Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ivy is a porch barnacle

I just realized that ivy is a porch barnacle. 

Like its seaward sister, it starts small and is a already a problem when you first spot it. 

It fastens itself to posts, crawls between boards, and climbs effortlessly. It grows tiny rootlets that don't need soil, and produces a superglue that allows it to adhere to any surface, even glass. The rootlets absorb water from rain and the air, and flourish anywhere. 

Left too long, it's a struggle to remove the vines. And once you dislodge it, it leaves behind tough tan dry roots. 

If barnacles are scraped off they leave behind their footprint too.  Here's a rock I picked up at the ocean. You can see large and small barnacle imprints. 

Like the ivy, cirripods manufacture a fixative that fuses the larvae to the host. They attach head first, and their bodies have tubes that deliver the glue. As the barnacle grows, layers of the animal are added, and more cement laid down. 

Of course, both ivy and barnacles add weight to whatever they affix themselves to. Ivy in a large tree can literally weigh a ton, and barnacles on a boat can slow its progress.

I don't want my porch to be overgrown with ivy so I snip it off a couple of times a year. 

As for our rowboat, maybe the barnacles are the reason I'm a klutz with oars! 

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