When I say the word “flowers” what comes to mind? Perhaps big bright yellow sunflowers, romantic pink roses, delicate sweet peas or country daisies but probably not your common roadside “weeds” right? The week’s arrangement features two plants often referred to as “weeds.” Queen Anne’s Lace and Teasel. Both of which I wildcrafted in order to bring them to you. Wildcrafting is a term often referred to by one of my favorite herbalists, Susan Weed. In other words, I did not intentionally cultivate these plants for this year’s CSA garden. Instead, I discovered them. I’m always on the lookout for wild beauty: on the outskirts of the garden, the edges of our lot and even along roadsides while I’m out bicycling around.
A few useful terms in regards to plants to get you started thinking about these “rebels.” If your interest is peaked please research your own definitions as there are many and they vary greatly.
Wildcrafting is the process of harvesting stems, leaves and flowers of plants for herbal, medicinal or, in this case, beautiful reasons. The plant root is left alive and plenty of other plants of the same variety are left undisturbed to insure that the harvest supply does not diminish in the future.
Native: Plants indigenous to a certain place for a long time. Often preservation efforts are made to maintain or bring back native plants and their habitats. Locally, great efforts by the Prairie Monk and others are being made to re-establish native prairie plants.
Naturalized: The introduction of a non-native plant to an area. When the plant reproduces on its own enough to sustain a population it is considered naturalized. If naturalized plants become so abundant that they wipe out native plants and animals they are considered invasive.
Invasive*: Non-native plants or animals that invade an area, grow rapidly and reduce the area’s natural biodiversity. These are the plants most people refer to as aggressive weeds or pest plants.
* Note: There is not only one definition for invasive. In fact, in certain crowds of plant-studying folks settling on a single definition for the term invasive could be an all night debate…
This week’s featured rebels:
1. Queen Anne’s Lace- Daucus carota– also known as wild carrot. Native to temperate Europe and southeast Asia, “naturalized” to the boarder of my CSA garden plot.
The folk story is that Queen Anne was making some lace and poked her finger on a needle the red/black dot in the flower’s center is her blood. It’s actually a great way to identify this plant and distinguish it from poisonous Hemlock.
Queen Anne’s Lace seed pod-quite lovely indeed. I also love this plant for its graceful silhouette: the long wispy curves of its stem and its perfect umbrella shaped blossoms. Queen Anne’s Lace often reminds me of the old romantic books featuring botanical drawings of flowers I used to pursue throughout my childhood.
2. Teasel-Dipsacus– often identified by its prickly stem. I definitely used my gloves for this week’s arranging! Teasel is considered an invasive species in the US. I like to think that by harvesting the lovely seed heads I’m slowing it’s reproduction ever so slightly. Often these plants are grown in gardens or dried by florists for fall arrangements and they seem to last quite long in a vase. I’ve already hung some to dry and you can bet that you’ll see more of these later this year.
Similar to Queen Anne’s Lace, I’m attracted to this plant because of its exquisite shape. Just look at these elegant leaves at the base of each bloom. The bright green of this Teasel practically glows!
I liked these two so much and they were in such abundance that I had enough extra to make a special arrangement of just the two “wild” flowers together. Doesn’t it seem that most rebels come in pairs anyway? Thelma and Louis, Robin Hood and Little John…
Who are your favorite rebels?