The phytotoxic potential of plants and their constituents against other plants is being increasingly investigated as a possible alternative to synthetic herbicides to control weeds in crop fields. In this study, we explored the phytotoxicity and phytotoxic substances of Schumannianthus dichotomus, a perennial wetland shrub native to Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar. Leaf extracts of S. dichotomus exerted strong phytotoxicity against two dicot species, alfalfa and cress, and two monocot species, barnyard grass and Italian ryegrass. A bioassay-driven purification process yielded two phenolic derivatives, syringic acid and methyl syringate. Both constituents significantly inhibited the growth of cress and Italian ryegrass in a concentration-dependent manner. The concentrations required for 50% growth inhibition (I50 value) of the shoot and root growth of cress were 75.8 and 61.3 μM, respectively, for syringic acid, compared with 43.2 and 31.5 μM, respectively, for methyl syringate. Similarly, to suppress the shoot and root growth of Italian rye grass, a greater amount of syringic acid (I50 = 213.7 and 175.9 μM) was needed than methyl syringate (I50 = 140.4 to 130.8 μM). Methyl syringate showed higher phytotoxic potential than syringic acid, and cress showed higher sensitivity to both substances. This study is the first to report on the phytotoxic potential of S. dichotomus and to identify phytotoxic substances from this plant material.
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