Tag Archives: weeds

Daisy Fleabane Temptation

Bigger daisy type wildflowers like ox-eye daisy and black-eyed Susans are already in full bloom. Daisy fleabane begins the parade of smaller white daisy type flowers that will extend all the way into the fall asters.

This three foot tall plant is easy to spot along roads and in pastures. Its leaves line the stalks with dark green. The stalks split into small stalks branching out to open bouquets of the white or white shaded with pink flowers.

daisy fleabane plant
In my garden the daisy fleabane plants are nearly four feet tall and still growing. The leaves are big and dark green. The numerous flower buds promise a snowfall of white soon. Unfortunately the flowers are followed by even more numerous seeds.

White heath aster is a similar plant. It blooms later. And the flowers are different.

Like all the flowers in the aster family, the flowers are really a group of flowers. Some are tubular in the center of the disk. Others put out what people call petals and botanists refer to as ray flowers.

Fleabane ray flowers are numerous and thin. It gives a fringe like look to the flower group. Aster flowers have fewer and thicker rays.

daisy fleabane flowers
The central disk of a daisy fleabane is a mass of tube flowers that open from the outside edges toward the center. The ray flowers are numerous and thin.

Both daisy fleabane and white heath aster have yellow centers. Another member of the family blooms at the edges of the woods. Drummond’s aster is pale lavender with a lavender center.

This year a few daisy fleabane plants have come up in my garden. They are in an open area used as a path rather than for planting.

The plants look wonderful as garden soil is a big treat for them. They will be masses of white flowers. And I like daisies and asters.

daisy fleabane buds
The flower beetles move in even before the flowers are open. These beetles have the transparent wings, but only partial covering wings.

The temptation is to leave these garden visitors and enjoy the show. I don’t normally plant flowers as I never have time to take care of them.

Moth mullein, evening primrose, chicory, hispid buttercup, corn speedwell, dead nettle and chickweed already grow in my garden. The first four are primarily for enjoyment. The last are for the bees in early spring.

The problem is with the prolific seed production of these wildflowers. Daisy fleabane is a big temptation. I’m sure next year I will be pulling up dozens of plants as weeds.

Read about more Ozark plants in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”

Hedge Parsley Torilis arvensis

White umbels of flowers seem to be everywhere lately. Queen Anne’s Lace, Sweet Cicely and Hedge Parsley are commonly seen.

hedge parsley umbel

Torilis arvensis Link.

June to September                                      I                                   Family: Apiaceae

hedge parsley flower

Flower: About 8 small, white petaled flowers form a small umbel. An average of eight small umbels form a large, loose, terminal umbel. These can be branch tips or branches coming from upper leaf nodes. Each flower is an eighth of an inch across and the petals are of uneven size giving the flower a lopsided look.

hedge parsley side flower

Leaf: Lower leaves are compound with four pairs and a terminal leaflet on a half inch petiole. The number of leaflets drops as the alternate leaves are higher on the stem until only the terminal one is left. All leaflets are lobed giving them a fern-like appearance. All are covered, top and bottom, with short hairs. They are darker green on top and pale green on the bottom where the leaf stalk shows as a prominent midvein.

hedge parsley leaf

Stem: Slender, round, ridged, green, hairy stems can reach three feet. They have a few branches. The hairs are white and short.

hedge parsley under leaf

Root: There is an annual taproot.

hedge parsley stem

Fruit: Sometimes called beggar lice, each flower forms a single football-shaped seed covered with bristles. These are reddish, then turn brown. The bristles adhere to clothing and hair.

hedge parsley fruit

Habitat: This plant likes sunny, disturbed areas commonly along roadsides.


Hedge Parsley

Hemlock Chervil

hedge parsley plant

Hedge Parsley blooms alongside Queen Anne’s Lace on roadsides. Both have umbels of white flowers. The umbels are different.

Hedge Parsley umbels have separate flower units. They are smaller. They remain spread open as the seeds replace the flowers. The seeds are in the same separate units as the flowers were.

As the seeds mature, the lower leaves yellow and wither. By the time all of the flowers have become seeds, the stems are turning brown and hard. The plant becomes a brown, brittle stalk topped by brown burs.

The seeds are sometimes referred to as beggar lice. The bristles surrounding the seeds are not hooked but still catch on any passing clothing or animal. Hair gets wrapped into the bristles making removal slow and tedious.

Originally from Eurasia, Hedge Parsley has spread widely. Each plant produces dozens of seeds that are carried off or fall to seed a colony of plants the next year.


Essays about the plants and animals of the Ozarks can be found in Exploring the Ozark Hills.

Frustrating Invasive Weeds

Every year I go out pulling and mulching the weeds in my garden. Every year these prolific plants replace themselves almost faster than I can remove them.

