Sunday, August 28, 2022

Late Summer in the Garden

Late August is surely the height--or just past the height=--of summer. The temperatures are as hot as they'll get. Many plants are in full bloom. I rarely appreciate "high summer." By this time I'm tired of being too hot and weeding has gotten old. And yet, my plants are reveling in being warm and large. So I took my camera to document the peak of the growing season.

The little French marigolds (Tagetes patula) that I planted this spring are about at their best. Their flowers are open and few are beyond flowering, maturing seeds. 

French marigolds, Tagetes patula
French marigolds, Tagetes patula

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Impossible Origins of Purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a worldwide crop and weed (see last week's post link). It has been cultivated for thousands of years in both the Old World and the New. That doesn't make much sense: how did it cross the oceans before Columbus?

purslane, Portulaca oleracea
purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Plant Story--Purslane, Portulaca oleracea, Nutritious and Weedy, Everywhere

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea, purslane family Portulaceae) is a very widespread, common plant. 

purslane, Portulaca oleracea
purslane, Portulaca oleracea

So much has been written about it that mostly I'm going to remind you to notice it.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The "Ideal" Weed

My major professor, Herbert G. Baker, caused a stir in academic botany in 1965 by publishing a list of the characteristics of an "ideal" weed. Since weeds are not popular, an ideal one is a troubling idea.

What Baker did was to look at the characteristics of successful weeds and reduce them to a list, characters of plants highly adapted to reproducing rapidly under any conditions. No real plant has all those characteristics, but some have several. 

The paper made me look analytically at troublesome, weedy plants...and reluctantly admire their resilience and productivity. Fifty-seven years later, these are still good ideas. 

dandelion seeds ready to fly