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Am J Bot. 2004 Feb;91(2):285-8. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.2.285.

Allelopathic inhibition of germination by Alliaria petiolata (Brassicaceae).

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  • 1UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Ltd., Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, D-06120 Halle (Saale), Germany;


Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae) is an invasive, nonindigenous species currently invading the understory of North American woodlands where it is a serious threat to the native flora. Part of this success might be due to allelopathic interference by garlic mustard. Two congeneric species, the European Geum urbanum and the North American Geum laciniatum, were tested for allelopathic inhibition of germination by garlic mustard. Seeds were germinated either on substrate contaminated by garlic mustard or on substrate with contamination neutralized by activated carbon. Allelopathic effects of native European and invasive North American garlic mustard populations were also compared. Activated carbon increased germination by 14%, indicating that garlic mustard contaminated the substrate through root exudates. Activated carbon in turn counteracted this effect. The two test species differed in their sensitivity to allelopathic interference. North American G. laciniatum had a much stronger increase in germination when activated carbon was added to the substrate, independent of the origin of garlic mustard. In contrast, the European G. urbanum germinated better in substrate precultivated with North American garlic mustard, whereas activated carbon increased its germination only in substrate precultivated with European garlic mustard.

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