Problem Areas and Wild Weeds, ETC. Part 2…

Hello again, everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are doing well. This is round two about the problem areas and wild weeds on the farm. I am sure many of you have all encountered similar issues one way or another. Even if you have a house and a regular-sized yard, you still have to deal with weeds and trees sprouting up around your house, fences, and so on. They are more of a problem if you have a garden and flower beds. However, they are more manageable.

I had to add “ETC.” to the title because not everything on this post is a weed or a problem

Well, I have around 3 acres of yard to mow and it isn’t laid out in such a way that I could cut back. The areas that are grown-up now were like that when I moved back here in 2013 except one… I attempted and partially succeeded, clearing off the area north of the chicken house. The problem with clearing and cutting down trees is what to do with the brush… If you keep after them when they are small it is much less of an issue. Now, you may be thinking I should leave the trees and just work around them. That, my friends, depends on the trees, where they are, and how close they are together.

So, the above photo is the jungle that has grown behind the barn. When I moved here in 2013, I cut the trees away from the barn and out of the fences around the corral. Back then I didn’t know about Tordon so they grew back. I’m not sure how many times I cut the trees out of the fence, but as you can see, they are way beyond being easy. The trees in the mess are Chinese Elm, some kind of soft maple, and mostly White Mulberry. They all grow very fast and can be hard to manage. There are also Multiflora Rose, Smilax, and who knows what else in the mix. I get busy in the spring, then it gets hot, then rains. I can come up with several excuses… I am 60, but that one isn’t good enough!

What I would really love to have is a BIG commercial chipper hooked on a trailer to put all the debris. That would be AMAZING. Then I could use the mulch in the flower beds. I would only cut down the scrub trees and leave the good ones.

From this area, I was thinking about going to the pasture. But again, I was met head-on…

Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

This is the other side of the Ambrosia trifida Giant Ragweed the last post was closed with. To the left is a gate, the chicken house, and part of the yard. The ragweed wasn’t near this bad last year and it won’t get like this next year. I promised that to myself. There are no cows here now to keep the weeds somewhat topped so they just grow. All but the three acres where the house and yard are leased out to a friend of mine. The guy I help feed cows when he needs me, do his planters and landscape maintenance, wildflower hunt in his woods and pasture, and whatever else he needs me to do. I still have dad’s old Allis-Chalmers 170 and the mower so I will likely get it going and get these weeds cut down. BUT, this is ragweed and mowing right now wouldn’t be a good idea. Several years ago I mowed the ragweed down along the pond bank about this time. Dad always told me he couldn’t go near the stuff but I hadn’t really had any issues… Until after I mowed it down. It didn’t bother me so much at the time, but every year it seems it gets a little worse. Dust and pollen especially if it is sort of windy. I am just going to get a few of those blue COVID masks and see if that helps. Even mowing the crabgrass in the yard right now with all the dust from it being so dry stops me up a little. The goal is to keep this area, and a few others not suitable for hay, mowed next year whether I use my old tractor or Kevin’s. My mower is like maybe 6′ wide, but Kevin’s is maybe 18′ or more with wings. His tractor is also MUCH bigger.

I wanted to walk to the pasture but I decided not to walk in the ragweed like I did before. I decided to walk all the way around the pond.

Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth)

Before I forget, also behind the barn is a LARGE colony of Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth). It is definitely a weed I love to dislike A LOT (hate is what I would prefer to say). They have been an issue in this area since I was a kid and I watched my grandpa work them over several times. The soil in this area is very loose because it is where dad and I fed the cows hay. Consequently, I used the composted manure in the garden and flower beds so I have this creature coming up in those areas as well. It is a real pain in more ways than one because of its very thorny stems. They produce A LOT of seeds that are edible. Well, so are its leaves but I don’t particularly want any.

The pond is very low now for several reasons. One is the lack of rain, the other is that the cows made a ditch in the bank where they walked to the pond. During periods of heavy rain, the water washed it out even more.

