Species Page: Swallowworts, Black and Pale

black swallowwort (Vincetoxicum nigrum)

Status: Black swallowwort occurs extensively in Rhode Island, especially along the south coast and on Block Island.

Black swallowwort grows primarily in sunny fields, roadsides, and other open, relatively dry habitats. It is unpalatable or toxic to most livestock so where it has become established in a pasture or hay field it can substantially reduce or completely destroy the field’s agricultural value. Viable farming being one of the most important ways to prevent the loss of open fields to either development or run-away vegetational succession, a swallowwort invasion threatens not just the farming, but the very future of land conservation.

pale swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum)

Black swallowwort is notoriously hard to eliminate: many have tried, few have succeeded. At a public meeting on the subject on Block Island, it was suggested that an exchange of “war stories” about black swallowwort would be valuable both for passing along practical suggestions but also for general morale, to know that we’re each not alone in our frustration over this plant.

To post a swallowwort war story, or to respond to someone else’s, follow this link to the Swallowwort War Stories page.