Mystery in Minnesota, as invasive weed not seen in U.S. for 6 decades appears in Stearns County

It was noticed by a University of Minnesota Extension expert.
Publish date:
Rough potato

An invasive weed not seen in the United States for six decades has made a mysterious appearance in Minnesota.

Stearns County confirmed the presence of Metaplexis japonica, commonly known as rough potato, a type of vining milkweed that was found along the Lake Wobegon Trail in Holdingford by Sherry Kutter, a University of Minnesota Extension Master Naturalist.

Native to eastern Asia, the weed has not been reported in North America since 1958, when it was found in cornfields near Iowa State University where it was possible used as part of a World War II research project.

"How rough potato arrived in Holdingford is a mystery," Stearns County said in a Friday statement.

Stearns County's agricultural inspector Bob Dunning has been mapping locations of the vines in the county and informing landowners, with the densest infestation reportedly near a baseball field along the South Two River.

"I was surprised by the number of locations I found it in once I began scouting for it," Dunning said.

"I’m grateful to Sherry for discovering this issue before it had become even more widespread. Rough Potato is a very aggressive climber and it has an amazing ability to completely cover other vegetation."

The Stearns County Parks Department, Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM), and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) have started removing thousands of seedpods to prevent their spread.

Further herbicide treatments and manual removal will be conducted over the next several years to further reduce infestations.

Recipe for Crispy Zucchini Bites

Next Up

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 8.49.07 AM

Men fatally shot by police in Wadena County were brothers

The BCA also released the names of the two officers who discharged their firearms.

Christian Brown (left) and Byron Jackson (right)

Charges: Hutchinson man shot man in the head while trying to buy cocaine

The other suspect is accused of punching a man to the ground, breaking his arm and dislocating his shoulder.


Teenage driver hits woman walking with kids in Woodbury

The woman and one child were taken to the hospital, the other child wasn't hurt.

Kyle Rudolph

Rudolph sends farewell to Vikings fans in Players Tribune piece

"Every season I played here, every game I played here — you all believed."

Megan Ryan

Star Tribune's Megan Ryan named new Twins beat reporter

Ryan replaces LaVelle E. Neal who is now in a columnist role.

minnetonka MME

Minnetonka in spotlight after teacher threatened for discussing Black trans woman

Parents and community members are calling on the district to do better and will hold a march prior to the school board meeting on Thursday.

Richard Pitino

Talk grows that this season will be Pitino's last at Gophers

A report says Pitino's tenure could be "down to his final games."

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 1.40.17 PM

Two gas trucks collide in Stearns County, neither explodes

The unlikely collision happened Monday afternoon.

unnamed (1)

MSP Airport expecting spring break to be busiest period since pandemic began

Passenger numbers will still be about a third lower than a year ago, though.


Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 1.31.35 PM

Six new plants, trees added to Minnesota's 'noxious weed' list

The list sets out how the weeds must be controlled to prevent spread.

'First ever' footage shows wolves hunting freshwater fish in MN

It's a significant discovery by a group of university and national park researchers.


Mysterious object appears in MN sky, people seem pleased

Don't panic. It's possible that the ball of light is indeed the sun.

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 1.40.17 PM

Two gas trucks collide in Stearns County, neither explodes

The unlikely collision happened Monday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2019-07-12 at 10.40.14 AM

A new mystery at Glensheen, as diving bell is recovered beneath boathouse

It's the first time it's been fully viewable by the public.


Sheriff: Bicyclist in critical condition crash with car in central MN

The man was airlifted from the scene to North Memorial in Robbinsdale.