Wild Weeds – Weed of the Month
Skunkvine is a woody vine that can reach lengths upwards of 30 feet. This thornless vine gets it common name ‘skunk vine’ from the characteristically foul odor that is released when the plant is crushed. Skunk vine was introduced to Florida from its native Asia as a potential fiber crop, unfortunately the plant become weedy and invasive quickly and soon spread to natural areas.
Not only does the strong sulfur smell separate this plant from others but also its innate ability to only twine in one direction. Many vines will twine in no particular way, but skunk vine will only twine to the right. The light gray/lilac flowers with red centers often catch the eyes of passerbys as they reach up into tree canopies and crawl across the ground. This vine can reproduce by seed or vegetatively, which is one factor that increases its invasive ability.
Like other invasive vines, skunk vine is a problem in natural areas particularly hardwood, pine forests, sandhills, and marshes. The vine can create a thick mat that chokes out native vegetation, weighs down branches and trees causing them to break, and prevents native vegetation from growing in the area.
Chemical control is one of the most effective means of control for skunkvine, but single applications will generally not provide complete control. This is due to
resprouting from rootstocks or root crowns. A dilution of triclopyr (Garlon 3A at 1 to 2% solution or Garlon 4 at 0.5 to 2% solution) in water can be an effective control for skunkvine when applied as a foliar application. Be sure to include a non-ionic surfactant at 0.25% (10 mLs or 2 teaspoons per gallon of spray solution). A 2 to 3% solution of glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) may also be effective. These herbicides are systemic (move throughout plant tissue) so care must be exercised to minimize off-target damage. If skunkvine is growing up into trees or other desirable species, vines should be cut or pulled down to minimize damage to the desirable vegetation. Pulling the vines down without severing them from the root crown will allow the herbicide to move into the root and provide better control. The best time to apply an herbicide is in the spring and summer when skunkvine is actively growing. Be sure to allow adequate time for the plant to regrow from the winter to ensure movement of the herbicide back into the roots. (As plants grow and mature, they begin to move sugars back into the roots).
Wild Weeds is a monthly spotlight written by Alicia Halbritter, Baker County Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent. Wild Weeds highlights plants you may find in Florida on the roadside, while hiking, in the forest, or possibly even in your yard. Searching for more information on a particular plant? Email Alicia at email@example.com for more information/questions.