Trailing Pearlwort – Discovered in Volusia County
Trailing Pearlwort has found its way to Volusia County. According to The Atlas of Florida Plants Institute for Systemic Botany website, there is no record of it in Volusia County. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3130 Chadwick Richard, Senior pest management technician at Stetson University in DeLand, FL first discovered this unwanted weed on the Stetson University campus in Deland and reached out to me at the UF/IFAS Extension Volusia County office. Chad indicated “It (the weed) started spreading quickly through a Bermuda grass lawn. We’ve never encountered it before and I can’t find an ID on it.”
I scoured Weeds of the South (Bryson and DeFelice, 2009) and Color Atlas of Turfgrass Weeds (McCarty et. al. 2008) with no avail. Fortunately, I contacted Dr. Chris Marble (Assistant Professor, UF/IFAS Ornamental & Landscape Weed management at MREC), and he was able to identify it. “The botanical name is Sagina decumbens (Elliott)Torr. & A. Gray. It is not very common in Florida, at least from my experience, but is a huge container weed issue in the pacific northwest.”
It is a spreading, moss-like cool-season annual, but under some conditions it may persist as a short-lived perennial. The weed has thin, needle-like leaves, 1/2 – 1 inch in length and can form dense mats.
The flowers are white with five delicate petals. Both S. decumbens and an identical S. procumbens L. are selections sold in the garden trade for rock and fairy gardens or vegetation between pavers. Trailing Pearlwort prefers cool, moist conditions. This plant is usually seen near walkways. However, it is not desirable in Florida turf.
A prolific seed producer, seeds are borne in cup-like pods and spread by splashing water. Pearlwort can be quite weedy and if plants are undesired, do not let them go to seed. Management strategies include improving drainage in areas where weed persists. Dr. Marble recommends “Preemergence herbicides tend to work very well on it, especially things like prodiamine (Barricade) and pendimethalin (Pendulum)…. most broadleaf herbicides should work pretty well” (to control it). For more information on Trailing Pearlwort or other weeds, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension County office.
McCarty, L. B., J. W. Everest, D. W. Hall, T. R. Murphy and F. R. Yelverton. 2008. Color Atlas of Turfgrass Weeds, A Guide to Weed Identification and Control Strategies. 2nd Edition. ISBN: 978-0-470-18951-1. Pgs. 432.
Wunderlin, R. P., B. F. Hansen, A. R. Franck, and F. B. Essig. 2020. Atlas of Florida Plants (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/). [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.