Mile-a-minute is a highly invasive vine. In this article we will talk about how to control mile-a-minute in your yard. The weed is called mile-a-minute due to its rapid growth rate of about 6 inches per day. It significantly affects the natural areas and wildlife in the infested areas. In this article we will talk about how to control mile-a-minute in your yard.
Due to the high infestation rate of mile-a-minute weed, the situation is alarming for native plant species. To promote sustainable agriculture and healthy crop yield, there is a need to control and manage the weed before it causes damage and crop losses.
To effectively control the mile-a-minute vine, we should have a clear understanding of this invasive plant species. Therefore, in this article, we will share the best management techniques and control methods.
Mile-A-Minute Plant Description
The scientific name of the mile-a-minute vine is Persicaria perfoliata L., formerly Polygonum perfoliatum, also commonly referred to as Asiatic tearthumb. This invasive weed belongs to the Polygonaceae or buckwheat family. The vine invades Oregon and the northeastern United States.
Mile-a-minute can easily thrive in cooler areas and moist places. The mile a minute vine is up to 20 ft. long, the stem is heavily branched and covered with tiny curved spines. It restricts the light availability of natural vegetation which leads to the death of native plants. The bluish berry-like fruit develops in mid-July.
Distribution and Habitat
Mile-a-minute vine is native to East Asia, it was accidentally introduced in the U.S from the Philippines in the 1800s. The species arrived in York City, Pennsylvania through contaminated holy seed in the 1930s.
The super invasive mile-a-minute weed is distributed worldwide. The weed is native to China, India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. In the U.S, it invades Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC, Rhodes Island, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Delaware. The species is also reported in Turkey. In New Zealand and Auckland, the weed was eradicated and failed to establish in Canada and British Columbia.
The mile-a-minute weed invades in open distributed sites such as roadsides, wetlands, forest edges, food plains, uncultivated fields, stream banks and ditches. The weed likes to grow in moist soil, but is also found in drier soil. The invasive plant thrives in sunlight and climbs trees to get maximum light but can tolerate some shade.
How to Identify Mile-A-Minute
Mile-a-minute has a reddish woody stem, delicate and highly branched up to 20 ft. tall. The branches are covered with triangular, alternate leaves. The roots of the weed are fibrous and shallow.
The leaves of the mile-a-minute are simple, 1-3 in. (2.5-7.6 cm) triangular in shape. Light green in color and circular 0.5 in. (1-2 cm) cup-shaped leaves at intervals (ocreae). Small barbs are present under the leaves.
Flowers and Fruits
Mile-a-minute flowers are white, small, inconspicuous and arise from ocreae. They bloom in August – October.
Fruits develop in mid-July and persist until the first frost. They are metallic blue in color, berry-like, and each segment contains a black or reddish seed called achene.
Life Cycle of Mile-A-Minute Vine
Mile a minute weed does not need a pollinator. The invasive weed species produces flowers and seeds over a long period of time between June to October. The seed of the plant can remain viable in soil for up to six years and germinate when conditions are favorable. During the first frost, vines are killed whereas the seeds remain dormant in the soil.
Seed germination takes place throughout early April to early July. The reproductive age of the weed is 1 year.
Food and Medicinal Value of Mile-A-Minute
The tender young shoots and leaves of mile-a-minute are edible and can be used as a vegetable raw or cooked. The small and fiddly seeds of the plant can also be used either raw or cooked. The fresh and ripened berries of the mile-a-minute are also edible.
Due to prickly foliage, the weed cannot be used as forage.
- Mile-a-minute has been used as a medicinal herb in China for over 300 years. Compounds of the plant are believed to contain anti-cancer agents. The whole plant is diuretic, depurative and febrifuge.
- The plant can also be used as an antioxidant or to stimulate blood circulation.
- Mile-a-minute can be used to treat traumatic injuries, dysentery, boils and abscesses, enteritis, cloudy urine, snake bites and haematuria.
- The leaf extract is a useful cure for backaches and helps to reduce blood sugar.
- The weed can also be used to relieve fever, cough, swelling and inflammation. Plant extract can be effective to control insect pests.
Hazards of Mile-A-Minute Vine
The plant shows no serious hazards but according to some reports, the genus can cause problems for susceptible people. Mile-a-minute vine contains oxalic acid which is not toxic but binds with other minerals and makes them unavailable to the human body.
