An act of herbicide

    This weekend I put off all the indoor chores I was intending to tackle and took advantage of the warm weather to carry out a murder.

    I only have one good tree in my yard, a white pine that’s about sixty feet tall. English ivy climbs up it to almost the top- there are probably more ivy leaves than pine needles on this poor tree.

    Some biologists are more unnerved by invasive plants than others, but there seems to be consensus that invasive vines in particular are very, very bad. Before the introduction of foreign plants, our region was not naturally a very vine-covered place. Native Eastern trees and shrubs never evolved to compete with the ivy, akebia, bittersweet, and honeysuckle that now swallow up so much of our woodlands and open spaces.

    Winter is a good time to kill ivy. The easiest way to do it is to sever the vine just above the ground. I make a couple of cuts and pry a section of vine out so I know I’ve gotten all the way through.

    The leaves will wilt, then die, but it will take a while for them to fall. In the growing season a bunch of dead leaves stuck to a tree trunk look terrible, but it’s not that conspicuous this time of year.

    It’s a pain to try to peel off the woody stems now, and the adventitious roots the vine uses to glue itself to a tree can pull off a lot of bark. I’ll leave them on the tree, and eventually they’ll fall off too.

    No blood, no witnesses, and I wore gloves so I didn’t need to wipe down the saw when I was done.

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