Monday, August 31, 2009

A Villain in the Garden

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.

A long time ago, I acquired the "Beginner's Guide to Wild Flowers" by Ethel Hinckley Housman.

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!
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice! I still can't laugh hard, but if I could you would have me rolling on laughter.

Thanks for volunteering to help keep up the Butterfly Garden at Grace.

Maria Pellum

9:17 AM  
Blogger active citizen said...

This has nothing to do with this article, but our mayor is having another meeting about Connolly Properties and, once again, hasn't made notices public. There is a notice in the lobby of 606 Crescent Avenue. The meeting is at City Hall Library at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1, tomorrow.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I hope you wore your combat gear taking on the evil weed!

And, what active citizen said -- except the posted notice at my building (ripped down some time last night) said 6:30 PM.

7:12 PM  

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