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Invasive, Hyperbolically Named Vine Makes First Known Appearance In Michigan

A close-up photo of a cluster of round blue bruits on a pale green, leafy stem. The fruits are pale blue with darker blue lines.
Courtesy photo
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Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

An invasive plant that has long caused problems in eastern states has been found in Michigan. Now state officials are trying to find out if it’s growing anywhere besides an Albion College nature preserve, where a professor spotted it last month.

The plant grows so fast – as much as a foot in two days – that it’s known as “mile-a-minute weed.” Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Invasive Species Specialist Susannah Iott said the vine has barbs, triangular leaves and a distinctive blue fruit.

Mile-a-minute weed grows into thickets and can smother other plants including trees, “which is why it’s a concern for nurseries and Christmas tree farms and orchards and disturbed open areas,” she said.

Iott said mile-a-minute-weed can be hard to eradicate, partly because its seeds last for years. “If the plant’s already set seed and it’s in the ground you have to keep going back there for up to six years to look, and once it germinates it grows really, really fast,” she said.

Iott added she’s hopeful the patch in Albion can be wiped 

Close-up side view of a green plant with small light barbs on its stems
Credit Courtesy photo / Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
/
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
The plant has triangular leaves and barbs on its stems

out. She said the state is trying to figure out if mile-a-minute weed is growing elsewhere in Michigan.

“It’s something that we definitely want everyone to be on the lookout for and report if they find it, and report if they think they find it,” Iott said, adding the state would rather investigate false positives than miss a true case.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.