The first known occurrence in Michigan of mile-a-minute weed, a fast-growing invasive vine, was verified recently at the Whitehouse Nature Center at Albion College in Calhoun County.
A native of India, Asia and the Philippine Islands, the vine can cause harm to Christmas tree farms, reforestation projects and restoration areas by smothering young plants and trees under its dense growth.
Doug White, professor of ecology at Albion College, discovered it Oct. 3 in a forest opening on the property while surveying for house wrens.
“I’m not normally out there in October, but we color-banded nestlings this year, and I was following the fledglings,” White said. “I saw these purple and blue fruits on a plant, and I was curious.”
White took photos, plucked a branch from the vine and, after some research, determined that this was an invasive plant previously unknown in the state.
Mile-a-minute weed is a fast-growing, barbed vine native to India, Asia and the Philippine Islands. It gets its name from its ability to grow up to 6 inches per day, or 25 feet in six to eight weeks.
The weed can be identified by its triangular leaves, spikes of pea-sized blue fruits and recurved barbs lining the stems and leaf margins. Unusual circular leaves called ocreae clasp the stem beneath each fruit spike.
A species is considered invasive in Michigan if it is not native and can cause harm to the environment or economy.
Anyone encountering a vine that could be mile-a-minute weed should visit Michigan.gov/Invasives to review identification information. If the plant appears to be mile-a-minute weed, take photos, note the location and report the find:
For more information on mile-a-minute weed and other invasive species of concern in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.
Story provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.