Once cooler fall temperatures arrive, a lot of us spend time in the yard ridding our property fence lines of vines or better yet trekking through forested areas to simply enjoy the great outdoors, where those very vines also exist. Unfortunately, there is a long, long list of enemies, when discussing poisonous plants. However, there are a few more common, native plants, like poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and poisonwood that we should be fully aware of in our surroundings, along with their friendly mistaken counterparts. This article will seek to distinguish poison ivy and Virginia creeper.
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) grows in just about any location imaginable. Poison Ivy is probably the most common and most irritating poisonous plant one will come in contact with, no pun intended. This is a woody shrub that can reach 6 feet in height or grows like a vine up to 150 feet tall on trees. As a vine, it is often found on fences and trees. The leaf forms three leaflets, which can be 2-6 inches in length and may have smooth edges or can be toothed. Leaves are shiny with a tint of red most of the year. Leaves will turn purple before dropping in the fall. Remember the old saying when it comes to identifying poison ivy, “leaflets three, let it be”.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is commonly mistaken for poison ivy. It is a climbing vine as well with similar growth patterns. However, there are some distinguishing traits, as Virginia Creeper has five leaflets, instead of three. Virginia Creeper also has blue-black berries along with tiny, sticky segments that are used to attach to surfaces. During the fall, Virginia Creeper leaves turn red before dropping.
There are some important precautions about poison ivy that we should remember when out and about. Warmer months correspond with the increased sapping stage of poisons plants, which means the allergic reaction from contact is both more likely and possibly more severe. The four native poisonous plants mentioned earlier all contain urushiol. This is a plant oil that causes a severe skin rash when contact is made. People have different sensitivity levels to exposure. Symptoms appear within a couple of days and the itching and burning of the skin can last weeks. Over the counter products with the active ingredient dient bentoquatam can help prevent or reduce the reaction. This product must be applied before contact is made. If exposed, as soon as possible clean area with warm, soapy water and rinse with cool water. Clothing should be washed separately from other laundry. Severe reactions may need professional medical treatment.
For more information on poisonous plants in our area, contact your local county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications: “Identification of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac,
and Poisonwood” by Sydney Park Brown: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP22000.pdf
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and UF/IFAS Extension – Florida Sea Grant have partnered to implement an innovative community-driven effort to restore scallop populations, and we need your help! “Scallop Sitter” volunteers are trained to assist in Bay, Gulf and Franklin Counties. The goal of the program is to increase scallop populations in our local bays. Scallop sitters help reintroduce scallops into suitable areas from which they have disappeared.
Volunteers manage predator exclusion cages of scallops, which are either placed in the bay or by a dock. The cages provide a safe environment for the scallops to live and reproduce, and in turn repopulate the bays. Volunteers make monthly visits from June until December to their assigned cages where they clean scallops (algal and barnacles can attach), check mortality rate and collect salinity data that helps us determine restoration goals and success in targeted areas.
1. Click on the “reserve a spot” to select the county you are participating in.*You must provide your name, contact information and date of birth to secure an FWC permit for your cage!
2. You will be sent a registration survey via email (closer to the scallops, cage & supply pickup date or you may fill out a survey onsite) , view the virtual training link: https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/mollusc/bay-scallops/sign-up/
and you’ll receive an invite to our Panhandle Scallop Sitter Facebook Group.
DEADLINE for steps 1 & 2 are May 25th!
3. Pick up your scallops, cage & supplies!
Pickup Information (all times local)
St. George Sound Volunteers
Date: Thursday, June 1st
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: FSU Coastal & Marine Lab (across the canal – see road signage)
3618 US-98, St. Teresa, FL 32358
St. Joseph Bay Volunteers
Date: Thursday, June 8th
Time: 10:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Lodge
3915 State Road 30-A, Port St. Joe, FL 32456
St. Andrew Bay Volunteers
Date: Thursday, June 16th
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
*We know issues happen from time to time with scallop populations. It’s a bummer. If you loose a significant amount of scallops early in this year’s program, we will do our best to accommodate our volunteers with a “second wave” scallop stocking event in August. Also, looking for other ways to help our program? We plan to offer cage building workshops in the fall, stay tuned!
Cogongrass continues to be a thorn in the side of many landowners and municipal public works departments, as it spreads in areas across the Panhandle, with Gulf County being no exception. Thankfully, there are ways to combat cogongrass, but it seems to be an uphill battle. Identifying and being persistent with treatment are paramount in control.
