Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea) are two almost identical native species of woody vine. For the sake of simplicity  “Virginia Creeper” refers to either/both plant species in this article.

Virginia creeper (Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Virginia creeper at left –  five leaves with serrated margins, connecting together at the leaf center.

Virginia creeper is common and widespread in Midwest woodlands but don’t let its abundant availability diminish its value in native plant habitats. Here are a few interesting details about Virginia creeper excerpted from the USDA/NRCS database.

Erosion Control: Although Virginia creeper has a rather open canopy structure, with its energetic growth and above ground rooting and sprouting habits this species can be useful groundcover for erosion control and watershed protection, particularly in shaded areas.

Restoration: Virginia creeper is a native component of eastern climax forests.

Wildlife: Virginia creeper provides cover for many small birds and mammals. Songbirds are the principle consumers of the fruit; however deer, game birds and small mammals will also feed on them. Cattle and deer will sometimes browse on the foliage.

The entire fact sheet may be viewed at http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_paqu2.pdf.

Tendrils of Virginia creeper attached to fence wire (Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Virginia creeper is a desirable, amiable and easy to grow plant. Unlike wild riverbank grape, Virginia creeper is not likely to girdle and choke desirable trees and shrubs. In fall, the leaves of Virginia creeper turn to beautiful shades of red and maroon. It can be a great disguise growing on and over an unsightly fence. 



Virginia creeper completely covered this wire farm fence (Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Virginia creeper is easy to uproot and transplant. Planting Virginia creeper at the base of dead tree trunks (especially buckthorn!) will provide a natural trellis aiding in homeowner privacy as well as bird and wildlife habitat. Virginia creeper makes a great ground cover. Dense patches of Virginia creeper will shade out and inhibit the germination of invasive plant seedlings like garlic mustard and buckthorn.

Any mysterious vines growing in your woodland? Share a photo with us and we can help with identification.

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Garlic Mustard, Invasive Species, Native Plant Species, Native woodland ground covers, Native Woodland Plants, Vining species | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WHAT’S THAT PLANT IN MY WOODLAND? – Woody Vines: Wild Riverbank Grape

Mature riverbank grapevine - approx. 2" diameter. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Wild grape, or riverbank grape (Vitis riparia ) was the topic of my last posting on June 13, 2012. Before moving on to a new vining species, I wanted to share these close-up photos of a mature vine. The wild riverbank grape vine in the first photo is approximately two inches in diameter but I have seen them up to four inches in diameter. Notice the shreddy, dried out looking texture of the vine’s bark.

Maturing wild riverbank grapevine adhered to a hardwood tree. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

At this time of year the blossoms have turned into immature green berries that will not fully ripen to a purplish-black until late summer.
Although this plant is a native species in the Midwest, considering the size of a mature vine it is not advisable to intentionally let this species grow on desirable trees in your woodland. Not only can the mature vine girdle and kill a tree, the dense canopy of leaves produced by the vine will limit sunlight reaching the leaves of the tree. Without adequate sunlight, reduced energy absorption limits tree health and growth. In contrast, wild grape would be perfect on a dead tree, especially buckthorn!
I use the same cut-stump method that applies to buckthorn control to get rid of unwanted wild riverbank grape vines by cutting the vine close to ground level and applying 18-20% glyphosate using a Buckthorn Blaster.
Posted in Buckthorn Control, Native Plant Species, Native woodland ground covers, Native Woodland Plants, Vining species | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHAT’S THAT PLANT IN MY WOODLAND? – Woody Vines / Wild Grape

Woody Vines . . . sounds like a group of musicians with a gig in a small town VFW every Thursday night.

For the purposes of this segment, woody vines will be about species commonly found in many Midwest woodlands. Let’s start with the one that at maturity could go toe-to-toe with the vines Johnny Weismuller used to swing through the jungle in the old Tarzan movies.

Wild/Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Though a native plant, wild grape or riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) is often cut and removed by woodland owners because of its tendency to aggressively sprawl over and about native shrubs and tree saplings. I have exterminated a few myself from a thicket of Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) or black cherry saplings (Prunus serotina) that are being smothered by wild grape.

Like a delinquent teenager, wild grape just needs positive re-direction. For example, we have all heard about the neighbor who won’t cut down buckthorn because it provides such a nice (????) privacy screen. Solution – using the frill-cut method, buckthorn dies but the structure stands for many years. Replant wild grape at the base of the deceased buckthorn to provide a natural trellis for the wild grape to sprawl up and spread out. Three positive outcomes are accomplished:

1. The spread of future buckthorn seeds has been stopped.
2. Privacy is retained by the homeowner (who will hopefully replant with native shrubs!).
3. Birds have a plentiful source of purplish-black native berries to eat.

“Hang on” until Woody Vines is continued in my next blog segment.

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Native Plant Species | Leave a comment



Common milkweed (Asclepias                    syriacia).                                                           Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration,   Inc.

