Liberty University

DigitalCommons@Liberty University
Faculty Publications and Presentations Department of Biology and Chemistry


Mile-a-minute Weed, (Polygonum perfoliatum L.), an Invasive Vine in Natural and Disturbed Sites
J. Douglas Oliver
Liberty University,

Oliver, J. Douglas, "Mile-a-minute Weed, (Polygonum perfoliatum L.), an Invasive Vine in Natural and Disturbed Sites" (1996). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 90.

This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of Biology and Chemistry at DigitalCommons@Liberty University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Faculty Publications and Presentations by an authorized administrator of DigitalCommons@Liberty University. For more information, please contact

(Polygonaceae) or mile-a-minute weed. Hartwig also says: "If we ignore its presence.) Greene and Persicaria perfoliata (L. roadsides. an Invasive Vine in Natural and Disturbed Sites J. It has a wide ecological amplitude and is found on stream banks. The plant poses a threat to natural and restored ecosystems because of its capacity to grow rapidly and overgrow other species. Hickman and Hickman 1977). It is expected to cover large areas unless it is controlled. Common names of P. and devil's tail tearthumb. has been spreading through wild and disturbed areas of the mid-Atlantic United States. (1981) note that in the mid-Atlantic United States. (Title 17 US Code) CASTANEA 61(3): 244-25l. INTRODUCTION Polygonum perfoliatum is a native of eastern Asia that was first collected in the United States in 1890 (Cusick and Ortt 1987. 244 CASTANEA VOLUME 61 . from eastern Asia. and ditches. alluding to the plant's rapid growth and to its tearing prickles. This report is a review of the scientific literature concerning the plant. No appropriate biocontrols are known. N. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In Japan. Florida 32310 ABSTRACT Polygonum perfoliatum L. Polygonum perfoliatum presents serious problems for reforestation because it thrives where forests are clear-cut. 2051 East Dirac Drive. the common name is ishimakawa (Cusick and Ortt 1987). SEPTEMBER 1996 Mile-a-minute Weed (Polygonum perfoliatum L. Agriculturalists. wood-piles. minute weed. perfoliatum include mile-a-minute.NOTICE: This Material may be protected by copyright law. tearthumb. an expert on P. biologists. Mechanical control is not likely to be completely effective because seeds are often left behind. DOUGLAS OLIVER Bureau of Mine Reclamation. A southward direction of spread indicates that the species will probably proliferate in at least some southern states. contends that it is "a definite possibility that this weed could spread from coast to coast" (Wall Street Journal 1991). moist thickets.L. nurseries.). and others have indicated concern over the invasive nature of this plant. Tallahassee. Synonyms include Tracaulon perfoliatum (L. Hartwig. perfoliatum in the United States. clearings. we may be creating conditions for full-fledged spread and infestation" (RoseIIini 1991). Hill et a1. it is a "widespread roadside and nursery weed" that reaches "noxious densities" and invades "orchards and estuaries".) Gross (Cusick and Ortt 1987).

It has more recently been recorded in western Asia. the plant has increased dramatically. The persistent calyx thickens around the developing achene to produce an iridescent blue fruit resembling a berry. pers. 1981) but this was apparently the last report of P. 1996). The perianth is 3-4 mm long. perfoliatum. Spikes of 1-2 mm length arm the stems. and primary and secondary leaf veins (Figure 1). comm. Turkey (Guener 1984). It has recently been reported in 22 counties in Pennsylvania. and iridescent blue fruits (Hill et al. Pennsylvania. 1992). Canada. about 3 mm in diameter (Mountain 1989). perhaps because of dispersal by roadside mowers. including a 1946 collection from an orchard. Reports from the literature sugg€st. therefore. the Malay Peninsula. 1981). China. which at maturity contains a single black shiny seedlike achene. from boat ballast near Portland. at least one in Ohio. Maryland. Stems are elongated. Polygonum perfoliatum spread into other states over the last 25 years. and in District of Columbia (W. hence the specific epithet. comm. 2. India. in 1954 (Hill et a1. DESCRIPTION AND IDENTIFICATION Mile-a-minute weed is a prickly annual vine. comm. perfoliatum from western North America. pers.e. 5 mm in diameter (Hill et al. petioles. easily identified by deltoid leaves. The first American record of the species is from the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University.L. many roadside embankments were "solid" with the species. and southern Delaware (Hartwig. Collections from York County. i. Mountain 1989). Mountain. and green. and Bangladesh (Khan and Hassan 1978). four in New Jersey. and was reported from Maryland (Riefner and Windler 1979). backward-bending barbs on the stem. pers. becoming woody and red brown toward the base. Reed (1979b) observed that in Baltimore County.L.5-7. Sheaths at the nodes are saucer-shaped and completely encircle the stem. Delaware. five counties in Virginia. West Virginia (Duppstadt 1981). Leaves are perfect triangles. It is seldom found as single individuals but becomes locally abundant in dense populations. that this exotic species has not only become established but has begun to replace extant vegetation and is probably extending its range southward and westward. 1981). 1981). The leaf apices are acute and the bases truncate. Records from these areas suggest that the plant originates in high-altitude temperate rather than subtropical or tropical locations (W. 15 counties in Maryland. 1995). ca.5 cm in length and width and appear thinly membranous and pale green (Figure 2. Mountain and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. the District of Columbia (Cusick 1986). two in New York State. probably originated as seed contaminants from rhododendron nursery stock imported from eastern Asia in the 1930s (Hill et a1. branched.. It was reported from British Columbia. Oregon (Hickman and Hickman 1977). Virginia (Bradley 1983). SEPTEMBER 1996 245 . dated 1890. In these ar€as.DISTRIBUTION Polygonum perfoliatum is native to a wide area of eastern Asia including Japan and the Philippines (Cusick and Ortt 1987). and Korea. two counties in West Virginia.

