Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Mikania scandens



Mikania scandens


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mikania scandens
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. scandens is a herbaceous climbing vine with the potential to grow over and outcompete native plant species. M. scandens has been purported to be invasive in a number of countries in Southeast

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Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
FlowersMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); habit, showing flowers and foliage. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); habit, showing flowers and foliage. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); habit, showing flowers and foliage. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
HabitMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); habit, showing flowers and foliage. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); leaf. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); leaf. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); leaf. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
LeafMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); leaf. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers and seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
TitleFlowers and seeds
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers and seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers and seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Flowers and seedsMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); flowers and seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
SeedsMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); seeds. John Prince Park, Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); sprawling habit. Alligator Alley, Florida, USA. November, 2003.
TitleSprawling habit
CaptionMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); sprawling habit. Alligator Alley, Florida, USA. November, 2003.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Mikania scandens (climbing hempvine); sprawling habit. Alligator Alley, Florida, USA. November, 2003.
Sprawling habitMikania scandens (climbing hempvine); sprawling habit. Alligator Alley, Florida, USA. November, 2003.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mikania scandens (L.) Willd.

International Common Names

  • English: climbing hemp weed (USA); louse-plaster
  • French: liane margoze
  • Portuguese: guaco-do-jardim; guaco-do-quintal

EPPO code

  • MIKSC (Mikania scandens)

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. scandens is a herbaceous climbing vine with the potential to grow over and outcompete native plant species. M. scandens has been purported to be invasive in a number of countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands (Parker, 1972; Barreto and Evans, 1995), and has been listed as a noxious weed in Hawaii. However, the taxonomic authority of the genus states that the distribution of M. scandens is restricted to North America. It is therefore likely that records outside of this range are a result of misidentifications with the congeneric species M. micrantha; a species known to be invasive and have serious economic and environmental impacts. Unless the identity of M. scandens can be verified in these locations it will remain very difficult to determine this species invasiveness.
In its native range however, M. scandens has been reported to act as a weed on a local scale (e.g., Moon et al., 1993; Anderson et al., 2012) but it is also listed as endangered or extirpated in other parts of its native range (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013; USDA-NRCS, 2013).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Mikania
  •                                 Species: Mikania scandens

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Mikania comprises some 425 species (King and Robinson, 1987), with most of these native to tropical America. With the introduction of Mikania to parts of Asia, there has been some confusion over the identity of the introduced forms as well as over the old world native species, M. cordata (Parker, 1972; Cock, 1982; Barreto and Evans, 1995; Weaver, 2009; Anderson et al., 2012). Although many introduced plants were initially identified as M. scandens (Parker, 1972), the taxonomic authority on the genus, made it clear that M. scandens was restricted to North America, with the introduced plants likely to be M. micrantha (Robinson, 1934). The name M. scandens should be used principally for plants found in eastern USA (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013). Thus many records of the apparent occurrence of M. scandens in Old World locations need to be re-examined, and for the purposes of this review these occurrences will be considered un-verified, despite the fact that many published reports do list M. scandens as occurring in Asia and on Pacific Islands. Several experts working with Mikania agree that this is an ongoing issue and that it is unlikely that M. scandens occurs outside of its native range in North America (W. Holmes, Baylor University, USA, personal communication, 2013; M. Day, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Australia, personal communication, 2013; P. Anderson, US Forest Service, USA, personal communication, 2013; C. Parker, Weed Research Organization, UK, personal communication, 2013). 
At one time, M. batataefolia was also applied to some Mikania populations in Florida (Holmes, 1975). Given similarities in ecological tolerances, pollen characters, and chromosome counts, M. batataefolia was re-evaluated as synonymous with M. scandens in Florida but not necessarily in the Bahamas (Nauman, 1981).


