This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Controlling "Dog Strangling" Vines

Vincetoxicum rossicum

Two invasive and destructive plants, first introduced to North America as garden plants, and known as "Dog Strangling" vines, are spreading uncontrolled through large areas of New York, New England and Ontario, prompting Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Cornell University scientists to launch a study to find biological ways to stop them. The targets of the three-year study—which is being led by entomologist Lindsey Milbraith of the ARS Plant Protection Research Unit (PPRU) in Ithaca, New York, are two members of the milkweed family known as Pale Swallow-wort and Black Swallow-wort.

Both plant species originated in Europe. Pale Swallow-wort, Vincetoxicum rossicum comes from the Ukraine, and Black Swallow-wort, V. nigrum is from south-western Europe. On their home grounds, both are kept in check by native natural enemies, particularly insects and diseases. But so far, nothing in North America has halted their advance. According to Milbrath, the vines contain strong and unique poisons that probably limit natural enemies and keep deer and cattle from feeding on them.

Cornell research has shown that the pink-flowered Pale Swallow-wort grows rapidly in forest under-stories and in open fields of undisturbed soil throughout central and upstate New York, around the Great Lakes and in Canada. The purple-flowered Black Swallow-wort prefers open areas. It is found primarily in New York's Hudson Valley and Long Island, as well as throughout New England. Pale Swallow-wort is believed to be a serious threat to Monarch butterflies, as it may be replacing common milkweeds in open fields upon which monarch larvae feed. The butterflies' larvae are unable to survive on either plant species.
Photo: USDA

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