Adaptive strategies of structures that enhance invasion in Sicyos angulatus.
Sicyos angulatus may become an extremely dangerous invasive plant depending on its ability to naturalize and outcompete other species. To further understand the adaptive strategies of structures that could enhance its competitiveness, field surveys and experimental studies were conducted in plant communities where invasion may occur. The results showed that multistage branches of tendrils ensured that the plants could climb higher to strive for better photosynthetic opportunities. The single fleshy fruit of the infructescence was carpeted with slender white spines on which dense barbs were arranged, which could defend fruits against herbivores and contributed to long-distance dispersal. There would be beaklike lignified thorn forming to continue spreading when most of the barbed spines fell off during the fruit season. Rootstock was found in this herbaceous vine, which could accumulate various storage substances during development and helped the plants spread in harsh conditions. Moreover, the discovery of ants as new pollinators enriched the pollination system of S. angulatus, which greatly enhanced pollination efficiency. Above all, we conclude that this species has diverse adaptive strategies and a strong invasive capacity. It is urgent to find some way to slow or even stop its invasion effectively.