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Pulling Weeds From Your Field of Dreams

It's not a matter of throwing out visions; it is a matter of extracting our ego from them.
—David Hansen

In western Montana, spotted knapweed, a weed imported from France, plagues some of our best agricultural areas and is moving swiftly into wilderness areas. Only sheep will eat it. Cattle, deer, and elk won't touch it. A meadow of knapweed won't support a cow. A hillside of it will not feed elk. An infestation of knapweed can destroy a hay or grain field.

Beekeepers imported the plant for its purple blossoms that produce copious nectar even during drought years. The weed is unbelievably hardy, thriving in the driest of weather. It competes unfairly with natural flora; it grows over three feet tall so it shades shorter grasses. Even if you clip it, knapweed will blossom at two inches off the ground.

Its most pernicious characteristic, however, is that knapweed is allelopathic. Knapweed roots secrete a toxic substance that stunts and even kills the plants in its vicinity.

Toxic weeds thrive ...

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July/August
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