Ripping away Mikania the mile-a-minute weed

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    mikania curtainsMikania – sometimes called mile-a-minute weed, with scientific name Mikania micrantha is a climbing plant that festoons some parts of Hong Kong. "Mile-a-minute" is of course an exaggeration, yet it can grow 8cm a day, and in sunny places it can proliferate, forming a dense green carpet that smothers vegetation – robbing plants below of sunlight, and weighing down branches.

    It's a native of South America that now grows widely in the tropics, and becomes a serious invasive pest with few or no natural predators. Here in Hong Kong, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has tried using a parasite – Dodder – as Mikania control, but it did not prove very effective.

    This means the best means of removal is physically cutting the stems and/or ripping Mikania away. I've occasionally tried ripping it away, pulling on the stems – and found this can be effective. Surely best during winter, when the weather is often dry so the plant won't be so strong, and there is less chance of accidents involving creatures like stinging insects or even snakes.

    Earlier, I have ripped Mikania away from small saplings that were weighed down by the climber, and returned later to find the saplings growing into small trees – so given the chance, smothered vegetation can recover.

    Below is an example of Mikania removal by ripping away, on Cheung Chau. Just tiny scale, but should have some impact; and didn't take me too long – just 8 minutes between taking these photos.


    after mikania

    This is near my home, and I'm hoping that as spring progresses, I'll see the rather pathetic looking saplings come to life.

    So maybe you too can rip into some Mikania; but take care not to unleash some biting or stinging creatures, and watch for thorns etc on other plants.


      I read with interest you article on the above

      We live in North Wales (UK). We bought the russian vine about 3 months ago, and it is now living in a large pot of compost. It was doing very well to begin with but now it looks as if it is dying. On a lot of the leaves there are marks reminiscent of some parasite, they are shrivelled as well.

      Any suggestions you may have will be greatly received.

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