It’s a shame that “weed” is part of the plant name for common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Gardeners who are new to planting natives may get the idea that milkweed should be pulled rather than encouraged and appreciated. Native milkweed plants are essential in attracting butterflies to your property.

Common milkweed blossoming in June.

Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Common milkweed and other species within the Asclepias family provide critical habitat for butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants because the larvae can only develop on milkweed. Common milkweed is easy to establish in sunny locations and tolerates moist or dry soil conditions. Orioles use the fiber from old milkweed stems for nest building.

Ironically, the alien plant “butterfly bush” (Buddleja spp.) does not support the reproduction of a single species of butterfly. I think some botanist of yore got confused when determining the naming convention of these two species . . . but don’t blame it on the weed.

Go native. Go milkweed.

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Native Plant Species, Native Woodland Plants, Non native invasive plants | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


It can be very helpful to know the visual identify of certain plants while enjoying a woodland area. For example, the leaves of Large-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla) may be used as emergency toilet paper. But woe to those who confuse this aster with poison ivy . . . talk about your pain in the butt!

If you encounter poison ivy in Minnesota it will likely be Western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergil). This species of poison ivy may grow to knee height. Leaf length is approximately 3-4” by a width of about 2”  and varying subject to growing conditions. The plant will always have three leaflets, thus the saying “leaves of three – flee from thee” or “leaves of three – let it be”. When any part of the plant is broken or bruised it releases toxic oil, an irritant to human skin. This oily residue is very long lasting so it’s a good idea to wash any clothing, gloves, tools, etc. that have been exposed.

Poison ivy is a native plant to Minnesota and animal species do eat the fruit and leaves. However, because poison ivy may be harmful to humans in varying degrees, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (“MDA”) has placed poison ivy on the Specially Regulated Plants list. The following statement is posted on the MDA website and is applicable to poison ivy:

Must be eradicated or controlled for public safety along rights-of-ways, trails, public accesses, business properties open to the public or on parts of lands where public access for business or commerce is granted. Must also be eradicated or controlled along property boarders when requested by adjoining landowners.

As a visual leaner, it always helps me to “see” what I am studying. For those who share my visual learning style, here is the “seeing” portion (i.e. photos).

Poison Ivy (copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)


Jack-in-th-pulpit (copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Trillium (copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Note the defining characteristic of the terminal leaflet on poison ivy – a short stem seperating it from the other leaves. In contrast, all three leaves of Jack-in-the-pulpit and Trillium are directly attached to each other at the center.

Don’t let a limited risk of exposure to poison ivy hinder your enjoyment of the woods, especially now that you understand what poison ivy looks like. Nature provides an amazing array of flora and fauna. The best way to enjoy, appreciate and learn about nature is up close and personal. Step away from your screen and go outside.

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in MN noxious weed law, Native Plant Species, Poison Ivy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


My apologies for not posting new blog segments since early spring. I was sucked into a vortex of garlic mustard and could not find my way out until now. Seriously.

There is still a short amount of time to pull any leftover garlic mustard before it disperses seed. At this stage of garlic mustard development, the seed pods/siliques are very mature
Garlic Mustard Seed Pod/Silique
and will soon ripen and disperse seed if the plants are left in your woodland. Best options to stop garlic mustard seeds from dispersing are bag, tag and place with your garbage (DO NOT COMPOST!) or toss the garlic mustard into your fire pit and burn it during your next bonfire. If desired, you may click your hiking boots three times and chant “burn garlic mustard scum, burn” as you watch the nasty stuff go up in flames. Great way to teach your neighbors about garlic mustard when they ask what you were doing.
My next set of blog postings will be called, What’s in My Woodland? – (name of plant). Don’t miss the first plant in the series which will be identification of poison ivy.
Enjoy your bonfire!
Posted in Garlic Mustard, Garlic mustard control options, GARLIC MUSTARD CONTROL WITH SEED PODS PRESENT, Invasive Species, Non native invasive plants | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 4, 2012 – Invasive Plant Information

On Friday, May 4, 2012, I will be on location at the Friends of Birch Island Woods plant sale in Eden Prairie, Minnesota to provide information and answer questions about plants that are invasive in the Midwest. Our Buckthorn Blaster herbicide applicators for cut-stump treatment of buckthorn will be available for purchase (only on 5/4/12) along with our related buckthorn control products.

WHAT: 10th Annual Birch Island Woods Plant Sale
WHEN: Friday, 5/4/12 from 2:00 to 7:00 PM (see note below)
WHERE: Picha Heritage Farm, 6649 Birch Island Road, Eden Prairie, MN
WHY: Plant sale proceeds support conservation, education and restoration projects at Birch Island Woods

NOTE: I will only be at this event on 5/4/12, but the Birch Island Woods Plant Sale runs from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 13, 2012. Weekday hours are 2:00 – 7:00 PM and weekend hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

To view a list of available plants, event details and information about the Friends of Birch Island Woods organization go to www.FBIW.org

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Buckthorn Control, Invasive Species | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Garlic mustard plants are beginning to bloom here, there and everywhere. Get those garlic mustard plants out before their seeds finish developing and disburse.

