Friday, August 22, 2008

Landscape - Some Woody Vine Weeds

Several woody-vine species occur frequently in landscapes and other non-crop areas. Below are some of the most common types.

Poison ivy. Poison-ivy stems can trail along the ground or climb up trees, poles and other structures by clinging with aerial roots. However, poison ivy can also grow as a shrub. Its leaves are trifoliate -you may have heard the phrase "leaflets of three, let it be" as a reminder to avoid these plants. The leaves, which have alternate arrangement turn bright red in fall, and the fruit are greenish to grayish-white berries. Approximately one-half to two-thirds of the human population are sensitive to the toxin in poison ivy, which causes a contact dermatitis. The toxin is present in all parts of the plant at all times of the year, even in overwintering stems. Never burn this plant because the toxin may be present in the smoke and can cause lung damage if you inhale it. Poison ivy spreads by seed, creeping rootstocks and rooting of stems into soil.

Virginia creeper and wild grape. Virginia creeper grows in the same range and habitat as poison ivy, and people sometimes confuse the two. However, the palmate leaves of Virginia creeper generally have five to seven coarsely toothed leaflets. This plant climbs by tendrils and, like poison ivy, its stems will root into soil. Birds spread its seed, and the fruit are blue or black.
Virginia creeper is in the same family as wild grape and, like Virginia creeper, various wild-grape species can be serious weed problems. Grape leaves are simple (no leaflets, just one whole leaf) but are sometimes deeply lobed. Grapes climb by tendrils and often grow rampantly over trees and fences. Both wild grapes and Virginia creeper exhibit alternate leaf arrangement.

Trumpet creeper. Trumpet-creeper leaves are compound, pinnate and alternate, with seven to eleven toothed leaflets per leaf. It climbs by aerial roots, which can damage siding on buildings to which they attach. Trumpet creeper has showy orange, trumpet-shaped flowers that produce a pod containing winged seed. Hummingbirds are attracted to trumpet creeper. One possible way to manage this weed is to dig it up, plant it in pots and sell it as hummingbird vine (a name nurseries often use for this plant)!

Honeysuckle. Japanese honeysuckle has simple, opposite leaves, which distinguishes it from the vines I've described so far. The flowers are yellowish-white and fragrant, and the plant is deciduous to evergreen, depending on the region. You may be able to take advantage of the evergreen characteristic of the plant by applying a foliar-absorbed herbicide in fall when it is still in leaf but after desirable deciduous trees and shrubs have dropped their leaves. Importersintroduced Japanese honeysuckle to the United States from Asia as an ornamental (for which it still is used) but it has escaped cultivation and become a significant weed.

Information from Jeffrey Derr, Associate Professor of Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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