Mile-a-minute vine, a weed native to Asia, forms dense mats that can cover anything in its path. The main veins and petioles of the leaf are armed with recurved prickles which makes walking through mats an uncomfortable experience. It can be found in a variety of habitats but especially in disturbed areas such as railroads, utility rights-of-way, and roadsides.
Mile a minute can cause ecological and economic damages. Its fast growth and ability to out-compete other native species make mile a minute a threat to forest regeneration and commercial forest areas. Agricultural areas such as orchards are also vulnerable. In addition, mile-a-minute is a habitat generalist meaning it can germinate in many locations, as long as they are in full sun, allowing the weed to infest recreational and residential areas.
In open areas, mile-a-minute forms dense mats that cover everything including native vegetation. Height is variable depending on location but along forest edges plants can reach 8 meters in height.
Leaves are perfectly triangular and have long petioles with thin blades that grow alternately on the stem. They are bright green in color and about 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide. Stems are woody at the base and change from light green to red with age and are armed with recurved prickles. Fruits are clustered in cone-shaped groupings. Individual fruit is about 1.55 mm across and are blue and fleshy when mature.
Management and Control
Prevention: Prevention of the sale and transport of mile a minute is the most cost-effective means of management.
Biological Control: A weevil (Rhinoncomimus latipes Korotyaev) is a host-specific to mile a minute and is an approved biological control (USDA-APHIS, 2004). Adult weevils feed on foliage causing suppression in growth and seed production.
Harvesting: Mechanical as well as hand-harvesting can also be used to reduce seed reservoirs but should be done before seeds are developed to prevent further spread.
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Photo credits: Title photo, Britt Slattery, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org. Leaf photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org.