Campuloclinium macrocephalum is an Asteraceous alien weed that invades roadside vegetation and grassland in South Africa. The role of allelopathy and competition in its invasiveness was investigated using Eragrostis curvula (weeping lovegrass, an indigenous grass), E. tef and Lactuca sativa (lettuce) as test species. Trials were conducted in Petri-dishes, pots and in the field. Root and shoot extracts of adult C. macrocephalum plants did not inhibit seed germination in any test species. The greatest effect was radicle stunting produced by leaf
extracts at 10 and 25% w/v. Eragrostis curvula was
less tolerant of the extracts than E. tef. Allelopathic effects could however not be confirmed in pot trials evaluating the interference potential of the weed or weed residue effects against E. curvula. E. curvula
growth and biomass was not affected by plant
densities of one or five C. macrocephalum per pot,
whereas C. macrocephalum suffered a 17% mortality
and density-dependant trade-offs of size and biomass for survival. Under field conditions C. macrocephalum had a broader ecological niche than E. curvula, invading hygrophilous and undisturbed grasslands not amenable for E. curvula establishment, this included well drained disturbed soils on which the latter proliferated. Evidence of competitive exclusion of E. curvula by C. macrocephalum or vice versa was not detected. The coexistence of both species irrespective of relative density suggested these species have different resource requirements. Allelopathy was not an adequate causal mechanism to explain invasiveness in Campuloclinium macrocephalum. A more traditional hypothesis such as the absence of natural enemies, at this stage, better justifies the weed’s invasion success.