Seed dispersal and site characteristics influence germination and seedling survival of the invasive liana Euonymus fortunei (Wintercreeper) in a rural woodland

Todd J. Rounsaville, Carol C. Baskin, Eric Roemmele, Mary A. Arthur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The invasive liana Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand.-Maz. (wintercreeper) is an emerging invader that through monodominance of woodlands can drastically reduce native species diversity and alter nutrient cycling. We studied how the vegetation and soils of invaded (INV), “native” (NAT), and wintercreeper removal (REM) site treatments influenced seed germination and seedling survival of this invader. The effect of aril (with vs. without) was also tested for wintercreeper seeds under field and in vitro conditions as a proxy for gravity vs. animal dispersal of seed, respectively. Germination was significantly delayed for seeds sown with an aril (vs. without), as well as those sown in INV soils (vs. NAT or REM), but neither site nor aril affected total germination. The proportion of germinated seedlings that survived after the first winter was significantly different based on site (p = 0.054) and aril (p = 0.071) treatments, with lower survival resulting from seeds sown without arils, and for seeds sown in INV sites. Magnesium (Mg) concentrations were significantly higher among INV soils (vs. NAT) and provide further support that wintercreeper is a driver of soil nutrient change. Our findings that aril-enclosed (gravity-dispersed) seeds yielded greater survival, despite being locally dispersed within invaded sites (where survival was lowest), support the historically slow rate of spread for this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1350
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This is publication number 18-19-036 of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director. This work was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, McIntire– Stennis project under accession number 1011623. We graciously thank Millie Hamilton and Jeff Rounsaville for the technical support that they provided.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Canadian Science Publishing. All rights reserved.


  • Aril
  • Euonymus fortunei
  • Germination
  • Invasibility
  • Seed
  • Soil chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology


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