Why are weeds so persistent?

05 September 2017

Question

Why are weeds so persistent?

Answer

Chris Smith put this question to Beverley Glover from Cambridge University...

Beverley - Well, that’s because that’s what their job is. There are basically a group of scientists set out a theory for ways to be a plant, different ways to approach life as a plant by 30 or 40 years ago now. And they said, you know, you can be a kind of, ‘stay still and grow slowly and hang on to all your resources plant something fairly grumpy like a cactus. You can be a ‘grow fast and strong and beat all the competition but not reproduce very quickly plant’ so you might think of something like a bramble or you can be a ‘live fast and die young plant’. So, live fast, die young but throw out a lot of seed while you're doing it. And that’s basically the strategy weeds take. So, you can dig out one of them but it’s only lived a few weeks. Then that’s few weeks, it might have thrown out a million seeds and they’ll come up as soon as you pull up the first one.

Chris - And bind weed because that has a different strategy, isn’t it? That has roots that are extremely fragile but it can clone the plant back from any tiny bit of them.

Beverley - So, it’s more in the bramble category. It’s actually a competitor. It’ll keep going endlessly.

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