Gardening books and magazines often have articles on how to rid your garden of these invaders. Chemical companies make fortunes selling herbicides.

The gardener may win a few battles but ultimate victory belongs to the weeds.

weeds can include moth mullein

Moth mullein grows a rosette of dark green lobed leaves in the fall and spring. Warm weather triggers tall flower spikes. Most flowers are white with purple stamens. occasional plants have yellow flowers. They are lovely in the lawn, the garden and other places. They produce lots of seeds and can quickly become a problem.

This year I’ve been looking carefully at my garden invaders. They are plants growing in Dent County no matter how pesky. Many of them are from Europe.

Why would the colonists import these infuriating plants? What exactly is a weed?

I came across a book called, appropriately, “Weeds” by Richard Mabey. First off, Mabey is British so much of the material has a British bent.

These plants are international travelers so the British bent doesn’t detract much other than the difference in common names. What is interesting is our love/hate relationship with these plants.

amaranth weeds

Where the seeds which are tiny and marketed as food came from I have no idea. I was working on another project and came back to find these giant amaranth weeds had moved into the flower section which I had weeded of my garden. These things get eight feet tall and produce thousands of seeds. The weeds and headaches will sprout next year.

Take bracken. Bracken is one species spread over Europe, Asia and North America. It is a fern with a single frond that can reach two and more feet into the air.

Livestock shouldn’t eat bracken as it is mildly toxic. My goats ignore the stuff. So bracken should be classified as a weed.

Yet in Europe bracken was harvested, dried and burned as fuel. It was reputed to give off more heat than many woods, enough to fire bricks. Bracken was not a weed.

Corn poppies have a similar history. They were weeds in grain fields. Yet they have become the Flanders Fields poppy used as a model for the paper poppies given out on Veteran’s Day.

A fun part is how weeds travel from one place to another. The mundane way is stowaway seeds among seed corn, wheat, oats and other crops. This is how many weeds arrived in North America.

invasive weeds include pursley

Pursley is another new arrival. I left it as I had never seen it in the garden before. When I finally identified it – I missed the flowers – the news was not good. It is mentioned in the book “Weeds” as highly invasive, very bad news for the gardener. I will be busy weeding next year.

Another mundane way was as seeds tangled in animal fur and wool. The seeds get carried far and wide this way.

The seeds have updated their modes of travel. Car tire treads work well. Commuter trains work too. Drift into open windows. Hang around as the train goes a stop or two. Drift out into new territory to invade.

At times this book does drag. It is full of stories about different weeds and how they end up where they do. The interesting items make plowing through the duller parts worthwhile.

morning glories can be weeds

Morning glories are such lovely flowers. Two grow in my garden. This purple beauty and a smaller light blue one are supposed to have specific places on the fence and a trellis. Seedlings come up all over even through several inches of straw. I tolerate the headaches to enjoy the cascades of flowers.

Yes, I do let some so-called weeds grow in my garden. More this year than others. Some like moth mullein, morning glories and evening primrose have such lovely flowers. Some were of passing interest as part of my botany project.

The final result from reading this interesting book is a bit of freedom from the frantic stress of making my garden totally weed free. It can’t be done.

Weed Battles Begin

Over last winter I marked out beds in my garden, put down weed barriers and mulch. Spring arrived and the garden looked great. Summer came and the weed battles are being fought.

The weeds think they are winning. They have a point.

weed battles opponents

A little rain, old mulch and the weeds explode. Daunting as they appear, they aren’t that thick and come out quickly.

Weed battles take time. That was the point of putting all that mulch down to smother these wily plants before they could get started.

While I struggled to get the goat barn cleaned out, the wily weeds were enjoying wet weather which was composting the weed barrier sacks and cardboard. The barriers broke down. The weeds sprouted in their thousands.

winning the weed battles

When many of the weeds are starting to seed, carting them away is essential. Otherwise they can top the cardboard as mulch.

Dry weather slowed the weeds down. It sped up barn cleaning but not enough. Rain began again.

My garden paths were easy to walk around only a month ago. I saw the tiny weeds but didn’t get the sacks and mulch out again. B cleaning is so time consuming and tiring. Other things like the electric fence needed attention.

Then the garden paths were knee deep in weeds. Walking around became a challenge, even an impossibility in some places. It was time to begin the weed battles in earnest.

future weed battles

The old crop of weeds is barely gone when the new crop appears. The weed war seems endless.

The wheelbarrow moves into position. The potato fork is at the ready. The war begins.

Stab with the fork. Pry the dirt loose. Pull the weeds. Fill the wheelbarrow. Dump the pile. Begin again.

It’s amazing how fast the crop of weeds disappears. The first garden beds are cleared and planted. It’s easy to walk around them.

mulch stops the weed battles for now

Cardboard and mulch form a temporary barrier and delay in the weed war and say I won this round of weed battles.

