Old Mans Beard (Clematis vitalba) is a fast growing, vigorous weed that scrambles up and over the canopy of trees. If left unchecked it is capable of smothering and killing large areas of native forest.
OMB is becoming well-established in Pinehaven. Right now it is easy to spot because its creamy coloured fluffy seeds are very prominent. These seeds will be released and spread by the wind, spreading the problem to other properties. If we are to prevent this weed becoming a serious problem for our local forests then we need to control it.
Seedlings have one to three leaflets and the mature plant has five leaves. The characteristic feathery seed heads give this climber its name and appear from autumn to spring. Older stems have pale brown stringy bark with longitudinal furrows. Don’t confuse OMB with native clematis which is three leaved, flowers from spring to early summer, seeds in late summer and has a smooth vine.
The best method of control is to cut vines to ground level or to waist level in the winter or spring and to spray the regrowth in March. This method ensures that the host plant is not sprayed at the same time. Leave the vines in the tree to dry out before removing (or leave them there to rot), to prevent damage to the host tree.
For larger specimens, the cut stump method can be used. Cut the vines close to the ground with a straight flat cut. The cut must be horizontal so the herbicide will stay on the cut area and be absorbed. Apply herbicide immediately, as the sap ceases to flow once the tissues are severed. There are several convenient ways the application can be made, with a paintbrush, eye dropper or a small squeeze bottle. For larger specimens it is only necessary to wipe the herbicide around the outer rim of the cut.
A herbicide called Vigilant works well on OMB and comes in a convenient bottle with an applicator for stump treatment.
Further information and advice
If you need help identifying OMB or advice on its control, please contact Chris Cosslett on 972 3490 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More information, including photos for identification, can be found at: