Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Mile-a-minute weed, hempvine, spaghetti squash, mediterranean Gecko


Spaghetti squash. Photo by University of Illinois Extension.

Spaghetti Squash

A nutrition agent from the AgCenter shared this information about growing spaghetti squash, “Spaghetti squash, or Curcubita pepo, is a variation of winter squash that has a spaghetti noodle-like consistency. In order to grow your own spaghetti squash, you will need full sunlight and loose, fertile soil…. Begin planting your seeds [after] our last winter freeze is said to have passed. If you are starting from a squash transplant, you want to aim for approximately 2 weeks after the last frost to [transplant] your plant.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”


Flowers of "mile-a-minute" or hempvine, an invasive exotic plant. Photo by George Giltner.

Mile-a-minute Weed

George sent a concerning email about a ‘new” weed, “Please confirm my taxonomy for what I am calling ‘Mile-a Minute’ [weed]. Today I torched the area where this invasive was growing to keep seeds from forming. Thanks!”

According to Dr. Ron Strahan, AgCenter weed specialist, George correctly identified this weed. It is also called “hempvine”. This weed requires aggressive treatment. According to the University of Florida, “It produces tens of thousands of fine, wind-blown seeds that disperse easily over vast areas. It also reproduces asexually and can regenerate from small cuttings.

Growth of mile-a-minute is quite rapid. It can grow at rates of at least three feet per week. This high rate of growth allows mile-a-minute to smother existing vegetation quite quickly, reducing desirable species' access to light.”

“Chemical control methods in Florida include timely applications of glyphosate, triclopyr, fluroxypyr, or aminopyralid. These must be applied prior to flowering. A 3% by volume solution of glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) in water or triclopyr (Garlon, etc.) at 1–2 pints per acre will likely be sufficient for control.”

Clayton shared an interesting image and wrote, “The gecko, I believe, is non-native. Rarely is one out in daylight, especially 1pm on a sunny day.”


Mediterranean gecko, a harmless, non-native reptile.

Mediterranean gecko

Clayton is correct about the origin of this lizard. According to a reptile specialist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fishers, “Yes, it’s a non-native Mediterranean Gecko (MG). They first appeared in Louisiana around 1948, and now occur in nearly every parish, chiefly on structures.”

Dr. Don Reed, a retired AgCenter biologist, wrote,” The gecko’s diet of roaches, flies, ants,

mosquitoes, spiders and bugs, however, actually should make it a welcomed resident around our homes.” If an MG comes indoors, then collect and release it outdoors.

The eyes of the gecko shown above resembled the eyes of the Geico gecko to AHA and then prompted a little online research. Reptiles magazine shared that the Geico gecko “most strongly resembles an artistically stylized giant day gecko.” One online source reported, “AB Newswire claims that his name is “Martin”, taken from the name of the agency that created him.”

Cyndi D. asked a question about vegetable gardening, “I saved seeds from spaghetti squash. Do I plant them in small containers 1st around January then put in ground in April?”

10/16/2019 4:23:36 PM
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