Pesky plantsWith summer in full swing and nature’s beauty beckoning, how can you avoid unfriendly plants that could put a damper on your outdoor adventures? And if you are luckless enough to make contact with this disreputable flora, what can you do to treat the effects?
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
With summer in full swing and nature’s beauty beckoning, how can you avoid unfriendly plants that could put a damper on your outdoor adventures? And if you are luckless enough to make contact with this disreputable flora, what can you do to treat the effects?
First off, recognize the enemy.
Stinging nettle and poison ivy top the list of offensive plants in this region, said Steve Sagaser, extension agent for the Grand Forks County office of North Dakota State University’s Extension Service.
Also, the black night shade plant produces a poisonous berry — dime-size and dark purplish-black — that some people are using to make jelly, he said. “They shouldn’t.”
Where do these pesky, potentially troublesome plants call home?
Stinging nettle is common along riverbanks, in abandoned farmsteads and around shelterbelts, Sagaser said.
In Grand Forks, “you’ll see it along with greenway where they haven’t mowed,” he said.
“When you touch the plant, it causes a temporary irritation, but it’s not nearly as irritating as poison ivy,” which thrives in extreme heat and drought.
“It’s not common in town, but if you have property that borders the riverbank or your home is in a rural area, there you commonly could find poison ivy.”
It spreads through the most casual of contact. You can even pick it up from touching clothes that have brushed against poison ivy, he said.
The urushiol oil, present in all parts of the plant, can latch onto gas or electric trimmers and pass onto you through the handle or trimmer head.
“It’s highly probable that could happen,” Sagaser said.
And don’t forget that pets can be “carriers,” too.
“If your dog charges through patches of poison ivy, and you pet him, it’s very likely you could get it on your hands,” he said.
Contact with urushiol oil will cause an itchy, blistering rash. The more contact, the more allergic you’re likely to become.
This rash might not develop until 12 to 24 hours after contact.
Killing noxious plants
Burning poison ivy is not recommended.
If inhaled as smoke, the urushiol oil can be irritating or toxic to the lungs, Sagaser said.
Instead, he suggests using weed- and brush-killers “that will work quite well.”
This time of year the consumer can still have success with these products, he said. But later, in mid-July and August, the plants “go dormant and won’t take up the product as well.”
The best time to take action is in the early spring, Sagaser recommends, by applying the product at the roots when the plant’s leaves first appear.
By the way, that black night shade that produces the poisonous berry — it grows in abandoned and wooded areas, Sagaser said. But it can also be found in fully sunlit areas.
The berries look like miniature tomatoes, he said.
And, if you’re wondering about poison sumac or poison oak, relax.
“Those are plants we don’t have to worry about,” Sagaser said. “They’re not hardy enough to grow in our region.”
Dale Roe of the Austin (TX) American-Statesman contributed to this report.