Pennisetum hydridum's potential for controlling invasive Chromolaena odorata.
The exotic Chromolaena odorata is one of the most destructive invasive plant species in South China, and hence an efficient and sustainable control method is urgent. One method, replacement control, which eliminates harmful plants by introducing another competitive plant, is being used increasingly for controlling invasive plants. To test the potential of Pennisetum hydridum to control C. odorata, a series of polyculture experiments with different proportions of the two species was conducted. Competitive indices, plant morphological and physiological traits, and soil nutrient contents were measured to test the impacts of P. hydridum on C. odorata. The presence of P. hydridum significantly suppressed growth of C. odorata, and P. hydridum was not sensitive to the presence of C. odorata. Moreover, increased root/shoot ratios of P. hydridum enhanced its underground competitive ability, and competition between the two species resulted in remarkable reductions of soil nutrient contents which would further decrease the competitiveness of the invasive C. odorata. In summary, our results suggest that P. hydridum is a prospective candidate to control C. odorata.