Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants

Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants

The author helping out the maple regen on his woodlot.

Exotic invasive plants get the headlines, as they crowd out native species, deprive wildlife of food, and generally devalue the Northern Forest. But in certain cases, native plants can cause the same problems. In fact, on many of the woodlots I see, the native invasive plants are a much bigger problem than the exotic ones.

On my own woodlot, the native plants that have earned the invasive label are ferns (especially hay-scented), striped maple, and American beech. These plants are all indigenous, and they all have a habit of rapidly taking over large areas to the exclusion of other species.

The word “problem” is relative. Clearly, native invasive plants aren’t likely to take over the Northeast, or they would have already done so. Eventually – on the scale of decades or centuries – other species will almost undoubtedly grow on any given site.

Thus, the real problem with native invasive plants is that they conflict with our human desires. Simply put, we want to be growing different plants, whether for monetary, aesthetic, or wildlife reasons, and we want to be doing so now. In a world where property taxes and returns on investment play a role, many forest property owners want to grow valuable trees rather than native invasives. For landowners whose objective is to promote wildlife, having a woodlot that is dominated by plants that are poor food sources or habitat for their desired species will obviously not lead to success. (We should note that mature beech can be of considerable value to wildlife, because of the occasional crops of beechnuts, but many of the root sprouts die of beech bark disease before producing either nuts or merchantable wood.)

We’d likely feel very differently about ferns, striped maple, and beech taking over our woodlots if they produced valuable products. Imagine hay-scented fern or striped maple producing a valuable medicine, with the plants worth as much per pound as ginseng. Then we’d be looking to promote their growth! What if beech, whose prime sawlogs are currently worth little more than firewood, were as valuable as cherry or walnut?

Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants Image

Beech brush rises from a cut stump.

Why so prolific?
Native invasive plants come to dominate a woodlot in many ways. For starters, they’re usually shade-tolerant, and can grow, albeit slowly, in the low light levels found under forest canopies. Once established, they can form dense stands that shade out seedlings of other species. When the canopy is opened up, whether through logging, weather events, or death of overstory trees, the invasive plants in the understory are poised to grow quickly. Some use allelopathy, a form of chemical warfare, whereby the plant produces and disperses chemicals that inhibit the growth of neighboring plants.

People also share some blame for the success of native invasives. Sometimes only the more valuable trees are cut during a harvest, giving beech and striped maple a selective advantage.

Our wildlife policies have also had a profound influence on what plant species grow in our forests. Populations of deer and, to a lesser extent, moose have exploded in the last 100 years. Where populations are high, selective browsing affects the species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants growing on the forest floor. Striped maple and beech are browse of last resort for deer, so seedlings of these trees have a huge advantage over seedlings of trees the deer prefer, such as ash, maple, and oak. My observations also suggest that wild turkeys influence forest composition, as these birds scour the forest floor for the seeds and plants they like.

Now that we’ve identified the problem, the question becomes how to control native invasives. I’ve found that the control effort is a two-part process: first, you have to kill or seriously set back the undesirable plants to make room for more desirable ones; second, you have to promote the establishment and growth of the desirable plants.

Determining what is most likely to succeed, and what is likely to be most cost-effective, requires first assessing what is currently growing on your forest floor. This includes identifying the species, their density, and their condition. An understanding of how this composition arose is useful – what roles did past forestry activities, wildlife, and site conditions play? Current and future factors that influence the composition and growth of the regeneration need to be considered: these might include encroachment by exotic invasive plants, high populations of deer, moose, or other animals in relation to the available food supply, and planned management of the overstory trees. Depending on the situation, a single action may tip the balance in the desired direction or repeated efforts over many years may be needed to realize success.

Favoring the plants you want
In areas where native invasives are not yet dominant, simple forestry practices can help keep the scales tipped in your favor. There are a number of ways to promote and establish the growth of desirable species at the expense of the undesirable ones.

For example, where desirable advanced regeneration is already established, it’s a good idea to perform harvesting operations in winter, preferably with snow cover. Snow helps protect valuable seedlings from damage. Furthermore, when broken off in the dormant season, hardwood seedlings and saplings generally sprout more vigorously than when the same damage occurs during the growing season.

Where good advanced regeneration of desirable species is not present, harvesting without snow cover can help prepare a seedbed. The movement of logs and machines disturbs the upper layers of soil, helping to promote the germination and growth of seedlings. While rarely used in the Northeast, machines designed to scarify the soil can be used to achieve even greater soil disturbance.