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Herbaceous, perennial vine; branching stem obscurely 6-angled to terate, ranging from glabrous to densely pilose; 8-15 cm internodes. Petioles glabrous or puberulent, 20-50 mm. Triangular to triangular-ovate leaf blades, 3-15 x 2-11 cm with cordate to hastate bases; margins subentire to undulate, crenate, or dentate, apices acuminate (tips often caudate), faces puberulent. Produces dense corymbiform flowers, with small heads 5-7 mm long. Corollas generally pinkish to purplish, occasionally white, 3-5.4 mm, dotted sparsely with glands, lobes triangular to deltate. Cypselae dark brown to blackish, 1.8-2.2 mm, also dotted with glands; pappi of 30-37 white or pinkish to purplish bristles 4-4.5 mm. Fruits are oblong 1-.5-2.5 mm long, brownish black, five angled resinous achenes; Chromosome number 2n=38 (Holm et al., 1991; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated
Vine / climber


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M. micrantha is known to occur in all the areas of Asia and the Pacific Islands where M. scandens reportedly occurs (Tripathi et al., 2012). Thus if these Old World records for M. scandens are false, they likely represent occurrences of M. micrantha. The one geographic area where the ranges of M. scandens and M. micrantha are clearly documented to overlap is in Florida, USA (Weaver, 2009; Anderson et al., 2012).
Although there is a record of M. scandens occurring in Ontario, Canada, it has been deleted from the flora of Canada (Scoggan, 1979). The Canadian reports were seemingly based upon misdeterminations and/or "too loose an application of that name with respect to present political boundaries" (Scoggan, 1979). 
M. scandens is listed as endangered in Indiana (Bacone and Hedge, 1979), possibly extirpated in Maine, probably extirpated in Michigan and threatened in New Hampshire (USDA-NRCS, 2013). It seems to be extirpated from part of its range in Ohio as well (Holmes, 2006).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Ghani, 2003; Uddin et al., 2013
Chagos ArchipelagoAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Whistler, 1996
IndiaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Singh et al., 1990
IndonesiaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive
-SumatraAbsent, unreliable recordNative Invasive Pratiwi, 1989
MalaysiaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Not invasive Matsubayashi et al., 2007
PhilippinesAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Merrill, 1923
Sri LankaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Piyasena and Dharmaratne, 2013


MadagascarAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Novy, 1997
MalawiAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Whittle, 1996
MauritiusAbsent, invalid recordIntroduced Invasive

North America

-OntarioAbsent, unreliable record Not invasive Brouillet et al., 2006Original record was retracted from the Flora of Canada (Scoggan, 1979 and no subsequent records are available)
MexicoPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2013
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-ArkansasPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-ConnecticutPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-DelawarePresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-District of ColumbiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-FloridaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-GeorgiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-IllinoisPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-IndianaLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013Extirpated (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013)
-KentuckyPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-LouisianaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-MaineLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013Extirpated (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013)
-MarylandPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-MassachusettsPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-MichiganLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013Extirpated (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013)
-MississippiPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-MissouriPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-MontanaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-NevadaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-New HampshireLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-New JerseyPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-New YorkPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-North CarolinaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-OhioPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-OklahomaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-PennsylvaniaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-Rhode IslandPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-South CarolinaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-TennesseePresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-TexasPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-VirginiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2013


GuamAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Stone, 1970; Fosberg et al., 1979
Micronesia, Federated states ofAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive
New CaledoniaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994
Northern Mariana IslandsAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Fosberg et al., 1979; Raulerson, 2006
Papua New GuineaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Invasive Peekel, 1984

History of Introduction and Spread

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M. scandens is native to temperate to subtropical eastern North America (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013; PIER, 2013). Within Florida, M. scandens may spread locally along ditches and water courses (Moon et al., 1993; Anderson et al., 2012).
There are no confirmed reports of the spread of M. scandens beyond North America however there are numerous records of it being present in Asia and the Pacific. These records are false, due to misidentification of this species.

Risk of Introduction

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If the records attributed to M. scandens are actually M. micrantha and/or other Mikania species (see Identity section), the risk of introduction of M. scandens is low in the near future since it has no horticultural use at present and does not appear to exhibit extensive long-distance dispersal. M. scandens does thrive in wetlands and can be weedy in areas subject to flooding (Moon et al., 1993), and thus transport of seeds or vegetative plant sections between wetland environments should be avoided.