 

Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed)…

I walked around to the backside of the pond and across the ditch to an area that is very difficult to maintain. When the cows were still here, the Arctium minus (Lessor Burdock) held this territory. The cows liked laying on the pond bank under an old Chinese Elm and Red Mulberry. Last spring the old elm fell over during a storm which changed the environment somewhat… Now there are several fairly large Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed) growing here. The largest of these are growing in the south hayfield. I always thought Pokeweed was a neat plant, so I let a few grow around the fence by the chicken house and one (or two) around the garden. But like I said, even wildflowers can become weeds. Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Cardinals supposedly eat the berries but there aren’t enough of them anymore. Where are all the birds anyway?!?! The plants are deadly to pets, humans, and livestock… GEEZ! Well, I guess enough is enough, or too many is not a good thing. I suppose if there aren’t that many birds around here that feed on the berries there is no point in having so many Pokeweed.

 

Hmmm… Blackberries…

GEEZ! There used to be an electric fence where these jfhgssk blackberry vines are. There was just a small group that I mowed off now and then. There may also be a Multiflora Rose in the mess that I kept cut down (anyway, it was somewhere along the fence). How this mess of vines got so big I have no clue… I don’t venture out into the hayfield that much during the summer because the grass grows so thick and tall. It is very exhausting to walk through. Once the hay was cut, I went out and saw several problem areas that weren’t there before.

I turned to the left (north) and walked around the other side of the pond…

 

Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed)…

When I moved back here, and for a few years after, the Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) and Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle) covered the pond bank on the east side. I worked several summers digging the thistles and mowing the Jimson Weed and am glad to say neither one are a problem now. There are still a few here and there but nothing like there was. Thank goodness! In 2019 there was a weed that took over that grew much taller than me. I had never seen them get that tall or in such an abundance. The funny thing is, I didn’t take any photos and I can’t even remember the name. In the few years I have been identifying wildflowers, I don’t think I have taken any of that species photos for ID. HMMM. There never was that much of it but it is very common. Dad always called it Dock or something… Well, I will just have to try to find some…

 

Chenopodium album (Lamb’s Quarters)…

OH, now I remember! Lamb’s Quarters! Chenopodium album! I don’t have a page for this species and I am not sure why. They don’t usually get as big as they were, but the pond bank was another area where hay was fed over the winter.  Lots of “the GOOD STUFF” made this area very fertile but there is a problem with the soil in this area… There are a lot of plants that refuse to grow here perhaps because of the chemicals left in the soil from the Jimson Weed. I have used it in the garden and it seemed fine. The last time I was scooping the stuff up, I noticed the surface was very fine and weird (it looked kind of like A LOT of bug poop). I put some in a flower bed and water wouldn’t even soak up.

Walking to the main hayfield, I walked to the gate…

Vitis sp. and Rosa multiflora (Multiflora Rose)…

This post is where the electric fence hooked up to the gate that went around the hayfield. This small Multiflora Rose and grapevine have been a part of this post for YEARS. I had to give them a good trimming many times!

I walked on up into the pasture because you have to see this…

DOUBLE HMMM!!!

So, when Kevin’s nephew was finished baling the hay and the bales were moved, he asked me if I would check for armyworm damage where the bales had been sitting. I had noticed there were several patches of dead grass but I thought it was from it being cut and lack of rain. He said there were a lot of hayfields in the area that had been affected by armyworms. I couldn’t really tell because I didn’t know what to look for. What I found online wasn’t about armyworms affecting hayfields. Always when hay isn’t moved pretty quick, the grass will die where the bales are sitting. I always tried to move the hay pretty quick, and last year it was moved as soon s it was baled. This year he had a couple of other guys move it and it took them a few weeks. All I noticed under the bales were A LOT of crickets. At the time, there didn’t seem to be that much dead grass, but after a couple of weeks more, I can see it is pretty bad. There is grass sprouting, but it is very slow. Kevin will be drilling new seed when the time is right.

 

Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)…

Most of what is growing in the dead zones are Solanum carolinense (Horsenettle), Veronica missurica (Missouri Ironweed), Cyperus stringosus (Strae-Colored Flatsedge), and a few other miscellaneous clumps of grass. Mostly the Horsenettle. Well, it grows all over the farm. As soon as the hayfields are cut, the first plants to grow are milkweeds, ironweed, and horsenettle. They want to grow like mad so they can bloom like their life depends on it.