However, the quantity of oxalic acid in the plant can be reduced by cooking. People with gout, rheumatism, kidney stones, hyperacidity and arthritis should avoid its use as a precautionary measure.
Why is Mile-A-Minute Invasive?
- Mile-a-minute is an aggressive weed, this rapidly growing plant reduces the biodiversity of native plants. The tangles of vine even climb on trees and form dense mats which block the sunlight, and due to the unavailability of the light, the tree cannot photosynthesize. This weakens the native plant and causes poor growth and physical damage which eventually leads to the death of the plant.
- It is considered to be a major pest of Christmas trees, young forest stands, reforestation areas, horticultural crops and landscape nurseries. It overtops and shades out trees in the forest. The overtopping of mile-a-minute weed over the tree seedling can cause forest regeneration failure.
- Due to the aggressive nature of mile-a-minute vine, it is included in the noxious weed list of the USA.
- Mile-a-minute has the capability to form a dense monoculture.
How does Mile-A-Minute Spread?
Long-distance dispersal of seeds takes place via birds and ants facilitate short-distance seed dispersal. Deers, squirrels, chipmunks and other wildlife can also be the reason of seed spread.
Fruits can float on water for 7 to 9 days which can also be an effective mode of dispersal. Flood, watersheds, storms and strong water currents can also help in long-distance dispersal in undistributed areas.
How to control Mile-A-Minute?
Try to manage the mile-a-minute vine at the early stages of infestation. You should monitor open lands closely and make early preparations. Prevention techniques should be applied before the development of seeds in mid to late June.
Existing mile-a-minute weed can be controlled by the treatment of pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides. For the well-established mile-a-minute vine, integrated control efforts are required. The control methods can be applied according to the level of infestation. After eradication of the first generation, monitor the site for the successive growing seasons.
To prevent a well-established infestation of mile-a-minute, several control methods can be used. The mechanical method is the simplest of them. For the larger infestation, treatment of systemic herbicide is recommended. The biological control method is considered to be the most promising and cost-effective for the eradication or removal of mile-a-minute.
The hand-pulling method can be used in case of early infestation. Manual pulling of mile-a-minute is possible when soil is moist. Pull the whole plant and carefully bag and dispose of the material. Monitor the site for successive growing seasons (during early summer or spring) to prevent the regrowths. Remember to wear thick gloves, long trousers and sleeves to prevent skin abrasion or injury.
Repeated mowing or cutting throughout the growing season can be used to suppress or reduce the flowering and seed production of mile-a-minute. Mowing should be conducted in infested areas before the maturation of seeds in mid to late June. However, maturation dates can vary according to weather patterns. Avoid disturbing or walking in the infested area during seed dispersal.
Biological or biocontrol methods involve the use of insects to control the mile-a-minute infestation. Mile-a-minute weevils (Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev) are black weevil and are used to control mile-a-minute. The practice has been successfully employed in multiple infested sites in the U.S.
The adult weevil feeds on the leaves and lays eggs on stems. When the egg hatches, the larvae feeds on the nodes of the stem and pupate in the soil. The insect has 3-4 overlapping generations per year. Each generation needs one month. The weevils lay eggs in late summer or early fall and adults overwinter in soil or leaf litter.
The mile-a-minute weevils cause stunted plant growth, delay in seed development and loss of apical dominance. The mile-a-minute weevil can effectively control the infestation over time. The insect is more efficient in sunlight. Fungal associations can also be used to control mile-a-minute.
Moderate doses of herbicides can be used to control mile-a-minute but the task can be challenging due to its overtop growth behavior.
Some of the pre-emergence herbicides are Imazapic (Plateau) and Pendimethalin (Aquacap). The application of the herbicide should be employed in mid-March or according to weather conditions. The herbicides treatment at the ground will suppress seed germination.
Post-emergence herbicide application is to control the remaining infestation, in mid-June (late spring to early summer). Some of the recommended herbicides are glyphosate (Roundup, Rodeo, Glypro, Glyphomax, etc.) and Triclopyr (Garlon 4, Garlon 3A, Element 3, etc.). The non-ionic surfactant can be added to increase the efficiency of herbicide.
Other herbicides such as hexazinone, sulfometuron-methyl and imazethapyr can also successfully control the mile-a-minute weed infestation.
For effective results, read the instructions and labels for herbicide application.