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.