University of Maryland Extension

Invasive Vine & Groundcover Control

*******View Key to Control Methods that are referenced here*******

English ivy (Hedera helix)
Eurasian, not English, in origin, this evergreen vine threatens habitats at all heights. At ground level, its leaves shade out seedlings and herbs, forming acres of monoculture and attracting rodents. In trees, it engulfs branches, shading and slowly killing them. Its weight topples trees in wind, snow or icy conditions. It serves as a reservoir for bacterial leaf scorch, a serious disease of trees including maples, oaks and elms. Vines mature in trees, then flower and bear toxic berries which induce birds to vomit them out, ensuring spread. Any rooted piece can resprout. Waxy leaves repel herbicides. Sprays must be applied in high concentrations and with a spreader-sticker. P/D, F/S, SM, C/M/reC, PostE, C&P/S

Japanese honeysuckle vine (Lonicera japonica)
Introduced for ornamentation and for erosion control, its rich fragrance and drops of June nectar have endeared this vine to many. Because deer ignore it and, possibly because high CO2 levels are invigorating vine growth, this vine has become highly invasive. A sun lover, it creates dense monocultures on the ground. Spiraling up trees or shrubs, it strangles and kills by blocking sunlight. Its weight fells weakened trees. Evergreen foliage continues growth throughout the year. It flowers from spring to fall, producing black berries. P/D, C/M/reC, C&P/S

Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
“The vine that ate the South” was promoted as livestock forage, an ornamental, and erosion control until the 1950s. Its incredible growth rate of one foot a day and 60 feet a season, plus a root system up to 400 lbs, make this invasive unequaled. Pods produce some viable seed, but reproduction is primarily vegetative. As many as 30 shoots grow from a single crown and can root where nodes touch soil. Control methods such as cutting and mowing must continue for two seasons or more. Penned goats can exhaust the root system by grazing. Herbicides are most effective in early fall. C/M/reC, C&P/S

Mile-a-minute vine/devil’s tear thumb (Polygonum perfoliatum)
This barbed annual vine, native of Asia, can grow 25 feet a season in sun or shade. Bright blue berries are spread widely by birds. It quickly shades and smothers plants. It has almost no root system, so pulling it is easy. Release of an insect which feeds exclusively on mile-a-minute should slow, though not eliminate, this invasive in the future. P/D, F/S, PostE

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
This Asian vine has almost entirely replaced native American bittersweet by out-competing and hybridizing with it. Thick woody vines engulf and smother trees, while their weight can topple them. Orange berries are spread by birds and human admirers that plant it or use berries in decorations. Leaves are round on young growth and more pointed on older plants. Orange-red roots provide fast identification when pulling the myriad seedlings that pop up under trees and shrubs. Roots can sucker, and stems can root where they touch the ground. P/D, F/S, C/M/reC, C&P/S

Porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)
Introduced for its multicolored berries, this woody Asian vine climbs over shrubs and trees, shading and killing them. Leaves resemble grape leaves, but bark does not peel whereas grape-vine bark does peel. It invades full-sun or semi-shade areas with moist, not permanently wet, soils. P/D, C&P/S

Vinca/periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Periwinkle provides evergreen foliage, quick growth, and lilac-to-white flowers in spring. A popular groundcover, it has escaped to natural areas where it crowds out wildflowers and other herbaceous natives. It spreads vegetatively by rooting at nodes and tips, and from root pieces. It is appropriate in the home landscape, ONLY when growth is monitored and kept far from natural areas. P/D, C/M/reC, C&P/S

Wavyleaf basketgrass, (Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius)
This Eurasian grass is a bright green shade perennial,which engulfs forest floor plants in a solid mat. Its widebladed leaves alternate along low-lying stems. Leaves are very unusual with leaf ripples like a flag in the wind. Stems are noticeably hairy (unlike native basketgrass species) and root where nodes touch soil. In fall, seeds with sticky tips attach to passing animals and humans. P/D, PostE

Wintercreeper/creeping euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)
As a groundcover, this evergreen vine forms dense mats on the ground, excluding low native plants. It also climbs trees. Tolerant of good or poor soils and sun to dense shade, it spreads vegetatively and by berries. Not appropriate as groundcover. P/D, F/S, C/M/reC, C&P/S 

Wisteria—Chinese and Japanese (Wisteria sinensis, W. floribunda)
With showy fragrant panicles of lavender bloom, this ornamental has been planted extensively. Escaped to natural areas, its woody vines strangle and shade out foliage, killing trees. It reproduces from seeds in fuzzy pods, from stems touching the ground, and from any bit of root left in the ground. Cut vines must be bagged and disposed of so no portion touches the ground. After cutting at ground level, woody vines must be unwrapped from tree trunks or they will still girdle trees. P/D (young), F/S, C/M/reC, PostE, C&P/S, WW

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