I busy myself with weeds.

Weeds are keeping me busy indeed — and I don’t mean with the hoe or on my hands and knees yanking them out of my garden. Now that I have inches of mulch covering the soil around the plants I do want, I have more leisure to merely study the weeds that manage to pop up.

It’s easy to get carried away with this project, and my blog material has swelled to the point of resembling the unwieldy piles of weeds I used to cart to the waste bin. I have been sorting pictures and choosing the best ones to show you, and poring over Weeds of the West. I asked my farmer friend Dick about one weed that did get away from me in the gravel utility yard, and he said he had it, too, and would find out what it was. But Pippin researched and we agreed it was sowthistle. Dick turned out to be amused that we would work so hard to find the name of something “only a weed!”

Yesterday was the Day of Rejoicing, and this year I went to all four cemeteries to sing to those waiting in their graves for the Resurrection. Two of the cemeteries have non-endowed sections where weeds are plentiful, and as we processed from one area to another I stopped to get a picture of some weeds/wildflowers (they can be the same plant!), explaining to my friend Tom who was behind me, “I am doing a sort of study of weeds….”

“Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Well, I like to learn about plants, and now in springtime weeds are bursting out everywhere… they are part of my world!”

There’s no time for philosophizing on this topic at the moment, though, because I have dozens more weeds to sort and investigate, so I thought I’d just tell you about one that I mis-identified in the past. When a friend saw my picture at the top of this post that I had elsewhere labeled “chamomile” she questioned, “Are you sure it isn’t Tripleurospermum maritimum?” Well, hmm… no…. But I have since learned that it isn’t either of those things, but a relation called pineappleweed, or Matricaria matricarioides (or Matricaria discoidea). On its blooms “ray flowers are lacking,” as Weeds of the West puts it. It has other common names: wild chamomile — so I wasn’t totally wrong — and disc mayweed.

Reading about Tripleurospermum maritimum is also interesting, but a bit confusing. I love that in Iceland and Scandinavia it is called Baldr’s eyelashes — or is it Baldr’s Brow? —  after the son of Odin:

“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”

But is T.m. actually the same thing as Tripleurospermum  inodorum? And should it or they be called Matricaria perforata? Controversy surrounds this plant!  Are Icelanders looking at the same plant as the Swedes when they think of Baldr, or is theirs scentless mayweed? Is the plant — or if there are two, is one of them — truly scentless, or is it bad-smelling? This is not even a weed in my own world and look where it’s taken me!

But dear pineapple weed is fair, too, and has been part of my life for a long time. It likes to grow in places where people have packed the ground down by walking on it, and if on my everyday walk I cut the corner sharply enough turning on to the creek path, I will walk on it. I read that the leaves have a pleasant scent when crushed, so today I stopped and rubbed some between my finger and thumb, and yes, it caused a faint pineappley event, but not worth stomping on the furry greenery to accomplish.

Before I was certain of its identity I tried just to pick off a stem in the rain and a clump came up. So I brought it home and divided it into four which I planted in a pot. It will be interesting to see if it can be happy with no one walking on its territory.

Wouldn’t it be sweet, even scent-wise, if pineappleweed could invade sowthistle’s domain? It wouldn’t be the first time I have cultivated a weed in my garden. If I find the time, I might tell you about that. For now, I’ll be interested to hear if a few of my readers have any kind of chamomile or mayweed growing wild in your worlds, and I will get back to my own.

 

13 thoughts on “I busy myself with weeds.

  1. I think your weeds have beauty. The pineapple smell is intriguing and I wonder what it hopes to attract with its scent, or perhaps repel by its odor.

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  2. I don’t think we have your chamomile or mayweed here, but I”m a little handicapped just now since Comcast decided to go down over night. I can manage a comment on this ipad, but research is just too much.

    I can say that I quiver every time I hear the word “weed.”. There are plants that have naturalized, and those that are invasive, and of course there are all the cultivars that grow in the garden. But… weed? How about misplaced plants? Or overly-enthusiastic plants? Or not-really-in-my-plan plants? I’m teasing, of course, but still — call them what you will, they’re lovely.

    And I can’t help musing: if there’s truth to the metaphor of God as a gardener, what would he consider weeds? 🙂

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  3. Pineappleweed looks like a weed that would make a lovely addition to a garden. What some call weeds others say no they aren’t and grow them.

    I have Spanish needle which is a pain, hard to pull up and the little ‘needles/seeds’ stick to your clothing. But, butterflies love it. I pull out what I don’t want and leave the rest. Too many to get them all.

    Then I have spider wort, which I definitely do not consider a weed, while others do. It is one of my very favorite bloomers in the garden, a lovely blue bloom.

    There are more also, but at the moment these two will do for example.

    Happy Gardening and studying weeds ~ FlowerLady

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  4. Yes, dear Gretchen, pineappleweed is abundant here on the Island also…in the areas driest and barest! I’ve always been fond of them, only I knew them as chamomile!

    Leslie

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  5. Growing up in Manitoba we had a lot of what my Mother called Chamomile ( and now I know she was at least partly right in calling it that) So it’s Pineapple weed. I do remember the distinct scent the buds/flowers had. I’ve never seen any here in B.C.

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  6. Ah, weeds, a subject after my own heart! I am cultivating chickweed and nettles around the vegies as a sort of living groundcover, but also to eat. No wild chamomile here, but I love the name Baldr’s eyelashes and would grow that plant merely for the pleasure of the name!

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  7. Gretchen,

    Your ‘weeds’ look beautiful. We won’t have them for a while since there’s still snow on the ground. On another note, we’ll be starting the “Middlemarch in May” read-together. Would you be interested to join, as you’d mentioned before you might be. Watch for a post on that coming up at Ripple Effects. It will be a leisurely task, I’m giving it two months. More if needed. Hope we can read together. 🙂

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  8. I’ve always liked the look of that pineapple weed, though I’ve always called it camomile, because I think that’s what my mother used to call it. I’m happy to know there’s actually a book about weeds! I’ve always wondered if God thinks of them as ‘weeds’ . . . in the negative way we tend do. Somehow I don’t think so, but . . . what do I know!

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  9. We have pineapple weed here in Maine, as well. I am partial to the wild plants, and sure miss them since we moved into town. I am sure the birds do, too.

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  10. I think your Pineapple Weed looks like the German Chamomile that I planted in my yard. The giver of the seed warned me that it can take over and spread so to keep it contained, which I didn’t. And it is spreading like a weed for sure.

    So the white ray flowers that are on chamomile are not on your pineapple weed? I wonder if it smells like pineapple, if you can dry it and drink it like I do the chamomile for tea? Or is it not good for that? Weeds can be good “herbs” too as in nettle. I drink nettle tea occasionally. I have the Weeds of the West and it is very educational.

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    1. Right – pineappleweed gets no white rays coming out from the yellow cone-shaped flower. I thought the scent was very faint. I haven’t read anything about whether it would make good tea. It is in Weeds of the West.

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  11. I think this pineappleweed grows in the driveway of our cottage at Lake Chautauqua. It doesn’t seem to mind being driven over…Good research, Gretchen!

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  12. (Catching up on blog reading.) I’m very interested in weeds! I cultivate them on our farm. Many of mine rather like a rough, unkempt area. I get my plantain, yarrow, and dandelion weeds, which are so useful for skin salves. But I do think we have different weeds here than you have. I’ve never seen the pineapple weed here. I would love some wild chamomile too.

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