State scientists searching for invasive plants seek help from the public in finding suspected occurrences of the highly invasive Mile-a-Minute Vine (Persicaria perfoliata). This relative newcomer is highly invasive and can quickly outcompete and replace native vegetation, damaging habitat for native plant and animal species.
UConn and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last year launched a website, to help inform the public about Mile-a-Minute Vine. The groups ask that anyone who sees the plant report it via the site’s online form. Since the website’s launch, the state has received hundreds of reports from property owners concerned that they may have this invasive plant.
Although the plant remains limited in its distribution, several reports from the public have led to the discovery of Mile-a-Minute Vine in new areas of the state. Most recently, it was confirmed in Sprague, where volunteers and nearby neighbors – advised by UConn and DEP staff – worked to remove the plants shortly after they were discovered, in an attempt to stop its spread to new locations.
Donna Ellis, senior extension educator at UConn, says that it is important to be sure the vine has been correctly identified before attempting removal, as many other species, including native plants, may be confused with Mile-a-Minute Vine.
“Connecticut citizens have really helped us track these problematic invasive plants, especially Mile-a-Minute Vine, which is very visible at this time of year,” says Ellis. “Many times, a report from the public about a new plant overtaking a yard or a favorite park leads to the discovery of Mile-a-Minute or another invasive plant at the site.”
The state is taking a multi-faceted approach to controlling the spread of Mile-a-Minute Vine. In addition to soliciting the public’s help and increasing outreach, DEP funded two grants to help towns reduce the spread of this species, and scientists from UConn and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station have released insects that eat Mile-a-Minute Vine and help to control it.
Unfortunately, Mile-a-Minute Vine is only one of many invasive plants having a negative impact on the state’s environment. Water chestnut (Trapa natans), an aquatic species unrelated to the edible Chinese water chestnut, also grows very quickly and can form dense mats on the surface of water bodies. Already present in some parts of the Connecticut River, water chestnut is the subject of ongoing control efforts by DEP.
“A quick response is key to controlling many of these species,” says Connecticut Invasive Plant Coordinator Logan Senack. “Early detection and rapid response can be less costly and more effective, and results in much less environmental damage than allowing the plants to become established before trying to remove them.”
For those who would like to learn more about invasive plants, the University of Connecticut will host an invasive plant symposium on Oct. 14 in Storrs. For additional information about reporting invasive plants, the UConn symposium, or Mile-a-Minute Vine, visit the websites of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
For more information:
Donna Ellis, 860-486-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org
Logan Senack, 860-208-3900, email@example.com