Mile-a-Minute vine is the latest threat on the invasive plants front. This nasty vine has moved up from the mid-Atlantic states and is now well established in Connecticut. Massachusetts residents should be on the lookout for this fast growing vine, up to six inches a day! It has arrowhead leaves and nearly invisible but really treacherous barbs. It flowers in August and starts setting seed which begins to ripen right about now.
The seed is small and blue, just like a low bush blueberry. Though small, it has vital strength and can remain viable in the soil for 7 years.
I got to meet Bryan Connolly (L), our state botanist who works with the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, when he came to Greenfield on Thursday, with Chris Buelow (R) , also with NHESP, to rip out a small patch of Mile-a-Minute vine. This patch was reported by an alert Greenfield resident who knows his weeds! Bryan and Chris were joined by a crew of Conservation Volunteers (wearing good leather gloves as protection from those barbs) from the New EnglandWildflower Society; they made quick work of the task. Bryan will return in the spring to check the site, and spray an herbicide, if necessary.
Bryan explained that Mile-a-Minute vine is an annual, but it self-seeds readily. Birds can spread the seeds, but he said most often the vine is spread unknowingly by humans who get seeds stuck in the soles of their shoes, or trucks pick up seeds and transport them on their tires. Sometimes the vine grows into a hayfield and it spreads all over the farm. Bryan and Chris carefully gathered all the seeds which they will burn. They are too dangerous even to put in an herbarium. Foliage will be sent to the University of Connecticut, UMass and Harvard for their herbarium collections.
If you should come across this plant, which needs only sun and ordinary soil to thrive, email Bryan at email@example.com You will have done a good deed. Remember, the barbs are an important clue in identifying this plant.