Sometimes it’s possible to time harvesting operations with a good seed year to increase the odds that desirable species will be well represented in the next generation of trees. Careful observation of desirable trees that flower in the spring and set seeds in the fall gives a few months notice of a good seed year. White pine gives an extra year of notice: small cones form the first year, with the cones enlarging and maturing in the fall of the next year.

Other ways to favor desirable species include shelterwood cuts, where appropriate, in which roughly half of the forest canopy is removed to allow light in while retaining mature trees as a seed source. You can also encourage deer hunting on your land to help reduce browsing pressure.

Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants Image

In this stand the diseased beech was cut and treated to promote oak regeneration.

Discouraging the plants you don’t want
In cases where native invasive plants already dominate the advanced regeneration, you’re going to have to kill or seriously injure the undesirable plants. This can be accomplished either mechanically or chemically. For a few forest ecosystems found in the Northeast, fire can be added to the list of methods. Consideration needs to be given to whether to kill the plants selectively or on a broad scale – the broad-scale option is preferred when there are so many undesirable plants and so few desirable ones that it makes more sense to kill them all and start over.

The very attributes that make invasive plants invasive make them difficult to control mechanically. They generally resprout vigorously after cutting or mowing, making many treatments at regular intervals necessary for success. Uprooting is hard work, and pieces of root (or rhizomes, in the case of ferns) left behind often sprout and grow new plants. Bulldozing, which may be satisfying at first as a large patch of ground goes from a tangle of green invasive plants to bare earth, is likely to be counterproductive: come back a few years later and the many pieces of plant parts churned into the soil will have sprouted and grown into an even denser tangle of plants.

Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants Image

Oak seedlings rise where the beech fell; the hope is that the slash will provide some protection from deer.

In my woodlot, I tried to control a patch of striped maple by hand pulling over three years. These seedlings ranged from small, two-leaf specimens to knee-high specimens with a dozen or so leaves, and they covered the forest floor, overtopping some northern hardwood seedlings. Every time I passed through this patch (it was a few hundred square feet in size and was on one of my regular walking routes), I stopped and pulled a dozen or more striped maples and placed them on rocks or branches to desiccate and die.

After three years, the striped maple was obviously less dense than when I started, but it kept resprouting, and it was clear I was far from winning the war. I realized that pulling striped maple on the scale of my woodlot would be a Herculean undertaking, and one that I certainly was not up to. In order to effectively control the native invasive plants on my woodlot, I needed a better way. Although I’m reluctant to use chemicals, I’ve found that in some cases, chemical control is the only path to near-term success.

Four methods of chemically killing native invasive plants can be used: injection, cut-stump, basal bark, and foliar. As the terms injection and cut-stump imply, chemicals are injected into the stems or applied onto the just-cut stump of plants to be killed. Fairly concentrated chemicals are used, and these methods are generally most applicable for larger plants. In basal bark treatment, the chemicals are mixed with an oil base and applied around the bark at ground level; the chemicals are absorbed through the bark, eventually killing the plant. Basal bark treatment is most commonly used on large seedlings through sapling-sized plants.

Foliar treatment is done by applying chemicals to the leaves of plants, where they are absorbed and eventually kill the plant. A relatively dilute solution is used. Application can be done by wiping, spraying, or mist blowing. In all cases, enough of the appropriate chemical needs to be applied to each plant under conditions that favor success. Safety precautions are needed to protect people, domestic animals, wildlife, non-target plants, and water supplies.

Over the past several summers, I have been working with a foliar treatment to control striped maple, beech, and ferns (mainly hay-scented) where they dominate the advanced regeneration on my woodlot. I use a five percent solution of glyphosate in a backpack sprayer. This allows me to be very specific, treating the plants I want to kill and only rarely getting chemicals on non-target plants. The foliar treatment method allows me to work with a dilute solution, which effectively treats small plants and gives me a wide window for application, from June through September.

I have found that it is far easier to treat the invasive plants before doing overstory work: there is no slash to wade through, and the target plants are far less vigorous (requiring less chemical) than they will be once the canopy is opened. I find that wetting about 50 percent of the leaf area with the five percent glyphosate solution is sufficient to kill striped maple and beech. Even less of the frond area needs to be wetted to kill the ferns. By avoiding dripping, tree and other plant seedlings that are often present under the target plants aren’t affected by the glyphosate and are released to grow. For striped maple and beech higher than shoulder height, I cut the plants off at ground level, usually in early spring when the ground is too wet for most other forestry activities. In late spring, after they have resprouted, relatively little foliar spray is needed to kill the root system. (As an alternative, I could use the cut-stump method, cutting these small trees any time they are actively growing after full leaf expansion and applying a concentrated glyphosate solution to the stump.)

