Invasive Watch: Winter Creeper

Winter creeper Photo Credit : James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org 

Get tips on how to identify and treat this invasive vine.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Winter creeper is a winter evergreen climbing woody vine that can also be a small shrub — growing in mats along the forest floor to 3 feet in height — or a vine climbing trees to heights of 40 to 70 feet. Its opposite leaves are dark green, oval, slightly toothed, glossy, thick and often have a silvery-white venation. Flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, and five-petaled and develop in midsummer. Plants typically flower only when climbing and almost never when trailing along the ground.

Winter creeper is a perennial and is able to tolerate and spread quite rapidly in a wide variety of growing conditions. The invasive plant colonizes both vegetatively through its vine growth, as well as through distribution of its pink-capsulated seeds, which are spread by birds, small animals and water. If allowed to establish and grow unchecked, the vine will spread over anything in its way, even overtopping trees and prohibiting foraging by wildlife and livestock.

 

WHERE IT IS FOUND

This vigorous vine aggressively invades forest openings, edges and rights-of-way, both growing across the ground and climbing high into the tree canopy by clinging to the bark.  On the ground, the plant forms dense mats that can displace native species and deter seedling establishment by blocking sunlight. The vines will smother and kill shrubs and small trees, but also deplete soil nutrients and moisture from other nearby plants, making growth and regeneration harder on native species.

The plant is native to Asia, and was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s as an ornamental plant. It’s now considered a major noxious weed, having been reported to be invasive in natural areas in most of the states in the eastern half of the United States.

 

HOW TO TREAT IT

Apply 7 fluid ounces of Milestone® herbicide per acre in a foliar application. Ideal timing is late fall, when plants are dormant. Follow-up treatments may be needed to achieve complete control as winter creeper is difficult to eradicate.

 

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™®Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. When treating areas in and around roadside or utility rights-of-way that are or will be grazed, hayed or planted to forage, important label precautions apply regarding harvesting hay from treated sites, using manure from animals grazing on treated areas or rotating the treated area to sensitive crops. See the product label for details. State restrictions on the sale and use of Milestone apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. TerraVue has not yet received regulatory approvals; approvals are pending. The information presented here is not an offer for sale. Always read and follow label directions