Wintercreeper Control

Learn more about Wintercreeper

Life History

Wintercreeper is a very aggressive perennial woody vine that climbs on rocks and trees as well as spreading over the ground. It tolerates full sun, heavy shade, and most soil moisture conditions, except extremely wet conditions. It spreads by vine growth and also appears to be spread by birds that eat its seeds.

Effects Upon Natural Areas

Wintercreeper can cover the ground and vegetation and eliminate native ground cover species in mesic and dry-mesic forests. It is a serious threat because it spreads so rapidly and replaces spring ephemerals. The Shirling Sanctuary in Kansas City's Swope Park provides an example of a mesic forest that has been seriously degraded by the aggressive spread of wintercreeper.

Control Recommendations

Recommended Practices in Natural Communities of High Quality

Initial effort in areas of heavy infestation

Vines should be cut by hand and each cut stem sprayed with Roundup (a formulation of glyphosate) just after the last killing frost. While the Roundup label recommends a 50- to 100-percent concentration of Roundup for stump treatment, a 20-percent concentration has proven effective. A squirt bottle may be used for spot treatment or individual stumps can be painted by hand using a sponge applicator. Treatment should be in late winter when most native vegetation is dormant and prior to the emergence of spring wildflowers. Care should be taken to avoid contacting non-target species with the herbicide. By law, herbicides may only be applied as per label instructions

Effort in areas of light infestation

In small areas, where practical, individual vines should be pulled up by the roots and removed from the area.

Maintenance control

The most effective control is to totally eradicate the species from the surrounding area where possible. Invading individuals should be pulled and removed as soon as possible after recognition.

Recommended Practices on Lands Other Than High-Quality Natural Communities

Initial effort in areas of heavy infestation

Same as above in areas where hand labor is available and where area affected is relatively small. In large areas, foliar spraying with Crossbow (mixture of 2,4-D and triclopyr) in autumn after the first frost can reduce the population. Crossbow should be mixed according to label instructions for foliar application and applied as a foliar spray. Spraying should be completed prior to emergence of spring wildflowers. Care should be used to avoid contacting non-target plants with herbicide. The herbicide should be applied while backing away from the treated area to avoid walking through the wet herbicide.

Effort in areas of light infestation

Same as described for high-quality natural communities.

Maintenance control

Same as described for high-quality natural communities.

Failed or Ineffective Practices

The following practices should be avoided:

  • Hand control for large infestations: slow and labor intensive, making it impractical for large infestations.
  • Mowing: ineffective without chemical treatment and not practical in woodland.
  • Fire: often not desirable in mesic woodland.
  • Herbicides: should not be used during growing season when spring wildflowers and other native species are likely to be affected.
  • Manipulating water levels: not practical on sites where it occurs.
  • Biological control: no effective biological controls are known that are feasible in natural communities.
  • Introduction of competitive species: no native species known that can compete.

In This Section

Wintercreeper Invasive Species Fact Sheet (pdf, 609 KB)

Use this print-and-carry sheet to identify and control invasive wintercreeper vine on your Missouri property.

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