To date I have treated nearly 100 acres. The kill rate is excellent, and desirable seedlings (both those that were competing with the native invasives and newly established ones) are coming to dominate the forest floor. The early results are very promising, and I am hopeful that the plants on my woodlot will, in the future, be dominated by white pine and northern hardwoods rather than the striped maple, ferns, and sick beech that dominated the advanced regeneration when I started.

Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants Image

Roundup being applied to a cut stump.

As an organic gardener, I was reluctant to use herbicides on my woodlands. It was only after finding that mechanical methods weren’t working that I decided to experiment with chemical control of native invasive plants.

The herbicide glyphosate is widely used to control unwanted vegetation. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the best-known trade name. Since the patent expired, many companies now sell glyphosate under a variety of trade names. It is available in various concentrations, with or without a surfactant, and sometimes in combination with other herbicides. Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water-based solutions, enabling them to do a better job of wetting surfaces, which can increase herbicide absorption.

Glyphosate is a water-soluble salt that works by disrupting an enzyme pathway essential to plants. Since this pathway does not exist in animals, glyphosate is considered relatively safe for humans and wildlife. This is reflected in the minimal personal protective equipment required for workers using glyphosate, though everyone working with the chemical should wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants, chemical-resistant gloves made of waterproof material (I use nitrile gloves), and shoes and socks. In addition to its low toxicity to animals, glyphosate has the advantages of breaking down quickly in soil and not being taken up by plant roots.

When buying herbicide, it is important to pay attention to the concentration and any adjuvants (substances, such as surfactants, added to increase effectiveness.) Much of the glyphosate sold in retail outlets is diluted to such a low concentration that it is not effective on woody plants. It is most economical to buy glyphosate as a concentrate and dilute it prior to use. When working with the concentrate, I wear a face shield to protect my eyes and face in case of any splashing. I also add a dye to the mix so that any splashes or spills can be easily seen.

It takes some time for the effects of foliar glyphosate applications to show. The first symptoms are yellowing and gradual wilting of the leaves, which can go unnoticed for two weeks or more on understory woody plants, especially in cool, cloudy weather. To kill the plant, the chemical needs to be translocated through the plant so that it will kill the roots as well as the foliage. Therefore, if you cut woody plants soon after the leaves wither, the glyphosate may not have sufficiently reached the roots, and the plant may well survive and send up new sprouts. I use a low-pressure spray and adjust the nozzle to give large droplets. This minimizes drift and helps ensure that the herbicide lands only on my targets.

With any herbicide, it is very important to thoroughly read and understand the directions and to follow all use and disposal instructions. Herbicide use is regulated at the state level, so regulations vary from state to state and herbicide to herbicide. In Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, landowners are allowed to apply glyphosate on their own land without a license unless there’s an easement on the property that forbids it. However, the rules get more complicated if you’re applying chemicals commercially. In my home state of Vermont, an appropriately licensed pesticide applicator must be present to supervise treatment whenever glyphosate is being used on other people’s land. Other states have their own rules and fine print, so you’ll want to learn all the details before you spray. The National Pesticide Information Center has a website with links to each state’s pesticide regulatory agency at:

I found the information I learned in becoming a licensed applicator invaluable and urge anyone contemplating the use of herbicides to study the training manuals, even if you don’t need to become licensed. — IRWIN POST

Irwin Post is a forest engineer living in Chester, Vermont.

  1. Emily Rowe
    Sep 28, 2010

    This comment came in as a Letter to the Editor for the printed magazine.

