Mikania micrantha: Bittervine

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: Bittervine, Chinese creeper, American rope, Climbing hemp vine, Mikania vine, Mile-a-minute vine

Bittervines are quite notorious in tropical countries, climbing on to walls, gates, trees, and other surrounding vegetation growing very, very quickly. A single vine can cover 20-25 square meters within a few months giving the plant its name mile-a-minute vine.

The slender, green stems can grow to a length of over 6 meters trailing along the ground or climbing on surrounding structures. The stems can produce roots long the nodes where it touches the soil.

Leaves are oppositely-arranged, bright green, serrated around the edges, and roughly heart-shaped with a pointy tip. Flowers are about 3-5 mm long, white or light green, arranged in dense clusters.

Seeds are long and black, about 2 mm long with hairs at the tip, to help in wind propagation. Each plant can produce 30,000 to 40,000 seeds making them highly invasive. In fact, Bittervines are considered to be one of the top 100 most invasive species.

These sturdy, terribly invasive plants are now found in countries all over the world, smothering surrounding vegetation or crops by forming a dense green mat over them, that cuts of sunlight. Herbicides and biological methods like growing Cuscuta are only moderately effective in curbing the spread of these plants.

Bittervines have some medicinal uses in the treatment of cuts, wounds, ulcers, insect and scorpion stings. They are also widely used as fodder in times of scarcity of grass, but these plants are not healthy for cattle.

Bittervine plants can be used a ground covers especially in slopes to reduce soil erosion. The harm that these plants can cause to natural vegetation far outweigh any medicinal or economic uses.

Hence, it is better to uproot and destroy these plants as soon as they sprout. Make sure it is done before the plants bloom, since the thousands of seeds produced will ensure that they grow back again very quickly.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.