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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - November 20, 2012

From: San Francisco, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants, Vines
Title: Eliminating unwanted vine on arbor in San Francisco
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

There is a vine growing on our arbor, it has sickle-shaped pods and is crushing the arbor, how do we get rid of it?

ANSWER:

Sorry, but from your description I am not able to identify your vine.  If you want to learn its identity, take photos of it and then visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.  You can also look at the descriptions and photos of vines native to California by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and choosing "California" from the Select State or Province option and "Vine" from Habit (general appearance).  From your description of the behavior of the vine, I would guess that it is a non-native invasive vine.  A very invasive one that occurs along coastal California areas is Delairea odorata (Cape Ivy); however, it doesn't appear to have sickle-shaped pods.  You can see more photos from University of California-Berkeley's CalPhotos.  You can also look through the California Invasive Plant Inventory Database to see if you find any plant that appears to be your vine.  If you click on the botanical name in this database, you will be transferred to a page with a photo and description of the plant.

Even though I can't identify your vine, I can suggest ways to get rid of it.   First of all, you need to find where it is emerging from the ground.  Realize that there may be more than one origin for the vine.   When you find where its growing from the ground, cut or saw it in two.   Immediately, paint the cut end that goes into the ground—the one attached to the root—with an herbicide.  Check with a reputable nursery for an effective herbicide.  Using a small paintbrush or a small sponge with a handle to apply the herbicide.  It is necessary to apply the herbicide immediately after cutting the vine since some plants can quickly repair breaks in cell walls and this would prevent the herbicide from being taken up as readily by the plant.  Be cautious about getting herbicide on any desirable plants nearby.  I advise against spraying the herbicide since it can drift onto desirable plants and perhaps kill them.  Also, read carefully and follow the directions for using the herbicide to avoid any dangers to your health.

After you have broken the vine's connection with the earth, you will want to get it off the arbor.  Since I don't know how much vine there is and what kind of tendrils it has or if it is woody or herbaceous, I don't know how difficult this will be.   Assuming that the pods are the seed pods, you especially need to remove them.  You probably also want to remove the twining stems and leaves since they are going to turn brown and be unattractive.  Once they are removed, put them in plastic bags, tie the tops and put them in your trash.  You will have to be diligent about watching for regrowth.  If the vine does sprout again from the roots, you may want to dig out the roots or you may want to cut again and reapply the herbicide.  Also, watch for regrowth from seeds in other places and remove any new plants that sprout.

 

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