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Residents asked to watch for mile-a-minute vine

Posted by Johanna Seltz  July 23, 2010 09:40 AM

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The town is warning residents to be on the lookout for a relatively new menace: the mile-a-minute vine, or Asiatic tearthumb plant.

Featured on “least wanted” posters from the national Plant Conservation Alliance, the invasive vine grows 6 inches a day and strangles whatever it climbs, said Milton DPW director Joseph Lynch.

“It’s relatively new and very aggressive,” Lynch said. “It’s highly invasive, right up there with bittersweet, Russian olive, and pepper bush.”

The mile-a-minute vine has triangular leaves and thorns along its thin vines. Small white flowers give way to purple berries.

Lynch said his department has distributed fliers about the plant to Town Hall, the public library, and other sites in the community.

The DPW also is still distributing fliers about the Asian longhorned beetle, which is responsible for the death of thousands of trees around New England. The beetle was found earlier this month in six red maples at Faulkner Hospital, across from the Arnold Arboretum and about 5 miles away from Milton.

Lynch said his crews have been on the lookout for the beetle, and the department is airing an educational video about it on the local access cable television channel. Information is posted, as well, on the town website: http://www.townofmilton.org/Public_Documents/MiltonMA_DPW/DPW.

No beetles have been found in Milton, but several people have brought in suspicious insects for his inspection, Lynch said.

“We’ve had half a dozen people come into my office [with] the Eastern pine borer, a big beetle that looks similar. They were not the Asian longhorned beetle, which is good,” he said.

“We had two people bring in cicadas, which are enormous and don’t resemble [the Asian longhorned] at all. I’m not criticizing, though. My point is that people are cognizant of the insect issues and it’s a [sign] that people are paying attention,” he said.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seelenfam@verizon.net.

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