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Help removing the mile-a-minute!

April 2, 2012

‘Mile-a-minute’ is a common English name for any vine with a rapid growth, often within the sweet potato (Convolvulaceae) family. One of the worst weeds in the Chiang Mai area in northern Thailand is a mile-a-minute of the daisy family (Asteraceae). Its international or scientific or real name is Mikania micrantha. Around Christmas it may cover and kill fruit trees, but also now during the onset of the rainy season you need to pull it down, rub it a bit and then leave it in the sun to die, and then recycle the precious nutrients inside.

It was introduced from South America by the British during the second world war to cover up airfields so that the Japanese could not see them. Since the war, the plant successfully spread to most of India, Southeast Asia and tropical Australia, being one of the most severe weeds to farms and gardens. Due to the darkness of the forest floor, it is not a big problem in the national parks. Mikania loves sun.

Please save this beautiful Clerodendrum viscosum (=C. infortunatum, Lamiaceae) from the Mikania killer (seen en masse in the background and as small light-green leaves among the white flowers).

Text: Eric Danell

Photo: Ricky Ward

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