My apologies for the long hiatus – we moved into our new Don Mills home, and we’ve been buried under a mountain of unpacking, renos, and… the evil Dog Strangling Vine! The east side of the house is covered in this insidious weed… and I have been fighting the good fight to get rid of it before it’s little alien pods burst open, spreading more of these nasty things throughout the neighbourhood.
A vine-like stem sprouts up from the ground, then the almost sentient tendrils grasp onto anything around it. It then grows up and ‘strangles’ your plants, fence, topiary, and lawn gnomes. Eventually the light green seed pods appear, then pop open, releasing little fluffy parachutes of doom. In one season the vine can grow as much as 1 to 2 m in size. The fruit pods release seed from mid-August to early-November.
The official government line on this is RUUUN! RUNN FAR AWAAAY! Ah, well maybe not quite that panicked, but close: “This plant is highly invasive. It will thrive in shade, sun and all soil conditions, spread rapidly, reduce or eliminate other plants, and is extremely difficult to control. If you see this plant in your garden, REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY.” Also interesting to note: “Caution: This plant should be regarded with suspicion as it was included in early books on poisonous plants.” I’m not exactly sure how to ‘regard a plant with suspicion’ – Do I hide behind a tree and spy on it? Do I give it dirty looks once in a while? But… you get the picture. This stuff is B. A. D.
The interesting thing is, this invasive species was introduced to Canada during the war, because some bright light thought we could use the fluffy seeds to stuff lifejackets. No word of a lie. Don’t people know, introducing foreign species to any ecosystem is a prelude to disaster? How many times do we have to learn this lesson. Sheesh. I say, we put the zebra mussels, cane toads, and this vine into a ring and let them battle it out amongst each other. At least it would be entertaining.
If you have Dog Strangling Vine in your yard, you have two options – poison (never a good option, especially with kids and pets around) and digging it up by hand. Which is incredibly difficult with these suckers, because when you pull them up, the roots almost always stay behind. But don’t give up – if we let this vine take over, there will be nothing left of Don Mills but a giant mound of vines and pods… with a water tower sticking out the top.
Of course… when all else fails, there’s always the flamethrower method.