Types of vine weeds

Written by arlene miles
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Vine weeds are among the most invasive plants that appear in lawns and gardens. With roots that often grow many feet below the soil surface, they are almost always very difficult to control. Vine weeds are usually fast-growing perennials, sometimes with tendrils that help the plant climb up sides of buildings, trees and shrubs, as well as other greenery. This habit allows some species to choke out desirable vegetation.

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Hedge Bindweed

As one of the most common vine weeds, this species can cause havoc in lawns, particularly those where the grass is of poor quality. It is often found in drainage ditches and other poorly maintained areas. Hedge bindweed is a perennial and a member of the morning glory family. It is similar in appearance to field bindweed but has larger flowers while its leaves have a more pronounced arrow shape. Two large bracts almost cover this weed's calyx, unlike the field version, which has two tiny bracts. Although larger in size, its root system is not as extensive as that of field bindweed.

Field Bindweed

This invasive bind is considered to be one of the worst weeds in North America. As noted by Terry L. Ettinger, field bindweed has an extensive and hardy root system. A single plant can produce 197 vertical roots measuring 4 feet long only six months after germination. Not only does this weed multiply via rhizomes, it also produces seeds, which can survive as long as 25 years without germinating. Field bindweed has glabrous leaves, meaning they have no hairs and are kidney-shaped with a small notch at the tip. Leaves occur alternately along the stem. Flowers are usually small and white but can be tinged with pink.

Creeping Charlie

Also known as Creeping Jenny or ground ivy, this is another weed that causes havoc in lawns. Leaves resemble those of common geranium, are round, up to one inch in diameter, smell like mint and may either be smooth or hairy. The vine thrives in moist, shady areas of lawns and garden. Low-growing, the plant's four-sided stems grow up to 30 inches long, with roots forming at the nodes. Tiny, lavender or blue flowers appear in spring on 2- or 3-inch spikes.

Wild Buckwheat

This annual is a long, trailing vine that can reach more than 3 feet in length. Unlike other vine weeds, its flowers are small, greenish-white in colour and are clustered between the stems and leaves. Its most notable feature is the ocrea, a membranous sheath surrounding the stem at each node. It is often confused with field bindweed but differs from that perennial as it leaves have inward-pointing bases. Wild buckwheat spreads by seed. It is common throughout the United States and, like other vine weeds, is found in drainage ditches and other poorly maintained areas.

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