Take Control of Weedy Vines – Syracuse Democratic Journal

Sarah Browning
Attachment teacher

One of the most difficult weed conditions to deal with on an acre or large property is growing vines in hedges or trees. Wild cucumber, prickly pear, and honey milkweed are some of the most common culprits. These plants obscure the leaves of the host plant, interfering with its ability to photosynthesize. This is particularly harmful to evergreen trees, which do not tolerate shading well. Note: field weeds and loads can also be a problem, but these will not be discussed here.

Annual weed

Native to the United States, wild cucumber and percover are annual vines, found in the same family of plants as cucumber and cantaloupe, although neither produce edible fruit. Both grow from seed each year, and can be found growing wild in prairie valleys, hedge rows, creek banks and creeks, and ditches.

Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata), also known as balsambul or cucumber, can grow 15 to 25 feet tall. It has smooth stems and star-shaped leaves placed alternately, each with 5 to 7 pointed lobes. The greenish-white flowers grow on short stalks that arise from the leaf axils. The vines are assisted in climbing by forked tendrils. It has oval fruits, up to two inches long, covered in sharp spines.

Vines of mangroves (Sicyos angulatus) can grow up to 10 feet tall. The alternate leaves are broad with three to five pointed lobes. The stems are slightly fuzzy and develop into forked tendrils, similar to grapevines. Both wild cucumber and perkuver produce separate male and female flowers. In birch bark, the male flowers are greenish-white to pale yellow growing on short stalks, and the female flowers are found in rounded clusters at the ends of short stalks. The green to yellow fruits are covered with spiky hairs and are 1 to ½ inch long.

Perennial weed

Honey milkweed (Cynanchum laeve or Ampelamus albidus) is a member of the milkweed family that can grow 6 feet or more in length. It differs from wild cucumber and perennial, in that it is a perennial plant, growing from the crown every year. Plants spread through underground rhizomes, and can regenerate if the entire root system is not killed or removed.

Honey cross grass has triangular or elongated, heart-shaped leaves that lie opposite each other on long, smooth stems. They may be confused with weeds or morning glories, but they have alternate leaves. Clusters of small white flowers are found in the leaf axils and develop into smooth, slender, elongated milkweed pods. When the pods are ripe and open, they release flat brown seeds with fine white hairs.


Wild cucumber and persimmon seeds germinate throughout the summer especially after rains, making periodic exploration and removal essential for control. Plants grow vigorously by July, so scout areas with a history of problems, and pull or hoe weeds before they have a chance to grow in hedge or windbreak plantings. Mowing can be effective in large areas. Frequent mechanical removal prevents plants from producing additional seeds and reduces weed pressure over time.

Pre-emergent- Oryzalin (Monterey Weed Impede) is formulated for pre-emergent tree control to kill weed seeds during their germination.

Glyphosate (RoundUp) can be sprayed or applied to young plants under trees to kill seedlings after they emerge; It contains practically no soil residue and if used carefully as directed on the label will not harm your desired plants. Do not use Tordon or any product containing Dicamba, which has a period of residual activity in the soil and can move deeper into the soil to be absorbed by tree roots.

If weed vines escape early in the spring and have grown into trees, cut back the stems of a larger plant near the ground before the plants begin flowering. Do not spray herbicides on vines in trees or hedges.


Burcucumber, https://bit.ly/burcucumber

Milkweed Honey, https://bit.ly/honeyvine

Wild Cucumber, https://bit.ly/wildcucumber

Reference to commercial products is made on the basis that no discrimination is intended and there is no implied endorsement by Nebraska Extension. Statement does not imply endorsement or approval of the Nebraska Extension. Nor is it intended to discriminate against other similar products.

We welcome your suggestions!

Is there a topic related to lawn and gardening that you would like to know more about? Sarah Browning is an extension educator with the Nebraska Extension and can be contacted by phone: 402441-7180 ​​or by mail at 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528: or by email: sarah.browning@unl.edu. Learn more about the Nebraska Extension at Extension.unl.edu.

the pictures

1. Plum vines grow very large and can cover large parts of the tree. Customer image used with permission.

2. Close-up of peach blossoms and leaves. Customer image used with permission.

3. Milkweed leaves and flowers. Photo courtesy of Ohio State Herb Lab, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

4. Wild cucumber vine. Image by Barbara Tokarska Guzik, University of Silesia, Bugwood.org.

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