March Wildflowers, Part 2
Many of the spring wildflowers don’t look like much from a distance, even a short distance, such as the distance from your eyes to the ground when you’re standing up — maybe 5 or 6 feet. Today’s crop of flowers fall into the category of “weeds”, when seen from above, but are amazing when you look at them close up.
Here’s a typical clump of “weeds” out in the wild part of the yard:
The bluish flowers here are Popcorn Flowers (Cryptantha), shown in the last post. The yellow flowers are London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio L.).
Also known as Rocket Mustard, it’s a type of hedgemustard (Brassica), and all parts are edible, although you want to use it sparingly, as its flavor is pretty sharp. So they say, but I’ve tasted it and it wasn’t all that hot. It didn’t taste much like mustard, either. The flowers are very tiny, and I had trouble getting it into focus here, plus somebody appears to be pollinating this one. The leaves are mostly a flat starburst on the ground, with these tall spikes with the tiny flowers at the end. It is very prolific, and I’ve had to pull more than one out of my garden bed.
Next up, a very smelly weed:
This is Slender Poreleaf (Porophyllum gracile Benth.), and I actually like how it smells. Even better, the flowers are wonderful.
When the seeds form, they’re like dandelions: spheres of feathered seeds that blow all over. I try not to let them get to that point in the domesticated part of the yard, but they’re perennials anyway, so unless I get all the root, they’ll be back again next year in the same spot.
I wish all my weeds were like this one — pretty, tall and easy to pull, plus they smell nice (in spite of their reputation). I think those folks at my wildflower reference site need to have their noses adjusted!
From there to my least favorite weed:
This is a Spiderling. It could be Scarlet Spiderling (Boerhavia coccinea Mill.), or it could be Tucson Mountain Spiderling (Boerhavia megaptera), although the Tucson Mountains are on the other side of town from here. Or, we could just call it Hogweed, which name doesn’t seem related to anything about this little plant, other than it seems negative in some way. And I certainly have negative feelings about this weed — yes, I’m calling this one a weed for sure. For one thing, it is very well rooted, so it’s hard to pull. One must grasp it firmly. And then one notices the truly annoying thing about this plant: it’s sticky! Like glue! And it gets all over your hand — yuck!
See the green runners shooting off in all directions? When the plant dies back, those are like little sticks, that try their best to trip you when you go walking around. And, at the end of each are flowers (and later, seeds), spreading the plant as far as it can reach. And even if it can only reach a foot or so, the seeds are sticky too, so you become the unwitting volunteer, spreading this plant wherever you go. Smart, eh?
But look at those flowers!
And that trailing hair seems to be part of the plant. Other flower clumps I got pictures of also had one long hair dangling from each.
And finally, just to clear our minds of that messy pest, here’s one of my favorites, hiding behind the prickly pear:
See? Isn’t that a lot nicer? This shy flower is New Mexico Plumeseed (Rafinesquia neomexicana A. Gray), or you can call it Desert Chicory. Here it is close up —
I didn’t want to reach around the prickly pear to find out what this plant smells like, so I’ll just imagine it smells wonderful. 😀
I do my best with the species names, but I’m not guaranteeing any of them. If you have suggested corrections, I’ll incorporate & update. Mostly, I’m showing you the pictures, and enjoying how pretty they all are.