Two Winter Weeds

by Carl Strang

Today’s focus is on two weeds that, viewed as objects, have to be regarded as beautiful if we can separate that out from their negative associations. The first is common burdock.

The entire plant isn’t all that great to look at, being sprawling and ungainly.

The entire plant isn’t all that great to look at, being sprawling and ungainly.

Apart from its edibility if properly prepared, there isn’t much positive to say about this Eurasian import. But look at the burs up close.

There’s something restful and visually (though not physically) huggable about burdock burs.

There’s something restful and visually (though not physically) huggable about burdock burs.

The second species, this one from India, is velvetleaf.

Again, the fruiting capsules in winter are attractive.

Again, the fruiting capsules in winter are attractive.

Velvetleaf is not as undesirable as burdock. It pops up quickly when bare soil appears, and perhaps has the positive effect of holding such soil together. In any case, it’s a competitive wimp that quickly is pushed out of the way by the next wave of plant colonists.

Another view of the pod. The soft, heart-shaped leaves are dropped, so the rest of the plant is just a short bare stem.

Another view of the pod. The soft, heart-shaped leaves are dropped, so the rest of the plant is just a short bare stem.

Such structures are worth a few moments’ appreciation, and are among the many rewards of winter wandering in the landscape.

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