Mile-a-Minute weed – a name appropriate for this invasive species – has recently been found in the state of Michigan at the Albion College Whitehouse Nature Center. Now, Michiganders are being asked to do their part and look out for this fast-growing weed as the spread of this species could potentially bring devastation to Michigan seedling and tree nurseries, growers, and farms.
Take a look below as we’ll review the top 5 questions about Mile-a-Minute weed, including how to identify it, the impact a spread could cause on Michigan’s nurseries/growers, and what to do if you spot Mile-a-Minute weed in your area.
1. What does Mile-a-Minute weed look like?
According to the State of Michigan’s Invasive Species watch list, there are several things you can look for when identifying Mile-a-Minute weed. Mainly identifiable from its light green, triangle-shaped, barbed leaves, this weed grows on narrow green and/or red barbed stems.
In the early summer, small, white flowers are present throughout the weed. Then, once late summer arrives, pea-sized blueberry-like seeds appear above circular leaves that wrap the stem.
With the ability to grow up to 25 feet in six to eight weeks, Mile-a-Minute weed is something all growers and transporters need to be on the lookout for.
2. Where does Mile-a-Minute weed originate from and how did it arrive in Michigan?
Mile-a-Minute weed originated from India to Eastern Asia, China, and islands from Japan to the Philippines. However, dating back to the 1930s, this weed was likely brought into the United States through imported nursery goods and was first found in a Pennsylvania nursery, according to Michigan Farm News. Now, Mile-a-Minute weed has spread to areas of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington.
Unfortunately, the spread can be difficult to contain. As stated earlier, this weed can grow up to 25 feet in just six to eight weeks. These vines also produce up to 3,500 attractive, blueberry-like seeds. This draws in birds, deer, and other small mammals to consume the seeds and eventually spread the weed miles away from the original site.
Along with that, Susie Iott, invasive species specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development warns that Mile-a-Minute seeds can live up in soil for up to six years. The rapid spread and long cultivation period cause high concerns when it comes to working towards eradicating this weed.
3. What is the danger of this weed to Michigan seedling and tree nurseries, growers, and farms?
Besides the rapid spread and the long cultivation periods, Mile-a-Minute weed poses a huge threat to Michigan seedling and tree farms due to their dense, prickly thickets. According to the State of Michigan, the weed thrives on sunlight and uses its barbs to attach and climb over other plants. “Christmas tree farms, orchards, reforestation, and restoration areas are at risk because of the vine’s propensity to smother tree and plant seedlings,” further explains the State of Michigan.
If gone unattended, the Mile-a-Minute weed can easily overtake any trees and seedlings in their path, causing a lack of nutrients to be provided, and eventually resulting in growth stunts or even death of the tree.
4. Can it be controlled?
Despite its growth patterns, Mile-a-Minute weed can be controlled if properly dealt with. Because this weed is an annual, regular tilling or mowing can assist in preventing the weed from flowering or seeding.
The spread can also be reduced by manually removing young and mature plants before the seeds ripen. After manually removing the weed, the State of Michigan also advises that one should “Double bag all plant material and allow to decompose in sunlight for several days before removing waste to a landfill or incinerator.”
5. What should you do if you spot Mile-a-Minute weed in Michigan?
If you see Mile-a-Minute weed in your area, there are three steps you should take in order to properly report it:
- Take several photos of the weed.
- Make note of the location, date, and time of the observation.
- Report your findings to:
- Susannah Iott, MDARD Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division, 517-420-0473.
- Or – use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool.
- Or – download the MISIN smartphone app and report it from your phone.
Even though the current Mile-a-Minute Michigan cases are small, working together and educating others about this potentially devastating plant is important not only for the health of our own species but also for the well-being of Michigan’s economy. Make sure you’re on the lookout and help stop the spread.
For more information about the Mile-a-Minute weed, read more from these resources used throughout this article: