Hydrochloric Acid, NaOH, and English Ivy

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guyburns
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TL;DR Summary
Will HCl and/or NaOH attack and somehow overcome the waxy coating, so that the plant till uptake glyphosate to kill it?
Background
I live next to the Forth River in NW Tasmania. If it was free of weeds, the bank would be a lovely area, 5 metres below the parallel country road, 20 metres wide and about 800 metres long. But since settlement in the 1850s, introduced weeds have taken over -- blackberries so high I had to cut a tunnel through them to start the clearing process 10 years ago. Worse still, 15 years before that a neighbour planted English Ivy over the road to "beautify" the river bank.

What works on other pests
I've sorted out the blackberries (3 months to die with 1.5% glyphosate); Cape Weed (6 weeks, 1%), Passionfruit vine (8 weeks, 1%), Buffalo Grass (2 weeks, 1%) and so on, but glyphosate has little effect on English Ivy. It's thriving and spreading, now covering about 1/3 of the bank area (5000 sq m) and climbing 10 metres up the gum trees. Here's what Roundup has to say about Ivy.

Trials
Over the last three years I've tried spraying NaOH, HCl, salt water at various concentrations, white vinegar and gasoline (painted on). The latest test on a small patch seems kind of promising: 2% glyphosate with a spoonful of metsulfuron methyl, sprayed every week. But that method won't be suitable for the entire bank, too time consuming and too much chemical.

I even thought: "Ahh -- Agent Orange might do it", so I looked it up. Depressing reading. It took scientists thousands of trails over years to come up with that method of defoliation. And here I am do a test or two every year! Not much hope for me, but still…

New Approach
Anyway, I've had a new idea: a two-part approach. Breach the waxy coating first, and then hit it with glyphosate. So I've been soaking leaves in salt water, white vinegar, NaOH, and HCl.
  • The salt water and the vinegar seem to have no effect after one day;
  • the NaOH solution, clear to start with, is stripping colour from the leaves very slowly (no colour change for the first few hours);
  • but the HCl took the shine off the leaves, and turned them yellow, in maybe 10 minutes. A day later, the HCL leaves are a very dark green/brown. So maybe the HCl will be the go for the first step of a two-part approach.

Ivy Test.jpg


Ques 1
What is the HCl doing to the leaves?

Ques 2
Is that gas coming off the HCl all the time (with or without leaves) hydrogen? If I leave HCl in the open, will it eventually turn into something else?

Ques 3
What is the NaOH doing to the leaves?

Ques 4
Since both HCl and NaOh are doing something, which is more likely to make the leaves more susceptible to glyphosate uptake?

Experience with killing English Ivy?
Finally, I've researched and been testing methods of chemically killing Ivy for years. I'm keen to hear of any method (other than mechanical) that you have personally used and proven to kill English Ivy. Please don't offer hearsay methods. I've heard them all. One method does work, though suitable only for vertical stems thicker than about 12mm – cut the stem, put gaffer tape around the cut to form a "tank", then add a thick layer of pure salt to the tank.

As a last resort in a year or two, after I've shown chemicals to be ineffective, I'll begin pulling the stuff out.
 
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  • #2
Apart from more or less obvious environmental hazards related to use of all substances mentioned - you never said what is the concentration of NaOH/HCl, and that's the most important thing here. If they are too concentrated, they just destroy plant tissues (you could use torch as well). If they are too diluted, they do nothing. Everything in between possible.
 
  • #3
guyburns said:
I'll begin pulling the stuff out.
Honestly, that's what we started with. And there was no need to switch method...
 
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  • #4
Not my field of expertise but my suggestion is you might want to use conc.sulphuric acid to remove the waxy cuticle layer. The cuticle is made of polysaccharides also it might dehydrate the leaf too if it reaches the leaf layer( just a suggestion , i have no real experience but you might want to try this out)

I Will answer some your questions

I am not sure for ques 1, 3 and 4 but

Ques 2:If the HCl is reacting there could be two cases
Case 1: The waxy layer is reacting with the HCl and consuming Cl- ion and giving off Hydrogen(seems very less likely considering we are dealing with cellulose,starch etc)
Case 2: It is consuming H+ ion and the gas might be Cl2
But ofcourse it could be that the entire molecule is reacting and releasing something else if anything .
If it is not reacting then the gas you could be detecting must be HCl fumes
Test for all 3 gases! .
Same for NaOH !

These reactions will not happen mostly as pointed out by the post below
 
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  • #5
PhysicsEnjoyer31415 said:
Ques 2:If the HCl is reacting there could be two cases
Case 1: The waxy layer is reacting with the HCl and consuming Cl- ion and giving off Hydrogen(seems very less likely considering we are dealing with cellulose,starch etc)
Case 2: It is consuming H+ ion and the gas might be Cl2

You are just making this out, this is not how acids react with organic matter, at least not in 99% cases.
 