The raised bed is appearing out of the screen of lamb’s quarters, pinkweed, black nightshade and pokeweed. Then the weed battles hit two snags.

First it rains. That cleared pathway starts a new crop of weeds. This will simply not do. The cardboard and mulch are going down.

Second are the volunteer tomato plants. These are cherry tomatoes and there are hundreds of them. They join the pile in the wheelbarrow until there are three covered with tomatoes.

Weed battles survivors

The gardening books say to pull up those volunteer plants. I’ve pulled lots of cherry tomato plants so far, moved a few. but these have ripening cherry tomatoes. Desire for fresh tomatoes won.

This is a problem. They are in a pathway I want to walk up and down so they should get pulled out. Last year the vine had really good cherry tomatoes on it. I’m ready for some fresh tomatoes.

The three will stay confined in a wire cage.

But the weeds will not stay. I will win the weed battles and clear my pathways, sort of. Enough.

Someday the weeds will win the war. Not today.

Garden Weed Problem

Gardens have a weed problem. They attract weeds. No gardener would dispute this. Vegetables and flowers can’t compete with the weeds.

My father’s solution was to pay his children for each bucket of weeds they pulled up. He checked for dirt and rocks. We had to stand on the weeds so they weren’t fluffed up.

I learned weeds were pulled out by the roots. This is hard on the back. It is slow and never catches up with the weeds.

morning glory weed problem or guest

Two different kinds of morning glory grow in my garden. One is a powder blue one. This purple with red veins is big and has a trellis all to itself.

Tilling and hoeing can help. These too play the game of catch up. They become a problem themselves once the desired plants start growing well. Chopped roots are not healthy for plants.

Mulch was the next step. I like mulching. It uses up lots of empty feed sacks. It uses up lots of loose bedding hay. It stops lots of weeds. It does not stop all weeds. Morning glories come to mind.

This brings me to another weed problem. Some of those weeds are desirable plants.

Take morning glories. I don’t have a flower garden so those flowers are welcome bits of color.

Take lamb’s quarters. These make good eating. They are similar to spinach, come up freely, grow fantastically well into hot weather long after spinach has gone to seed.

evening primrose weed problem or guest

Evening primrose is a tall leggy plant reaching four to five feet tall and spreading out three to four feet. The flowers open before dawn.

Evening primrose is another lovely flower. The plant is also a Japanese beetle trap. These destructive pests prefer evening primrose to roses, okra and my other vegetables.

Then there is another weed problem. It comes in the form of a buttercup growing in the middle of a garden path.

Harvey’s buttercup and hispid buttercup grow wild up on the hills. I admire and photograph them every year.

This plant is definitely a buttercup. The flower is unmistakable. It is not a Harvey’s or a hispid. It is one I have never seen before and haven’t found anywhere else this year except for in my garden.

new buttercup

Where did this buttercup come from? The seed must have come in straw I used as mulch. After several tries, I think it is Ranunculus bulbosa, an introduced European buttercup known from three counties in Missouri. Dent is not one of them.

The problem is my pathway. I walk up and down this pathway. I sometimes roll the wheel barrow down this pathway.

So far I have tried to key out this buttercup. I did come up with an answer but that buttercup is not supposed to grow anywhere around here.

I tried comparing it to drawings in Yatskievych’s Flora of Missouri, Volume Three. There are two possibilities. Again neither are supposed to grow around here.

This weed problem is growing here. I am busy taking pictures of it. My research will now move to the Web where there may be photographs to compare with mine.

Keys are fine. Drawings are fine. But photographs will help me solve my weed problem.

Spring Garden Tour

Spring in the Ozarks this year is a yoyo of temperatures. But frost date is fast approaching and my garden can begin in earnest. First comes a garden tour to see where the garden is and plan for the future.

My garden is waiting. I got knocked over by the goats and hurt the back. Now I’m ready for my garden tour.

garden gate

I took a chance last year and used PVC pipes to frame my new garden gates. They are light weight, swing easily on their hinges and fasten with bungee cords.

Last year the new gates went up. The PVC is strong and light weight. The gates are a delight to open and close. They show no signs of wear.

Before putting in the garlic last fall I manured the bed. This spring the garlic looks wonderful.

garlic patch

The garlic looks the best in years. Goat manure does work wonders. I plant the cloves in fall and mulch heavily.

The beds marked out and mulched are still almost weed free. Potatoes are in three of them but not up yet. Frosty nights have slowed things down.

planting beds

The garden is mostly organized into definite beds now. They are not raised beds. Planting the potatoes went easily with the potato beds already marked out and mulched. They do make good places to distribute wood ashes from the wood stoves. Potash is good for the garden. Hot coals can be a problem in the mulch.

