Listening to Bittersweet

Herbicide impact

The bittersweet on east-facing rises where the strength of the sunlight is diminished in the hottest part of the day by aspect and shade from an evergreen hedgerow has successfully outgrown meadow grasses. The soil in this western-most portion of the meadow holds some moisture that the mint and the plant with leaves pierced by its stem also seem to like.

The bittersweet vegetation is about a foot deep in this area. Its leaves are large and deeply green. Its stems are an 1/8 to a 1/4 of an inch thick and 4 to 6 feet long. Each outcropping may have half a dozen stems. This year’s growth lies on the debris of previous seasons’ growth.

I sprayed this section of the meadow with the herbicide in the first application in July and then touched up places I had missed earlier this week. While the sprayed Bittersweet seems not to be growing anymore, its leaves have not yellowed and shriveled the way they have in other parts of the meadow. I debated what to do next, but could not resist the urge to pull which I did for about an hour and a half covering an area of about 25 square feet. The bittersweet came up by its knotted roots with relatively less effort than when it has not been treated with an herbicide. The roots, knotted and twisted as expected, were less orange than healthy roots. The herbicide’s impact seemed more apparent on the roots than the leaves. If this is not wishful thinking, it could be excellent news.

Accompanied by a house guest, Umit Gonulal, who wanted some exercise, Umit pulled Bittersweet in a drier, sunnier, higher part of the meadow where a single piece of the plant had grown straight up about a foot on a slender stem. The herbicide had clearly wilted the leaves while leaving the surrounding meadow grasses untouched. His area also had  crisscrossing brambles killed by the herbicide. Both broke off above their roots when tugged. The dense roots of the surrounding grasses must be holding the roots in place. I hope the herbicide has had the same killing effect on those roots as in the shadier part of the meadow.

Umit’s cleared area will not need further attention until Bittersweet regrows. In my cleared area, the disturbed soil will need to be reseeded.

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