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Habitats preferred by M. scandens include stream banks and swamps to 500 m in elevation (Anderson et al., 2012) but it also occurs in cloud forests in Mexico at elevations between 1000 and 1500 m (Alvarez-Aquino et al., 2005). In the northern parts of its range, it is present in wetlands but often in low densities (Anderson et al., 1968). M. scandens flourishes in coastal wetland areas in southeastern USA (Herz et al., 1970; Holm et al. 1977), such as coastal marshes in Louisiana (Gough et al., 1994), or bogs in South Carolina (Hunt, 1943). M. scandens is restricted to fresh or oligohaline sites where salt concentrations do not exceed 5 ppt (Gough and Grace, 1997). M. scandens is also found in forests and thickets (Holm et al., 1977), especially wet forested areas such as Louisiana cypress-gum swamp land in Louisiana (Mathies et al., 1983).
Under shady conditions, M. scandens climbs over other vegetation but does not form dense mats (Anderson et al., 2012). It was described as climbing the trees in a Pinus-Juniperus community in Virginia (Harvill, 1965). In White’s (1983) assessment of wetland communities in the Lower Pearl River basin of Louisiana, vines such as M. scandens were associated with scrublands containing woody plants. Tussocks formed by Juncus effusus in Mississippi provide a favourable habitat for M. scandens (Ervin, 2007). M. scandens forms an important component of Florida’s floodplain marshes which are dominated by Salix caroliniana (Lee et al., 2005) and in areas of the Florida Everglades dominated by cattails, Typha domingensis (van der Valk and Rosburg, 1997).
Although it favours riparian habitats and wetlands, a study in Maryland showed that M. scandens did better with limited flooding (Baldwin et al., 2001).


Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Estuaries Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Lagoons Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number 2n=38 (Holm et al., 1991; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2013). Tzeng (2003) compared the nrDNA ITS region of M. micrantha, M. cordata and M. scandens, and found a 97% phylogenetic similarity between M. micrantha, while M. scandens was considerably more divergent. Tzeng (2003) utilized plant material of M. micrantha and M. cordata from Taiwan, and used PCR, comparing the ITS sequence of these plants with that available for M. scandens on GeneBank. Few other studies are available on the genetics of M. scandens or other Mikania species. Further research would be useful in resolving the ongoing identity issues (see Identity section).

In a study of the pollen of 10 species of Asteraceae, Mondal et al. (1998) identified the following free amino acids; amino-n-butyric acid, aspartic acid, ornithine, and prolilne in a specimen reputed to be M. scandens.

Reproductive Biology

Borthwick et al. (1950) described M. scandens as an intermediate day plant in terms of flowering response to day-length. There are indications that M. scandens is autogamous (Nauman, 1981).

Seed dispersed may be facilitated by wind or in clothing or hair of animals (PIER, 2013). Seeds are retained in the soil as soil seed banks, although sometimes only a minor constituent of wetland seed bank communities, depending on the environment (Peterson and Baldwin, 2004; Neff et al., 2009). Vegetative reproduction may occur from broken stem fragments. Each node of the stem can produce new roots (PIER, 2013).

Physiology and Phenology

M. scandens exhibited a Type 2 germination response, similar to other related Asteraceae, meaning that the minimum temperature for germination decreases after ripening (Baskin et al., 1993). Neff et al. (2009) observed greater germination of M. scandens under non-flooded versus flooded conditions.

Moon et al. (1993) recorded increased growth rates of M. scandens under flooded conditions when grown in soil collected from the lakeside where it occurred in Florida. Flooded plants increased their aerenchyma tissue, indicating its ability to acclimatize to flooded conditions anatomically to facilitate increased oxygen diffusion to its tissues. The plant appears to utilize stomata located above the waterline to enable submerged parts of the plants to gain a sufficient supply of oxygen.


M. scandens is a perennial vine that grows for approximately 20 years (USDA-NRCS, 2013) under favourable conditions.

Activity Patterns

In its native range in eastern North America, M. scandens primarily grows in the summer (USDA-NRCS, 2013).

Population Size and Density 

As a vine, M. scandens tends to appear in communities in later successional stages following the initial disturbance, once a substrate is available for its climbing habit. For example, Huffman and Lonard (1983) observed it colonizing swamps in Arkansas in the second stage of succession – the “water-willow herbaceous stage” as the water-willow mat grew in size allowing a variety of marsh plants to invade. As plant communities in the Atchafalaya Delta in Louisiana changed over time with the formation of islands, M. scandens was among species which declined over time, due to changes in water level and loss of vegetation to act as scaffolding for the vines (Shaffer et al., 1992), In a successional sequence involving increasing eutrophication, M. scandens populations is likely to increase over time (Vaithiyanathan and Richardson, 1999).

