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Asiatic Tearthumb Persicaria perfoliata

Previously known as:

  • Polygonum perfoliatum
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Mile-a-minute or asiatic tearthumb is a vine like annual weed in the Polygonaceae (buckwheat) family.  It was brought over from Asia in the 1830's was spread through contamination of nursery stock and is now found growing in disturbed areas, roadsides, ditches, and streambanks in 11 states of the east coast and in Oregon.  The common name "mile-a-minute" comes from its rapid growth rate reaching up to 20 feet long in one growing season.  "Tearthumb" is a nod to the sharp barbs along the stem and the undersides of the leaves that can injure hands when pulling them up.

It prefers bright sunny areas with moist, well-drained soils but it will invade dry shady areas as well.

This fast growing vine has long trailing stems and distinct almost perfect equilateral triangle shaped leaves.  The stems are pinkish red, jointed, and have curved prickles along them.  It forms a dense mat of vegetation on the ground or scrambles up and over other plants blocking out light and killing them.  The insignificant flowers lead to showy metallic blue fruits are enjoyed by birds but are also dispersed via waterways because they float.  The roots are small and shallow making it easy to pull the plants up however the plants should be pulled before they go into fruit because the fruits shed very easily.   If the plant already has fruits, remove them first and dispose of them in the trash and then pull the plant up.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  It is a Class B noxious weed in North Carolina.  Wear gloves when removing this vine to avoid injuries to the hands.  Some positive results have been seen using weevils as a biological management strategy.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#weeds#weedy#scrambling#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#red stems#agressive#prickly#Noxious Weed List#blue fruits#disturbed areas#annual weed#purple fruits#water dispersed seeds#animal dispersed seeds#roadside#pink stems
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#weeds#weedy#scrambling#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#red stems#agressive#prickly#Noxious Weed List#blue fruits#disturbed areas#annual weed#purple fruits#water dispersed seeds#animal dispersed seeds#roadside#pink stems
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Persicaria
    Species:
    perfoliata
    Family:
    Polygonaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Asia, Phillipines
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the fruits.
    Climbing Method:
    Scrambler
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Vine
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Immature fruits are green turning purple and then attractive metallic blue. They are self-pollinated, segmented and contain one glossy black or red-black seed. They appear in grape-like groups at stem tips mid-summer and last through the first frost. Fruits are buoyant so can float down waterways and are also transported by birds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Spike
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny white flowers, insignificant, lack any petals form around 1 inch long spikes in the axils of upper leaves or at the tips of stems.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Deltoid
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Triangular thin alternate lime green leaves 1-3 inches long and wide with prickles on the undersurface along the midrib. Petioles are attached on the underside of the leaf in the middle.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Slender pink to red stems have curved prickles along them. Stems are jointed at the nodes with rounded leaf-like stipules called ocrea.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy