Tag Archives: invasive plants

Mile-a-minute vine

Study up … this is serious.  Mile-a-minute vine – acronym MAM – is no joking matter.  Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) came by its common name quite naturally – it can grow 6 inches a day.  This highly invasive vine, aka mile-a-minute weed or Devil’s tearthumb –has thumb-tearing barbs along its stem; it is a devil of a job to clear it away from any plant to which it has taken hold.

I’ve seen it and removed it from gardens I care for, but until now I was not aware of requests to report all possible sightings.  Mile-a-minute vine has been officially identified in 15 CT towns.  Horticulturists see it as a serious enough threat to devote a website to the identification, reporting, and eradication of mile-a-minute vine.

I’ve mentioned some of Connecticut’s invasive plants in previous posts.  Eradication of these non-native threats requires time and commitment – as does anything worth doing.  But first you need to know what is invasive and how best to remove and destroy each plant that threatens to overtake our native species.  I cannot urge this strongly enough.

I’m devoting part of this rainy, foggy day to throw on a raincoat, waterproof shoes, and a pair of sturdy gloves so I can scout for, remove, and report any  mile-a-minute  vines I find. But I’ll also be clearing bittersweet vines, Japanese barberry and multiflora rose.  I would like to think that my soon-to-be-born granddaughter will be able to enjoy the bloom of our native mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) when she is grown, just as we enjoy them now.  When you think of future generations, it tends to give you some incentive to protect the things we have.

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Filed under Gardening, General, Techniques

Battling Bittersweet

See these festive looking berries?

Photo by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Photo by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

You’ll find these orange/red seeds, surrounded by their golden seed pods, in Thanksgiving table decorations, poking out of Halloween pumpkins, and entwined in seasonal wreaths hung on many New England front doors. To many people, bittersweet berries are a must-have autumn decoration.

Not to me … when fall hits and these berries gently hang from vines towering above now dead roadside trees, I imagine each little red seed as one soldier in an invasive army whose mission is to destroy, by strangulation, every nearby plant, bush, and tree.  To my ears, bittersweet berries scream “INVASIVE, INVASIVE, INVASIVE.”

Why post about this now, when spring birds sing happily as they flit around gathering building blocks for their nests, and winter’s chill is slowly succumbing to an ever strengthening sun?  This is the best time to effectively wage war on young, newly sprouted bittersweet vines.

In the fall, when berries are abundant, birds gobble bittersweet berries. As nature would have it, our feathered friends happily “deposit” these berries while roosting about in other trees and shrubs. The end result is an ever-spreading crop of bittersweet vines – if vines are left undetected and untouched.

Based on the number of young bittersweet vines I’ve pulled this year, the birds must have been very well fed last fall. Here’s one, still in the ground. The engaging green leaves in the center of the photo mask the monster within.

young bittersweet vine

young bittersweet vine

When you pull young bittersweet vines, preferably after a good soaking rain has softened the earth, you’ll know you have the devil vine by their tell-tale orange roots.

uprooted bittersweet vine and roots

uprooted bittersweet vine and roots

To make sure these do-no-gooders cannot root again, I burn them in our outdoor fire pit. I do not advise adding them to a compost pile.

Learn more about bittersweet and other invasives attacking Connecticut. Keep an eye out for invasive plants, and eradicate them when they are young to prevent their death-hold on your prized landscape.

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Filed under Gardening, General, Seasons