M. scandens is not an overly strong competitor. It is not generally found in disturbed environments (Weaver, 2009; Anderson et al., 2012) and exhibited higher populations where forests were thinned in Louisiana and Mississippi (McComb and Nobel, 1982).

M. scandens may form substantial seed banks in some areas; e.g., Peterson and Baldwin (2004) found that M. scandens dominated swamp hollows in Maryland and van der Valk and Rosburg (1997) recorded large seed banks (greater than 5000 per square metre) in the cattail zone of the Florida Everglades.


Eutrophic wetlands tend to support more vigorous growth of M. scandens, via higher levels of phosphorus and other nutrients (Vaithiyanathan and Richardson, 1999; King and Richardson, 2007). M. scandens is said to have a medium fertility requirement (USDA-NRCS, 2013).


M. scandens is colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, as observed in the Florida Everglades (Aziz et al., 1995).

Environmental Requirements

M. scandens prefers fine-medium textured wet soils pH (5.7-8.7) and can withstand some water-logging but has low salinity tolerance (USDA-NRCS, 2013). It requires a minimum frost-free period of 110 days, 75-150 cm of rain; and cannot withstand temperatures below -39ºC (USDA-NRCS, 2013).


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Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -39
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 15 33
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -15 20


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7501500mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum Occurs as an emergent aquatic, near shore
Salinity (part per thousand) 5 Harmful Occurs as an emergent aquatic, near shore

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus Herbivore Leaves not specific
Cosmosoma myrodora Herbivore Leaves to genus
Golovinomyces cichoracearum Pathogen Leaves not specific
Tylenchulus palustris Parasite Roots not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Dow et al. (1990) found that M. scandens was a host to the nematode Tylenchulus palustris but not T. semipenetrans; both Tylenchulus species are pests of citrus in Florida.

The arctiid moth Cosmosoma myrodora feeds on M. scandens (Hristov and Conner, 2005), as does the soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (McLain, 1982).

The powdery mildew, Erysiphe cichoracearum [Golovinomyces cichoracearum] is known to infect M. scandens in the USA (Schmitt, 1955). Evans and Ellison (2005) described a rust species, Puccinia spegazzinii, on M. micrantha and plants identified as M. scandens in the neotropics. However, the voucher specimen identified as M. scandens was M. micrantha as confirmed by molecular analysis of the plant material (Ellison et al., 2004).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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M. scandens has some potential for long-distance dispersal, but is less likely to colonize disturbed environments than M. micrantha. The spread of M. scandens is also less likely (Weaver, 2009; Anderson et al., 2012).
Natural Dispersal
Seeds of M. scandens are wind-dispersed as aided by the pappus on the fruit. Vegetative fragments can be carried by water and form new plants through rooting (PIER, 2013).
Vector Transmission
Seeds of M. scandens may adhere to animal fur (PIER, 2013). 
Accidental Introduction
Seeds of M. scandens may adhere to clothing, but accidental introductions are more likely to occur through movement of vegetative fragments via machinery, etc.
Intentional Introduction
Species of Mikania may be valued as livestock fodder, ground cover or for medical uses and have been intentionally introduced into new areas for this reason. However, due to the invasive nature of a number of this genus, Mikania propagation tends to be discouraged.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Disturbance Yes Moon et al., 1993

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes PIER, 2013
Wind Yes PIER, 2013

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

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Within its native range in eastern North America, M. scandens is rarely seen to have a negative impact, growing primarily in natural areas (Anderson et al., 2012). It is quite common in some areas, particularly in riparian zones and drainage ditches. M. scandens is capable of forming a fairly dense cover, outcompeting other plants through overtopping them and showing a “propensity to become a problematic weed in some areas” (Moon et al., 2003).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Although M. scandens is fairly common in the southern part of its native range in North America, its weediness is only mentioned with respect to wetlands in Florida, such as the banks of the Oklawaha River (Moon et al., 1993).

