Monday, July 30, 2018

Whipvine (Wild Hops)

My tomatoes are a bit of a mess right now. I've neglected them for nearly three weeks, and in that time they've grown like weeds, set fruit, flopped over above the points where I had them tied, hit the ground, and grown some more. I picked them up off the ground as carefully as I could and tried my best to tie them up without breaking the stems. I was mostly successful.

I realized I had forgotten about the two tomato plants next to the composter. (At least one of them, it turns out, is a Roma.) In working to get those vines tied up, I realized I had also forgotten about an old nemesis from last year: wild hops. Whipvine.

Wild hops is an aggressive weed that filled the space next to my composter this time last year. It is a climbing vine covered with tiny hooks. It feels like sandpaper, but if it rubs against exposed skin it leaves angry, burning, itching marks that look like whip lashes and grow more irritated over time. I first encountered it last August 1. I pulled out a large quantity of it by hand. I wore leather gloves that kept my hands protected, but my forearms were exposed. Shortly after I finished removing all the wild hops, the effects started to set in.

A few hours after removing wild hops last August 1.

But the worst was yet to come...
Later that evening, secondary effects kicked in: nausea and a feeling of dread. It wasn't pleasant. Fortunately, it didn't last. The feelings subsided within an hour. The itching went away overnight. The red lash marks lasted for well over a week.

This time wasn't nearly as bad. I wasn't wearing gloves as I worked on tying up my tomatoes, but I only brushed against the vines with the back of my left arm. It's covered with burning, itching red marks now, and the feelings of nausea and dread have come and gone. I pulled the offending vine - just a single vine, not the dozens I removed last year - and covered the place that it grew out of with several inches of fresh grass clippings. I'll keep an eye out for any additional wild hops vines that pop up near the tomatoes.

NOTE: There are several different plants known as "wild hops." These are Japanese wild hops, Humulus japonicus.

1 comment:

Donald John Williams said...

I'll trade you...we have a bumper crop of poison ivy this year.