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  • #6
Borek said:
You are just making this out, this is not how acids react with organic matter, at least not in 99% cases.
I understand , but what is causing the leaves going yellow?. Someone please explain it for me (and ofcourse the OP too) will be of great help thank you!

Maybe this article can explain ?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7411892/
 
  • #7
Agent Orange??! Woah there... :nb)

I had heard of kudzu invasive vine taking over like that. I did not realize that English Ivy was similar.
 
  • #8
I have always ascribed it to conjugation happening in cellulose from elimination. Filter paper, wood, and so on will also stain yellow in contact with NaOH solutions.
 
  • #9
Not sure how familiar you are with various adjuvants for herbicide. Or various herbicides for that matter. Glyphosate is a good weed killer but there are better herbicides for specific species. You need to find an adjuvant with an oil based penetrant that is used for what you want to do. These products are made to break through the layer of the leaf that you are dealing with. Don't try to invent something. I admit I know little about the ivy you have there but I suspect picloram would be a good choice. It is good for killing woody species. It is relative safe but in the USA is still a restricted use pesticide. It has residual activity in the soil and easily travels in the ground. Applying it to a plant can result in the product moving through the root system and affecting nearby plants. If there is nothing nearby you are concerned with you should be ok. In the USA it is typically used to kill a volunteer tree by painting the stump after the tree is sawed off. Glyphosate works ok for this as well but in my opinion not as well as picloram. Not sure about it's affects on fish. It's been a while since I've read the label. I'm sure you can find info on the Web concerning it's use.
 
  • #11
Thanks for the replies. Below is the result of 24 hours in the various solutions, then 12 hours in air. I added a drop of water to see how the water behaved. Hydrophobic -beaded up; hydrophylic- spread out.

1. White vinegar. Leaf losing colour, flexible, hydrophobic
2. Salt solution - no visible effect, flexible, hydrophobic
3. HCl – leaf brown, flexible, hydrophobic
4. NaOH – leaf severely curled and dried up, hydrophylic

Ivy Test (24 hrs).jpg


I have no idea what the solution strengths were for the HCl and NaoH. I just grabbed some I had made up years ago, the HCl for cleaning steel and the NaOH for cleaning aluminium, both solutions kept and reused many times. Once I have a possible method for attacking the waxy coating, then I'll get serious about testing various solutions strengths.

Comments on #4 please. What's going on there? Appears way too strong a solution for what I require. I'm about to start testing 1, 2, 3 and 4 spoonfuls per litre, in tanks, not outside yet.
 
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  • #12
PhysicsEnjoyer suggested I read this:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7411892/

An interesting read, but most of it too technical for me. However, three bits I did roughly follow, indicating to me that maybe I should try a solution with pH of less than 3, which may cause thinning of the cuticle "through which certain substances penetrate more easily into the leaf."
  1. Acid rain alterations on the leaf anatomy depend on the acid concentration and the leaf exposure time. Only visible damage occurred at pH 2.5 treatment for both species; however, anatomical and biochemical damage was detected at pH 3.8. Damage was observed as necrotic and chlorotic spots from yellow to brown in the intercostal spaces, at the bases of trichomes, and the margin of the leaves.
  2. When leaves are exposed to the acid, the acid is able to oxidize and hydrolyze the wax esters, releasing some long-chain fatty acids from the cuticular waxy matrix, therefore forming aggregates on the leaf surface. We observed this phenomenon mostly in pH 2.5, wherein the cuticle was affected at the sites of contact and accumulation of acid drops, generating the formation of amorphous wax aggregates, cuticle scaling, the erosion of epicuticular waxes, and the loss of turgor in the cells of the epidermis.
  3. Furthermore, changes on the leaf surface, and particularly the cuticle, could generate a hydrophilic condition that increases the water permeability, making the leaf more sensitive to water loss, or to the entry of acidic substances into the tissues. For instance, we report damage at the base of trichomes in F. uhdei when treated with pH 2.5; this could be due to laxer cuticles at these sites as compared to the rest of the leaf surface. This thinning in the cuticle has been previously reported, which explains the existence of cuticle pores where the cuticle is thinner, through which certain substances penetrate more easily into the leaf.
Tom.G – I read the link you provided, and "Turpentine" was mentioned, so I'm going to see what effect turpentine has on an Ivy leaf.

Averagesupernova – thanks for the picloram suggestion. Never heard of it, so I downloaded a PDF from invasive.org – "Smith et al. (1988) reported that one and two years after treating a site with 3.38 kg/ha of picloram, residues were found in the soils and groundwater of an untreated site one km away... Picloram and its derivatives can be highly toxic when inhaled and can cause severe eye damage." A bit too risky for my liking.
 
