Weeds of Wednesday: Seeing Red

Even from a substantial distance the bright shiny red stood out. Upon closer inspection, I was stunned to see a fruit on the invasive arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) in a yard at Treasure Hammock Ranch. Fruiting is rare in Florida and even in its native range in central America, but this rampant plant spreads vegetatively.

Also called nephthytis, goosefoot plant, hand plant, American evergreen, and African evergreen, arrowhead vine is a popular interiorscape plant due to its tolerance for low light and overall robustness. It is ridiculously easy to propagate, and just a tiny node will grow quickly into a plant that can be sold.

Resist the temptation to re-locate an innocent looking potted arrowhead vine to your yard, since it will swiftly change form and become a heavy epiphytic vine especially in full sun …

In hammock shade, it will displace native groundcovers, out-compete the far less vigorous native vines, and become so heavy that it can cause trees (or limbs) to fall down in high winds. The arrowhead vine at Treasure Hammock Ranch likely has been in place for a long time and is growing on a cabbage palm beneath a canopy of live oak (Quercus virginiana) and golden fig (Ficus aureum). Note the native Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneodies) that likely has fallen from the oak tree above.

Scarab beetles are thought to pollinate this invasive plant and are far more common on this ranch where the yards are not manicured and cow dung is nearby. The ovoid fruit is said to range from 2 1/2 to 5″ in length and is a bright reddish orange. At south Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area you will find this vine but likely not the fruit.

Inside the fruit (syncarp) are lots of tiny seeds that can be spread by birds and other wildlife. Always be careful (and knowledgeable) about what you plant in your yard!

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