Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A likely nuisance plant

What the heck IS that? See that tall, gangly multi-branched plant that I allowed to grow and have space in our gardens? I've been wondering for the longest time about it. So I finally emailed a photo to wildlife biologist Ricky Linex with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and asked him. 

"Looks like something related to mare’s tail, Conyza canadensis," he wrote back. "Google images may show you what it will look like in flower.  If it is this plant, it is just a weed and should be pulled and not allowed to make seed."

I checked Wildflower.org and found a species account for "horseweed." Why would he consider it a "weed" (other than "weed" is part of its common name)? I was curious.

That's a "throwback to my days talking to farmers and ranchers," he replied. "Livestock won’t eat it, deer don’t prefer it, and seeds are pretty small for birds. It grows up and takes moisture and sunlight away from other plants but offers very little value. Perhaps it has some value for pollinators. There are natives that can be weeds. The blooms are many small whitish flowers and not too impressive."

I think for the time being that I'm going to let it flower and see what they look like. Then I'll cut them off. No point in allowing them to reseed, as Ricky recommends.

P.S. Conyza canadensis is mentioned in this interesting article, "Profiles of spontaneous urban plants."

1 comment:

TexasDeb said...

Hey! I've absolutely got one of those and had no idea what it was. Like you I let it grow - it never flowered that I could tell so I cut it off at the ground and it has come back this year. Now I won't bother letting it take up space or compete for sun any longer. Thanks for the heads up!

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