Monday, August 31, 2009
One thing about weeding is that you have to be sure of what belongs and what does not belong in the garden. The plant in the forefront kind of blended in, but somehow didn't look right for a butterfly garden. Some sleuthing was in order.
Throughout 10 moves in Middlesex, Morris and Union counties, it has served me well, and it still does here in the Queen City.
Housman's line drawings are better than glossy photographic guides for identification, I have found.
The mysterious plant turned out to be Abuliton Theophrasti, known commonly as Indian Mallow or Velvetleaf. But my guide was published long before non-native plants were labeled as invasives, so Housman passes no judgment in her write-up. I'm guessing that a high percentage of these "wild flowers" would be scorned today, no matter how beautiful they might be.
Sure enough, a search turned up the modern-day dossier on this plant. In Washington State, it is a Class A Noxious Weed! Each plant produces hundreds to many thousands of seeds, which remain viable for half a century or more, even after passing through an animal's digestive tract. Evergreen State residents are warned to eradicate it at once and report it to state authorities.
New Jersey is not as aggressive about battling invasives as Washington is, but still it seems I better get over there and pull that fiendish plant out of the butterfly garden as soon as possible. The challenge will be where to put it, if indeed its seeds are so durable. Maybe in a block of concrete?
Such are the dramas in the natural world that go largely unnoticed as we deal with the ills of so-called civilization. Maybe I can't roll back pollution or even good old New Jersey corruption, but I will march today on the butterfly garden and disarm that evil interloper before it takes over Plainfield!