Mile a minute vine

What Is Mile-A-Minute Weed – Controlling Mile-A-Minute Weeds In The Landscape

What is mile-a-minute weed? The common name gives you a good idea about where this story is heading. Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) is a super invasive Asian vine that has spread into at least a dozen states from Pennsylvania to Ohio and south to North Carolina. Are you worried about controlling mile-a-minute weeds in your backyard? Read on for information about mile-a-minute weed control.

What is Mile a Minute Weed?

Mile-a-minute weed grows fast, and that’s a fact. Experts say that these prickly annual vines can grow up to 6 inches in 24 hours, and are much akin to kudzu!

The vines germinate in early spring, then grow amazingly fast, growing on top of and smothering out neighboring plants. The white flowers are followed by berry-like fruit. The vine dies off by the first frosts, but not soon enough to prevent its spread.

Each individual plant can produce thousands of seeds, and these are spread far and wide

by birds, mammals, wind and water. Therein lies the problem: they do spread. Mile-a-minute weeds grow happily in any disturbed area and invade forested floodplains, streamside wetlands and upland woods.

Mile a Minute Weed Control

If you are interested in getting rid of mile-a-minute weeds in your garden or backyard, don’t despair. Mile-a-minute weed control is possible.

Herbicides

One way of controlling mile-a-minute weeds is to spray them with a foliar non-selective herbicide treatment, which passes into the plants’ roots and kills them. Use a 1 percent mix and apply after mid-July.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Mechanical Controls

You can also start controlling mile-a-minute weeds by using force. Pull them up by hand or mow them down. If this seems like too much work, an easier method of control involves livestock. Bringing in goats or sheep for targeted grazing also works well. This is particularly useful in areas that are difficult to access with machinery.

When you are getting rid of these weeds, don’t forget that your primary task is to prevent the seeds from spreading. Chop out the vines or spray them before the seeds are mature, and keep your eye out for new vines developing.

Biological Control

You can also bring in reinforcements in the fight with the weeds in the form of mile-a-minute weevils, Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev. These tiny insects are host specific to mile-a-minute weed plants and can control this invasive vine.

How do they destroy the weed? Mature females lay their eggs on the vine’s leaves and stems. The eggs turn into larvae which bore into and feed on the vines’ stems. Adult weevils also eat the leaves and then spend the winter in the fallen leaf litter.

Mile-A-Minute vine is an aggressive invasive climbing vine from Asia that can shade out shrubs, trees, and other desirable plant life. This plant is a vine that can grow 20-25’ in a single growing season in colder zones, climbing right up anything that is nearby. This plant is self-pollinating annual that can self-seed vigorously on its own. The seed is also spread by birds far and wide. Interestingly, a study had found that deer are responsible for some of the spread, as many seeds have been found intact in their scat (glad I didn’t have to do that study). The authors found that of the seeds that were in-tact, 40% of them were able to be germinated! So, this time we can’t just blame birds for the spread of this invasive plant.

Although the common name gives you the correct impression of how aggressive this vine can be, its actual growth rate can be several inches a day in optimum conditions in mid-summer.

Mile-A-Minute Vine Facts

  • Is primarily self-pollinating
  • Native to Eastern Asia, from Japan/Russia (temperate) regions to India and the Philippines in the South
  • Can grow 25’ in a single year in Zone 6, longer in more southern Regions
  • Is edible when young
  • Can kill trees and shrubs by shading them out, as it can grow 6” per day
  • Reduces biodiversity by smothering other native plants

Scientific Name and Common Names

The Scientific Name of Mile-A-Minute Vine is Persicaria perfoliata

Other common names of Persicaria perfoliata are Asiatic tearthumb, giant climbing tearthumb, devil’s tail, and mile-a-minute.

Physical Characteristics

Persicaria perfoliate has alternate leaves that are triangle shaped. In fact, the ‘triangles’ are nearly equilateral and have no lobes, so are quite easy to identify. The leaves are light green in color, and grow on the vine which can be reddish in color.

Triangle Leaf Shape of Mile-A-Minute Vine,

The stem also will have small thorns/hooks that are pointing downwards, and will prick you if you pull it without gloves.

