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Publication #ENH1261

Biology and Management of Graceful Sandmat (Chamaesyce hypericifolia) in Ornamental Crop Production1

Theresa Chormanski, Chris Marble, and Lyn Gettys2

Species Description

Class

Dicotyledonous plant

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Other Common Names

spurge, sandmat spurge, yerba nina (Hammer 2015)

Life Span

Summer annual

Habitat

Graceful sandmat occurs in pine forests, disturbed areas, roadsides, turf areas, landscape beds, and nursery containers. It is most often found in areas receiving full to partial sun. It can grow in dry or wet environments with a short hydroperiod and has been observed growing in wetland habitats and borders of marshes and ponds.

Distribution

Graceful sandmat is native to North America and is found throughout Florida, the southern US, and other tropical and sub-tropical regions throughout the world (Chen and Wu, 2004; USDA, NRCS, 2015).

Growth Habit

Erect, upright growing herb (Figure 1)

Figure 1. 

Graceful sandmat growing in a mulched landscape bed. Notice the upright growth habit.


Credit:

Annette Chandler, UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Seedling

Cotyledons are dark green with round, opposite leaves and red stems.

Shoot

Graceful sandmat can grow over 2 ft tall but normally grows to less than 1 ft tall. Stems are round, thin (1 to 2 mm), red, and sometimes wiry but never woody. Leaves are purplish red to green, elliptic in shape, 1 to 2.5 cm in length, oppositely arranged, and have red petioles and red interpetiolar stipules (Figure 2). The base of the leaf is unequal. Leaf margins appear to be entire but are slightly denticulate (toothed or serrate) upon closer examination. Leaves are crowded toward the top of the stem while the lower portion of the stem is bare (due to leaf drop over time). All parts of the stem and leaves exude a milky sap when broken.

Figure 2. 

Graceful sandmat stem. Notice presence of red petioles and red stipules near the base of each leaf.


Credit:

Annette Chandler, UF/IFAS Mid-Florida REC


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Roots

Weak taproot

Inflorescence

Small, cyanthia flowers with four reddish to white to green petals (Figure 3)

Figure 3. 

Graceful sandmat inflorescence.


Credit:

Theresa Chormanski


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fruit and Seeds

Fruit is a small, green schizocarp (dry fruit) that splits into three parts. Seeds are very small and are dark brown to black when mature.

Similar Species

While many types of sandmat are common in Florida nurseries, C. hyssopifolia is one of the species more closely related to C. hypericifolia and may be mistakenly identified as C. hyssopifolia. Both species have fruit and stems that are glabrous and are distinguished by the length of their stipules and fruit. Chamaesyce hypericifolia has conspicuous stipules that are longer than wide (1–1.5 mm long) and shorter fruit (less than 1.3 mm long). Chamaesyce hyssopifolia has inconspicuous stipules and longer fruits (more than 1.3 mm long) (Figure 4) (Wunderlin and Hansen 2008a, b).

Figure 4. 

Smaller capsules of C. hypericifolia on left and larger capsules of C. hyssopifolia on the right.


Credit:

Annette Chandler, UF/IFAS Mid-Florida REC


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Plant Biology

Graceful sandmat is a summer annual weed, but it can grow throughout the year in southern and central Florida if frost does not occur. The weed is fast growing and begins to flower and produce seeds when young. Seeds are generally produced from late spring to the end of fall. Populations can increase quickly because seeds have no dormancy requirement and can germinate immediately. Although little data exist on the optimal temperatures for C. hypericifolia germination, many spurge species such as C. supina have the highest germination rates between approximately 75°F and 85°F (Krueger and Shaner 1982).

Management

Physical and Cultural Control

Graceful sandmat is most problematic in container nurseries because it is often found growing in container media. Graceful sandmat can also grow in landscape beds and other disturbed areas. Due to its prolific seed production, graceful sandmate must be removed by hand when it is small and before it begins to flower and produce seeds. However, hand weeding is labor intensive because graceful sandmat produces a large number of seedlings and the size and color of these seedlings make them difficult to see against the container media. Spurge (sandmat) germination is higher when seeds are exposed to light. Cochran et al. (2009) found that applying mulch at depths of 0.5 to 1.0 inch reduced germination of other spurge species, so similar mulching may also be an effective control against graceful sandmat.

Chemical Control

Preemergence

Most preemergence herbicides provide control of sandmats (Chamaesyce spp.). However, these species continue to be difficult to control due the number of seeds they produce and how rapidly they grow. Researchers have noted that in general, dinitroaniline herbicides (e.g., pendimethalin, prodiamine, etc.) are more effective than oxadiazon or oxyfluorfen (Neal and Derr 2005). Little data exist on the most effective herbicides for graceful sandmat; however, herbicides that provide control of other sandmat (or spurge) species will likely be effective. A partial list of preemergence herbicides labeled for use in ornamentals for control of Chamaesyce spp. is given in Table 1.

Postemergence

Contact and systemic (translocated) herbicides labeled for use in and around nurseries will control sandmats. A list of postemergence herbicides labeled for use in nurseries and landscapes is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wg059. Weeds should be sprayed when they are small and actively growing in order for the herbicides to work effectively and to prevent further seed production. When weeds are growing in container-grown crops, especially small containers, postemergence herbicides cannot be applied without causing potential damage to the ornamental crop. Growers should focus their efforts on increasing sanitation efforts, following proper cultural management practices, and using labeled preemergence herbicides.

