The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 21, 2020 1:00 am

A growing concern to our north

Coronavirus, murder hornets, weather calamities – why wouldn't 2020 bring us something known as the mile-a-minute weed?

The invasive plant, which grows about six inches a day, was recently found at a nature center in Albion, Michigan. That's about 95 miles north of Fort Wayne.

Route Fifty, an online news source for state and local government, reports the invasive species is “a fast-growing barbed vine native to India, Asia and the Philippines. It was first discovered in the United States in a Pennsylvania nursery in the 1930s, likely brought there hidden in the soil of other nursery stock. It has since spread to 15 states, as far west as Oregon but primarily in the Midwest and Northeast.”

A professor of ecology at Albion College spotted the plant while walking at the nature center. His was the first known sighting of the invasive plant in Michigan. The state's department of natural resources is working to see whether the plant has spread. It is asking residents to check their properties and to contact the agency if they find the vine.

There are concerns the plant could harm Michigan's Christmas tree farms.

“It grows so quickly and tries to stay in the sun, so it uses trees to get closer to the light, and it just smothers them,” Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said. “We mention Christmas tree farms specifically because Michigan has so many of them, but it's also a problem for reforestation projects or any sort of construction. If a bird or deer drops those seeds into an open space like that, you might end up spending time and money fighting this plant.”

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