The thorns may be small, but they still sting!

Also along the stem are these small circular shaped leaves called ocreass. These appear along the stem every several inches, and contain flowers underneath. The flowers may never open, but will self-pollinate eventually producing fruits that are blue. In late summer/fall the fruits will mature and contain a seed that is black/red.

The flower and seeds will eventually form on the underside of this small, circular leaf (ocreass)

Later in the year the berries will form and begin to ripen. The thorns will also become much more pronounced. And you will have no doubt as to why this plant is also called ‘Asiatic Tear-Thumb’!

Ouch. It can hurt to pull mile a minute vine.Immature berries are forming on this plant.Mature Fruits/Seeds

First appearance in North America

The origins of this plant arriving in North America seem to indicate that its first known location was a nursery in York County Pennsylvania sometime in the 1930’s. It may have been brought in in error, but the plant was not eliminated. It then naturalized itself, and has spread nearly nationwide ever since.

This is one of the reasons that we always say you should plant natives! If you have a few minutes, you can read about our reasons for supporting native plants at the link below;

Native Plants – How and Why they help the environment

Controlling Mile-A-Minute vine

You have several options to control mile-a-minute vine. Namely mechanical, chemical, and biological. The key point is that you need to do this prior to seeds ripening. So, earlier is better. Once a few of these vines set seed on or near your property, you will be faced with several years of controlling it until it is eradicated. I’ve read that the seed is viable for around 6 years or so, so that is a long time to be on the lookout for new seedlings.

Young seedling in early Spring

Mechanical Control

Because of its shallow root system, it is pretty easy to pull the vines, especially when young. Several weeks after germination though the small thorns/barbs on the plant will harden and will then hurt your hand when pulling. So, at that point you should just grab a pair of leather gloves for protection. Still, I find pulling pretty easy.

These vines can be pulled pretty easily. A good pair of leather gloves will help you maintain your grip and protect your hands. This photo provides additional viewing of both the triangle, and circular shaped leaves (that seem to go around the stem). Very easy to pull when they are still short

Chemical Control

Any general weed killer will work on this plant, but spraying can be difficult to do without damaging desirable plants. This plant likes full sun, so if there are other plants (natives, good guys) around to shade it you will get some beneficial control.

There are several biological controls that have been researched. One of the more successful methods is a weevil (Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev) that will eat the leaves and bore into the stem. While this weevil doesn’t completely defoliate the plant, it will stunt its growth. The stunting of the growth can cause it to delay it making seeds, and kill it in some cases. The key is that there needs to be other plants present, as these will then be able to out-compete the mile-a-minute vine. Without the sun, the plant won’t do as well, and will make fewer seeds, or die from lack of sunlight.

The University of Delaware has done extensive research on this weevil and its success for controlling this invasive plant. If you want to read more, check out their study here.

Now, these weevils haven’t been released en-mass as of yet, as they still need to determine what second order effects could come from releasing them. Remember the story of the lady who swallowed a fly? Yeah, me too.

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Problem | History | Biology | Habitat | Management | New York Distribution Map

Mile-a-minute weed Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Problem

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) is a vigorous, barbed vine that smothers other herbaceous plants, shrubs and even trees by growing over them. Growing up to six inches per day, mile-a-minute weed forms dense mats that cover other plants and then stresses and weakens them through smothering and physically damaging them. Sunlight is blocked, thus decreasing the covered plant’s ability to photosynthesize; and the weight and pressure of the mile-a-minute weed can cause poor growth of branches and foliage. The smothering can eventually kill overtopped plants.

History

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata (L.) H. Gross, formerly Polygonum perfoliatum) is a member of the polygonum or buckwheat family. It is native to India and Eastern Asia and was accidentally introduced via contaminated holly seed into York County, Pennsylvania in 1930. Mile-a-minute weed has been found in all the Mid-Atlantic states, southern New England, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon (2011). In New York, mile-a-minute weed has been recorded mostly in counties south of the northern Connecticut border. Mile-a-minute weed has a large potential to expand in cooler areas, as the seed requires an eight-week cold period in order to flower. It is estimated that mile-a-minute weed is in only 20% of its potential U.S. range.

