Honeyvine Milkweed

Walking through our Missouri property yesterday, I noticed a number of vines climbing through one of our eastern redcedars.  As I started to yank the vines from the tree, I found that they had numerous green seed pods; up to six inches long, the thick pods resembled those I have seen on milkweed plants.

Indeed, this was honeyvine milkweed, an aggressive plant native to eastern North America. Favoring moist, rich soil, it grows up through crops, hedgerows and almost any type of shrub or tree cluster, reaching heights of 30 feet or more.  A perennial vine, the plant has clusters of white, vase-shaped flowers, which yield the large, distinctive seed pods; once the pods dry out and crack open, they release numerous, flattened seeds that quickly disperse in the breeze.  While the control of this noxious weed must include removal of the pods before they open, the plant also spreads via horizontal roots and thus becomes a recurrent problem for gardeners, landscapers and farmers; of course, many of these victims resort to the use of herbicides.

On the positive side, as a member of the milkweed family, honeyvine milkweed (also known as blue vine or climbing milkweed) attracts monarch butterflies during its blooming period  (June to September).  With all due respect to those colorful travelers, few of us will tolerate the tangle of vines in our trees and shrubs, despite the nectar that their flowers might produce.