Mile-a-minute weed’s York County origin questioned
Motorists on Interstate 83 can see treeless land near Lake Redman. The York Water Co., owner of this water supply lake, has cut down the trees because of their age and mile-a-minute weed damage. An expert gardener once wrote in the York Daily Record that the weed earns its name “Devil’s Tail Tear Heart” or “Asiatic Tear Thumb” because the plant’s reddish stem is armed with downward pointing hooks or barbs. Background posts: Rainmaker’s visit indicated much awry in York, Where did Camp Betty Washington Road get its name?, Memorial honoring alcohol-related accident victims should be visited
That mile-a-minute vine, with supposed York County origins, that is becoming viewed as the kudzu of the east?
Well, its origins are actually are muddy. But it’s damage is clear, as evidenced by the damage it’s causing to tree and other plant life at Lake Redman.
Teresa Boeckel of the York Daily Record/Sunday News (6/29/08) explored the weed and its supposed origin at a nursery in southern York County:
Several paragraphs into a Wikipedia description about the mile-a- minute weed, a vine with barbs that climbs over plants and trees and smothers them by blocking sunlight, comes a reference to York County.
It states that the first records of mile-a- minute were from Portland, Ore., and Beltsville, Md., but the annual was either eliminated or did not establish permanent populations.
Its introduction came from a nursery in Stewartstown, the free encyclopedia states.
Whether that’s accurate is up for debate.
Accounts vary as to how the weed allegedly ended up at the late Joseph Gable’s nursery in the 1930s. A plant journal called Rhodora said it’s believed to have come in with holly seeds shipped from Japan.
Another article in ” Weed Technology” states it likely came in with rhododendron stock imported from eastern Asia.
Gable’s daughter, the late Caroline Gable, told the York Daily Record in 1991 that her father did not know for sure whether the weed had been introduced at the nursery.
He once told an inspector that he was worried that it came from plants he imported from Japan, but he didn’t know for sure.
Bob Hoyt, a sales representative in Stewartstown for several nurseries, said he agrees that it’s speculation as to whether the weed originated there.
He read an article about it years ago and talked with Joseph Gable’s son, James Gable, about it. James Gable shared the same sentiment as his sister.
The Gables are famous among nursery owners, and it’s a shame that their name is attached to this weed, he said.
“They’ve done a lot for the industry,” Hoyt said.
The mile-a- minute weed is partially to blame for the York Water Co. having to cut down a wide area of trees north of Lake Redman. Age was the other reason.
Some nursery managers said they haven’t heard complaints this year about the weed.
Connie Schmotzer, a consumer horticulture educator with the Penn State Cooperative Extension, said she isn’t sure why they haven’t heard much this year. Perhaps people know what it is, she said.
Invasive plants are easy to introduce, she said. With so much global trade, weeds and seeds can easily hitchhike into the country.