Infestations of mile-a-minute weed decrease native vegetation and habitat in natural areas impacting plants and the wildlife that depend on those plants as well. Mile-a-minute weed can also be a major pest in Christmas tree plantations, reforestation areas and young forest stands, and landscape nurseries. Areas that are regularly disturbed, such as powerline and utility right-of-ways where openings are created through regular herbicide use are prime locations for mile-a-minute weed establishment. Small populations of rare plants could be completely destroyed. Thickets of these barbed plants can also be a deterrent to recreation.

Biology

Mile-a-minute weed is an herbaceous annual vine. Its leaves are alternate, light green, 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide, and shaped like an equilateral triangle. Its green vines are narrow and delicate, becoming woody and reddish with time. The vines and the undersides of leaves are covered with recurved barbs that aid in its ability to climb. Mile-a-minute has ocreae that surround the stems at nodes. This distinctive 1 to 2 cm feature is cup-shaped and leafy. Flower buds, and thus flowers and fruit, grow from these ocreae. When the small, white, inconspicuous flowers are pollinated they form spikes of blue, berry-like fruits, each containing a single glossy, black seed called an achene. Vines can grow up to six inches per day.

Mile-a-minute fruiting spike, ocreae, and barbs. Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Mile-a-minute weed is primarily a self-fertile plant and does not need any pollinators to produce viable seeds. Its ability to flower and produce seeds over a long period of time (June through October) make mile-a-minute weed a prolific seeder. Seeds can be viable in the soil for up to six years and can germinate at staggered intervals. Vines are killed by frost and the seeds overwinter in the soil. Mile-a-minute seeds require an eight-week vernalization period at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius in order to flower, and therefore be a threat. Germination is generally early April through early July.

Seeds are carried long distances by birds, which are presumed to be the main cause of long distance spread. Deer, chipmunks, squirrels and even one particular species of ant is known to eat mile-a-minute weed fruit. Viable seeds have been found in deer scat; an indication that other animals may also be vectors.

Mile-a-minute weed seeds can float for seven to nine days, which allows for long distance movement in water. This movement can be amplified during storms when vines hanging over waterways drop their fruit into fast moving waters, which then spread the seeds throughout a watershed.

Habitat

Mile-a-minute weed is generally found colonizing natural and man-made disturbed and open areas and along the edges of woods, streams, wetlands, uncultivated fields, and roads. It can also be found in areas with extremely wet environments with poor soil structure, and while it will grow in drier soils, mile-a-minute prefers high moisture soils. It will tolerate some shade for part of the day, but prefers full sun. Using its specially-adapted recurved barbs, mile-a-minute weed can reach sunlight by climbing over plants, helping it outcompete other vegetation.

Mile-a-minute weed infested area. USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Management

Mile-a-minute has a number of management options that can be employed. Different sites will dictate different levels of management depending on conditions and the level of infestation. Once all the plants have been removed, on-going monitoring and management must occur for up to six years in order to exhaust any seeds remaining in the soil.

Biological Control

The mile-a-minute weevil, Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev, is a 2 mm long, black weevil which is often covered by an exuded orange film produced from the mile-a-minute plants it feeds on. This small weevil is host-specific to mile-a-minute weed and has been successfully released and recovered in multiple locations in the U.S.

Mile-a-minute Weevil, Rhinocominus latipes, adult on mile-a-minute. Note the recurved barbs. Ellen Lake, University of Delaware, Bugwood.org

The adult weevils feed on the leaves of mile-a-minute weed and females lay eggs on the leaves and stems. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the stem to complete their development, feeding on the stems between the nodes. The larvae then emerge and drop to the soil to pupate. There are three to four overlapping generations per year, with about a month needed per generation. Egg laying ceases in late summer or early fall, and the mile-a-minute weevil overwinters as an adult in the soil or leaf litter.

