Cockle, Cow

Pest Information
Common Name: Cockle, Cow
Family Name: Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)
Latin Name: Saponaria vaccaria
Other Names: China cockle, Cow-herb
Provincial Designation: Common
Life Cycle: Annual
Mode of Spread: Seed

Detailed Information
Description: Annual weed, 30 to 60 cm in height, It is most easily recognized by its pale pink flower and lack of hair on all parts. Stem is branched, hairless and somewhat whitish. Leaves are opposite on the stem, have no stalks and clasp the stem at the swollen joints.
Growth and Development (Life Cycle): Emergence: Main seedling emergence is in early spring.
Seed Production: Prolific seed producer
Seed germination: Seeds germinate from late April to late May in the greatest number but germination continue throughout the summer.
Dormancy: Freshly harvested seeds undergo short dormancy dormancy period before germination.
Longevity in the soil: Seeds may remain viable in the soil for a few years.
Dispersal: At maturity seed capsule opens at the top to allow the seeds to disperse.
How it Spreads (Mode of Spread): Cow cockle is resistant to 2,4-D and MCPA. This enables the weed to thrive in cropped land where other weeds are controlled by these chemicals and reduce yields as a result of competition. It spread from infested to non-infested fields via harvesting equipments, and sowing of contiminated seeds,
  Chiefly in grain fields. Occasionally in new alfalfa and clover seedlings, but also waste places, roadside and railway tracks.
Reproduction (Dispersal): Reproduction is only by seed
Economic Importance (Beneficial Aspects): Detrimental: The leaves and seeds of Cow cockle are poisonous to livestock. 122 grams of cow cockle seeds per 45 kg body weight is reported to cause death.
Beneficial:Research work in the US has shown that cow cockle has a unique starch, which has some medicinal properties.
Origin: The pant is native to Eurasia.
Flowering: Flowering timing: Late June to July.
Flower color: Pink
How to Control: Integrated Weed Management:
Prevention: it is important that plant be prevented from setting seeds, this can be accomplished by tillage, mowing or pulling.
Summerfallow: Summerfallow is an effective control for this weed because seeds are viable only for few years.
Crop rotation: Perennial forage crops grown for three to four years, will greatly reduce cow-cockle populations. Seed annual crops up to 25% heavier than normal to encourage a strong crop stand. Do not plant flax on infested land. Seeding: Delayed seeding allows for spring tillage to be effective. Annual crops may be seeded heavier than normal to ensure competitive crop stand.

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Last Modified: December 22, 2011

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