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Exercise Caution with the Weeds

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a demonstration garden at the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Michael Biehl gave me a tour of the plants in their exhibit, and though it is still early spring, they are numerous and vibrant. This demonstration garden is not just any old collection of pretty plants, it is unique among the gardens that line Lincoln Avenue at the U of I campus, it contains POISONOUS plants!

The Poisonous Plant Garden is a showcase of over 90 native and introduced plants that are found in central Illinois. These plants range from nasties that we all know and hate (poison ivy) to plants we wouldn’t typically think are poisonous (catnip). Interestingly, these plants are not necessarily poisonous to humans, but may be deadly to livestock and other domestic animals. This garden provides an opportunity to view these poisonous plants throughout their entire lifecycle, helping members of the public learn to identify these weeds at various times throughout the year.

When I learned of this demonstration garden a few months ago, I realized that this is a wonderful tool available to livestock farmers in the area. I am very happy to announce that the first Land Connection field day of this summer season will be held at the garden. Dr. Biehl will identify plants that are common to central Illinois pasturelands and he will describe the symptoms that affected livestock would exhibit from consuming the various poisonous plants. We will also be bringing in a horticulture expert who will describe various control methods available to farmer who find their pastures are stricken with a noxious weed.

The garden is open to private tours only, which is understandable given the noxious nature of its inhabitants! This field day is an excellent opportunity to learn more about what may be lurking in your pastures!

I hope to see you on June 15 at 5:30pm. Registration is $5, refreshments will be available.

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