Mikania micrantha is a tropical plant in the Asteraceae; known as bitter vine, climbing hemp vine, or American rope. It is also sometimes called mile-a-minute vine (a moniker also used for the unrelated Persicaria perfoliata).
It is a vigorously growing perennial creeper that grows best in areas in high humidity, light and soil fertility, though it can adapt in less fertile soils. The featherlike seeds are dispersed by wind. A single stalk can produce between 20 and 40 thousand seeds a season.
The species is native to the sub-tropical zones of North, Central, and South America.
Mikania micrantha is a widespread weed in the tropics. It grows very quickly (as fast as 80 to 90 mm in 24 hours for a young plant) and covers other plants, shrubs and even trees. Mikania is a problem in Nepal, covering more than 20% of the Chitwan National Park.
Various control measures against Mikania have been tried in many countries. It is moderately susceptible to the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T and paraquat. Cuscuta, a parasitic plant, has been used in Assam and Sri Lanka to suppress the spread of Mikania from waste land to tea planatations. Other control measures are Puccinia spegazzinii fungus and Liothrips mikaniae insects.
An example of its success can be seen in Hong Kong where, first recorded in 1884, it has now spread throughout the region and invades its country parks.
Economic gains due to Mikania are meager compared to the loss due to its infestation in various ecosystems. It is used as a fodder in many countries. Sheep preferentially grazed Mikania in Malaysia and other cattle also relish it. In Kerala, India, the weed is utilized as a fodder in some parts of the state, especially during summer when availability of grass is scarce. However, Mikania is known to cause hepatotoxicity and liver damage in dairy cattle. The antibacterial effect of Mikania and its efficacy in wound healing has been reported. In Assam (NE India), Kabi tribes use the leaf juice of Mikania as an antidote for insect bite and scorpion sting. The leaves are also used for treating stomachache. Use of juice of Mikania as a curative agent for itches is reported from Malaysia. However, in all such cases therapeutic evidences are scarce or lacking. In Africa, Mikania leaves are used as a vegetable for making soups. The weed is used as a cover crop in rubber plantations in Malaysia. It is also planted on slopes to prevent soil erosion. Mikania green manure has been reported to increase the yield of rice in Mizoram, India. Recent studies have shown that Mikania is not suitable for mulching and composting due to its high water content. http://www.fao.org/forestry/13376-05d702161c15b1e3defa6bf9c8e6c4f82.pdf
It is used to heal cuts and stop minor external bleeding in Fiji but its medicinal properties are still yet to be fully discovered. It is also a very popular local antiseptic medicine in Mizoram State of India, it is known locally as Japan Hlo.
- Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 105–106.
- Invasives, February 2007.
- INVASIVES: Newsletter of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network (APFISN) (PDF), 8, February 2007 Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 105–106.
- "About Mikania". Agriculture, Fishery & Conservation Department, Hong Kong SAR Government. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- Zhang, M; Ling, B; Kong, C; Zhao, H; Pang, X (Oct 2002), "Allelopathic potential of volatile oil from Mikania micrantha", Ying yong sheng tai xue bao = the journal of applied ecology / Zhongguo sheng tai xue xue hui, Zhongguo ke xue yuan Shenyang ying yong sheng tai yan jiu suo zhu ban, 13 (10): 1300–2, ISSN 1001-9332, PMID 12557680
- Shao, H; Peng, S; Wei, X; Zhang, D; Zhang, C (Jul 2005), "Potential allelochemicals from an invasive weed Mikania micrantha H.B.K", Journal of chemical ecology, 31 (7): 1657–68, doi:10.1007/s10886-005-5805-0, ISSN 0098-0331, PMID 16222800
- Wang, Rl; Ding, Lw; Sun, Qy; Li, J; Xu, Zf; Peng, Sl (2008), "Genome sequence and characterization of a new virus infecting Mikania micrantha H.B.K", Archives of Virology, 153 (9): 1765–70, doi:10.1007/s00705-008-0180-0, ISSN 0304-8608, PMID 18679764
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