Impact on Biodiversity

On Mariana Island, M. scandens is said to be one of the non-native species threatening the endangered plant species, Osmoxylon mariannense (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007). With only 10 known individuals of O. mariannense remaining in the wild, “a single adverse environmental events or a decline of successful reproduction in O. mariannense” (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007) could have serious consequences, and thus the threat of invasive competitors should be taken seriously. The report does refer to identification of M. scandens by Fosberg (1979), which is prior to when taxonomists began recognizing the confusion between M. scandens and M. micrantha (Parker, 1972), and thus it would be essential to verify the identity of the Mikania species on the island.

Although not noted as of concern, M. scandens has been listed as present in the Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, an Indian wildlife tropical grassland reserve where the one-horned rhinoceros occurs (Bairagee and Kalita, 2004). However, due to the location of this record being outside of Northern America, this record must therefore be refering to M. micrantha.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Osmoxylon mariannenseCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCompetitionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007

Social Impact

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The numerous flowers produced by Mikania species are reported as having potential allergenic effects, and produce amino acids that are precursors to allergenic pollen (Mondal et al., 1998).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Has a broad native range
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Host damage
  • Modification of successional patterns
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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Economic and Social Benefits

There are many published reports of medicinal uses of M. scandens around the world, but most of these are from outside North America, and thus the plants in question represent M. micrantha (see Identity section).

The plant identified as M. scandens in India and Bangladesh is utilized in that region for a variety of medical purposes, including use in folk medicine for the treatment of stomach ulcers (Herz et al., 1970; Hasan et al., 2009; Chandra et al., 2012). In a survey of villagers in the Eastern Himalayan zone of Arunachal Pradesh, India, M. scandens was cited as the most popular treatment for diarrhoea; villagers also used it as a blood coagulant (Tangjang et al., 2011). In Madagascar a cold tea from M. scandens has been used as a wash to treat scabies (Novy, 1997).

In vitro experiments showed that the flowers displayed marked anti-inflammatory properties (Chandra et al., 2012). Rural dwellers in India also utilize young Mikania leaves for management of insect bites and stings, and research has confirmed analgesic and in vitro antioxidant and antidiabetic activities of leaf material (Hasan et al., 2009; Pal, 2013). The antioxidants exhibit potential to treat diseases involving oxidants or free radicals. Dey et al. (2011b) reported that root extracts had more potent anti-inflammatory potential than aerial parts of the plant. Plant extracts were also shown to have locomotor depressant, muscle relaxant and sedative neuropharmacological properties (Dey et al., 2011a; 2012c). Another study found that an extract from M. scandens collected in India had potent liver protective activity (Maity and Ahmad, 2012).

Compounds from Mikania species are also used as antimicrobial folk medicines in the new world; the compound deoxymikanolide was identified as the principle active ingredient from M. micrantha (Lentz et al., 1998) and Radtke and König (2008) demonstrated antimicrobial activity from foliage. Deoxymikanolide was originally described from M. scandens (Herz et al., 1970), but this was clearly a misidentification (Lentz et al., 1998).

Baidya et al. (1995) found that in India, the Mikania they tested provided quality forage for goats or cattle. It was relatively rich in crude protein (17%), provided a reasonable source of other nutrients and produced soft, fairly palatable leaves. Baidya et al. (1995) described M. scandens as a common plant in marshy areas or road-sides, and distributed throughout Eastern Assam and South India (according to Singh et al., 1990); this is therefore referring to M. micrantha and not M. scandens (see Identity section).

Dey et al. (2012a; 2012b) showed that phytochemicals from both aerial parts and roots of the plant identified in India as M. scandens had considerable allelopathic potential, inhibiting both seed germination and radicle growth of Cicer arietinum and Triticum aestivum. Likewise, Piyasena and Dharmatne (2013), utilizing material referred to as M. scandens from Sri Lanka, found that aerial parts of the plant strongly inhibited seed germination via the compound mikanolide.

