Amaranthus spinosus (Spiny Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed, Etc.)
Hello again! Here is part 2 of the Wildflower Walk. Starting out with one of the most dreaded weeds in the pasture is the Amaranthus spinosus also known as the Spiny Amaranth. I remember my grandpa battling these as a kid, digging and hacking away. Well, they are still here in great numbers, mainly in the area behind the barn, around the pond, and… Come to think of it, they are just about everywhere in the front pasture.
All the photos on this post were taken on September 8…
They have these darn little thorns on their stems that make them such a pain. When I put “the good stuff” in the garden from where I feed hay, these crazy guys come in the garden. You either have to use gloves to pull them up or grab the lowest part of their stem.
This weed is native of the tropical Americas but has been introduced to almost every continent. Hard to imagine, but it is a food crop and used in many dishes in Africa and several Asian countries. In India, they use the ashes of the fruit to treat jaundice. Water extracts from its roots and leaves have been used as a diuretic in Vietnam.
Ambrosia trifida (Giant Ragweed)
Many people know this plant all too well when it comes to allergies. Luckily, I haven’t been bothered with allergies but I know several people who have the problem. Many have never even seen a Ragweed.
Even though the flowers are tiny, they are LOADED with very potent pollen.
Even when not in flower, the plants can be recognized by their tri-lobed leaves. Some of their leaves aren’t trilobed, and of course, there are other plants with tri-lobed leaves that aren’t Ragweeds.
Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needles)
Bidens bipinnata is the naughty cousin of the Bidens aristosa known as Spanish Needles (and a few other choice names I can’t write down).
These are my second least favorite of the stick-tight crew.
Quite often when I need to walk into an area where these are growing I change my mind and go somewhere else.
Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)
I didn’t realize this plant was a thistle until I took these photos and did the research to find its name. Yeah, the flowers look like thistles alright, but the leaves are nothing like the other two or three species on the farm. My favorite didn’t come up this year which means my eradication program worked for it. 🙂 Getting rid of thistles is fairly easy without spray and you make a big dent in the population within three years (the same as with spraying). Just stick your shovel into the stem, about 3″ below the surface, and that’s it.
The bad thing about thistles is that their flowers are so neat!
While their leaves do have a few small needles, they are nothing like the other species. These don’t seem to be as plentiful, either.
Commelina communis (Dayflower)
This cute little flower is the Commelina communis which is the Dayflower. It is in the Commelinaceae family with the Spiderworts, Purple Hearts, White Gossamer, Wandering Jews, and so on.
There are several species of Commelina with similar flowers. The flowers emerge between a folded up leaf at the top of the stem, just as with Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart and Pale Puma) and the Tradescantia sillamontana (White Gossamer) on the front porch.
Eupatorium altissimum (Fall Thoroughwort)
From a distance, you might think this plant is the Ageratina altissimum (White Snakeroot) which is in part 1. This plant is Eupatorium altissima, the Fall Thoroughwort. Apparently, some botanists were confused as well, even Carl von Linnaeus himself. Carl Linnaeus named and described the Eupatorium altissima in AND the Ageratum altissima in Species Plantarum in 1753. Then, in 1754, he changed Ageratum altissima to Eupatorium altissima in his description in Systema Vegetabilium. Did he forget he already gave a plant that name? The error was eventually found out, but it took until 1970! For over 200 years there were two species being called Eupatorium altissima. Hmmm…
The Eupatorium altissimum has sessile leaves (no petioles) where Eupatorium serotinum (Late Bonneset) has long petioles (leaf stems).
Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)
Well, I don’t think there is any mistaking this species. There don’t seem to me that many of these on the farm and I only notice them in one area. They are easily overlooked, though, because their flowers are very small and can be easily be lost in a patch of taller vegetation.
Their little flowers attract quite a number of insects of many types… As with most plants in this genus, their stems and leaves contain toxic latex.
Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia)
I have seen this Petunia looking plants growing in the ditch along the road in front of the house for several years. I hadn’t taken any photos of them and then I found several growing in the pasture. Low and behold, they really are Petunias! Well, not like the one we grow in planters and hanging baskets. Different family… The Petunias we grow as an annual are in the Solanaceae family and Ruellia species are in the Acanthaceae family.
They are in the same family as the Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) I had in Mississippi and what Mrs. Wagler gave me a while back. They certainly have the classic Ruellia throat. Common names for this species include Wild Petunia, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Petunia, and Low Wild Petunia. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder says they from to 2′ tall, but the ones on the farm never have the opportunity to grow that tall. I am either mowing them off in the ditch and maybe the cows eat them in the pasture. Hmmm… Wonder what they taste like?
Interesting how many species are in some genera and where they can be found growing in the wild from various parts of the world. Although the Wikipedia says the Ruellia humilis are native to the Eastern United States, the USDA Plants Database says they are in many states from the east coast to the midwest.
Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)
The Blue Vervain is found flowering in a few of the lower areas in the back pasture from June through October. They like to grow in damp meadows and river beds. The Missouri Botanical Garden says they can grow up to 6′ tall. Hmmm… Maybe I should mark their spot and avoid mowing them off to see how tall they can grow here. Butterflies seem to really love their flowers. I always like their tall spikes of purple flowers. They are native throughout the United States and most of Canada.
Vernonia baldwinii (Baldwin’s Ironweed)
In my opinion, Baldwin’s Ironweed has some of the most beautiful flowers of all the wildflowers on the farm and they grow just about everywhere. They start flowering sometime in June or July and are pretty much finished in September. I know this is October but these photos were taken on September 8. 🙂
I realize to many it is just a darned old Ironweed, but if you take a closer look, you will see very interesting and complex flowers. As you can imagine, they are a butterfly magnet. Although they can grow up to 5′ tall, they normally reach only 3-4′. There are many species of Ironweed that prefer damper soil, but the Vernonia baldwinii does well in dry areas as well.
It gets its common name from being a very stiff and tough-stemmed plant and by the rusty color of the dried up flowers. When you run over this plant with a mower or try to pull it up, you will see that they are very tough.
Well, I think I am finished for this post and ready to start on Wildflower Walk Part 3.
Until next time… Stay well, positive, and be safe. As always GET DIRTY! I need to do some mowing and other things around the yard today.