Cockle, White

Pest Images

Pest Information
Common Name: Cockle, White
Family Name: Caryophyllaceae
Latin Name: Silene latifolia Poir. ssp. alba (Miller) Greuter & Burdet
Other Names: White campion
Provincial Designation: Noxious
Life Cycle: Annual, Perennial, Biennial
Mode of Spread: Seed

Detailed Information
Provincial Situation: White cockle can be found throughout Alberta.
Growth and Development (Life Cycle): Grows as a biennial or short-lived perennial.  Often there is a large plant with a well-established root system before it is noticed.
Where it Grows (Habitat & Ecology): Commonly found in pastures, along right-of-ways and in hay fields.  White cockle prefers well-drained soils and is seldom seen in dry climates.  Seedlings do not tolerate high temperatures.
How it Spreads (Mode of Spread):

Each female plant is capable of producing over 24,000 seeds, which may remain viable for up to 3 years.

Spreads mostly by seed, but root and stem fragments can establish.  As white cockle seed is similar in size and shape to clover and alfalfa seed, it is often a contaminant.

Toxicity and Other Concerns: White cockle creates yield losses in alfalfa, clover and small grains.  It is also an alternate host or vector for Lychnis Ring Spot virus, which infests sugar beets.
Origin: Native to Europe and was first reported in Ontario, Canada in 1875.
How to Control:

Integrated weed management (IWM) considers the overall management of a weed species with the objective of preventing the establishment of the weed from ever occurring, to prevent the spread or to minimize the impact.  IWM relies on the combination of a variety of methods such as chemical, biological, mechanical, and cultural controls as well as overall preventative measures.  Using IWM creates an opportunity to use herbicides more selectively, which reduces the impact on the environment as well as slow the development of weed resistance to herbicides.

Preventative – Use grass and legume seed that as a Certificate of Analysis declaring it free of white cockle seed.  Buy hay that is free of white cockle.

Competition – White cockle is a “sun-lover” and therefore, most crops seeded at high rates and vigorous forage stands compete well with white cockle seedlings.  Established white cockle is more competitive and not significantly reduced as a result of competition.

Fertility – The addition of fertilizer will enhance white cockle growth.  Fertility in combination with chemical control appears to have no effect (Erickson 2001).

Cultivation - Tillage deep enough to cut off roots below the crown and deposit the plant on the soil surface, allowing the plant to dry out, is required to control white cockle.  Surface tillage will control seedlings in summer fallow situations.

Mowing or Hand Picking – Mowing can be effective in preventing seed production, but white cockle can withstand annual mowing as the root will send up new shoots.  Hand picking will work for small infestations, but the entire root must be removed.

Pest Comments

<<Select Another Weeds

Last Modified: December 20, 2011

For more information about the content of this document, contact Ag-Info Centre