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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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David Gershator

Dolly Macaroni

Curses! Dodder! The leafless wonder, the vampire plant. If its victims could scream no one would sleep day or night. I get into the fray with a sharp machete, all the time knowing there are vines and there are vines. This one is a killer and the cutlass won't do much against the multi pronged attack of a plant that starts out by sniffing its victim like a beast. It's called spaghetti plant, yellow strangler, witches' shoelaces, devil's hair, and in St. Kitts, Dolly Macaroni. Unless you catch it when it starts, painstakingly peeling the vines away, the game's over. It grows at an alarming rate, building up to an orange yellow mass, a vegetal conflagration––pasta gone wild. It starts by coiling counter clockwise till it latches on to a host plant, gets rid of its own root, and starts climbing like a snake. If it were an animal it would be a hydra. Low level war won't do it. Once it flowers and its seeds hit the ground you need a flame thrower to eradicate it. And even then there's no guarantee. Sneaky monster. Its tendrils wrap around anything––thorn bush, cactus, monkey puzzle. Slash, burn, spray, cut up and crush, smother in a plastic bag––not much helps. Its seeds can last from 5 to 20 years or more. If only it were edible it could feed the world. No telling where it will pop up in the next rainy season. Here's where a good drought can be a friend.

an old glove
in the undergrowth
I have no match