Saturday, July 24, 2010

Plant Villains

I'm just itching to get out in the pastures and attack my plant villains.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Yucca, with thistle in the background.  Yucca isn't that bad, and it's kind of picturesque.  I'm just not sure I want it in the pasture with my horses.

Prickly Pear.  This is a real villain.  A horse could get hurt on this plant.  I've dug out about a dozen muck buckets of this guy, and I still find more.  The blooms are pretty.

Mullen.  The soft rosette of leaves is the first stage of a two year life cycle. 
 In the second year, the plant develops tall seed heads.  The seeds are poisonous to mammals, but an important food source to birds.  It is very invasive, and we have two large patches in the pasture.  One patch we covered with some of the soil we had from arena construction.  It will be interesting to see if that helps.

Locoweed is quite pretty, and it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.  I was concerned about its presence when we moved here, but my veterinarian explained to me that although livestock can become addicted to locoweed, it's the last thing livestock eat in an over-grazed pasture.  Since we practise good pasture maintenance and feed hay year round, it's not a danger to our horses.

Leafy spurge is our worse plant villain.  We have a 3' x 3' patch underneath a ponderosa pine.  Fortunately, it's not in the pasture.  Leafy spurge has a sap that causes blisters on contact.  It is incredibly invasive, and has taken over entire fields in the area.  The roots can be 30' deep, so pulling it out is impossible.  We have mowed our little patch and are watching it closely.  We would hate to have to spray.  We love the wildlife, and would hate to cause harm.  Time will tell if we need to be more aggressive against this evil villain.


Flartus said...

Thirty FEET!? Holy cow! I'll try to remember that the next time I'm tugging 6-ft strands of bermuda grass out of my garden.

Louise said...

Interesting that, here, yucca is planted as an ornamental. Isn't is sad how many invasives there are everywhere? Sometimes, I wish I could see what the land looked like before we (another invasive species) changed it so.

AJ-OAKS said...

You know, for weeds, they sure are pretty! :)
30 feet! 30 feet! A tractor couldn't even dig that deep and get it all. Holy cow!!!
There are a few small patches of noxious weeds out in the pasture and thank goodness the horses and donkeys know not to eat it. Like you I do not like to use sprays.

Zanzibah Alpacas said...

Hi Terry, the cows are Highland Cows....native to Scotland...they are an ancient breed !!....but these two are pets......Jayne

JJ said...

Mullen - ewwwwwww, Mullen! I don't know why, but I have this irrational fear of it. It's just a very ugly plant when it sprouts that freaky towering pod up. I had to pull the velvety stage one out of our garden this year and it took me 10 minutes just to work up the courage to grasp it for a good pull. Ridiculous!!

I'm intrigued by that loco weed...I don't know if we have it here in Michigan, but how crazy that livestock can become addicted to it. I'll have to read more about it - funny!

Good luck pulling those prickly pears, they seem like they'd be quite a chore to get rid off :(.

allhorsestuff said...

Crap! That is a lot of hot work to be done!
We also have Tansy..and I have called that 'Locoweed" but maybe I am wrong.
Good work keeping the horses and animal safe!

Funder said...

Mullen! I've seen it, both years of it, and never knew it was the same plant or what's it's called. Very cool!