exotic swallowwort
Vincetoxicum spp. L.


Several species of swallow-worts are herbaceous, perennial vines that invade natural areas in northeastern United States. Leaves are opposite, dark green, oval, and shiny with entire margins. Flowers occur in clusters and dark purple in color. Fruit are pods, similar to milkweed pods, that are slender and split to reveal small seeds with tufts of white hair. The hair allows the seeds to be readily dispersed by seeds. Swallow-worts invade a wide varierty of habitats including old fields, open woodlands, pastures, roadsides, and floodplains. It can rapidly overgrow native understory vegetation and small shrubs, forming dense mats which smother and kill other vegetation. Swallow-worts are native to Europe and were first introduced in the United States in the late 1800s as ornamentals.


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EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Gentianales
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Vincetoxicum
Subject: Vincetoxicum spp. L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:

Related Scientific Names:
Cynanchum spp. (Synonym)


Plants - Vines