Figure 1: Cogongrass infestation and uneven mid-rib in leaf blade.
Credit: Ray Bodrey, UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County.
Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) is found all over the world. In the U.S, it is primarily found in the southeast. Cogongrass was purposely introduced as a soil stabilizer for pasture lands in Florida during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It wasn’t long before ranchers and agricultural scientists realized that cogongrass was an invasive species. Once established, cogongrass has the ability to overrun pastures and natural areas to the point that it will be the only plant species occupant. It’s a perennial grass with a vast, ever expanding root system. This grass can grow in any soil type and low soil fertility nor drought, are concerns either. Therefore, it thrives no matter how poor the soil environment. Even with multiple days of periods of well below freezing temperatures and a prior application of herbicide, figures 1 & 2 display the resiliency of cogongrass. The major concern is the ability to eliminate native plant habitat.
Cogongrass can be confused with other grasses, like switchgrass. This is especially possible early in the year before the bloom. To identify cogongrass, first investigate the growing pattern. It usually infiltrates an area in patches. As shown in figure 1, the grass blades are flat and have a defining white mid-rib. Blades are finely serrated, yellow to green in color and are uneven in width on each side of the mid-rib. The seed head is fluffy, white and feather shaped. The seed head can alarmingly yield 3,000 seeds per head.
Figure 2: Cogongrass spreading.
Credit: Ray Bodrey, UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County.
The management strategy most successful with eradicating cogongrass consists of multiple types of herbicides sprayed over multiple year applications, with additional spot treatments. Prescribe burning can also be used in concert as an integrated approach.
For control measures, see the tables in the document referenced below. Also, contact your local county extension agent for further details.
Information for this article is from the UF/IFAS EDIS publication: “Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) Biology, Ecology, and
The University of Florida/IFAS Extension faculty are reintroducing their acclaimed “Panhandle Outdoors LIVE!” series. Conservation lands and aquatic systems have vulnerabilities and face future threats to their ecological integrity. Come learn about the important role of these ecosystems.
The St. Joseph Bay and Buffer Preserve Ecosystems are home to some of the one richest concentrations of flora and fauna along the Northern Gulf Coast. This area supports an amazing diversity of fish, aquatic invertebrates, turtles, salt marshes and pine flatwoods uplands.
This one-day educational adventure is based at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve near the coastal town of Port. St. Joe, Florida. It includes field tours of the unique coastal uplands and shoreline as well as presentations by area Extension Agents.
Registration fee is $45.
Meals: breakfast, lunch, drinks & snacks provided (you may bring your own)
Attire: outdoor wear, water shoes, bug spray and sun screen
*if afternoon rain is in forecast, outdoor activities may be switched to the morning schedule
Space is limited! Register now! See below.
All Times Eastern
8:00 – 8:30 am Welcome! Breakfast & Overview with Ray Bodrey, Gulf County Extension
8:30 – 9:35 am Diamondback Terrapin Ecology, with Rick O’Connor, Escambia County Extension
9:35 – 9:45 am Q&A
9:45- 10:20 am The Bay Scallop & Habitat, with Ray Bodrey, Gulf County Extension
10:20 – 10:30 am Q&A
10:30 – 10:45 am Break
10:45 – 11:20 am The Hard Structures: Artificial Reefs & Marine Debris, with Scott Jackson, Bay County Extension
11:20 – 11:30 am Q&A
11:30 – 12:05 am The Apalachicola Oyster, Then, Now and What’s Next, with Erik Lovestrand, Franklin County Extension
12:05 – 12:15 pm Q&A
12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 – 2:30 pm Tram Tour of the Buffer Preserve (St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Staff)
2:30 – 2:40 pm Break
2:40 – 3:20 pm A Walk Among the Black Mangroves (All Extension Agents)
3:20 – 3:30 pm Wrap Up
To attend, you must register for the event at this site:
A Pond Management Field Day will be held May 11, 2022, at the North Florida Research and Education Center, in Quincy, Florida. The field day will include pond demonstrations and classroom workshops on weed prevention, sprayer calibrations, and fish stocking and management. There will also be a trade show with vendors as well as pond water testing and weed identification. The field day will also provide Pesticide CEU’s for natural areas.Registration for the Field Day is through Eventbrite and the cost for the day is $10, which includes lunch. For questions or more information, contactRobbie Jones at the UF/FAS Extension- Gadsden County Office – 850-875-7255.