Remove hitchhiking plants before hunting seasons arrive

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Stickseed plants can be four or more feet tall. (Photo by Jerry Davis)

There are few things as disturbing and aggravating than returning from a treestand after dark and realizing another task was ahead before putting gear away, registering a deer, or having a beer before eating.

The unpleasant task of removing sticktights, burdocks, beggar’s lice, or sandburs can be avoided and in some cases lessened or prevented from happening again by cleaning the trails, stand areas and even deer scrap sites of these noxious weeds.

Many tag-along plant fruits and seeds grow on annual or biennial plants that don’t have a deep root system.  Late summer rains render many weeds an easy pull before the burs mature.  If early enough, they won’t complete their cycle and fewer will grow the following spring and years.

In addition to avoiding the clothing picking, getting rid of the weeds helps clean up the environment for the plants that belong there.

An example of one of the worst hitchhiker is stickseed, Hackelia virginiana, an herb most common to disturbed soil, along fences, near gates, and for some reason near a treestand.

The plant probably became common as deer frequented areas and carried the stickseed fruits and seeds to new locations.

During the last several years, stickseed has been particularly problematic and it will only get worse unless plants are destroyed before they go to seed this fall and winter.

Stickseed propagules develop in long chains of tiny fruits from even tinier flowers: each fruit has four seeds inside a dry casing and all three units can stick to deer coats, dog’s hair, and hunter’s clothing.

These seeds usually come off clean, but individual seeds must by picked, because the parts separate leaving those not being picked at.

Now, when in flower, the entire plant can be pulled from moist soil and tossed aside to dry and decompose.  The seeds usually do not mature and germinate the following spring.

Some plants, like garlic mustard will finish their maturation even when cut or pulled, however.

Biennials often have a rosette of leaves at ground level the first year.  Burdock does, and so does wild carrot, wild parsley, and stickseed.  Don’t worry about the first year plants, get to those next year and after two seasons most will be gone, but there is a seed bank and deer carting in more seeds.

If the timing is off, and the seeds are mature, bag or burn them on site and use this opportunity to recognize the plant without seeds and hit it earlier next year.

Those that are pulled from a dog’s fur, deer’s coat or your own coat should be burned or placed to avoid spreading to other locations.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Wisconsin – Jerry Davis

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