showing ocrea (1). In the autumn. pistil (4).~ BIOLOGY t I " . Polygonum perfoliatum is an annual that propagates from seeds each spring (Mountain 1989). nut (2).' Figure 1. 246 CASTANEA VOLUME 61 . and habit (5). Polygonum perfoliatum. 9 " '\ . 1976. Ii' . grows rapidly from May through August. flower (3). In the temperate climate of southern Pennsylvania. and produces mature fruits from mid-July to November. ' . Reproduced with permission from Li et al. \ 'Ii ~... 1981).'. it establishes seedlings by late April (Hill et al.

It has some tolerance to shade but grows best in sunny locations (Mountain 1989). The plant generally grows in areas that have abundant plant litter. and P. Preliminary greenhouse trials suggested that a cold. little is known about the numbers of seeds released (Mountain 1989). perfoliatum (middle). Ambient temperatures might limit the reproductive potential of P. moist treatment of several weeks was needed to overcome dormancy and cause germination (Mountain 1989). Riefner and Windler (1979) state that it displays a marked preference for moist. edges of woods. moist thickets. wood piles. such as leaves. well drained habitats. as well as open stream banks. and may be artificially dispersed by transported logging equipment (McCormick and Hartwig 1995). pers. Mile-a-minute weed not only produces numerous fruits. Disturbed habitats include roadsides. P. especially during flooding. Common habitats for P. or brush on the soil surface that keeps the seeds moist.Figure 2. but a high rate of seed set which is consistent with its rapid geographic spread. perfoliatum in subtropical regions of the United States (Mountain. Natural habitats include wet low ground such as low meadows. Line drawings of Polygonum arifolium (left). nurseries. clearings. However. perfoliatum are mostly disturbed areas. Polygonum perSEPTEMBER 1996 247 . fallow fields. comm. Seeds are also carried downstream in rivers and streams. sagittatum (right). the fleshy. 1996). decayed organic matter. and ditches (Mountain 1989). pendulous fruits are suitable for dispersal by birds and rodents (Mountain 1989). but undisturbed areas are also colonized. Reproduced with permission from Riefner and Windler 1979.

