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.


Burning Bush

I took a nice long branch to branch trip with Miz Flora, and nearly fell off my limb when her chittering sounded close to…cursing.

What? I looked around and all I saw were some pretty orange bushes below us.

I swallowed hard and asked, “What’s wrong.”

“Burning Bush,” she muttered. “It’s filling this woods to the point nothing else can grow.”

It had. Every spot between tree trunks in this small woodlot had an orange bush in it. “So… invasive?” I asked.

She shot me a look. “You think?”

Whoa, she was mad. But the older squirrel immediately wrung her paws. “Sorry, Nutmeg. I don’t know what came over me.” She waved her paw. “These plants are so awful, spreading like crazy and not letting anything else grow. Look how tall they get. An animal can’t get through them, they’re so thick, and worse…”

What could be worse?

“They don’t grow anything wildlife can eat. The berries make animals sick.”

And they are spreading—apparently started from this one set of shrubs a neighborhood planted.

Not good. Once I knew what Burning Bush was, I started noticing it everywhere. Now the sight makes me a little queasy.