This vine has perennially volunteered in my garden for a few years now. I let it grow because it seemed to please the butterflies, and the small white flowers smelled nice. At present it has grown chartreuse seed pods. Can you tell me what this vine is? Is it something I should destroy?

Ah, beauty and function are in the eye of the beholder. I believe your plant is what is commonly called honeyvine, sometimes called bluevine.

The current official botanical name, Cynanchum laeve, has been reclassified numerous times over the years, so it may be listed under several other botanical names, depending on the reference.

Honeyvine is in the milkweed family and is native to much of the eastern United States. It can have a weedy habit due to the aggressive twining stems and ability to spread by seed.

The small, fragrant flowers occur in clusters and are followed by large pod-like fruits that are filled with hairy seeds, typical of the milkweed family. As those hairy seeds are released, they spread easily in the wind and so often show up as volunteers in unexpected places.

On the plus side, honeyvine is a great resource for many pollinators.

Can you help me identify this shrub that flowered this spring? We’ve lived on this property for over 10 years, but have never noticed it because it is on a part of the property that is not mowed. I only noticed it because of the bright red flowers.

This looks to be one of the flowering quince species, most likely the common flowering quince, Chaenomeles speciosa. Although the plant is not native, it was commonly planted years ago primarily for its attractive flowers in early spring, occasionally producing a few sporadic flowers in summer or fall.

The plant is a tangled, thorny shrub that can be a good barrier plant, but a challenge to prune due to the wicked thorns. Because it blooms on old wood, it should be pruned after flowering if the plants need to be brought down in height.

The plant sometimes yields edible fruit, but this is not the quince species that is grown commercially. The fruits are fragrant, but quite tart and can be processed into jelly.

There are some additional close relatives, including Japanese flowering quince, which is less commonly found, and the hybrid Chaenomeles x superba, which has several double flowered cultivars in the trade.


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