Disclaimer

Mention of a commercial or herbicide brand name or chemical does not constitute a recommendation or warranty of the product by the authors or the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, nor does it imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable. Products should be used according to label instructions and safety equipment required on the label and by federal or state law should be employed. Pesticide registrations may change, so it is the responsibility of the user to ascertain if a pesticide is registered by the appropriate state and federal agencies for its intended use.

References

Chen, S. H., and M. J. Wu. 2004. “Chamaesyce hypericifolia (L.) Millsp., A Newly Naturalized Spurge Species in Taiwan.” Taiwania 49:102–108.

Cochran, D. R., C. H. Gilliam, D. J. Eakes, G. R. Wehtje, P. R. Knight, and J. Olive. 2009. “Mulch Depth Affects Weed Germination.” J. Environ. Hort. 27: 85–90.

Hammer, R. L. 2015. Everglades Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Historic Everglades, including Big Cypress, Corkscrew, and Fakahatchee Swamps. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 256.

Krueger, R. R. and D. L. Shaner. 1982. “Germination and Establishment of Prostrate Spurge (Euphorbia Supina).” Weed Science 30: 286–290.

Mallory-Smith, C. A., and E. J. Retzinger. 2003. "Revised Classification of Herbicides by Site of Action for Weed Resistance Management Strategies." Weed Technology 17 (3): 605–619.

Neal, J. C., and J. F. Derr. 2005. Weeds of Container Nurseries in the United States. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Assoc. of Nurserymen, Inc.

USDA National Resources Conservation Service. 2014. “Chamaesyce hypericifolia (L.) Millsp. graceful sandmat.” The PLANTS Database, http://plants.usda.gov.

Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008a. “Chamaesyce hyssopfolia.” Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3580.

Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008b. “Chamaesyce hypericifolia.” Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2803.

Tables

Table 1. 

Preemergence herbicides labeled for use in ornamental plant production and landscapes for control of spurge (Chamaesyce) species1.

Common Name (active ingredient)

Example trade name and formulation

WSSA Herbicide Group2

Container production

Field production

Greenhouse or fully-enclosed structures

Landscape

dithiopyr

Dimension® 2EW

3

YES

YES

NO

YES

oryzalin

Surflan® 4AS

3

YES

YES

NO

YES

Oryzalin 4 Pro

3

YES

YES

NO

YES

pendimethalin

Pendulum® 2G

3

YES

YES

NO

YES

Pendulum® 3.3EC, 3.8AC

YES

YES

NO

YES

prodiamine

Barricade® 4FL, 65 WG

3

YES

YES

NO

YES

flumioxazin

Broadstar™ 0.25G

14

YES

YES

NO

YES

SureGuard® 51WDG

YES3

YES

NO

YES4

dimethenamid-p

Tower® 6EC

15

YES

YES

NO

YES

dichlobenil

Casoron® 4G

20

NO

YES

NO

YES

isoxaben

Gallery® 75DF, 4.16SC

21

YES

YES

NO

YES

indaziflam

Marengo® 0.622 SC

29

NO5

YES

YES6

NO

Marengo® 0.0224G

YES

YES

NO

NO

benefin + oryzalin

XL 2G

3 + 3

YES

YES

NO

YES

pendimethalin + dimethenamid-p

FreeHand® 1.75G

3 + 15

YES

YES

NO

YES

trifluralin + isoxaben

Snapshot® 2.5TG

3 + 21

YES

YES

NO

YES

prodiamine + isoxaben

Gemini

3 + 21

YES

YES

NO

YES

oxadiazon + pendimethalin

Jewel® 3.25G

14 + 3

YES

YES

NO

YES

oxyfluorfen + pendimethalin

OH2® 3G

14 + 3

YES

YES

NO

YES

oxyfluorfen + prodiamine

Biathlon® 2.75G

14 + 3

YES

YES

NO

YES

oxyfluofen + trifluralin

Granular Herbicide 75 5G

14 + 3

YES

YES

NO

YES

oxyfluorfen + oxadiazon

Two OX E-Pro 3G

14 + 14

YES

YES

NO

YES

trifluralin + isoxaben + oxyfluorfen

Showcase® 2.5G

3 + 21 + 14

YES

YES

NO

YES

1Herbicide labels list the spurge genus as Euphorbia spp. which is the former genus name for spurge.

2Herbicide groups are based according to primary sites of action and can be used to select herbicides that have differing sites of action (Mallory-Smith and Retzinger 2003) so as to minimize the potential for the development of herbicide resistant weeds.

3Can only be used in selected conifer and deciduous tree species. Check product label for a complete list of species and recommended application methods.

4Can be applied as a directed application around established woody landscape ornamentals.

5Marengo 0.622 SC can be used in pot-in-pot container ornamentals as a directed application only. Specticle™ is labeled for use in landscapes.

6Labeled for use on greenhouse floors prior to plant production. Plants can be placed back inside greenhouse 24 hrs after application.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH1261, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2015. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Theresa Chormanski, doctor of plant medicine student; Chris Marble, assistant professor; Environmental Horticulture Department, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center; and Lyn Gettys, assistant professor, Agronomy Department, Fort Lauderdale REC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.