plant scientists indicate it is a weed of minor significance with little or no agricultural significance. one that is very widespread in many crops or regions. IMPORTANCE The plant is a viny colonizing species with the ability to outcompete the native United States flora in some habitats (Hill et al. Pre248 CASTANEA VOLUME 61 .foliatum is being reported with increasing frequency from Atlantic coast states but it is relatively new to the area and not concentrated in anyone location. Rodeo. The appearance of the species in orchards and nurseries in the United States suggests that it is a weed of economic significance (Hill et al. AAtrex (atrazine).. Some dispute exists about the degree of weediness of the species in its home range. 1981).) and brambles (Rubus spp. and commonly interferes with commercial forest regeneration (McCormick and Hartwig 1995). Mountain (1989) states that in Japan and Korea. i. Viable seeds are transported in the rootballs of nursery stock or when attached to barbed stems. perfoliatum as a common weed in Japan. should be effective in wet areas. Recent field studies indicated that low preemergence rates of Arsenal.e. Plants form tangled mats that climb 6-8 m over shrubbery and understory trees. Pursuit (imazethapyr) and Pursuit Plus (imazethapyr + pendimethalin) were highly effective in controlling the plant (McCormick and Hartwig 1995). MANAGEMENT OPTIONS The herbicide Roundup effectively controls dense stands of Polygonum perfoliatum in dry habitats (Hill et a1. Pennsylvania. for example. P. Holm et al. requiring constant effort and expense to hold at bay. Velpar L. and is a pest species in American parks and gardens. Oust (sulfometuron methyl). It will probably continue to enter a number of native as well as disturbed habitats. (1979) describe P. Polygonum perfoliatum has no known economic value. and threatens to become a problem in ecological restoration and reclamation sites.) are overgrown and killed (Moul 1948). state that it is a major agricultural pest throughout its home range but they do not cite sources. picnickers and campers have been annoyed by dense thickets of this prickly species (Reed 1979a). the aquatic version of this glyphosate herbicide. Native taxa such as elderberry (Sambucus canadensis L. nor state how it behaves as a pest. Along Deer Creek in Deer Creek State Park. Populations can cover an area at about the time of tree replanting and smother tree seedlings. In general. unless it is controlled. however. Cusick and Ortt (1987). but never seriously threatening a crop. perfoliatum poses an invasive threat to a wide range of habitats in the United States. shading out herbaceous and woody vegetation beneath (Rosellini 1991). and estimates of population densities have apparently not yet been made. In a reforestation clearcut. The plant thrives in areas where forests are clear-cut for timber. Roundup and Arsenal provided the best postemergence control. 1981). 1981). Of these herbicides. a late postemergence application of Arsenal (jmazapyr) killed the vines while Velpar (hexazinone) was effective for preemergence and postemergence treatments (Mountain 1989).

they should be eliminated where appropriate. it is not monophagous. Although it feeds on Polygonum perfoliatum. which starts in Pennsylvania around April 1. and wet soil conditions results in a significant rate of natural colonization. 1984). Since brush piles and old wood piles provide ideal habitats. including malvidin 3. The southward direction of spread suggests that this plant will probably proliferate in a number of southern states. Prospects for herbicidal control have been partially evaluated. Since it competes with and replaces other plants that provide good habitat and food for native mammals. For preemergence treatment. further investigation of this little-known weedy species might benefit various avenues of plant research. If Polygonum perfoliatum enters more states. Tolerance for shade. herbicide must be applied before germination. Ohwi. Polygonum perfoliatum can be controlled by mowing or cutting (Mountain 1989). Areas of heavy deposits of dead and decaying plant matter should be cleared. Gloved hand or rake removal is practical for small horticultural areas but seeds may be left behind. unless it is actively controlled. Polygonum perfoliatum contains anthocyanin pigments. if feasible. hydropiper and other Polygonaceae. and this can cause future infestations.5-diglucoside in the pericarp and cyanidin in the stem (Yoshitama et al. Pueraria lobata Willd. but our knowledge of colonization. so it is not appropriate for use as a biocontrol. Not only might weed control be enhanced. SUMMARY The exotic species Polygonum perfoliatum has been spreading through wild and disturbed areas. In general.emergence applications of most of these herbicides were more effective than postemergence applications (McCormick and Hartwig 1995). at least not in the United States (Mountain 1989). SEPTEMBER 1996 249 . sunlight. These native insects are predominantly ectophagous. dry. Insect herbivores from eastern Asia which feed on the plant should be tested as biocontrols. e. Mechanical methods are not likely to be completely effective because seeds are often left behind. at least not yet. The plant poses a threat to natural and restored ecosystems because of its capacity to rapidly overgrow other species and outcompete native plants. including low wet habitats. It feeds on other plants such as native P. This must be done early in the warm season before excessive vining and seed set.. by fire. somewhat like kudzu. and other demographic aspects of plants might also be significantly enhanced. No appropriate biocontrols are known. Surveys in Pennsylvania have illustrated that although numerous insect species feed on this plant. sap and foliage-feeding insects (Wheeler and Mengel 1984) and are not very useful for biocontrol because they are polyphagic on a number of other hosts. to reduce the mulch available to seeds (Mountain 1989). in the eastern United States. and presumably earlier further south (Mountain 1989). One beetle that has been tested in China is Gastrophysa atrocyanea (Xiaoshui 1991). Polygonum perfoliatum is an introduced pest with no important natural enemies. they have little apparent effect on it. It is a fast-growing vine that quickly covers large areas of the landscape. population growth. it may come to dominate larger areas. it could have a negative economic impact on money-generating hunting and tourism industries.g.