As I was working on this post, I realized I needed additional photos. I needed to confirm the Vernonia missurica, which will be on the next post because the photos I took were in a different area. Then I got this idea I needed to have a look at them in the main hayfield to make sure they were the same species. As I walked up the hayfield, I noticed…

There was a couple of White-Tailed Deer grazing just over the top of the hill. Trust me, I zoomed in quite a bit because it would have been impossible to get this close. I was very surprised they didn’t know I was there. I took several photos as the doe on the right walked closer to the other one.

 

Then she spotted me. In a second, the one on the left looked at me and in a flash, they turned and ran. In the early evening, almost every day, a doe and her two fawns walk through the back yard and either go through the fence or walk through the gate by the barn. They go to the pond to have a drink then walk up to the hayfield to graze. I have been very close to them when they are in the yard but I have not had my camera. When they see me, they just stand and look at me motionless before moving on. The last time they didn’t bother to get in a hurry and just slowly walked to the gate. Maybe they are getting used to me.

When I added the observation on iNaturalist as Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer), one member agreed making it research grade. Another member came along and suggested Odocoileus virginianus subsp. macrourus (Kansas White-tailed Deer). I didn’t agree yet because I’m not sure. According to Wikipedia, there are 26 subspecies, 17 in North America and 9 down into South America. Of course, there are disagreements about that and the Wikipedia article may be somewhat out-of-date. 

While I was at it and on the hill, I decided to take a few more shots… You know how one leads to another, then another. 🙂

Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)…

The Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) grew very fast after the hay was cut They won’t be able to flower again before the “you know what” but they give it their best shot.

 

Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed)…

The Asclepias hirtella (Tall Green Milkweed/Prairie Milkweed) on the other hand, grew, flowered, and already has fruit before I knew it.

I think I will close this post and make the next one about as I leave the main hayfield and go to the front pasture…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflower Walk Part 2

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Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed, Etc.)

Hello again! Here is part 2 of the Wildflower Walk. Starting out with one of the most dreaded weeds in the pasture is the Amaranthus spinosus also known as the Spiny Amaranth. I remember my grandpa battling these as a kid, digging and hacking away. Well, they are still here in great numbers, mainly in the area behind the barn, around the pond, and… Come to think of it, they are just about everywhere in the front pasture.

All the photos on this post were taken on September 8…

They have these darn little thorns on their stems that make them such a pain. When I put “the good stuff” in the garden from where I feed hay, these crazy guys come in the garden. You either have to use gloves to pull them up or grab the lowest part of their stem.

 

This weed is native of the tropical Americas but has been introduced to almost every continent. Hard to imagine, but it is a food crop and used in many dishes in Africa and several Asian countries. In India, they use the ashes of the fruit to treat jaundice. Water extracts from its roots and leaves have been used as a diuretic in Vietnam.

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Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)

Many people know this plant all too well when it comes to allergies. Luckily, I haven’t been bothered with allergies but I know several people who have the problem. Many have never even seen a Ragweed.

 

Even though the flowers are tiny, they are LOADED with very potent pollen.

 

Even when not in flower, the plants can be recognized by their tri-lobed leaves. Some of their leaves aren’t trilobed, and of course, there are other plants with tri-lobed leaves that aren’t Ragweeds.

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Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needles)

Bidens bipinnata is the naughty cousin of the Bidens aristosa known as Spanish Needles (and a few other choice names I can’t write down).

These are my second least favorite of the stick-tight crew.

 

Quite often when I need to walk into an area where these are growing I change my mind and go somewhere else.

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Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

I didn’t realize this plant was a thistle until I took these photos and did the research to find its name. Yeah, the flowers look like thistles alright, but the leaves are nothing like the other two or three species on the farm. My favorite didn’t come up this year which means my eradication program worked for it. 🙂 Getting rid of thistles is fairly easy without spray and you make a big dent in the population within three years (the same as with spraying). Just stick your shovel into the stem, about 3″ below the surface, and that’s it.

 

The bad thing about thistles is that their flowers are so neat!

