Dog Strangling Vine — It’s like something out of scifi. (Updated)

August 11, 2014

Have you ever felt like a character in a scifi movie, the unsuspecting schlep who first encounters the mutant plant and then is devoured by it before it goes on to conquer the world?

I felt like that guy this morning when I realized that there was a whole new layer of growth coming up through the huge patch of DSV I had zapped three weeks ago.

Dog strangling vine spreads more rapidly than anything I have seen before. Its rate of growth is hard to believe, and it is relentless. Roundup will kill it, but it’s a lot like creeping charlie, the weed which bedeviled my mother’s gardening days: break it up or cut it off and any bit of root or stem will simply produce another plant.

But DSV also produces pods which rather resemble small green beans. They dry and release milkweed-style seeds on parachutes, and there are millions of these pods on the plants. DSV also climbs with alacrity, wrapping itself around other vines to produce the “dog strangling” effect after which it is named.

On my first attempt to walk through a metre-high mass of this stuff I nearly pulled both hamstrings.

This week I have seen outcroppings of the weed along the Ferry Road near Chaffey’s Locks, the Chaffey’s Locks Road, and Lockwood Lane. On my friend’s building lot it has made it 150 feet in under the forest canopy in one area. On the other side of the road it seems to be progressing unhindered.

If we don’t take immediate measures to control this invader, we can forget about plant diversity and seedling growth in our woodlots. DSV will crowd everything out. We can also forget about walking through forest trails in summer and fall.

By comparison the wild parsnip which lines our roads is a mild irritant. The DSV is a crisis and we need to take immediate steps to fight it back.

Municipal governments must get on the ball. This stuff is vectoring down roadways, quite possibly spread by mowing. Spraying to control the infestation is the logical first step. But it must be done immediately.

In Ogdensburg at the TSC, Roundup and other concentrated herbicides are on the shelf for anyone to buy, but to obtain the same materials in Ontario you must write the pesticides examination every five years. Many tree-huggers, myself included, now hold expired licenses, and our life supplies of Roundup (purchased before our licenses expired) won’t last through a blight on the landscape like this.

The second step would be to facilitate the acquisition of pesticides licenses and renewals: a single exam in Perth in mid-March will do no good for land owners who wish to protect their property this summer. And they’ll need the restricted stuff if they want to do any good. So far in three sessions I have sprayed 6 litres of concentrate (diluted 100 to 1) on one infected building lot, and it will take more to do the job. The diluted stuff in hardware stores available without a license just won’t cut it.

We need to get serious. If a brush fire were blazing at the front of your property, you’d try to put it out, right? DSV will easily have as devastating an effect as a forest fire on your property if it is allowed to spread unchecked.

Once those seed pods dry out and split, the time for action will have passed, and we can forget about walking through the woods.

UPDATE:  August 14, 2014

My neighbour dropped a clipping from Tuesday’s Citizen by the house.  It’s an interview with Dr. Naomi Cappuccino of the biology department at Carleton University.  Her specialty is biological controls of invasive speces.  She claims to have located a moth which eats only DSV. – Ottawa Citizen – 12 Aug 2014 – The tale of the moth and nasty plant


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