Environmental Services

M. scandens was listed as one of the plants involved in the recovery of a marsh community in Connecticut, USA after removal of invasive Phragmites australis (Farnsworth and Meyerson, 1999). In a habitat in Florida, host to the extinct dusky seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus nigrescens), M. scandens is one of the constituents of the plant community (Holder et al., 1980). M scandens was also among the target plants for restoration of a wetland important for wildlife in the Florida Everglades (Smith et al., 2002) where it thrives in cattail (Typha domingensis) dominated zones (van der Valk and Rosburg, 1997). In some areas Mikania species may provide a nutritional food source for herbivorous mammals (Mondal et al., 2003; Matsubayashi et al., 2007).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed


  • Revegetation
  • Wildlife habitat

Human food and beverage

  • Leaves (for beverage)


  • Chemicals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Floral characters are often instrumental in differentiating different species of Mikania (Anderson et al., 2012). The following characteristics may be used to distinguish them (Choudhury, 1972; Holm et al., 1977):
M. micrantha: pappus bristles 32-38, white, corolla white, head length 4.5-6 mm, nodal appendages membranous. 
M. cordata: pappus bristles 40-45, reddish, corolla white, head length 7-7.5 mm, nodal appendages form furry ridges not membranous.
M. scandens: pappus bristles 30-35, usually whitish, corolla pale purple, head length 5-7 mm. 
Furthermore, the inflorescence of M. scandens is denser than that of M. micrantha, with round-topped corymbs (as compared to the looser, more paniculate inflorescence of M. micrantha). The purple corolla often seen in M. scandens is never observed in M. micrantha. The leaves of M. scandens are characteristically more sharply angled and triangular-sagittate or triangular-hastate as compared to the more oval, cordate and crenate leaves of M. micrantha (Holm et al., 1997).
Distributional differences are also important (Robinson, 1934; Parker, 1972; Holmes, 1975). Although M. micrantha is native to tropical America, it was introduced widely in Southeast Asia, where M. cordata is also native, as well as Africa. M. scandens is native to eastern North America, and although reported outside this range, there has been limited verification of these reports (Parker, 1972).
The range of M. scandens overlaps with that of M. micrantha in Florida, where efforts are being made to help managers identify the Mikania species correctly (Anderson et al., 2012). In Florida M. scandens is relatively common and widespread, M. cordifolia is prevalent in the central and southern peninsula, while M. micrantha forms local infestations (Manrique et al., 2011; Anderson et al., 2012).
Useful characteristics for distinguishing M. micrantha from M. scandens include: leaf colour and shape, stem colour, growth habit, and the pseudostipules between the petiole bases of the leaves (Holmes, 1993; Anderson et al., 2012).

Prevention and Control

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Avoiding excessive disturbance around waterways in areas vulnerable to invasion of M. scandens, (Moon et al., 1993), should prevent establishment of new populations.


Control methods utilized for M. micrantha should also be effective for M. scandens. Herbicidal control methods may be somewhat limited by the occurrence of M. scandens in or near wetland areas.

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Although excessive flooding does not promote growth of M. scandens (Baldwin et al., 2001), M. scandens has been shown to be flood resistant. Therefore, cultural measures to reduce the growth of M. scandens should be carried out in such a way to avoid its adaptive response to flooding (Moon et al., 1993).

Physical/Mechanical Control

Physical/mechanical control of M. scandens can be difficult due to the extensive growth of vines and their ability to propagate from fragments.

Biological Control

There have been some reports of efforts to control M. scandens by classical biological control using the thrips, Liothrips mikaniae from Trinidad (Waterhouse and Norris, 1987).  However, due to the location of these releases (outside of North America)and the distribution of M. scandens, it is likely that M. micrantha was the actual target.

It may be possible to manage Mikania species in some areas through livestock grazing.

Chemical Control

Control by herbicides such as glyphosate, 2,4-D or paraquat has been shown to be effective against Mikania species, but re-growth is possible after herbicide applications.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a need for plant taxonomists to check herbarium specimens and photos from geographic regions around the world where putatively M. scandens occurs outside its native range in eastern North America, i.e., to examine specimens from south-east Asia and the Pacific Islands to verify what species of Mikania occurs in these areas. Furthermore, the work of Tzeng (2003) comparing the nrDNA ITS region among Mikania species showing a strong divergence between M. micrantha and M. scandens could be replicated using putative M. scandens material from various accessions.


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21/12/2013 Original text by:

David R. Clements, Trinity Western University, Canada

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