  • #13
guyburns said:
A bit too risky for my liking.
You are playing with HCl and NaOH (and, possibly: Turpentine) here and I can assure you that the amount you are considering is far more than 3.38 kg/ha.
 
  • #14
guyburns said:
TL;DR Summary: Will HCl and/or NaOH attack and somehow overcome the waxy coating, so that the plant till uptake glyphosate to kill it?

Besides the hazards of handling dangerous chemicals, you may end up harming other living things that you did not intend to. Plus some of it may wash down to the ground water and river.

It is a lot harder but I would try and cut and dig them out.
 
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  • #15
guyburns said:
Averagesupernova – thanks for the picloram suggestion. Never heard of it, so I downloaded a PDF from invasive.org –
Since you haven't heard of it, I'm guessing you have no business using it or attempting some of the other things you are doing. I'm uninformed of pesticide restrictions you would have in your part of the world. In the USA there is a good reason restricted use pesticides require the training and licensing that they do for their use and purchase. Yet you seemed to have an interest in using agent orange. Hmmm.
-
I think you are wasting your time with a two step process breaking through the the waxy leaf and later applying glyphosate. You want the health of the leaf (and whole plant) to be as good as possible when the herbicide is applied for best uptake. I would not trust any homemade chemistry for this. Use an industry proven product or combination of products for a one pass application.
 
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  • #16
A search on Hedera helix (ivy) & glyphosate: the ivy you want to remove with Round up:

returns:
https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs...m 2016/EnglishIvyManagementResourcePacket.pdf

The authors are horticultural weed control specialists. They do not recommend most of what you seem to be doing and seem to want to do. Instead they give other advice on the following:
responsible use of pesticides,
personal safety,
effectiveness,
avoid damage to desired plants

Please consider reading the article from the link above.

Safety concerns with glyphosate, notice the cautions
MSDS: https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/US/en/sds/SIAL/45521?sdslanguage=E

MSDS documents are kind of technical, but notice the section on carcinogenesis
 
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  • #17
guyburns said:
TL;DR Summary: Will HCl and/or NaOH attack and somehow overcome the waxy coating, so that the plant till uptake glyphosate to kill it?

I've sorted out the blackberries (3 months to die with 1.5% glyphosate); Cape Weed (6 weeks, 1%), Passionfruit vine (8 weeks, 1%), Buffalo Grass (2 weeks, 1%) and so on, but glyphosate has little effect on English Ivy. It's thriving and spreading, now covering about 1/3 of the bank area (5000 sq m) and climbing 10 metres up the gum trees.
I thought I would also point out that I think it is silly to try to clear all of the land on the river bank. Bare ground along a river invites erosion of said ground. The old cliche that nature abhors a vacuum is true. If there is a place something will grow, it will. It is understandable why you may want to clear some species of plant life due to accessibility but if there is a type of grass growing I would leave it. There are better choices than to kill everything.
 
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  • #18
Averagesupernova said:
You want the health of the leaf (and whole plant) to be as good as possible when the herbicide is applied for best uptake. I would not trust any homemade chemistry for this.

This^
 
  • #19
I am a farmer by trade.

Sulfuric acid works amazing. 20% concentration is all you need. it wont work on bindweed however, that stuff is wayyy too deep into the earth.

Also, you live in Australia, if you can like cut them back to about 2 in above the ground (chainsaw perhaps) you can put a white tarp down, and it'll roast them. I'd put some acid solution down first, but yea that will do it.


Quit spraying glyphosphate, you'll mess yourself up.

[Profanity deleted from post by the Mentors]
 
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  • #20
IMHO, mechanical may be the only way to go. I 'waged war' on creeper / ivy that had 'mummified' gable-end of MIL's house. Cutting major stems near ground revealed that many mini-ivies had 'taken root' as air-plants, were thriving....

I used a bill-hook, then a blow-lamp-- The latter with 'Due Care' to prevent a run-away fire of withered leaves / stems.

Similarly, a different ivy / creeper had totally enveloped a big rockery, festooned side and roof of MIL's garage.

I re-fitted strimmer with 'tabs', chopped and hauled. Finally, when I'd found and cut major stems near roots, I was able to deploy weed-burner and scorch the hold-outs...

In your case, I'd price hire of a 'bush-beater' machine, cross between mini-combine harvester and shredder. They're designed for rapidly razing such 'robust' snarls of shrubbery.
Given task size, operator-inclusive hire probably wise...
Then, when weather appropriate to prevent wild-fire, use weed-burner on revenant stems.
Deep-till as grand finale...

And, per caution above, please respect river-bank integrity / stability: Holding up that bank may suddenly become both urgent and expensive...
 
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