The dog-strangling vine invasion

Dog-strangling vine in Kanata (Photo credits to Green Ottawa)

Don’t worry, your dog is safe

Contrary to the name, dog-strangling vine will not harm your pet, but rather outcompetes or “strangles” native species and young saplings. As a particularly aggressive invasive species, it has been spreading rapidly throughout the province.

What does it look like?

Dog-strangling vine (Photo credits to Green Ottawa)

Stem: Typically grows 1–2 meters tall and wraps around nearby structures

Leaves: Grow on opposite sides of the stem, are about 12 cm long and are oval shaped with pointed tips

Flowers: Range from pink to dark purple, star shaped (5 petals and between 5–9 mm long)

Seed pods: Bean shaped, about 4–7 cm long and release feathery white seeds towards the end of summer

Why is it a problem?

By taking over landscapes, it not only threatens native plants but all species that rely on them and the ecosystem they create. The monarch butterfly is once such species being threatened. They lay their eggs on dog-strangling vine (confusing it with milkweed) and the caterpillars starve, unable to eat the plant. Further, browsing animals like deer avoid eating it, allowing for its range to grow (choking out native plants even more), while the roots and leaves may also be toxic for livestock.

How to remove it

Dog-strangling vine needs to be removed before it begins to outcompete native species. As cutting or mowing the plant will cause it to grow faster and flower again, uprooting is the best means of removal. Digging out as much root as possible will also have a substantial impact. The City of Ottawa advises that plant material be dried out at the site (if possible), placed in a black garbage bag in the sun for at least a week and thrown out with the garbage.

Do not burn the plant material or place in the green bin/compost — it will continue to spread.

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Check out our sources for a more in-depth review of dog-strangling vine!

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