Mile-a-minute weevil feeding damage can stunt plants by causing the loss of apical dominance and can delay seed production. In the presence of competing vegetation, mile-a-minute weed can be killed by the weevil. The mile-a-minute weevil is more effective in the sun than in the shade. Over time, mile-a-minute weevils have been shown to reduce spring seedling counts. Biological control of mile-a-minute weed is currently the most promising and cost effective method.

Feeding damage of adult mile-a-minute weevils. Ellen Lake, University of Delaware, Bugwood.org

For more information on the mile-a-minute weevil, check the University of Delaware Biological Control on Invasive Plants Research website:

Cultural Control

Cultural methods can be used to help prevent mile-a-minute weed introduction to a new area. Maintain a stable plant community; avoid creating disturbances, openings or gaps in existing vegetation; and maintain wide, shade-producing, vegetative buffers along streams and wooded areas to prevent establishment.

Manual and Mechanical Control

Hand-pulling of vines can be effective; ideally before the barbs harden, afterwards thicker gloves are needed. Pull and bale vines and roots as early in the season as possible. Let the piles of vines dry out completely before disposing. Later in the season, vines must be pulled with caution as the fruit could be knocked off or spread more easily. Collected plants can be incinerated or burned, left to dry and piled on site, or bagged and landfilled (least preferred). Dry piles left on site should be monitored and managed a few times each year, especially during the spring and early summer germination period to ensure any germinating seedlings are destroyed.

Low growing populations of mile-a-minute weed can have their resources exhausted through repeated mowing or cutting. This will reduce flower production and therefore reduce fruit production.

Chemical Control

Mile-a-minute weed can be controlled with commonly used herbicides in moderate doses. The challenge with herbicides is mile-a-minute’s ability to grow over the top of desirable vegetation, and spraying the foliage of only the mile-a-minute weed can be challenging. Pre-emergent herbicides (herbicides that prevent seed germination) can be used with extensive infestations, often in combination with spot treatments of post-emergent herbicides (herbicides applied to the growing plant) for seedlings that escape control. Small populations are better controlled with post-emergent herbicides. General chemical control guidelines can be found at . Areas treated with herbicides need to be monitored and retreated as necessary when new seedlings emerge from the seed bank, see above. Please contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office http://www.cce.cornell.edu for pesticide use guidelines. For treating wetland areas or infestations near water, contact a certified pesticide applicator. Always apply pesticides according to the label directions; it’s the law.

New York Distribution Map

This map shows confirmed observations (green points) submitted to the NYS Invasive Species Database. Absence of data does not necessarily mean absence of the species at that site, but that it has not been reported there. For more information, please visit iMapInvasives.

Biocontrol Lab

The Mile-a-Minute Vine (Persicaria perfoliata), which is related to native “tearthumb” (Persicaria sagittata), is an aggressively growing invasive annual vine native to Eastern Asia. Mile-a-Minute was first found in the United States in Portland, Oregon in the 1890s and was later found in the late 1930s in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Since its introduction it has spread throughout most of the Northeastern United States and as far south as North Carolina. Mile-a-Minute vine is distinctive for its triangular leaves, flat ocrea (bracts) and recurved prickles that grow along its stem and leaf veins.

Flat ocrea and recurved prickles along Mile-a-Minute stemTriangular shaped leaves with a R.latipes weevil

Mile-a-Minute has the ability to grow up to 6″ per day totaling approximately 20′ per season; forming dense mats of intertwining stems and leaves which grow over, shade, and smother nearby plants.

Mile-A-Minute Vine growing up a treeFlag shown is part of a monitoring plot, it stands approximately 8ft. high

Seeds begin to germinate in early spring (late April to early May). Midsummer the plant begins to produce clusters flowers at the tip that will produce achenes, which are berry-like structures containing seeds (approx. 200-500 seeds per 0.5m2) (Hough-Goldstein et al. 2008), which initially are a pale green turning to a deep purple as they mature. These seeds can last for up to 6 years in the soil and can be easily dispersed by birds and water.

Cluster of immature seedsCluster of mature seeds

Habitat

Mile-a-Minute is most commonly found in areas of full sun and well drained soil on roadsides, along forest edges, uncultivated farmland, and along the banks of streams and brooks.

