One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s a beautiful blue berry–

–but what is it?

Leave me a guess in the comments and I’ll check back later with your answer!


We’ve posted this plant before, but not shown its fall berry. Here’s a photo clue with the leaves.

Mile-a-Minute Weed, Persicaria perfoliata, is an invasive plant that grows like the name suggests–very quickly. It also is sometimes called tearthumb or Asiatic Tearthumb, which is a good name with those little thorns.  A post we made a year ago in the summer contains links to learn more, but you should be wary if you see this pretty berry and its triangular leaf. And you should pull it before it looks like this:

Or this, covering your native plants like it has on our nearby golf course.

It’s sad, because under that mess were some nice blackberry bushes.


One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Nutmeg advised you human readers to leave your flower seedbeds for the birds, but here’s a plant you should clean up.

mystery #164

Know what it is and why?

Make your guesses and I’ll return later with the answers.


Hmm, here’s a vine you humans ought to become more familiar with–because it’s terribly invasive! You’ll want to get rid of Mile-a-Minute Weed the second you see it.

Mile-a-Minute Weed

The triangular leaves and barbed stems are a great way to identify it, even if you don’t notice that the vine is growing 6 inches a day. Yes, it can take over quickly, and we squirrels beg you to keep this from happening! We like our native foods better, though some deer, chipmunks, mice and birds will eat them. Of course, that’s another way the Mile-a-Minute Weed is spreading.

Did you notice some of the leaves have holes in them? That’s because some great humans have released a weevil that eats Mile-a-Minute Weed leaves, then lays its eggs in the stems. The larvae eat the plant from the inside. Read more about Mile-a-Minute Weed and this weevil on this New York Invasive Species Information bulletin.

Mile-A-Minute Weed, a serious invasive

A human reader mentioned watching out for invasive species in the comments of our Ox-eye Daisy post last week. Plants like Ox-eye Daisy and Queen Anne’s Lace that became naturalized in our fields decades ago aren’t as big of a threat to nature as new plants that are taking over. One of the worst is Mile-a-Minute Weed, Persicaria perfoliata.

Mile-A-Minute Weed Leaves

The leaves are quite distinctive–a triangle. Note the barbs on the stem. Nothing else looks like Mile-A-Minute Weed.

While it may not really travel a mile in a minute, this vigorous vine can grow six inches in a day and will smother wildflower and  shrubs.


That should be enough to convince you to pull those little triangular leaves any time, any place you see them. If you need to know more, here’s the New York Invasive Species information on Mile-A-Minute. Good photos!

Yellow Water Iris

All this rain we’ve had has the streams running high here in northern Virginia and the ponds full. This old squirrel has stayed clear of them for fear of being washed away. Same for the roads–but because you humans can’t see a gray squirrel when it’s raining. Besides, who wants wet fur?

The rain has been good for the plants. Our suburban neighborhood is fully green and it seems we’ve moved to the early summer flowers. Because it’s Thursday, we can enjoy pond flowers today!

pond edge with Yellow Water Iris

Unfortunately, not native ones.

Yellow Water Iris

Yellow Water Iris has naturalized in North America, but is an invasive plant that some feel is becoming a little too common. Humans like it, plant it and any bit of broken roots spread the plant. We read a good suggestion: only plant this iris in closed garden ponds, not streams, canals or open waterways where the plant roots and seeds can be carried downstream and spread.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Sorry to be late with your Sunday Mystery! The cold this week slowed us squirrels down, but here you go:

Mystery #147

A little plant you’ve probably seen springing up in the lesser-tended corners of your garden…or even your lawn. But what is it?

Give us a guess in the comments, and I’ll check back in later!


One reader put out a guess that this is a speedwell…perhaps we should have shown a scale with out plant. It’s a bit larger, standing as tall or a bit taller than grass. This is Purple Dead Nettle, Lamium purpureum. It’s sometimes spelled deadnettle or dead-nettle.

Purple Deadnettle

Here’s a better photo, showing a more mature plant, with the signature purplish leaves. It is not a true nettle and does not sting–thus the ‘dead’ in front of the nettle–though looks similar.

Purple Dead Nettle stem

Note the stems are square, so the dead nettle is a mint and spreads like one. This is an invasive plant in the United States (native to Europe and Asia) can be found blooming in some corner most anytime of year when it’s warm. On the flip side of taking over you humans’  lawns, that’s helpful to bees, because they’ll come out searching for pollen most anytime it’s warm. Here’s a nice article from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s feature of Weed of the Month.

J is for Japanese Honeysuckle

So, it’s spring, and we squirrels are reveling in the warmth and color of nature. We see you humans enjoying it, too! One of the plants you may see in your neighborhoods is Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica.

Japanese Honeysuckle

This vine isn’t native to North America, but certainly has made itself at home…in fact, it’s ousted many of our native plants from their homes! The semi-evergreen honeysuckle is invasive, and covers over the ground, then native shrubs and trees in its efforts to spread. The flowers may smell fabulous, and provide some cover for birds, but not even the most agile squirrel can get through it’s tangles. Please consider removing Japanese Honeysuckle. It only needs a bit of toe-hold in the yard to take over.

Here’s a good National Park Service fact sheet with more descriptions and how to manage this invasive plant.

In past years during the Blogging A to Z Challenge we’ve featured native wildflowers. If you’d like to see those–Jewelweed and Jack-in-the-Pulpit–just go over to our search bar and type in ‘J is for’ and they should all pop up for you. You can do that for any of our alphabet posts.

More Mile-A-Minute Weed

Mile-a-Minute Weed

Yuck! If you see this invasive plant, get rid of it. We can’t stress this enough. Or if photos communicae this better than words, here you go:

It won’t be long before this is the only plant around, unless people pull it. Its seeds have formed, ready to make more prickly vines.

MIle-a-Minute Weed seeds

More about this horrible plant was on our July 31st post.

Mile-A-Minute Weed

Miz Flora asked us to put out a warning to all you humans: if you see this plant with the triangular leaves, pull it immediately.


Mile-A-Minute, Persicaria perfoliata, is a vine that will take over ‘in a minute’. Not really, but you get the idea. It is an invasive that Miz Flora is twitching her tail over. She’s seeing it more and more and is very disturbed to think all of Virginia might be covered with it.

The vine appears rather delicate, but has many little teeth along its stem, and triangular leaves.

Mile-A-Minute Weed Leaves

Very triangular leaves.

Mile-A-Minute Weed Leaves

We could go into all the details, but Miz Flora says this website does it much better:

Thanks for your help in removing this invasive plant!

Japanese Honeysuckle

Japanese Honeysuckle is a common vine around our homes in Northern Virginia. It’s perennial–meaning it does not die back, and it’s a non-native invasive.

Japanese Honeysuckle

Few animals eat it, so it’s been very successful at out-competing native plants.  So while its flowers are sure smelling fine these days, Miz Flora strongly recommends not letting those cute little new shoots get a hold in your garden!

Japanese Honeysuckle