Look out for mile-a-minute vine, called ‘kudzu of the north’

Mile-a-minute vine
Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata). Photo courtesy Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

by Connie Oswald invStofko

People are calling mile-a-minute vine “the kudzu of the north.” That’s scary because kudzu is known as “the vine that ate the south.”

Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) can grow as much as six inches per day and more than 20 feet per year. It has small, recurved barbs along its stem that allow it to grow over vegetation such as tree seedlings and smother them. It can have a negative effect on tree farms, forestry operations and the reforestation of natural areas.

Mile-a-minute vine has been found in Cattaraugus County, and most recently near the border of Orleans and Genesee counties near Oakfield.

While these are the only infestations currently known in Western New York, there are likely other infestations in nearby areas, according to WNY PRISM (Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management).

That’s where you come in.

WNY PRISM needs your help in spotting mile-a-minute vine, which is on the list of priority species— invasive species that pose the most threat to our region. It’s also on the list of early detection species— species that have been found in three or fewer locations in our region.

Finding early detection priority species before they become established gives managers the greatest chance of success in eradicating the infestation, but it’s impossible for the WNY PRISM staff to monitor the entire region. You can help.

If you spot these plants, let WNY PRISM know. See instructions for reporting on these early detection species here.

See details on how to recognize mile-a-minute vine here. 

Another plant that is both a priority species (because it poses a threat to our region) and an early detection species (because it has been found in just a few places) is Japanese stiltgrass. It has been found in Erie and Cattaraugus counties. More infestations have been found by WNY PRISM’s invasive species management crew this summer.

Japanese stiltgrass
Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum). Photo courtesy Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineumquickly spreads to form extensive mats that displace native plants and plant communities. It can also change soil nutrient cycling processes, inhibit tree survival and growth, and reduce light availability. After it dies back in late fall, it forms a thick layer of smothering thatch that is slow to decompose and may create a fire hazard. Japanese stiltgrass produces a lot of seed, which is easily spread by mowers, deer, people and flood waters.

See details on recognizing Japanese stiltgrass here. 

Here is the entire list of WNY early detection priority species:

13 Comments on “Look out for mile-a-minute vine, called ‘kudzu of the north’

  1. Does this vine flower like morning glory? If so i have been fighting it for years. I paid a garden center to redo my gardens and remove it and unfortunately they turned over the soil rather than removing it and here we are 5 years later and it’s back.

  2. Judy this one seems to look different with thorns on stems, not like the choker your talking about. I know that one all to well. I guess you have to use weed killer on it. I brought some home from my mom’s house and boy has it taken over.

  3. Japanese knotweed is a scourge! It is taken over many areas, including outside of the Buffalo Museum of science, and Reinstein woods. This invasive plant will cut right through people’s foundations of their homes. I hate this one more than the ghetto palms.

  4. Japanese knotweed…my nemesis! I have a lot of it in my backyard and welcome any & all guidance on eradication readers care to offer.
    Thank you, fellow gardeners.

  5. According to the experts I talked to last year the best way to remove it is to cut down the stalks, bag them in heavy duty trash bags and put in your REGULAR trash – not yard waste. In the spring spray the new shoots with Round-Up or something similar. And repeat. Never dig it up, any little piece left behind will re-root. It grows by rhizomes. I’m still battling it in my elderly neighbor’s yard.

    A word of warning, be careful of any bulk soil you buy. I bought six yards of organic soil and compost from CJ Krantz and found a 6″ piece of root with several living nodes – no telling what I missed, am keeping a close eye on my garden.

  6. That sounds like Knotweed to me! It is one of the VERY few things I would ever use roundup on. (and well worth it!)
    My neighbor likes a “little” of it in her yard, and it has spread all over a couple folks’s yard!
    Doesn’t matter that she can contain it where she is; she is sharing it with the neighborhood.

  7. Yes, that would be Japanese Knotweed. I’ve also seen knotweed in the Alabama Swamps/Tonawanda Wildlife area.

  8. How do you get rid of Morning glory… I have it growing all over my yard and have never planted it. I keel cutting it pulling it our but it keeps coming back.

  9. Hello Connie-
    I just had a friend message me several pictures from Marshall, Virginia – that shows this vine (and wondering what is was) smothering fence posts and local vegetation areas. The friend was asking if her farm goats could use it as a food source. I did research a paper from http://www.hudsonriver.org that in the Winchester Suffolk, Orange and surrounding counties goats and sheep are being used to gain “some control” over this invasive species.
    Thank you for your wonderful coverage of Western New York Gardening topics, including invasives.
    wnyprism.org is a site all of us WNY gardeners should take a look at.
    Thank you!
    David Clark, CNLP

  10. David, it’s good to know that there are many tools in the toolkit for keeping mile-a-minute vine under control! WNY PRISM is doing great work.

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