Gardening season didn’t really end last fall. Spinach came through the winter in the raised bed and is now producing a nice crop. Some lettuce, radishes and carrots are growing well. All can take the light frosts. The stone wall makes a warm place to sit and relax for a time to think during my garden tour.

raised garden bed

The stone raised garden bed does have drawbacks. But the pluses are spinach all winter with a bounty in spring as well as other greens. Some of the covering problems are getting solved.

Strong gusty winds took their toll on the plastic over the shade house. This was my first garden task. It is now repaired and protected. The inside gets toasty warm on sunny days.

shade house/greenhouse in garden

Covering the shade house with plastic was an experiment over the winter. Wind is a definite problem especially this spring. The arrangement does work well as a greenhouse but stabilizing the plastic will take some work.

Pepper seeds need warm temperatures to germinate well. The warm shade house should do nicely with blankets over the seed trays at night.

garden greens

Fresh greens really dress up a meal as salad, potherbs or stir fry. The shade house/greenhouse gave my chard and beets a head start.

In the meantime various greens are doing well. They include chard, beets and turnips.

Lovely daffodils graced the flower corner. Iris are on their way up along with the lilies.

daffodil flower

My daffodils once graced the town planters but were destined for the trash when other plants replaced them. I enjoyed their bigger than wild blooms this spring.

A field of garlic chives is rising. A few weeds managed to grow in amongst them so I won’t escape tedious weeding.

garlic chive patch

I like garlic hives. Bees, butterflies and other insects love garlic chive flowers. They do seed freely.

There are weeds in various places. The dead nettle is a bee attractant, one of the first nectar plants for them. The chickweed is a headache but edible and tasty when young and succulent.

dead nettle

Dead nettle may resemble stinging nettle but is a mint loved by bees and bumblebees. It seeds freely and become a nuisance.

Not all the work of rearranging the garden got done before the ground froze. It will continue slowly over the spring and summer. The bamboo needs attention and corralling. The last of the paths need weeding and mulching.

My spring garden tour is over. Now I can complete my garden plans. Most of the garden is ready and waiting. Gardening season is beginning. Both of us are ready.

Garden Season?

A layer of snow covered the garden. It has gone but the ground is still frozen. Yet gardening season is starting.

snow in garden

A little snow fell on the garden. We are having a dry winter here in the Ozarks.

First the seed catalogs arrived. Several places in town will have seed racks. These places will have transplants for sale too. A good garden can be planted using these.

But I like growing special things too. That’s where the seed catalogs come in. I can select those special kinds and varieties to make my garden special.

Frozen ground or not, something is growing in my garden already. Yes, the weeds have sprouted. Left to grow until planting time, these weeds will be knee high and lush.

The idea is to stop the weeds before planting season.

My father was a great advocate of pulling weeds. He had plenty of help.

Weeding is not a good option for me especially now. It’s too cold to sit out in the garden pulling weeds. The ground is frozen making it impossible to pull the roots out. Later the weeds will far outnumber me, a sure recipe for defeat.

Defeat is not an option.

Ruth Stout, wife of Rex Stout who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries, had a solution. A friend in town says her father used this method for years. It’s called mulch.

My goats supply me with several empty feed sacks every week. I put the paper ones minus strings down over a patch of weeds. In addition to the sacks I get cardboard pieces from the feed store or even large boxes.

feed sacks on weeds

The opening salvo in this weed battle is a layer of feed sacks over the worst of the weeds.

Usually old hay is put over the top of the sacks. This year the old hay has too many grass seeds in it so I am using straw. This mulch doesn’t have to be real deep over the sacks.

Weeds deprived of light whither and die. The sacks and hay or straw add organic matter to the soil. The garden and I win. The weeds lose.

mulch on sacks

Bring on the mulch! The sacks do stop the weeds but the wind will blow them away. The wind is a weed ally. Mulch keeps the sacks in place.

Nosing around on Pinterest the other day I found a picture about getting a raised garden bed ready for planting. Linda from www.agirlagarden.wordpress.com posted the picture. As a professional gardener, Linda has more information on mulch there.

section mulched

Maybe a battle won. Mulch covers the ground and weeds over this part of the garden.

My raised bed is great although I am still learning how to take full advantage of it. But the problem Linda mentioned is one I’ve had too: weeds grow up around the bed.

The solution is mulch, again. I am now tucking that mulch in around the raised bed.

mulch along raised garden bed

Attacking the weeds along the edge of the raised bed will free up time for garden enjoyment later this year.

Ultimately the weeds will win the war. They will be here long after I am no longer gardening. My garden will become a garden of weeds.

But while I continue to garden, the weed war continues. My garden is at stake. Mulch is a mighty weapon in this war.

The ground may be frozen. The air may be cold. Spring is coming. Spinach goes in the raised bed on Valentine’s Day. My garden beckons and I am trying to get ready.