by Carl Strang
I have fallen way behind in reporting on new wildflowers at Mayslake, which I am tracking to begin phenology records for that preserve. Today I want to feature weeds. This is a term I use with care, as it has several distinctly different meanings. In everyday use a weed is simply an undesirable plant. To a restoration specialist they are not native to the local landscape. If they are good competitors, a special effort is needed to remove them. If not, they simply will be pushed aside by native plants as the latter get established. To an ecologist, “weedy” organisms can be plants or animals, and are defined by their life history strategy. In comparison to other organisms they have short lives, grow quickly in disturbed habitats where there is little competition (weeds are poor competitors), and produce large numbers of small seeds or young that can disperse widely. One or more of these definitions apply to the plants I am sharing today, and I am trying to use photos that reveal their beauty . So, let’s begin with dame’s rocket.
I have found it in only one corner of the preserve, near the friary, but as you can see it is abundant in that spot. In the cracked pavement around the friary I found this field bindweed.
Its flowers place it in the morning glory family. One of the friary’s abandoned gardens has some horse radish growing, and that patch may be the source of a few plants growing more than 100 yards away, near the parking lot for the off-leash dog area.
Other weedy plants can be found in lawns around the main parking lots and mansion. They include white clover,
and mouse-ear chickweed.
Amur honeysuckle is a bane of our woodlands, but it has a beautiful floral display this time of year.
I admit to confusion in the white flowering members of the genera Silene and Lychnis, but believe I have the identification correct for this white campion, or evening lychnis, L. alba.
Common wood sorrel is regarded as native, but it certainly has a weedy life history strategy.
Finally there is the Indian strawberry, named for its origin in south Asia and the small red fruits that resemble strawberries but are inedible.
The leaves also bear a resemblance to our native wild strawberry, but the yellow flowers are a giveaway.
A final note is to thank Scott N. again for his assistance, this time with the field cress. Once that former mystery plant started elongating its fruiting stalk it became, to my eye, less beautiful and mysterious, but much more recognizable.