Weeds: The solution for your resolutions
January is the perfect time of the year to reflect on the year that has passed, and plan for the year ahead. Many of us mark the coming of the new year with resolutions to improve our lives and well being. While this can be a daunting task, invasive weeds may actually offer a great way to help you keep on track this year with your resolutions.
One of the most common New Year’s resolution is to get fit. Whether this amounts to losing a few pounds or increasing your strength, invasive weeds offer a great opportunity for getting into shape! Pulling garden weeds can burn as many as 400 calories per hour, raking and bagging pulled weed can burn up to 450 calories per hour. More strenuous activities like removing English ivy or Scotch broom can burn even more calories, and help build core strength.
Not only are you likely to get healthier by pulling weeds, but you are also increasing the ecological health of your surroundings. There is no need to buy expensive equipment or that gym membership: just find a weedy patch in your area and pull your way to fitness!
Take up volunteer work
Volunteerism is a great way that we can give back to our communities and to organizations that we cherish. Invasive weeds offer a great opportunity to contribute to your community. There are a multitude of watershed councils, friends groups, and nonprofits that work in natural areas removing weeds and increasing the livability of our communities.
Statewide, groups like SOLVE offer regular events to pull weeds, pick up trash, or plant native plants in your area. These event offer a great opportunity to give back to your community and you have a great chance to make new friends in the process.
Spending less time on the computer
In our hectic and modern world, we find ourselves spending an ever increasing amount of time in front of a computer. While computers offer us a plethora of information and entertainment (for example, what are you doing right now?), they can also distract us from the other things important in our life. Reducing our “screen time” can increase our overall health as well. Pulling invasive weed can offer a healthy escape from the screen.
Pulling invasive weeds gets us outdoors and breathing fresh air. So why not choose your favorite natural area to spend some time pulling some weeds, where you can breathe some fresh air and regain perspective. If anything it will make for some excellent photos to upload to your Facebook profile.
Weeds offer a great way to release stress. If you are feeling frustrated, there is nothing more gratifying than ripping weeds from the ground. Beating up on these biological bullies can be a cathartic experience. Feeling really stressed? Then check out one of our Weed Wrenches or Extractigators from our weed equipment library and go after some big weeds like old growth Scotch broom.
Weeds will keep you on track
As the year progresses, even the most dedicated person may be tempted to backslide on their resolutions. But weeds stick with us the year round, so let them serve as a reminder of your commitments to yourself. So each time you gaze upon the ivy climbing the trees on your drive into work, or the tansy ragwort starting to bloom in the pasture remember that the good fight, can also be good for you.
So what is up with Weeds in January?
- Jubata grass (Cortaderia jubata) is an annual shrub that follows the same timeline as Pampas grass. Plants have seeded. Dig up the entire plant.
- Common reed grass (Phragmites australis) is a grassy perennial. Plants that were emerging in April, May, and June have seeded, dig up any plants and dispose in trash.
- False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) is a perennial grass. Plants have seeded and going dormant. Please contact us if you see false brome!
Herbaceous flowering plants
- Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens) bolts in May with flowers appearing in June, July, and August. Control can be through handpulling, tilling, mowing, or digging. Root fragments resprout so it’s important to get all of the plant out of the ground.
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)was forming rosettes through the winter and flowers in April and May. Seeds may be present and viable from June through September! You can hand pull plants, although root fragments can resprout. Please contact us if you see garlic mustard!
- Spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) follows the same timeline as Diffuse knapweed. Dig up the entire plant (easier when soil is moist in the spring).
- Purple starthistle (Centaurea calcitrapa) sprout from seed in winter and develop into rosettes in spring. Starthistle plants flower from July to Spetember. Please contact us if you see purple starthistle in your area.
- Meadow knapweed (Centaurea debeauzii) follows the same timeline as Diffuse knapweed. Dig up the entire plant (easier when soil is moist in the spring).
- Diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) is a herbaceous perennial. In May, plants bolt. Flowers appear in May, June, and July. Dig up the entire plant (easier when soil is moist in the spring).
- Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstittialis) sprout from seed in winter and develop into rosettes in spring. Starthistle plants flower from May to July. Please contact us if you see yellow starthistle in your area.
- Rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea) bolts in April, May, and June. When it flowers in July, it sets seed quickly!
- Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum) emerges in March and April, flowering all summer.
- Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) can be dug up in March and April. Be sure to get the roots and runners. Flowering occurs in May and June, and can extend later, with flowers and seeds occurring from July through September. More information is available on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s page about Orange hawkweed. Please contact us if you see Orange hawkweed!
- Yellow-flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) is a herbaceous perennial that emerges in April and flowers in May and June. Seeds are set from July through September
- Yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) is a herbaceous perennial the grows throughout the winter and flowers from April to June. Seeds are set in July and August.
- Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a vining perennial. Leaves emerge in April, May, and June. Flowers emerge in July. Please contact us immediately if you think you have spotted Kudzu in Clackamas County!
- Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is a herbaceous perennial. Rosettes form in January and February, and the plants flower in March. In April, seeds are set. Remove all of the bulblets and tubers.
- Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a herbaceous biennial. Rosettes form in March and April, and flowers in May, June, and July. If soil is moist, dig up the rosettes. If you remove the plant during flowering, bag the plant so seeds can’t spread.
- Blessed milk thistle (Silybum marianum) overwinter as rosettes that bolt in March, April, and May. The plants flower in June and July. Mow or hand pull before flowers fully develop.
- Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), a tall deciduous shrub, displays new leaves in April, May, and June, but doesn’t generally flower until July and August. Control by digging up the entire plant. Our Weed Wrench might work!
- Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a tall herbaceous perennial. Plants emerge in March and April from winter rosettes, and accelerate in growth in April and May. When the plants flower in June and July, remove the heads and cut off the plant at the base…but be very careful because the sap of this plant is caustic. ODA says this about Giant hogweed: “This plant is a public health hazard. Do not expose bare human skin to the plant or breathe the smoke from fires if it is being burned. The plant exudes a clear watery sap which sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet radiation. Humans often develop severe burns to the affected areas resulting in blistering and painful dermatitis. Blisters can later develop into purplish or blackened scars.” Please contact us immediately if you spot this plant!
- Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a single to multi-stemmed spiny shrub that buds in February and flowers in March, April, and May. It goes to seed in June and July. Dig up small plants. Please contact us if you see gorse!
- Policeman’s helmet (Impatiens glandulifera) is a herbaceous annual the begins to emerge in April and grows through May. Flowers appear in June and July.
- Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a herbaceous perennial that emerges in May and June. Flowers begin to appear in July.
- Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium) is a herbaceous biennial that overwinters as rosettes. Flower stalks emerge in June and flowering is in July and August.
- Spurge laurel (Daphne laureola) is an annual shrub that emerges in March and flowers in April, May, and June. Berries appear in June and July. Dig up as much of the plant and root system as possible. Please contact us if you see spurge laurel!
Knotweeds include Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), Giant knotweed (Polygonum sachalinense), Himalayan knotweed (Polygonum polystachyum), and hydrid knotweeds began emerging in April. With warmer temperatures, growth accelerates throughout May and June. Flowers emerge in July and August. Mechanical control requires frequent, persistent effort: cut twice each month from April through August. In the fall, additional steps are needed, including cutting and covering the plants. Knotweeds are so persistent that you need to do this repeatedly for five years to achieve control.
- Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is a perennial with underground rhizomes that overwinter. Stems emerge in April and May. Flower stalks appear in June and July. Removing the entire plant, including root fragments, is necessary.
Visit our page on reporting weeds to file a report.
Photos courtesy of: Samuel Leininger, Clackamas SWCD