (L.) Moench, syn. Cynanchum louiseae Kartesz & Gandhi, Pale (or European) swallowwort, Vincetoxicum rossicum (Kleopow) Barbar., syn. Cynanchum rossicum (Kleopow) Borhidi
Management Implications: Black swallowwort (BSW) and pale swallowwort (PSW) have become an invasive weed problem in northeastern North America. Currently, there is little overlap at specific field sites of the two species. Anecdotal information has associated BSW with low-pH soils and PSW with high-pH soils. Using both a common garden field experiment and growth chamber study, we assessed whether seedling emergence and performance of these two swallowworts were affected by soil type and/or soil pH. We found that seedling emergence of BSW and PSW was generally not affected by varying levels of soil pH, although soil type could influence germination rates. Apart from root mass size, the effect of soil pH or soil type on subsequent growth, survival and reproduction of first-year plants was variable. There were more con