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Chamber Bitter; Gripe Weed - Phyllanthus Urinaria

October 16, 2009

My property is infested with this weed, brought in, alas, with various natives I planted throughout 21 acres. This year I decided to get rid of it, and it has been the battle of my life. I spray it with glyphosate and hand pull some of it, which is back-breaking. My question is in two parts: at what point are the prolific seeds mature? It is much easier to spray it, but I'm hand-pulling it if the seeds look mature, for fear they'll sprout even where the sprayed plant dies. The second related question is: if the seeds are immature, or mature for that matter, does spraying glyphosate interfere with their ability to sprout, such that it would be OK to spray a plant with even mature seeds and let it just fall where it dies, without fear of the seeds sprouting? Or are the seeds impervious to the hormonal disruption inflicted by spraying?

Comments (11)
  • ronalawn82

    spoonbill, glyphosate kills green tissue and has no residual activity. I believe that the seeds of 'seed under the leaf' are green and therefore susceptible to the action of glyphosate. The trouble is to get the coverage, the seed being so 'protected'. Additionally, the chemical is translocated via the phloem tissues and tends to migrate to the meristematic sites. It tends to accumulate in the roots, hence its effectiveness in controlling perennials when applied during the period when these weeds are storing nutrients for over wintering.
    2.4D will kill the plant but it is volatile and harmful to most broadleaf plants. It is also a restricted-use chemical.
    You can use a 'burn down' chemical like diquat dibromide if you can find the labeled product for your particular situation. It is contact chemical and kills by dessication and very quickly. Thereafter, you can set up a program of glyphosate on the regrowth and a timely pre-emergent for the seeds.

  • spoonbill

    Thanks so much for the info. I'm indeed reluctant to use 2.4D and the glyphosate works extremely well on this particular weed. I WISH I could use a pre-emergent; the problem is that the weed is scattered in patches throughout the property, and has even infiltrated the woods in places. It would be too difficult to cover such a large and irregular area, short of aerial spraying! It's depressing how ubiquitous this weed seems to be, and it seems to thrive in both shady and sunny locations. I worry that it will forever change the nature and look of the landscape here in Louisiana and elsewhere. I'm not sure peoples' consciousnesses have been raised to the point of noticing how widespread it has become, maybe because it's relatively small. As long as it's coming in with the nursery plants, it will be a huge problem...

  • ronalawn82

    spoonbill, you can continue to use glyphosate. If you can, work out a program using the chemical regularly (and maybe at a lower rate) on the seedlings when they have reached the 3-leaf stage.

  • spoonbill

    Thanks again; that's exactly what I'll do. It will clearly be a multi-year project, at best. I made the mistake of allowing it to grow for a couple of years before I decided to attempt to eradicate it. Therefore, thousands and thousands of seeds were disseminated everywhere. Furthermore the property floods periodically, which has helped distribute them even more widely! I think the combination of glyphosate and hand-pulling, God forbid, will be the way to go.

  • norma_2006

    Is this weed poisenous to animals should they eat it?
    If not goats, sheep, rabbits, or turtles may do the job for you. Patience and tolerance please. I haven't been able to find it under any of the names offered. Thanks.

  • annhelen

    I loathe this weed. I had it at my last house but not where I live now, UNTIL I got some free horse manure, and it came loaded with the seed. Apparently seed can go right through a horse (not like cattle) and sprout from their manure. I have Phylllanthus very thick everywhere I put this horse manure top dressing, and, of course, it has spread from those areas outward. I was surprised that horses eat it. Thanks for the tip on gyphosate. Hand pulling is murder, and the plants grip and hold the soil so, even when I shake as best I can, that I lose a lot of soil when I weed.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Norma, all you have to do is type the Latin name (Phyllanthus urinaria) or the common name Chamber Bitter into Google. Within a second, you will be able to learn about this persistant weed.

    Your suggestion of goats, sheep, rabbits, and turtles is......interesting, to say the least. :-) Any particular variety of any of those animals that you would suggest? We wouldn't want anything that would eat the other plants. How many of each of these animals per acre? The idea of a herd of turtles is immensely appealing to me.

  • ronalawn82

    spoonbill, perennial plants tend to store nutrients in their roots as winter approaches. If glyphosate is used during this period, the plant will store it also; and as the warm weather returns, the plant will metabolize the product and hopefully kill itself.
    I wrote 'hopefully' because I have never had the opportunity to verify this action. I used to keep some street medians "weed free" by using glyphosate only. Over a period of two years they were quite weed free but in that time the shrubbery had closed in and that helped by shading out the weeds.

  • Atela

    I have been researching this particular plant for it's medicinal qualities. So far I have read that it is a very beneficial herb. For those who have been burdened by it's presence in your pastures, you may want to do a little research for yourself....and of course, for your animals! My guess, it is one of mother nature's tonics for animals!

  • TNTValk

    This herb is expensive to buy! You should research harvesting it.

  • PRO
    leah pine landscape architect, LLC

    Hi all, I have worked with a restoration specialist to remove this weed. I believe he recommended either imazapic or triclopyr. I can't remember which, but below is a link to imazapic. I am a specialist in native plant design and hold a pesticide applicator's license. I did some research while I was studying for the exam and decided that the above two chemicals and glyphosate were the only three I would be comfortable using. I'm passing the info. on (such as it is!). Here is a link to imazapic: http://www.invasive.org/gist/products/handbook/16.imazapic.pdf

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