This humid, rainy weather reminds me of the jungle and what plant is the quintessential jungle plant? Vines! Walking along streams and through the woods lately it appears that the only vines I see are the invasive species. Wisteria, English ivy, oriental bittersweet, Japanese hop, Japanese honeysuckle and mile a minute are weaving their way through our groundcovers, herbaceous plants and the stems and trucks of native shrubs and trees. These vines do not live in symbiosis with the natives, but rather decrease availability of nutrients and water, while also slowly smothering them. For a healthy streamside forest filled with native plants, these invasive vines must be removed. I tend to recognize the non-native species quickly, maybe due to their dominance in the landscape and their rapid growth, so I had to ask myself: Who are these less obvious native vines?

There are actually quite a few that make the Middle James River Watershed their home! They include Poison Ivy, Dutchman’s Pipe, Trumpet Creeper, Cross-Vine, Coral Honeysuckle, American Bittersweet, Common Moonseed, Virgin’s Bower, Wild Grape, Virginia creeper and Greenbrier.

To learn more about native vines check out this native shrubs and vines guidebook published by our James River Buffer Program partner: The Virginia Department of Forestry.