Friday, March 20, 2009

Manroot Maintenance

Our friends at Green Frieda were recently wondering about a strange but attractive vine at their place. We are all too familiar with it here: the dreaded manroot vine. It is native and attractive, the only problem is that it takes over everything in our yard and replicates at an alarming pace. We started with 3 or 4, I removed 3 over the years and we now have at least 6.

Here is a picture of a vine covering some elephant bush in our yard. If left on it's own it will drown out all light from the plants it grows on, then it will produce large pods covered with sharp spikes which drop bean sized seeds which, in turn, grow more vines.

In late spring the vines die back which would be OK but they become almost impossible to remove when dry - the slightest tug breaks the it. You have to climb through the bushes removing bit by bit. Meanwhile the pods have dried out and the spines are sharp as pins. This is a real problem for us since our yard is inspected each year for fire code compliance since we are in a fire hazard zone. In other words, we can't be lazy about it and leave the dead material to decompose naturally.

Here the vine from the first picture actually reaches up into the adjacent pepper tree.

We had to use our muscles but we were able to clean this one up in about half an hour. We took it straight to the compost pile. It will grow back soon and we'll have to remove what we can again, before it goes to seed, then dries out. The only way to completely eradicate a vine is to dig the root out but it's a huge tuberous thing (hence the name). I have dug out 3 total from our house and 2 of the three were the size of large watermelons but heavier - the third was only the size of a cantaloupe.

Here are the plants without the vines. As attractive as the vines are, I much prefer this view.

Previously on Ramshackle Solid:
Hedgehog Art from a Manroot Seedpod


  1. I yanked most of mine out last weekend, although I didn't end up digging up the roots because most seem to be just beyond our fence line (and your desription of a watermelon-sized root seemed kind of intimidating). On the bright side, the vines don't stink like some of the other invasive plants that show up in our yard. So pulling them down was annoying, but not as nasty as expected. Thanks for the info Eric!

  2. Wow - I would like to see a picture of those roots! We don't have those plants here as far as I know. You might like to know I tackled my compost bin last weekend after reading your post on compost - just forked it all out as it was so compacted I couldn't even tip the bin over. But there was some nice compost under the surface layer, and now I have space to start putting the peelings in all over again.

  3. EAPPster, you are a lucky duck those roots are on the other side of your fence.

    Jane, congrats on your compost. And about the manroot digging...I was hoping to avoid it this year, but if we are so inspired, we'll certainly post our back breaking work here.

  4. The seeds make attractive necklaces. Make a little cord from yucca leaves and you're set. I did this after my first class with Christopher Nyerges way back in the early 90's.


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