Common broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides [DC] Nutt. Ex Rydb.) is an annual forb that occurs throughout the southern Great Plains, USA. During years of abundant growth, broomweed is problematic because it can reduce grass production and interfere with livestock foraging. In contrast, the canopy structure of broomweed may provide habitat cover for wildlife, including the northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus Linnaeus). During an extreme outbreak of broomweed in north Texas in 2007, we observed apparent differences in broomweed individual plant growth characteristics in mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torr.) woodland areas versus areas that had recently been cleared of mesquite. Our objective was to document differences at the individual plant and population levels. Individual plant mass, canopy diameter, and basal stem diameter were much greater in the cleared treatment than the mesquite woodland. In contrast, plant height was greater in the woodland than in the cleared treatment. Population variables of stand-level production, percentage canopy cover, plant density, and visual obstruction were not different between treatments. Total perennial grass production was greater in the cleared than the woodland treatment, because of the negative effect of mesquite on grass production. Variations in broomweed growth characteristics may have implications regarding livestock foraging and wildlife habitat.
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Vol. 61 • No. 5