In 2004, a release permit was granted for the host specific Rhinoncomimus latipes weevil as a biological control agent against Mile-a-Minute vine. R.latipes is a small black weevil approximately 2mm in length which feeds on the tips of the Mile-a-Minute vine where they lay their eggs, as well as the achenes and leaves. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed down into the stem. After 7 or 8 days the larvae chew out of the stem and drop into the soil and pupate for 10-14 days in the soil where they then emerge as adults and begin feeding.

Since 2010, we have been rearing R.latipes weevils for release throughout the state of Rhode Island and we also distribute it to cooperators for release in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We have been releasing these weevils and monitoring their impact at several sites in Cranston, two sites in East Greenwich, and have begun releasing at one site in Hopkington, RI. We are currently looking for new sites for release and monitoring throughout Rhode Island. If you have seen Mile-a-Minute or believe you may have seen it please let us know by contacting Lisa Tewksbury at [email protected]

Hough-Goldstein JA (2008) Assessing herbivore impact on a highly plastic annual vine. In: Julian MH, Sforza R, Bon
MC, Evans HC, Hatcher PE, Hinz HL, Rector BG (eds)
Proceedings of the XII International Symposium on
Biological Control of Weeds, La Grande Motte, France,
22–27 April 2007. CAB International, Wallingford, U.K.,
pp 283–286

Biology and Biological Control of Mile-a-Minute Weed
Judy Hough-Goldstein, Ellen Lake, Richard Reardon, Yun Woo
September, 2009

Winning the War on Mile-a-Minute and Kudzu

Kudzu
Barry Rice – Sarracenia.com, Bugwood.org

You lounge in the sun on your patio, surrounded by a mix of forest and meadow. Your favorite magazine drops from your fingers as you nod off in the pleasant afternoon warmth. Slowly waking from your nap an hour later, you move to stretch your arms. But something is wrong—you can’t move. Startled and now fully awake, you look down and see that leafy vines grew over you while you slept, loosely binding you to your chair. You quickly wrench yourself free and march to the shed for the machete.

Mile-a-minute and kudzu are both exotic invasive vines from Asia that grow extremely quickly. Although neither could actually engulf anyone in an hour, mile-a-minute and kudzu can grow 6 and 12 inches per day, respectively, under optimal conditions. This fast growth and their climbing nature allow these vines to cover trees, houses, and vehicles when left unchecked. In a natural area, they can crowd out most or all native species.

Mile-a-Minute Weed;
Persicaria perfoliata;
Leslie J. Mehrhoff,
University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Both of these species have a growing foothold in Maryland, but the viney wastelands they can create are luckily not yet common in our state. Both vines grow best in full sun and often get started in disturbed areas and forest or road edges—all common conditions in Maryland. It isup to the vigilance and quick action of you, the landowner, to keep these virulent pests at bay.

Kudzu was intentionally introduced and promoted in the United States as an ornamental, forage crop, and erosion control measure. It has spread quickly enough in southern states to earn the label, “the vine that ate the South.”

It’s a perennial semi-woody vine with alternate, deciduous, compound leaves with three broad leaflets, each up to 4 inches across. Leaflets are hairy and may have lobed edges. Its purple flowers are a half inch long, and grow on upright stalks in the late summer. Flat dry hairy bean pods develop from the flowers.

The plant is probably not spread much by seed, but by rooting of stem nodes. This means that simply dropping a stem in a new site can be enough to start a new infestation. The huge tap root can weigh up to 400 pounds and support as many as 30 vines, each up to 100 feet long.
Kudzu has many uses. The vines can be woven into baskets, the roots can be eaten and are said to cure alcoholism, and the plant could produce as much bioethanol per acre as corn. These benefits can be used as an incentive for control, but kudzu should never be planted.
Mile-a-minute is an herbaceous annual vine that was accidentally introduced in Pennsylvania. It favors wet areas and stream banks, and can easily spread downstream by dropping its buoyant seeds into the water. Its triangular leaf and sharp backward-curved barbs give it its other common name—Devil’s-tail tearthumb. It also has unique circular leaves that surround the stem at each node. Small white flowers and clusters of berry-like blue fruit emerge from these circular leaves. Birds spread the seeds long distances.

