all vines are not created equal

No need for panic but you probably should know—

Dog Strangling Vine wants to rule the world.

We mustn’t let it.

There are very few good reasons for using pesticides. This is one. Maybe the only one.

This very badly behaved stuff climbs up trees and bushes and chokes them. Given enough (surprisingly little) time it covers entire ravines. 

Creates fields of itself, wiping out other smaller species (Queen Anne’s Lace, Goldenrod, Asters, Daisies, Buttercups). Not to mention getting in the way of a good walk. Especially if you’re a dog. Hence the name. Worse, it has no enemies; it’s an import that befuddles our native species, though bioligists are considering importing a beetle that might eat it. Hmmm, sounds tricky. (Just noticed the litter in bottom right; didn’t even see that on my walk, so distracted was I by the invasion…)

About this time of year the green pods are turning brown and dry, inside which are milkweed-like fluffs with seeds attached; hard to tell them from the milkweed ‘santa clauses’ when they’re flying about. The bounders.

Thing is you can’t pull this plant out. The roots are deep and can only be killed by a spritz of poison on its leaves. If you see it in your garden, you’d be wise to spritz with merry abandon. Or dig it out. Best done in spring when the things are small, but still, better late than never.

Fore-warned and all that…


6 thoughts on “all vines are not created equal

  1. I saw an alarming sight from my car on the 401, west of Coburg. The same vine was strangling trees on the side of the road. The incredible thing was how beautiful it looked in the evening sun.

    I wondered why I hadn’t seen it over my lifetime, and now you’ve explained that it’s an invader.

    It’s like the foreign loosestrife that invaded Ontario 20 years ago. It was so beautiful, and so devastating. It seems to be under control now.

    1. Mary — Now that you’re aware of it, you’ll (unfortunately) see it everywhere. It seems much more invasive than the purple loosestrife was. There’s some small comfort in nature having a way of sorting itself out, even against ‘invaders’ (including us!), but at what cost? We’ll likely lose some native landscapes in the process.

      Long story short: if you see it in your garden, dig it out (deeply, otherwise you’ll just strengthen the roots) or — better yet — if you have any Round Up, spritz a little on the leaves (not much else will kill it). I’m not a fan of using ‘cides of any kind, but for this I’ll make an exception.

  2. I’m afraid that there IS every need to panic. This plant is relentless and ruthless. I have monitored it in local (Toronto) parks and gardens for the past year and am astounded to see at how quickly it spreads. Nothing stops it. In fact, half-hearted attempts to stop it (by pulling out the above-ground part and leaving the root) may in fact strengthen and encourage it. I predict that in ten years’ time it will have run amok in our wildlands and will be ineradicable. The only startegy may be to declare “No Go Zones” and have them patrolled rigorously by parks & rec people and volunteers. Otherwise we are going to lose virtually all our small to medium-size native flora. Small trees are threatened, too. The vine is boringly ugly where it prevails, and when its tendrils meet across a pathway, they form a wire-like barrier quite capable of garotting a small running animal. (Perhaps that’s where the name comes from.) It has already obliterated some small trails by the West Don tributary in Serena Gundy Park. There is probably nothing we can do about current infestations — only try to prevent further spread, and I am not hopeful of success. I tell people to get out and enjoy the native plants around Toronto’s trails, parks and meadows while they can. I fear that they won’t be able to do so much longer.

    1. I agree with you that trying to erradicate this stuff is a losing battle. Apparently there’s some talk of importing a beetle that will eat it. But because the beetle is another ‘import’, what havoc will THAT wreak even if this particular vine is gone?

      Poor nature. It does amazingly well despite our idiocy. And yes, let’s all get out there and enjoy what still exists. The more people that respect nature, the more it has a chance of being protected rather than abused.

      Thanks so much for your note!

    1. Yes, it’s really horrid stuff. So sad to see ravines covered in it. I don’t know if it’s just in Ontario, but let’s hope it doesn’t spread.

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