Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weed Walk, Part 1

I took a walk around the building where I've worked for several years to see what I could see. The fence separating the school from the neighboring pasture is a perfect setting for weed watchers. It's nearly always windy, so there's a constant supply of migrating seeds of the windblown type. There's also a great variety of bird life carrying seeds in their various ways, including "jump starting" some by passage through their intestines. Then there's the cattle feed, just as good at spreading weeds as it was in the days of the pilgrims. Many of our common weeds first came here from Europe via Sir Walter Raleigh's ships and the New England settlers that followed. So, the weed haters almost ruined it for me. The top photo shows the beginning of an attempt to kill everything along the fence, but, thankfully, the process was interrupted. I began my walk by crossing the lawn on the way to the fence and went through a great patch of a species of Ranunculus, or buttercups (second photo from bottom). Like their dandelion neighbors, they've learned to bloom low to avoid the lawnmower blades.
I continued along the fence beyond the poisoned stretch, and found the daisies have begun their annual show. Have you ever looked really closely at a daisy from various angles? Click on each of the daisy photos for closer views and enjoy the intricacy of this wonderful plant, a weed, whose scientific name is Chrysanthemum. After the close-up of a daisy's disk, there's a shot of some Blue-eyed Grass (an Iris relative), Sisyrhinchium, that haven't quite opened all the way. I'll be checking on them every day until they do. The last photo is of an intriguing weed that I don't know - yet. Check part two of this story in the next post below.
[It's Sunday afternoon. Thanks to a tip from Charles Russell, I figured out the plant in the bottom photo. He suggested it might be Shepherd's Purse. I knew it wasn't that because I remembered my close-up view of the seeds. However, he put me in the right family, the mustard family, Brassicaceae. Formerly known as Cruciferae. In popular lingo, we speak of cruciferous vegetables - mustard, broccoli, watercress, and many others. Anyway, this one is Field Cress, Lepidium campestre, a close relative of the more common Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum. I drove out to that fence row this afternoon and brought home a handful and was able to check it out in my 52-year-old "How to Know the Weeds." ]


  1. I can't quite tell from that picture, as I would need to see the leaves, and it isn't coming through quite clear. From here it looks like Capsella bursa-pastoris, Shepherd's Purse?

    Take a look at

  2. Thanks Charlie. Close, but no cigar. You helped me nail the family, then, after collecting a specimen, I was able to key it to Field Cress, Lepidium campestre. See addition to the post above.

  3. I wasn't sure, but I couldn't see the seed pods very clearly in the photo. The seed pods are the best clue.