There’s a dog strangler lurking!

There’s a dog-strangler in our woods. Yes folks, beware! Your dog could be next.
We haven’t found any dead dogs yet, but it could happen anytime.

The Oxbow Wood, next to the Menirva Deland playing field is the haunting ground, and no one is doing anything about it.

The Strangler can attack at anytime, but later in the year the risk is much greater, because Cynanchum rossicum‘s reach is longer.

You’d think they’re called Dog-Strangling Vines because they are so prolific that a dog would have a job to force their way through them and is likely to get tangled up. But the common name ‘dog-strangling vine’ actually comes from the initial ‘Cynanchum’ genus, which in Greek, is translated to “kynos” and “anchein” kynos meaning “dog” and anchein, meaning “to choke”.  (Hopefully, you’ve guessed by now I jest about your dog being in danger)

Dog-strangler vines abound in the Oxbow Woods; they’re everywhere, choking the life out of the woods with their long tendrils, forming dense stands that overwhelm and crowd out native plants and young trees, preventing forest regeneration.

vine dog
A typical woodlot infested with Dog Strangling VIne

The plant can produce up to 28,000 seeds per square metre. The seeds are easily spread by the wind, and new plants can grow from root fragments, making it difficult to destroy.

The total lack of management in these woods has allowed this controlled invasive species to completely take over the ground. Compare this to Harts Woods where there is no evidence of this nasty weed, thanks to better management over the years.

IMG_2049
Harts Woods

Dog-strangling Vine forms dense stands that overwhelm and crowd out native plants and young trees, preventing forest regeneration. The plant is also toxic to most animals, so few eat it.

The vine threatens the Monarch Butterfly who lay their eggs on the plant, but the larvae are unable to complete their life cycle and do not survive.

Some text has been used from here, where a more in depth study has been described.

While dog-strangling vine generally has reduced vigor and reproductive potential in forests, it can invade closed-canopy forests and it may dominate ground cover,
particularly where there are gaps in the canopy.

This plant is a real disaster for our Oxbow Trail, and we must get rid of it as soon as possible. It doesn’t actually exist much on the Canal Authority property, but it is pervasive in the woods nearby.

I’m proposing that a program of removing this weed is started this year, so that hopefully the woodland can be brought up to the standard of Harts Woods.

There are a few (very few) people who oppose cutting down weeds and invasive species, but they obviously haven’t studied these plants and have no knowledge of the damage they are causing. Mowing is a good way of dealing with the problems of Japanese Knotweed, Garlic Mustard, Dog Strangling Vines, Black Locust, Bittersweet Vine and the scourge of woodlots – Amur Honeysuckle.
If only they would actually take the time to read up on these weeds, I think they’d jump on board and actually help us solve these environmental problems.

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

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