Monday, June 18, 2012

Weeds or Wildflowers?

Does this look like "a useless, troublesome, or noxious plant" ? Did you answer no? You're right (on my side). The dictionary's wrong. Negative connotations about weeds grow profusely. Pulling your garden weeds? You must keep up of course, or you'll never find your vegetables that you worked so hard to germinate this spring. Same for your annual and perennial gardens. Do what must be done.

I'm talking here about the often overlooked "weeds" along your street. The routes you drive everyday.

Weeds get mowed
along the road
incessantly despised.

But when you take
a closer look
that thought will be revised.

Once again, "Father Nature" will try to persuade his viewers to take a different view. The closer view. This summer I will be sharing some "weeds" with you as they come into their flowering prime. Some of them last a very long time.

Can we now agree to call them common roadside wildflowers? Thanks for being agreeable for the foreseeable future, or until you need to pluck them from your garden.

Today's candidate is the Moth Mullein. Not to be confused with the very hairy, and coarse, Common Mullein. See this one @ WWFN later this summer.

The Moth Mullein is more slender and delicate.

Here is the spike of flowers on the erect stalk, maturing from bottom to top. Notice the button-like buds, pentagon-shaped before they open.

This still growing, ascending stalk holds tightly bunched, future flowers, that gradually will space out as the plant grows taller with maturity.

Height: 2-4 feet

Flowering: June - September

Fruit: Many-seeded, spherical, pea-sized capsule

  • Scant leafage
  • Naturalized from Europe
  • It's a biennial - a plant with a two-year life cycle, usually fruiting in the second year
  • Its fuzzy filaments resemble moth antennae. Hence the name.

Look closely at the five yellow petals. They are united, or fused at their base, and nearly radially symmetrical.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Five orange anthers with violet/magenta hairs on the filaments. Some say it's "violet-bearded".

Well, now you've seen our first candidate. Using this system, you get to assign the party to the candidate. How will you vote? Weed or Wildflower? (Use comment section below)

Moth Mullein - (Verbascum blattaria)

Photo Location: Townsend Park, (Townsend Park) Kent County, Michigan