Amongst the refuse of last year’s greenery, you might now be noticing the evidence of past crime: the dried pod casings of dog-strangling vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum) [Update: This weed is also known as swallowwort, Cynanchum spp., from the Greek meaning “to choke a dog”)]. In my continuing quest to do my part to eradicate this pernicious weed, last May I wrote this post about the problem. [Read about the eradication efforts in Ottawa’s Fletcher Wildlife Garden here.]
Now, when the foliage is off the shrubs, it’s easy to see where dog-strangling vine has taken a foothold. Each of the pointy pods was once full of fluffy seeds, ready to take root in a green space near you. Meanwhile, the woody root systems are plotting new ways to send up prolific shoots. It isn’t only “dogs” being strangled here. It’s entire ecosystems.
Please, keep your eyes open and your knives sharpened. Cut this one off at the root when you see its snakey little head emerge from beneath your rugosa roses (or fences or hedges).
This plant is trying to take over Toronto. Let’s all tell it to get the heck outta town.
[Edited update from Helen, the whys and how-tos: Haven’t been able to detect why it’s called dog-strangling vine. It’s certainly a tough stem and would be about dog height. Tends also to become a thicket if left unchecked.
Yes, do cut it off just below the soil to starve the root – just hold the stem and cut it at the base with a knife or secateurs, just at or below the soil surface. Don’t yank it up, as the breaks in the root system can send up new shoots.
You’ll probably have to repeat this a few times, as the root will continue to try to send up shoots. Eventually, however, without the green leaves to nourish it, the root will starve and dwindle. (BTW, this is a good way to deal with other strong-rooted weeds, such as dandelions.)]