Invasive flower found in two Lowcountry counties

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Clemson scientists say an invasive flower has been found in three South Carolina counties, two of which are in the Lowcountry.

The Benghal dayflower lay dormant through the winter months but is now starting to emerge, and scientists want the public's help in finding it before it causes damage.

"We discovered Benghal dayflower in Beaufort, Orangeburg and Calhoun counties late last fall, but in the winter as plants die back it's impossible to identify them," said Christel Harden, who leads the plant pest detection and nursery inspection efforts for Clemson University's Department of Plant Industry.

"Now that they are growing again, we'll be better able to determine the extent of their spread," Harden said. "We're asking people to help us keep an eye out for this weed before it becomes an economic problem for farms and nurseries."

Benghal dayflower -- also known as the tropical spiderwort -- has a pretty violet flower and broad green leaves. The plant can grow in dense stands that smother other plants in the area, especially to soybeans, peanuts, and corn.

"Benghal dayflower is a significant problem in Round-up Ready crops, because it is tolerant to many herbicides, including glyphosate," Harden said. "In other states it has caused a lot of problems."

The discoveries last fall were the first in the state outside of a plant nursery. Regulators found Benghal dayflower in a container with a liriope in 2005 at a South Carolina nursery, where it was destroyed.

Harden asks South Carolinians who believe they have seen the pest to alert their county Extension agent or the Department of Plant Industry at 864-646-2140 or through this website.

"It's best if homeowners don't try to remove it themselves," Harden said. "Benghal dayflower can spread through underground stems that are hard to remove fully by hand. When we find it, we want to make sure we get it all."