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Dandelion Puffs

Dandelion Puff 1
Dandelion Puff 2
Dandelion Puff
Dandelion Puff 4

In all the years of blowing dandelion puffs to smithereens, I had never noticed barbs on the seeds. Or how many perfect little filaments make up all that fluff. Sometimes it’s worth it to zoom in on a so-so photo to see if you missed something. This dandelion is much more interesting up close.

#MacroMonday

Take a look at Neil Bromhall’s cool time-lapse video of the process from flower to puff!

Spanish Needles

Spanish Needles (Bidens bipinnata)

A couple of years ago, I did not know this plant, but now it is a regular visitor to my garden (and the rocks beside my driveway). I’m not sure how it got here, but it might have hitched a ride home with me after some roadside botanizing. When it shows up, I admire it and let it hang out for a while, but once it starts to make its tiny marigold-like flowers, it has to go — I pull it up.

This is spanish needles (Bidens bipinnata). The seedheads are the real issue — if only it didn’t do such a great job at reproduction! The flowerheads form balls like dandelions, but instead of soft fluffy down, each seed has two sharp teeth at its tip. (Bidens, its scientific name, actually means “two teeth.”) These teeth help the seeds cling to animal fur or human skin or clothes, and we become its dispersers.

But before it sets seed, the ferny leaves are pretty and fresh, at a time when the perennials are beginning to look a little ragged (July, August). Several species of caterpillars feed on the leaves, which is good enough reason to leave a few, I think. And it’s edible and medicinal.

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References:
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/spanish_needles.htm
http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Bidens_bipinnata
.

Little Bits of Green

Are you starting to notice weeds showing up in your yard and around the neighborhood? I saw all of these during a stroll around the block yesterday:

  • Chickweed (Stellaria media), with blooms
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), with blooms
  • Wild garlic (Allium vineale)
  • Dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), with blooms
  • Corn speedwell (Veronica arvensis)

These plants have been food and medicine historically, and they’re certainly welcome live greenery this time of year. But whether you use them or just remove them, they’re a good excuse to get outside and spend some time in the garden.

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#phenology #wildplants #foraging #herbs

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