KCI Discovers Invasive Species in Indiana

With people and goods constantly moving across the globe, it isn’t unusual for organisms to unintentionally be transported as well. From the soles of our shoes to boats sailing across the ocean, species can easily be moved to a non-native location. However, these unfamiliar disruptions can cause harm to the environment, economy or human health. Last fall, KCI scientists identified an invasive species while working as a consultant for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

Previously undocumented in the state of Indiana, our team discovered the invasive vine on a conservation easement in Monroe County, a site more than 300 miles from any other cataloged reports. The species Persicaria perfoliata, better known as mile-a-minute, gets its name from the fast pace in which it grows, up to six inches a day. Native to East Asia, the plant was most likely introduced into the United States through nursery imports. The invasive vine destroys the habitats of native wildlife by blocking the sun from other plants and depriving them of water and nutrients. With less natural competitors in the new environment it can spread quickly and aggressively.

Mile-A-Minute Vine
The mile-a-minute vine is easily identified by its triangular-shaped leaves and the small barbs along the stem, which allow it to climb over other plants.

KCI’s quick response and expansive knowledge of the indigenous flora in the area helped limit this invasive species from causing detrimental impacts to the region’s ecosystem. Our team coordinated with INDOT, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Purdue University extension foresters, other consultants and non-profits to identify, document and implement a control plan for the mile-a-minute vine. Although the species has since been killed by the property owner, the public is being encouraged to watch out for the plant as seeds could have spread elsewhere.

With the increased level of trade and transport in today’s society, the probability of species like mile-a-minute spreading into non-native regions is becoming more common. By raising awareness and having methods in place to prevent the arrival and spread of these invasive organisms, experts can minimize the impact these species have on our ecosystem.

If you see mile-a-minute in any state, please document it with photos and submit it to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMaps) at www.eddmaps.org.