Growth behaviour of the invasive species Ipomoea carnea in the Nile Delta, Egypt.
Ipomoea carnea Jacq., a native shrub of South America, grows in dense populations along river beds, river banks, canals and other waterlogged (wetland) areas. It has become naturalised along canals, drains, road sides and field edges in the Nile Delta, Egypt. The rapid growth rate, spread and adaptability from xeric to aquatic habitats indicates that this plant may potentially become a disastrous invasive species in Egyptian water bodies. Fifty established stands covering seven habitats (railway sides, waste lands, road sides, drain and canal banks, road dividers and field edges) in the Nile Delta were used in this experiment. In each stand, 20 ramets were permanently marked to estimate the monthly variations in such growth variables as phenology, height and diameter of the ramet canopy, number of flowers, leaves and fruits. The results showed a significant variation in growth variables relative to habitat types. Generally, I. carnea populations along the railway sides and field edges had the lowest values for most variables; while those of the road dividers, road sides and canal banks produced the highest values. The growth of I. carnea follows a seasonal pattern where the highest values for most growth variables were obtained during September and October and the lowest were recorded during June and July. The greatest flower and fruit production was observed between September and December. Similarly, it was shown that the flowering time varied in relation to habitat types; it began earlier on road sides and canal banks, but later on railway sides, road dividers and waste lands. Leaf areas of I. carnea populations in the wet habitats (e.g. drain and canal banks) were higher than those in other habitats. These results are discussed in relation to other related studies.