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Chamaebatia foliolosa, mountain misery

 
Posts: 32
Location: CA . 3000 ft elevation, mostly southwestern slope , zone 9a
15
hugelkultur duck chicken food preservation homestead
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I have 3 acres I'd like to finish fencing off into paddocks and start utilizing, but first things first, the mountain misery battle. About 25 to 30 percent of the areas is covered in thick islands of mountain misery. The property was logged in the 80s and post logging the mountain misery did what its supposed to do and it took over.

We had mountain misery at our old house ( 1/3 of an acre) and it took me about 6 or 7 years to get it "under control" ,I dont think you ever actually get rid of it. I thought maybe someone here might have a different way to approach it.

I've burned it , cut it and pulled it and it always comes back the next year. People also use goats to graze it. I've found 2 things to be effective.

The first one is pulling it out by the roots for several years in a row. After 3 or 4 years you can get rid of most of it.This is the most effective way to deal with it, but that's easier said than done in the rock hard soil we have. I did this in our old garden. Once you pull most of it and get other things growing , it becomes easy to deal with. Every year there's a couple little sprouts , but those are easy to pull out. When the soil is loose you can pull out long root systems easily.

The second is cutting it back and getting something that grows fast to compete with it. I found this out on accident. At our old place we had some mint in pots and I noticed that it was starting spread into the beds that I didn't want full of mint. I put the pots at the edge of the yard where I had pulled the mountain misery back recently. Several years later when we moved, there was a thick bed of mint with no visible mountain misery.

We have several dozen ducks and will be getting 2 pigs in the spring. My thoughts are , weed eat and rake the area I want to clear. Spread forage seed, lightly mulch and water.Then when the area is ready let the pigs or ducks into the paddock to forage, disturbing the roots of the mountain misery. And then come through and rake out the roots and repeat the process.

The general concensus among old timers ive talked to ,and the USDA is repeated use of herbicides is the only effective way to deal with it That's not going to work for us. There a pdf from the USDA called "Ecology and Manipulation of Bear Clover in Northern and Central California: The Status of Our Knowlege" .That does a really good job describing what's known and what's been tried.  I tried to link to it,  but I don't appear to be as smart  as my phone this morning .
20201210_094250.jpg
An island of mountain misery.
An island of mountain misery.
 
Posts: 126
Location: USDA zone 6a/5b
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It has medicinal uses as tea.  what else do you want to plant in it's place?

Some plant will have to grow there lest another out-competes it.
 
Jeff Berning
Posts: 32
Location: CA . 3000 ft elevation, mostly southwestern slope , zone 9a
15
hugelkultur duck chicken food preservation homestead
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Ben Gorski wrote:It has medicinal uses as tea.  what else do you want to plant in it's place?

Some plant will have to grow there lest another out-competes it.



If it tastes anything like it smells. I'll pass on the tea.

If you cut it back it takes about 12 monrhs for it regrow. I've also found if you attack the root system enough it will slow its regrowth and grasses and wildflowers can start to reestablish.

The roots break fairly easily and that's what makes it hard to eradicate.

If it wasnt for the mountain misery, the hill would probably be covered in grasses and wildflower 4 to 5.moths s year.

It served its purpose after the logging. The hillside is still place and it kept lots of small trees from popping up, by choking out almost everything but the manzanita.  
 
Posts: 838
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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We always thought it smelled like artichokes, but there are quite a few plants that have scents that just don't work for everyone.

Mountain Misery has its benefits, as listed below, and is an important part of the forest environment, as well as a food source for black-tailed deer.  I am not recommending whatever kind of herbal uses it has, this is just info.

Because it's a ground cover, if you have a heavy duty mower or tractor with an attachment, it can be mowed so that the greenery is always cut off, then the roots cannot be fed.  This will require mowing whenever greenery shows up again, which in the spring could be every few weeks.  But unless it's really in the way, causing you problems, maybe it is actually something good as part of the balance of where you live.  If it's not getting into the septic lines, and no one is allergic to it, you have enough room for a garden and grazing for animals, it maybe should be trimmed around the edges instead of eradicated.

Pros:

- Nitrogen fixation
- prevents runoffs and landslides
- seldom grows tall enough to create a ladder to fuel a fire
- major source of food for black-tailed deer during their winter migration
- indication of ground water
- it is involved in ground fires that help keep the forest clear of brush and flammable debris.


Chamaebatia foliolosa, Mountain misery was used by the Indians of the Sierras as a medicine for various diseases like flues, colds, coughs, etc. Take one leaf cluster of 4 or 5 leaves and steep it in a cup of hot water for 15-20 min. at the first symptoms of an illness. Somehow drink the tea.

Chamaebatia, also known as mountain misery, its English common name derives from early settlers' experience with the plant's dense tangle and sticky, strong-smelling resin. They are actinorhizal, non-legumes capable of nitrogen fixation.

It creeps up and down the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, grabbing hold of whole hillsides, oozing a pungent sap that sticks to your clothes and skin. Most animals avoid it because of its smell. It sounds like a science fiction creature, but it is mountain misery (Chamaebatia foliolosa). It is also called bear clover, bearmat, or the Miwok Indians called it kit-kit-dizze.

It grows only on the western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at elevations between two and seven thousand feet. It is a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family and blooms in May through June. It has tiny white flowers with bright yellow stamens in the middle and covers vast areas under Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Manzanita, Pacific dogwoods, and incense cedars.

Mountain misery sucks up the moisture from the earth in the spring so tree seedlings can’t grow, yet it is a very important selective agent in the building of healthy forests. It ensures that tree seedlings are well spaced and not crowding each other to become weak saplings. It also holds the duff in place and provides natural seed beds.

Forest managers are caught in a dilemma: on the one hand, mountain misery impedes the growth of conifer seedlings; on the other, it acts as an excellent slope stabilizer. Its rhizomes spread underground up to five feet deep and have been measured up to 82 feet long. Because of its tenacious rhizomes (underground specialized horizontal stems that have nodes or buds, differentiating them from roots), it can hold whole hillsides in place and prevent erosion during heavy rains. This is especially important after a forest fire, when much of the vegetation has been burned away, leaving hillside vulnerable to slides. Mountain misery’s recovery from fire is rapid. It grows back in only three years after a top-kill forest fire and prevents runoff and landslides.

Its resinous leaves are highly flammable, especially when draped with fallen pine needles and other forest debris. A forest fire will almost explode along its leaves. Mountain misery’s thicket-like intertwined stems make it difficult for fire fighters to cut through it in order to establish a fire break during a forest fire. However, it seldom grows tall enough to create ladder fuels that contribute to devastating crown fires. Growing naturally in environments adapted to wild fire, it is involved in ground fires that help keep the forest clear of brush and flammable debris.

Deer reluctantly graze on it after the autumn rains have washed the oily secretions away. It is the main source of food for black-tailed deer during their winter migration. They paw through the snowdrifts and graze on it when other vegetation has gone dormant or died back. Its absence would surely threaten their survival.

The Miwok Indians made a tea from it that was taken for rheumatism, colds, chicken pox, and other diseases.

Pulling it up like a weed just encourages it to germinate twice as fast.
 
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