Both vines can be controlled with a foliar herbicide treatment with glyphosate—like Accord® or Roundup®—or triclopyr—like Garlon® 4 or Element® 4. Kudzu requires a 2% mix, while mile-a-minute only needs 1%. Spray after mid-July so the herbicide is transported into the roots and kills them. Mechanical control with mowing, hand-pulling, or grubbing is also effective. Targeted grazing with goats or sheep also works, especially in locations where access is a problem, or where herbicide use is not preferred.

It’s important to understand that when fighting kudzu, you’re battling the large energy reserves in its taproot. If you’re using mechanical control, you’ll need to cut the vines several times over the course of a few years before the plant runs out of energy to resprout.

In battling mile-a-minute, on the other hand, you’re fighting the seed bank. Make sure to cut or spray the vines before they go to seed, and continue to control the new vines as they germinate. Small vines can be easily pulled by hand. Seeds are viable in the soil for up to 6 years, so persistence is required. Sites with a heavy infestation may benefit from treatment with a pre-emergent herbicide.

Promising biological controls are under development for both species. A naturally-occurring fungus shows great promise for the control of kudzu. A weevil that attacks mile-a-minute is being studied through a release and monitoring program, and should be available for sale to the public from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in 2012.

This article was previously printed in the Fall 2011 issue of Home and Garden News, the Delmarva Farmer and UME’s Branching Out newsletter. Branching Out is published four times per year and distributed to forest landowners, resource professionals, and others interested in forest stewardship. Visit the Forest Stewardship Education web page for subscription information.

Mile-a-minute weed

Mikania micrantha

What to look for

A fast growing vine with heart-shaped leaves in opposite pairs along the stem. Flowers are small greenish-white and found mainly at the end of stems.

What you can do

  • Do not move plants, plant material or soil out of the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia without a permit and an inspection by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer. ​
  • Report any signs of suspect exotic vines to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources by phone on +61 7 4241 7800 or email NAQS.

Profile

Mile-a-minute weed is a smothering vine. It is one of the world’s worst weeds and is known as ‘mile-a-minute’ because it can rapidly choke and smother other plants where it invades. It is a major weed of young plantation crops and pastures and can readily colonise disturbed native forests. The massive seed production of mile-a-minute weed and its ability to grow from stem fragments mean that this plant can spread very rapidly.
Leaves are triangular to heart-shaped
Mile-a-minute weed flowers profusely

Identification

Mile-a-minute weed is a perennial vine with slender twining stems. The stems are ridged and may have scattered white hairs. The leaves are heart-shaped and arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. The flower heads contain clusters of small white to greenish-white flowers found mainly at the end of stems. The seeds are small and black with a parachute of fine white bristles.

Distribution

Mile-a-minute weed is native to Central and South America but is now widely spread throughout the tropics in Africa, India, South East Asia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and western Polynesia.

Threat

This plant grows very rapidly and is a major weed of both the environment and agriculture. It could potentially cost millions of dollars in lost production and eradication costs if it became widely established in Australia. Mile-a-minute produces massive amounts of seeds that are spread by wind, water, machinery, animals or people. It can also establish and spread from stem fragments.

Keep a Top Watch!

If you think you have found this plant contact your local Department of Agriculture and Water Resources office immediately. Early detection of weeds minimises the costs and impacts of eradication measures.

Masses of seeds are adapted for wind dispersal

Crops and pasture are smothered by this weed

Report any unusual vines that you don’t recognise.

How to Grow Fallopia Russian Vine ‘Mile A Minute Plant’

Fallopia baldschuanica known as Russian Vine and Mile a Minute plant is very easy to grow, so easy you cannot stop it growing and it is invasive. This climber is very vigorous, in reality it can be rampant and hard to control. Ideal if you have a large space or structure you want to cover, but it comes with a gardening health warning as it grows quickly and can easily outgrow its welcome.