When you take a well earned break from pulling out these nasty, prohibited garlic mustard weeds, click on this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfawHPvq5gI&feature=youtu.beenjoy and enjoy a humorous YouTube video about invasive species. 

Remember that every garlic mustard plant you uproot and destroy will prevent hundreds to thousands more seeds from being deposited into the soil. Good job!!

Cheryl Jirik
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Posted in Garlic Mustard | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


Blossoming garlic mustard in May
Blossoming garlic mustard in May, 2011
Celebrate Earth Day this weekend by learning how to identify and control GARLIC MUSTARD, one of the most invasive, non-native weeds in North America. Workshops are being held in Eden Prairie, MN on Saturday morning and Hudson, WI on Sunday afternoon. See details of each event:

Garlic Mustard Control Boot Camp
How to get rid of this “Bad Boy” in your gardens and woods

Saturday April 28, 2012 – 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Camp Edenwood Center, 6350 Indian Chief Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55346

The City of Eden Prairie and Cheryl Jirik of Landscape Restoration, Inc. will be holding a class and “hands on” field session to learn how to identify and control garlic mustard. This session will begin at the Camp Edenwood Center, 6350 Indian Chief Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55346 with a PowerPoint presentation and discussion followed by an outdoor
“hands on” training session. Bring gloves, a hand trowel and dress for the weather.

There is no charge for this event but attendees are requested to RSVP. Contact Jeff Cordes, Eden Prairie Forestry Technician at jcordes@edenprairie.org or call 952-949-8463.

Garlic Mustard 101 Workshop

Sunday, April 29, 2012 – 1:00 to 3:00 PM
YMCA Camp St. Croix, 532 County Road F, Hudson, WI

Garlic mustard is destroying a woodland near you – perhaps your own! Learn how to identify and control this highly invasive plant. Live plant samples will be available including garlic mustard and several species commonly confused with garlic mustard. Classroom discussion with PowerPoint presentation will be followed by the opportunity to head outside for a garlic mustard pull and field training.

Bring gloves, a hand trowel and dress for the weather.

No charge for this information-packed event. Email cheryl@landscape-restoration.com or call Cheryl Jirik, Landscape Restoration, Inc. with questions – 612-590-9395.

garlic mustard blossom

Garlic Mustard in Blossom (white, 4-petaled flower)

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Native Plant Species | Leave a comment

Suspend use of Herbicide for Buckthorn Treatment in Spring

Typically in May through June (starting mid-April this year) we recommend withholding use of 18-20% glyphosate (i.e. RoundUp Concentrate Plus) for cut-stump treatment of non-native invasive buckthorn. Here is why:

The cambium layer is the target area for application of herbicide in cut-stump method. The cambium layer, located next to the inner bark, transports energy from the plant downward for storage in buckthorn’s root structure. During the May through June timeframe the energy flow reverses direction to bring energy upward for leaf development and plant growth. It is during this time that application of herbicide to the cambium will have limited to no effect
until full leaf out occurs and a downward energy flow to the roots resumes. During this “off” period of cut-stump treatment consider the following two-step buckthorn removal method:

Remove the buckthorn canopy by cutting stems high enough to leave adequate space for a second stump-cut in the future. This allows sunlight to reach the native species that would otherwise be shaded out by the buckthorn canopy. Return to the site in the future during a time when use of herbicide will again be effective. At the time of the second
cut, cut the stump as close to ground level as possible without damaging your equipment. Without delay, apply herbicide to the cambium area of freshly cut stumps. The remaining stems from the second cut can be left in the woodland to decompose, placed on a slope to slow erosion or be mulched for ground cover. Refer to my previous blog* segment, EARTHWORMS, DUFF AND OTHER STUFF, about the importance of mulching if your buckthorn area is accessible for mulching equipment.

Another good use of time during the “off” period of cut-stump buckthorn treatment is pulling blossoming garlic mustard plants. Garlic mustard is blossoming now and it is critical to prevent more seeds from developing and adding to the seed bank. For more information about garlic mustard refer to the garlic mustard series, GARLIC MUSTARD – BANE OF MY EXISTANCE in my previous blog* segments.

Blog address: www.landscape-restoration.com
Cheryl Jirik – cheryl@landscape-restoration.com
Landscape Restoration, Inc. – www.landscape-restoration.com

Posted in Biological control of garlic mustard, Buckthorn Control, Duff layer, Garlic Mustard, Garlic mustard control options, Invasive Species, Mulching, Native Plant Species | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments