Prolific Perennial Vine Identification

(Question)

Dear Horticultural Experts,
I am trying to identify a plant that I received from my sister in Lindsay. It produces lots of yellow flowers. It climbs more aggressively than Virginia Creeper. The leaves are heart-shaped. The strange thing is that it must seed prolifically but I have never seen a seed; then, in the Spring, the plant pops up all over the place and, when you pull or dig it out, it has a ‘potato’ root. It is a beautiful plant but its strange invasive approach is a problem. Can you identify it for me? I live in
Creemore mid-way between Barrie and Colllingwood

 

 

(Answer)

Your vine appears to be Goldencreeper (Thladiantha dubia), part of the Cucurbitaceae (or gourd) family. It is a native of northern China. It was cultivated in Europe from the second half of the nineteenth century and has become more or less naturalized in central and southeastern Europe. It is unclear when it was introduced into Canada as an ornamental, but it has spread to many fields and roadside areas in southern Ontario.

As you noted, it has (rough and hairy) heart-shaped leaves and yellow flowers. It climbs over other plants by tendrils and reproduces by spreading potato-like tubers that make it very hard to eradicate.

And as you said, as beautiful as it may be when it’s flowering, it is an invasive  plant. It is a serious problem in eastern Europe where it has become naturalized, and it is on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s weed list (see https://www.weedinfo.ca/en/weed-index/view/id/THDDU).

For some discussion about what to do with invasive plants in Ontario gardens, we recommend Grow Me Instead: Beautiful Non-Invasive Plants for your Garden (https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/files/GMI_Booklet_spreads_2011_Final_web.pdf).

Thanks for alerting us to your experience with this invasive plant.