On the plus side, as the images show, it really has lovely delicate flowers and attractive foliage. It is a deciduous climbing plant, which means it is not evergreen and drops its leaves in the autumn. It looks good trailing over walls, as shown in the image below. It is very easy to grow, try stopping it; Russian Vine will grow almost anywhere although Fallopia do prefer sun where it will flower best, and with well-drained soil. It is tolerant of semi shade, and of poor soil and it is fully hardy down to H7. A rich soil will tend to produce more leaves than flowers. From this you can rightly guess it will grow pretty well anywhere.

In terms of how to grow Fallopia, it is really a case of plant it and watch it grow. It is self supporting by its tendrils and when newly planted, like all new plants, water it well initially to ensure it does not dry out. It will grow up to 12m which is around 40ft. Fallopia grows very fast and may smother any other plants in its way.

It is invasive in more than one way. It does grow very fast and will out compete anything in its way, scrambling its way to the top. However, it also has shoots which will not only twine but can force their way into cracks and spaces. This means if Russian Vine is grown over a structure, such as a shed, it can find its way into the building which is destructive to the structure and can cause problems.

It belongs to pruning group 11 and can be pruned in the Spring. However, it would be hard work and optimistic to think that a Russian Vine could be kept in check by regular pruning. There not enough pruning hours in the day bearing in mind it can grow 12 meters in a season. It makes Wisteria look timid. Its size and fast growth means that it is a climber that you only plant if you really need this type of plant. I once inherited a Fallopia which grew over a not very well maintained out building, into which the vine quickly forced it’s tendrils and within a short period of time the building became even less well maintained.

The Russian Vine, in common with some other vigorous, climbing plants, can cause damage to structures. In my outbuilding it forced its way into cracks and did cause some damage. Equally if you have a structure that you want hide, although deciduous, the Russian Vine will quickly do this. It is a woody climber which once established has very significant roots and thus not easy to remove if you decided it’s the wrong plant.

If you inherit a “Mile a minute plant” and want to get rid of it there are two basic ways. If you garden organically it is the hard work route, firstly chopping it down and removing all traces. Then you have to dig out the root completely to stop it coming back. The alternative is to try and kill it with a weedkiller containing Glyphosate, which is found in many weed killers such as “Roundup”, and it is likely you will need to reapply several times. Bear in mind as a weedkiller “Roundup” will kill everything it comes into contact with it needs to be used carefully.

Bear in mind also, that the other common name of Fallopia baldschuanica is the ‘Mile a Minute’ plant which says it all, and not for nothing is it also known as this.

It is tough, trouble free, long flowering and attractive to bees so the Russian Vine does have a lot going for it, but it can be uncontrollable and a very fast grower.

Still looking for the ideal climbing plant? Take a look at Climbing plants for ideas on all sorts of climbing plants including detailed advice on Clematis. On this and other pages there are images and growing advice for many popular climbing plants such as Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Passion flower, Ivy and many more.

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata)

Synonyms: Polygonum perfoliatum
Common Names: Asiatic tearthumb, Chinese tearthumb
Description: Introduced in the 1930s.
Habit: Herbaceous annual; fast-growing, trailing vine; covers and eventually kills its host vegetation; variable height.
Leaves: Simple, alternate, triangular, light green-blue in color, barbs on the underside.
Stems: Reddish; narrow; covered with barbs that attach to other plants; circular, cup-shaped, leafy appendages (ocreas) that surround the stem; up to 7 m long.
Flowers: Small, unnoticeable, white in color, closed, emerge from ocreas along the stem; blooms in June.
Fruit and seeds: Metallic, greenish-white, turning dark blue in fall, pea-sized, clumped berries.
Habitat: Native to East Asia. Relatively shade intolerant; found on moist sites in open disturbed areas, woodland edges, wetlands, stream banks.
Reproduction: Mainly through self-pollinated seed production.
Similar species: Mile-a-minute weed may resemble native Halberdleaf tearthumb (Polygonum arifolium); Arrowleaf tearthumb (P. sagittatum) but its leafy, expanded ocreas and pea-sized blue fruits are distinctive.
Monitoring and rapid response: Monitor roadsides, thickets, stream banks, meadows, woodland edges, clear-cuts and utility right-of-ways; most easily recognized in late March and early April as it germinates early in the season. For small infestations, hand-pulling, mowing and cultivating may provide effective control by preventing flowering and seed production; remove and dry vines before disposal; wear heavy gloves; foliar herbicide application provides effective control, as the leaves have a waxy coating, a surfactant will help the herbicide adhere. As this species is not yet recorded in Michigan, it is important to document new occurrences. Please obtain flowering or fruiting specimens and submit to: Anton Reznicek, Curator (Vascular Plants), University of Michigan Herbarium, 3600 Varsity Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2287.

