The importance of cottontail rabbits in the dispersal of Polygonum spp.

Published online
01 Jan 1977
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Staniforth, R. J. & Cavers, P. B.

Publication language


Achenes of Polygonum lapathifolium, P. pensylvanicum and P. persicaria are commonly eaten by cottontail rabbits in southern Ontario. Feeding experiments showed that the smaller achenes of P. lapathifolium and P. persicaria germinated after excretion, while the larger achenes of these 2 spp. and all P. pensylvanicum achenes were destroyed by the digestive process. The average retention time of 6 h (maximum 48 h) would allow short distance dispersal between riverbank habitats and from the riverbank to nearby crop-lands where P. lapathifolium and P. persicaria can be serious weeds. Several adaptations of these Polygonum spp. were identified which make the achenes attractive to cottontail rabbits and increase their chances of surviving digestion. From summary.

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