    Irwin Post’s excellent article in Autumn 2010 issue brings a most useful message to Yankee tree farmers. I grew up on 600 acres of excellent sites with abundant weeds in northwestern Windham County, Vermont, not far from Post’s place. 53 years ago, I began work at Oregon State University College of Forestry leading a research program to meet the needs of western foresters with weed problems. Plants take up space. Space is crucial for any photosynthesizing organism, so desirable plants tend to grow much better if undesirable trees, shrubs or herbs are prevented from overtopping them. If one has to do it by axe, saw or bulldozer, the energy and maybe cost may be huge, and one faces the prospect that disturbance will simply beget more weeds. Chemicals are tightly controlled by law, and those registered for use in forests are safe, economical and effective for many uses to promote wildlife forage, timber species composition or control of cull trees. Over a dozen different chemicals may be used in forests, each providing a different array of results. Timing, application rate and dosage are crucial in their selectivity. Nearly all of those useful in the Northeast will persist in the environment for more than a month or two, and none are as toxic as coffee by a long shot. County Agents are excellent information sources on how to control weeds. Many in Yankee Land are unaware of technology pertaining to forests, but there are Extension publications that are very helpful. I write the Forestry Chapter, revised annually, in the Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook. You can get it on-line ( if there is nothing closer to home. The links are available from Oregon State University Cooperative Extension Service, where publications list Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook, Ed Peachy, Editor. Individual chapters can be purchased on-line. Thank you, Mr. Post, for introducing a most valuable topic!

    Mike Newton, Professor Emeritus
    Oregon State University College of Forestry
    Corvallis, OR

  2. Douglas Watts → in Augusta, Maine
    Oct 14, 2010

    I’m a bit confused by the nomenclature here.  What does the term ‘native invasive’ even mean? In plain language it is an oxymoron since the second word is the antonym of the first (“white black” or “up down”).

    By the content of the story, it is apparent the author wishes to create and impose a highly specific suite of human-chosen plant species on his property, ie. a garden, and to strictly limit any plants that he does not desire to be there. At the end of the day, it is the landowner/gardener who gets to play God. This renders meaningless the words ‘native’ and ‘invasive’ as they are normally understood by scientists. It would be helpful here if the author would admit he is simply making a highly artificial and engineered landscape that has little connection to nature or to the natural forest of the Northeast.

    Native species in New England, plant or animal, already have a tough enough time. The last thing they need is being pilloried as being ‘invasives’ in their own native habitat.


    Doug Watts

  3. Chuck Wooster → in Corinth, VT
    Oct 20, 2010

    Hi Doug—

    Thanks for your comment—it gets right to the heart of the matter. We intentionally used ‘native invasives’ to create a useful distinction between species like hay-scented fern (the so-called ‘native invasive’), glossy buckthorn (invasive exotic), common lilac (non-invasive exotic) and, say, red oak (native, non-invasive.) Your point that deciding which natives are classified as “invasive” is nothing but personal preference is exactly to the point - it’s a utilitarian argument, as the author points out in the early going: “The real problem with native invasive plants is that they conflict with our human desires.”

    Chuck Wooster, associate editor

  4. Al Mollitor → in Sharon, MA
    Oct 24, 2010

    Thanks to Irwin Post for a particularly helpful article. I have a small woodlot in Royalston, MA that has been totally neglected since heavy logging about 30 years ago. While there are some nice red oak and white pine on the property, beech is the predominant tree species along with plenty of striped maple in the understory. As I begin timber stand improvement, it’s pretty clear that I won’t get much oak or pine regeneration with a combination of vigorous beech sprouting and heavy deer browsing. The information in this article will give me at least a fighting chance.

  5. Al Mollitor → in Sharon, MA
    Oct 26, 2010

    If Doug Watts thinks that civilization as we know it should cease to exist and he wouldn’t mind waiting a few centuries for New England forests to revert to something like their condition prior to a few millennia of human impact, I have no argument with his point of view. Likewise, if he thinks it’s OK that New England should continue to import more forest products than it produces, thus exploiting the resources and workers of other parts of the country and world, then there may not be much to discuss.

    If, however, we want to grow more of our wood locally as many of us want to grow our food locally, we need to manage our forests wisely. That’s not playing God, that’s playing human. We should focus our ire on those who bulldoze forests for shopping malls and suburban housing developments. Those artificial and engineered landscapes will never grow any kind of forest again.

  6. Chuck Wooster → in Corinth, Vermont
    Oct 27, 2010

    The following was submitted as a letter to the editor

    In “Got Fern? Controlling Native Invasive Plants” the article suggests several controls, one of them being chemical. In addition to previously mentioned health/safety concerns on chemical use, having observed chemical controls I have noted that species die-off occurs in a spreading wave pattern, depending on terrain, like that of a rock thrown in calm body of water, and may continue for years after application, as plants adjacent to the targeted area die as the chemical spreads over time, even years later. Furthermore, growth rates of desired species will be reduced over time as the dispersed and diluted chemicals reach these plants.

    —Dana Loew, Princeton, MA

  7. Emily Rowe
    Dec 29, 2010

    This comment came in as a Letter to the Editor for the printed magazine.