E. Control of the noxious weed mile-a-minute (Polygonum perfoliatum) in reforestation. 1991. 19. and M. PLUCKNETI'.. Ann. J. 1984. 1979. 1991. 7(1). CUSICK. MOUNTAIN.) update-distribution. Castanea 46:340-341. an agent for biological 250 CASTANEA VOLUME 61 . Mile-a-minute (Polygonum perfoliatum L. and Matt Phillips gave valuable feedback. Polygonum perfoliatum L. Volume II. and L. Mile-a-minute. A.B. An anonymous reviewer provided valuable editing of the manuscript.A. Coile of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provided helpful insights and collaboration for this and related published work. HILL. and M.M. MCCORMICK. 1986. 1981. Sci.L. 1991. HUANG. Phytologia 43:293.E. new subspecies from Anatolia.F. and Campanula latiloba rizeensis. Dr. For. T. 15(2). and C.L.R. 1977. C. Additional notes regarding Tracaulon perfoliatum (L. REED. Additions to the vascular plant flora of West Virginia.. established in Maryland. LIU. T.C. HERBERGER. L. 34: 138.P. Taxonomic studies in the genus Polygonum from Bangladesh. SPRINGER. 1948. CUSICK.. A geographical atlas of world weeds.V. DUPPSTADT. Castanea 44:91-93. and C. Bangladesh J. KHAN. 1978. (Polygonaceae): a dangerous new weed in the Ohio River valley. M. The flora of Taiwan. 77:197-202. RIEFNER. MENGEL. JR. W.). William Bartodziej. Phytologia 43:219221. A. XIAOSHUI. and D.. 7:21-32.. MOUL. HARTWIG. WALL STREET JOURNAL. JR. Pennsylvania State News. 86:3-4. Voracious vine poses threat to young trees. L. C. a new potential orchard and nursery weed. 12:246-249. R. biology.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Greg Jubinsky and Robert Kipker of the Bureau of Aquatic Plant Management encouraged this review. T. LI. GUENER. 1989.. QRTI'.W. Weed Circul. WHEELER. Taipei.T. The State Library of Florida provided a computer search of the literature and copies of scientific papers. an Asiatic weed recently introduced to Pennsylvania. Wiley-Interscience. Polygonum perfoliatum L. L. Am. Bot. Soc. Polygonum perfoliatum: a recent Asiatic adventive. T. 1979. Pennsylvania Dept. and N. H. HASSAN. HICKMAN. 12(3). Sci.A. Weed Circul. J. 1984.F. 5. A.L. 1987.S. Polygonum perfoliatum L. (Polygonaceae).S. ROSSELLINI. WINDLER. Company. KOYAMA. 1981.. Nancy C.R. Epoch Pub!. 1979b. Gastrophysa atrocyanea Col. 1976. Agric. Tracaulon perfoliatum (L. Andrew Leslie. Pennsylvania Dept. (Polygonaceae): a significant new weed in the Mississippi drainage. Speedy new weed poses threat to reforested lands. Sep. Entomol. J. Flowering plant records from northern Virginia.-C. HICKMAN. Appl.) Greene. LITERATURE CITED BRADLEY. Bartonia 45:18-23. FORER. Virginia J.-L. SIDA Contrib.G. 1979a. Ohio J. Candollea 39:345-348. A. Polygonum perfoliatum L. A new record for the flora of Turkey. and control suggestions.) Greene in Maryland. E. Rhodora 50:64-66.J. DEVOL (eds. J.H. Taiwan. G. W. 1983. 1995. and D. and S. Agric. North. (ChrysomeIidae). Bot. REED. R. Phytophagous insect fauna of Polygonum perfoliatum. HOLM. Aug. PANCHO. W.H. W. A dangerous weedy Polygonum in Pennsylvania. New York.-H.

control of the dock Rumex japonicus (Polygonaceae) in China.. 1984. K. Mag. HISADA. SEPTEMBER 1996 251 . Trop. ISHIKURA. Pest Manage. Bot. M. 37:383-386. YOSHITAMA. Tokyo 97:31-38. Distribution pattern of anthocyanins in the Polygonaceae. and N.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful