Taking us to Chelsea in 2007.
Live images from Chelsea on May 21st at 8pm.
Please tell your friends. No one else will.
Written by Wally Richards. 19th May 2007
WAR ON BRYOPHYTES
Bryophytes and Embryophytes are the botanical names given
to mosses, lichen, liverworts, hornworts, molds, algae and slimes. These
are what one could label primate plant-like forms which were the first
land type plants on the planet, millions of years ago. It was as a result
of these primitive plant forms that began the process of building soils
from rocks split and powdered by the action of water and ice.
Members of this diverse plant family are found all over the world, many
growing in places where no other types of plants could grow, so in a sense
they are still creating growing conditions for higher plant forms to grow.
Many bryophytes are very attractive with feather or fern like structures
where others look more like something from a alien landscape.
When bryophytes grow in places we do not want them to grow they
become a nuisance just like weeds.
Lichen and liverworts appear to be able to grow on most surfaces including
glass, public footpaths, fences and roof tiles are favorite spots for
them. Vertical glass is difficult for them but glass roofs of glasshouses
Algae and mosses growing on paths make for a slippery condition when wet
and dangerous to those that can occur serious injury if they slip and
Lichens that colonise on the trunks and branches of plants and trees look
unsightly and can lead to rots and losses.
Mosses growing in lawns are another bug bare, not only making the
lawn unsightly but also suffocating our preferred grasses.
More often than not, wherever bryophytes appear, it means a war
to eradicate and control. When action is not taken they prolificate, spreading
out to cause more harm.
Bryophytes cannot be controlled easily by scrapping off, as residues will
be left that allow them to re-stablish.
In lawns many resort to sulphate of iron to burn off mosses, which
is only a very temporary fix as the acidity of the iron only burns off
the top of the moss, allowing it to re-establish again fairly quickly.
There are various products advertised to clean up bryophytes such as ones
that are sprayed on, then left for weathering to remove. Many of these
are fairly expensive and bryophytes are like ants, you can never
eradicate them as they will always come back .
Bryophytes multiply by spores of which they create vast numbers, carried
by water and air they will always return.
Some years back a chemical called benzalkonium chloride, which was used
in the medical industry for sterilizing instruments, was discovered to
be a boon in the control of bryophytes without harming other plants.
Benzalkonium chloride is an interesting chemical been an aqueous
solution and used as a detergent, fungicide, bactericide, and spermicide.
It is still widely used in mild solutions for eyewashes, hand and face
washes, mouthwashes, spermicidal creams, and in various other cleaners,
sanitizers, and disinfectants, though there are some concerns on its safety
as it can be an irritant even in mild doses and very much so in stronger
The first product to use benzalkonium for the control of mosses etc was
Surrender and the writer picked up on this many years ago and introduced
its use to gardeners in Palmerston North though the garden centre I was
operating at that time. It became very popular but was only available
in the commercial pack of one litre.
I convinced Yates NZ to market the product for New Zealand gardeners,
at which time it became available in 200 ml bottles. A ‘me-two’ product
emerged with the same formulation called Yield and McGregors came out
with McGregors Yield Moss Control also in a 200 ml bottle at a more
These proved very popular and effective resulting in other chemical controls
on the market, for the home garden to disappear.
Over the following years these brands of the chemical benzalkonium
have become fairly expensive leading to complaints from gardeners as to
their cost effectiveness.
The products are formulated at 500g / litre benzalkonium chloride in the
form of a soluble concentrate and used at the rates of 25 to 50
mls per litres of water making the 200 ml bottle only able to produce
between 4 to 8 litres of spray.
Not a lot if you have a big area to cover and the need to re-apply when
the problems reappear.
Many mosses and liverworts need the 50 mls per litre dosage to have effective
control where some other bryophytes such as lichen and algae can
be controlled successfully at rates of 10 to 20 mls per litre.
Unfortunately the strength of only 10 to 20 mls for lichen and algae information
is not always made available and gardeners can waste product using unnecessarily
at the higher rates on these easier to control bryophytes.
A new product is now available from some garden centres using the same
formulation and called Moss and Liverwort Control. Available in both 200
ml and 500 ml containers making it more affordable in comparison to the
Another interesting aspect is that the chemical benzalkonium chloride
is a track able chemical by ERMA which does not affect the home garden
market in quantities of up to 1 litre.
But if a gardener has in storage over 1 litre of the concentrate then
they must by law have a handler’s licence.
This is obtained by sitting a one day agrichemical course and passing.
I congratulate ERMA in taking tighter controls on agricultural chemicals
which is in the interest of us all and the environment.
The new regulations also means that more safety information must be on
the labels of many chemicals, which should help users to be more careful
while handling and using.
Moss and Liverwort Control’s labels has all the new requirements for safety
which at first glance may give the user concerns about using the product.
This is good in actual fact as more care is likely to be taken and a great
advantage to the user as you would certainly not want to get a splash
of the concentrate (or the diluted product) in your eyes.
The safety information for 500g / litre benzalkonium chloride is:
KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN
May cause an allergic skin reaction. Causes severe skin burns and eye
May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.
Toxic to terrestrial vertebrates. Toxic if swallowed.
WARNING: PRECAUTIONS: IF SWALLOWED: Rinse mouth. DO NOT induce vomiting.
IF ON SKIN: Wash with plenty of soap and water. IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously
with water for several minutes. Store in original container, tightly closed,
away from foodstuffs. When mixing wear a face shield and protective waterproof
gloves and clothing. When spraying use protective clothing. Do not eat,
drink or smoke while using. Wash hands and face before meals and after
work. Toxic to aquatic organisms. Do not contaminate streams, rivers or
waterways with the product or empty container. Disposal of Containers:
Triple rinse empty container and add residue to spray tank. Burn the empty
container if circumstances, especially wind direction permit. Otherwise
bury in a landfill. Avoid contamination of any water supply with chemicals
or empty container.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE (All Hours) 0800 243 622
By wearing rubber or latex gloves, gum boots, protective waterproof clothing,
eye protection and a spraying mask while mixing with water and spraying
should keep you nicely safe. One of the great advantages of this product
is that you can safely spray it over other plants without harming them
but to be sure of this, it is advised that one should water the
preferred plant’s foliage with the hose, 30 minutes after spraying. It
only takes 30 minutes for Moss and Liverwort Control to get into the target
bryophyte and do its job. If it rains or you water after that time the
product will not be deactivated.
When using the product adjust your spray nozzle away from a mist to more
of a jet as it needs a bit of force to get into the bryophyte. The product
has a similar action to glyphosate (Roundup etc) as it goes right through
the bryophyte killing the all of it and often making the target area difficult
for re-establishment for sometime.
The product must not be mixed with other sprays to avoid chemical reactions
but other sprays can be applied to the target area later. For instance
if you have moss in a lawn; firstly spray with Moss and Liverwort Control
and next day a lawn herbicide and Thatch Busta could be applied, mixed
together. The Thatch Busta will also help clean up the material left behind
by the dead moss.
Once sprayed and the area lightly watered 30 plus minutes later the re-entry
of children, pets or wild life can be allowed. The product can be used
indoors in the weaker solutions to control molds in showers, on the backs
of curtains etc.
With the right knowledge and precautions applied, makes this product very
efficient and safe to use.
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
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