    The phrase “native invasive” in Irwin Post’s informative article (“Got Fern: Controlling Native Invasive Plants” Autumn 2010 issue) needs elaboration to do justice to the ecological case for reducing the prevalence of beech. In many parts of the Northeast, oak and other disturbance-dependent forests are not sustaining themselves under current conditions. They are slowly being displaced by beech and other trees that can perpetuate themselves in their own shade. Few oak forests are being created in these areas, mainly due to a precipitous drop in the amount of fire, clearcuts, and natural reforestation of abandoned farmland.

    Currently, the fire rotation (total number of forest acres divided by the average number of acres burned annually) in Connecticut is over 3,500 years, but historically fire occurred very frequently, at least near Native American populations. Fire occurrence is also dramatically below the historic norm in the other Northeast states.

    Oaks are unparalleled in their value to wildlife, not only because acorns provide the highest source of plant based protein but also because of the quantity and diversity of Lepidoptera they host. Oaks have not been able to sustain themselves in the Southeast (except on droughty sites) under current conditions, so it is unlikely that even with global warming, oak forests will be able to sustain themselves on similar sites in the north. A general increase in precipitation that is expected with global warming will likely lead to a decrease in the already low fire occurrence. The ecological problem that beech and other shade-tolerant plants poise is that their current trajectory is toward creating a more homogeneous forest landscape and possibly a beech monoculture in some areas. In order to maintain diverse forest ecosystems, disturbance-dependent species must be favored over beech and other shade tolerant trees at least on part of the forest landscape. Those interested in sustaining diverse forest ecosystems may find it useful to cut beech in July and August as it appears to reduce the percentage of sprouting beech stumps. Also, some oak saplings are outgrowing beech sprouts after a clearcut and subsequent prescribed fire. This simulates the historic establishment of oak forests when substantial fires often followed severe blow downs.

    Emery Gluck
    Lebanon, CT

  8. Connie Ghosh → in Atlanta, GA
    Jun 03, 2011

    I’ve read the thread of this discussion and want to respond to a single comment by Al Mollitor on Oct. 25, 2010, namely:  “...Those artificial and engineered landscapes [i.e., shopping malls and suburban housing developments] will never grow any kind of forest again”.  This is a commonly expressed sentiment among us environmentalists—- “Once the forest is cut down, we will never get it back”, etc.—- but one I want to challenge.  How do we know this?  Has anyone ever tried to re-grow forest in one of these areas?  I dearly wish we could get an actual experiment running, on returning “developed” land back to its original forested state.  Can anyone help me with this?  - Connie Ghosh, Atlanta, GA

  9. dave → in corinth
    Jun 07, 2011

    I watched “Dirt” last night, Connie, which if you haven’t seen it is a documentary-type movie on soil and soil health. One of my big criticisms of the film was that it was a little too shrill, but apropos of your question, there were a number of real life examples shown where urban schools ripped up asphalt playgrounds and replaced them with gardens. So yes, absolutely it can be done. Along the lines of your thinking, you might want to also read the book The World Without Us, which imagines what the world would be like if we humans suddenly disappeared. Worth checking out.

  10. Connie Ghosh → in atlanta, GA
    Jun 11, 2011

    Dave, replacing excess asphalt with gardens is a good start.  But I specifically am asking:  Does anyone know of a project anywhere where someone is restoring the forest to areas from which it was removed?  And, with apologies to Irwin Post who put up the original article of this thread, I’m also not asking about anyone who may be setting up a woodlot or tree plantation for timber production (although that is better than asphalt too!)  What I am asking is: does anyone know a project where people are replanting the ORIGINAL COMMUNITY of trees, understory, and groundcover plants that was native to the place before human disruption of it? That is, is anyone trying to RESTORE THE FOREST?  -Thanks.

  11. Connie Ghosh → in Atlanta
    Jun 14, 2011

    Thanks, Dave; certainly putting in gardens in where asphalt was is a good start.  I specifically am interested, however, in knowing if anyone is replacing asphalt - and/or concrete, unused portions of parking lots, etc. - with native forest trees and allowing the native community of forest plants, aka NATIVE HABITAT, to grow back again.  Anyone?  Thanks.

  12. dave → in corinth
    Jun 14, 2011

    I don’t know of any urban area where asphalt is being removed and native forest allowed to return. It’s happening in rural areas all the time, though, as farm fields are reverting back to woods. Check out this article if you’re interested:

  13. Connie Ghosh
    Jun 27, 2011

    Dave, thanks for the link.  But your response helps prove my point.  Nobody, it seems, is tackling what could be paradigm-changing task:  Bringing the native habitat back to some of the places from which it has been eradicated.  i want to make that the goal of my life.  Wish me luck!  Lots of it.