Credits: The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has partnered with MISIN to provide the information in this fact sheet. Species images and/or information were used with permission from “A Field Identification Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan’s Natural Communities” and “A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of Aquatic and Wetland Habitats for Michigan.

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USDA Plants NatureServe Weeds US

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Mile-a-minute weed found in Iowa

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) is an invasive species in the Polygonaceae (smartweed) family that is native to Asia. It is believed to have been introduced to the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but the initial introductions failed to form permanent infestations. The plant is suspected to have become permanently established following introduction to a plant nursery in eastern Pennsylvania in the 1930’s or 1940’s, possibly with imported rhododendron plants. Since then the plant has spread westward; the most recent USDA map indicates infestations in the mid-Atlantic states and west to Ohio and Kentucky. EDDMapS indicates an infestation in one Indiana county. MAMW is also found in Oregon.

A landowner near Knoxville, IA contacted the Marion County Extension office regarding a weed after a friend tentatively identified the plant as mile-a-minute weed (MAMW). The landowner had been battling the plant for three years, and believed he was starting to lose the war. We, along with a representative from IDALS, visited the site on July 19 to confirm that the weed was indeed the invasive plant not known to be present in Iowa. Once we arrived, it was clear that the plant was indeed MAMW.

Mile-a-minute weed climbing and pulling down ornamental miscanthus at the first known infestation in Iowa.

MAMW has several unique characteristics that differentiate it from other vine weeds in Iowa and simplify its identification. These traits include: leaves shaped like an equilateral triangle; short, curved spines on stems and petioles; circular ochrea at leaf nodes; and small blue fruit produced in clusters, each containing a single seed. Like most members of the Polygonaceae family, the white flowers of MAMW are small and inconspicuous. The plant is adapted to wet areas with full sun, and frequently invades forest edges, stream banks, and roadsides. It is not considered a threat to agricultural fields.

The plant is spread locally by birds consuming the fruit. Since the plant is not known to be in the region, it is likely the introduction to this site was facilitated by human activities. Our best guess is that seed of MAMW was brought to Iowa via plants purchased from a nursery in a state infested with MAMW. The infestation was located at the edge of a wooded area and well-maintained gardens. We did not find presence of MAMW in the wooded area with deep shade or along a stream below the property.

Although this was our first encounter with MAMW, it was easy to see why the plant is considered a threat. This infestation was less than a quarter acre in size, but it was crowding out existing vegetation. The weight of the plant was pulling down a stand of miscanthus, a species known for establishing monocultures.

There is no easy method to eradicating weed infestations, whether it is mile-a-minute weed, Palmer amaranth, or Canada thistle. It appears this infestation had been present for at least five years, thus there will be a large seedbank present. Studies have shown seed can survive for at least eight years, and management will take a long-term commitment. The landowner has used postemergence applications of glyphosate and growth regulator herbicides. While these are effective, the prolonged emergence patterns will require multiple applications during the growing season. These products also will damage other plants in the area, opening the site up for invasion of other weeds or new flushes of MAMW. The plant has a small root system, so hand pulling is a relatively easy (gloves are recommended due to the spines) and effective way to remove plants.

While this is the first discovery of this invasive species in Iowa, humans are extremely effective at inadvertently moving invasive species to new locations. If you find MAMW or another weed you suspect to be an invasive species, please contact us for information on identification and management.

Triangular leaf of mile-a-minute weed.

Mile-a-minute weed is capable of smothering plants in infested areas.

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