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Saturday, March 22, 2008


Mystery Solved!  One of my college student garden helpers knew it: Moon Seed, Menispermum canadense   Poisonous grape look-alike.   

Can anyone out there help me identify this pest, weed vine?! I need help!
Above: A young shoot growing from an extensive root, that travels underground a long way, putting up new shoots all along its ever increasing length. It is not a morning glory vine, I recognize those when I see them. The blossom is small and not noticeable. Sorry, I do not have a photo of a blossom.

I felt a few moments of panic when someone half-jokingly said: “Maybe it’s kudzu.” I had read that with the warming climate, kudzu is moving northward. It is now in Tennessee and headed for Kentucky. May be here already for all I know. But, I Googled it and looked at the photos of leaves and it is not kudzu – Whew! What a scare!

But what is it?? Like several (no, many) noxious, pernicious growing things, it came over on us from the farm that used to be over the fence. The farm has been developed to a very attractive, high-end neighborhood of large houses. The lawns are well mowed, however fence rows are still infested with bad plants. Hopefully, eventually, they will be eradicated. The problem is that most people do not know much about plants, and do not know a bad one when they see it, if they give any notice to them at all, which they usually don't.

The roots of this species have grown under North Path and Cliff Walk, putting up numerous sprouts over on my side. The vines are twining and quite strong. They twine together (around each other) creating a cord that I cannot break, I have to cut it. The cord grows (going up like a dancing cobra snake) until it reaches the lowest limbs of a tree or shrub and then you know what happens - it heads for the skies!

The most problem area is where it has gotten into my neighbors brush pile area in the back corner of his yard; it then comes over here from there. It grows up his trees, shrubs, and fence at the property line, and over onto our side both above and below ground. He is not physically able to manage the problem.

This is his nice chain-link fence. With his permission I have tried to grow a dark blue Clematis and a rose on the fence, but as you can see the mystery vine invades, takes over and grows so fast one can almost see it growing. Cutting does no good, it comes back rapidly. Our wicked spring and summer 2007 killed the rose and Clematis (I'm hoping the roots are not dead.), so we may be able to spray. But, it has spread to so many other places.

Here it has gone underground under North Path and can be seen mingled with the Virginia Creeper
ground cover (five leaves) and some taller perennials forming a matted mess.

Next, it will be up in my trees, too. It causes an enormous amount of additional work. People ask me what it is, and I don't know. Do you?

The bare area inside the concrete blocks is being converted to a bed of large blue Hostas. Since this photo, they have been moved to this shady spot from one where they received too much sun. To the right is North Path.

To the left of the long run of concrete blocks is the steep slope of the bank. On that side the concrete blocks are visible from below in wintertime. Therefore, that side has been planted with a row of small boxwoods in hopes of hiding the unattractive blocks. Just thought you might wonder what was going on with that unattractive space.

Hope you can help with the mystery vine identification. Leave a comment, please, if you can help.

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