  14. Peter Silverberg → in United States
    Jun 22, 2012

    I am late to this discussion but I find it interesting in that I have a 150+ acre woodlot in Southern VT that is being over run with hayscented fern.  I have spoken with Mr. Post personally and he is a wealth of knowledge.  For those who believe that any intervention is incorrect or worse, I respectfully disagree.  My lot has been manipulated by humans for at least 150 years.  It was pretty much clearcut in the mid 1800’s for sheep and has been more or less selectively harvested since.  It has a lot (too many I think) of resident deer as well as several moose and lots of other wildlife.  We have a forestry plan in place that attempts to balance aesthetics, wildlife, lumber production, recreation, etc. 

    The parcel got hit pretty hard in the ice storm at the end of 2008.  The canopy was opened siginificantly and the already omnipresent hayscented fern has fully overgrown many large areas.  These plants grow chest deep and obliterate any chance of other species sprouting.  Add to that the overbrowsing by herbivores and one can see that the long term outlook for hardwood regeneration is very bad without intervention.

    If the lumber value becomes very low over time, then the likelyhood of the parcel being clearcut and developed will be higher. It is in the best long term interest of the forest to promote healthy, valuable trees for a very long time.

    Glyphosate does not spread like ring waves in a pond.  It binds tightly to the soil and degrades rather quickly.  I avoid contact with plants other than invasives and unless directly treated, those plants survive indefinitely.  I find I have to revisit areas I have treated with glyphosate several times to really eliminate the hayscented fern.  If I don’t, the ferns quickly take over again and overshadow the many seedlings that have sprouted before they can get big enough to survive and outgrow the ferns.

    Many of us who own woodlot properties put a lot of time and treasure into plans and goals that we will not be around to see to fruition.  I personally find this satisfying and rewarding in ways that I can’t explain.  I think the idea that any “non-natural” method is bad or ill considered is rather shortsighted and counter productive.

    Pete Silverberg

  15. Nathaniel Whitmore
    May 20, 2013

    That native invasives won’t take over because they would have already is not true.  There are variables that have led to their invasiveness that were not in place before, such as deer browse and acid rain.  And that this is a human-centric concern is also not true as invasive plants could really disrupt the overall balance of an ecosystem.  Whether or not humans have the brains to actually help the problem is the real question in my mind.
    I agree with your comment that if there was medicinal use we might find them more desirable.  I wonder if there is medicinal use.  In the past Native Americans used Hay-scented Fern for lung hemorrhages and the Quakers used Striped Maple for eye inflammations.  There are probably many more uses that we forgot and have yet to discover.

  16. Stephen Kutney → in United States
    Oct 21, 2013

    In the past 10 years or so, twice, I’ve used a brush saw to cut the beech in my woods. The saw did a great job but the stripped maple and beech have returned in force. I’m losing this battle.

    I’m surprised at the low levels of glyphosate recommended in the article. If I understand correctly it would require about 3.4 ounces of my 47% glyphosate product that I purchased from Home Depot. That seems to me to be a very small amount. How long does it take for a beech tree to die. How long for the ferns?

    I have regeneration of oaks in my woods. They grow next to the ferns and beech. Will this product hurt the oaks or hard maple?

    Have you ever tried using a mist blower sprayer? The kind with a gasoline engine? I think Stihl makes at least one model. I don’t own one but I would like to know if anyone thinks it’s worth the cost.

  17. Mick Hall → in UK and Wales
    Jun 22, 2016

    Ferns are in a nutshell an absolute bloody nuisance. Like Badgers are to hedgehogs they have zero conservation in mind and will kill the lot around them

    The farmer friend of mine had to spend a great deal of money getting a helicopter to spray a massive patch of ferns that was overtaking the grass his sheep graze on because he could not get at them reasonably by other means. In any case I don’t know about medicinal use of them but I thought they were poisonous to animals?

    When ferns take root any where they are bad news. A farm I am familiar with in the highlands of Scotland have a great deal of bracken and it is a most diabolical job getting through them and being able to kill them would be a nightmare as they are on very steep banks around three hundred yards long at 45 degrees plus boulders amongst them but I do not think for a minute ‘Willie’ would hire the helicopter as he is too carefull ——with the money I mean !

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