 

While their leaves do have a few small needles, they are nothing like the other species. These don’t seem to be as plentiful, either.

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Commelina communis (Dayflower)

This cute little flower is the Commelina communis which is the Dayflower. It is in the Commelinaceae family with the Spiderworts, Purple Hearts, White Gossamer, Wandering Jews, and so on.

 

There are several species of Commelina with similar flowers. The flowers emerge between a folded up leaf at the top of the stem, just as with Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart and Pale Puma) and the Tradescantia sillamontana (White Gossamer) on the front porch.

<<<<16>>>>

Eupatorium altissimum (Fall Thoroughwort)

From a distance, you might think this plant is the Ageratina altissimum (White Snakeroot) which is in part 1. This plant is Eupatorium altissima, the Fall Thoroughwort. Apparently, some botanists were confused as well, even Carl von Linnaeus himself. Carl Linnaeus named and described the Eupatorium altissima in AND the Ageratum altissima in Species Plantarum in 1753. Then, in 1754, he changed Ageratum altissima to Eupatorium altissima in his description in Systema Vegetabilium. Did he forget he already gave a plant that name? The error was eventually found out, but it took until 1970! For over 200 years there were two species being called Eupatorium altissima. Hmmm…

 

OK, I know this group of plants in the above photo is not White Snakeroot. 🙂 GEEZ! Now I have to figure out how I came to that conclusion again. I need leaves and stems for its page.

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Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)

Well, I don’t think there is any mistaking this species. There don’t seem to me that many of these on the farm and I only notice them in one area. They are easily overlooked, though, because their flowers are very small and can be easily be lost in a patch of taller vegetation.

 

Their little flowers attract quite a number of insects of many types… As with most plants in this genus, their stems and leaves contain toxic latex.

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Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia)

I have seen this Petunia looking plants growing in the ditch along the road in front of the house for several years. I hadn’t taken any photos of them and then I found several growing in the pasture. Low and behold, they really are Petunias! Well, not like the one we grow in planters and hanging baskets. Different family… The Petunias we grow as an annual are in the Solanaceae family and Ruellia species are in the Acanthaceae family.

 

They are in the same family as the Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) I had in Mississippi and what Mrs. Wagler gave me a while back. They certainly have the classic Ruellia throat. Common names for this species include Wild Petunia, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Petunia, and Low Wild Petunia. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder says they from to 2′ tall, but the ones on the farm never have the opportunity to grow that tall. I am either mowing them off in the ditch and maybe the cows eat them in the pasture. Hmmm… Wonder what they taste like?

 

Interesting how many species are in some genera and where they can be found growing in the wild from various parts of the world. Although the Wikipedia says the Ruellia humilis are native to the Eastern United States, the USDA Plants Database says they are in many states from the east coast to the midwest.

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Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)

The Blue Vervain is found flowering in a few of the lower areas in the back pasture from June through October. They like to grow in damp meadows and river beds.  The Missouri Botanical Garden says they can grow up to 6′ tall. Hmmm… Maybe I should mark their spot and avoid mowing them off to see how tall they can grow here. Butterflies seem to really love their flowers. I always like their tall spikes of purple flowers. They are native throughout the United States and most of Canada.

<<<<20>>>>

Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed)

In my opinion, Baldwin’s Ironweed has some of the most beautiful flowers of all the wildflowers on the farm and they grow just about everywhere. They start flowering sometime in June or July and are pretty much finished in September. I know this is October but these photos were taken on September 8. 🙂

 

I realize to many it is just a darned old Ironweed, but if you take a closer look, you will see very interesting and complex flowers. As you can imagine, they are a butterfly magnet. Although they can grow up to 5′ tall, they normally reach only 3-4′. There are many species of Ironweed that prefer damper soil, but the Vernonia baldwinii does well in dry areas as well.

 

It gets its common name from being a very stiff and tough-stemmed plant and by the rusty color of the dried up flowers. When you run over this plant with a mower or try to pull it up, you will see that they are very tough.

Well, I think I am finished for this post and ready to start on Wildflower Walk Part 3.

Until next time… Stay well, positive, and be safe. As always GET DIRTY! I need to do some mowing and other things around the yard today.