As in every garden, we here at Red Butte are constantly fighting the war of the plants we want and the plants we don't want (weeds). This week we are spotlighting a few of the weeds we often pull, along with a few fun factoids that will hopefully add a little trivia-type joy to the woe of weed pulling in your garden.
Bittersweet Nightshade Solanum dulcamara
This European native has been introduced to most continents and grows from sea level to over 1.25 miles above sea level in the Alps.
Bittersweet Nightshade Fruit Solanum dulcamara
While the fruit of this plant is poisonous, the plant itself was used to treat eczema, rheumatism and whooping cough in Europe for hundreds of years.
Redroot Pigweed Amaranthus retroflexus
This native annual was used by Iroquois witchcraft practitioners to make a person break out in cancer, and by the Navajo people as an antidote to snakebites.
Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia
This native to Europe and Central Asia is considered an invasive, noxious weed through much of the United States due to it aggressively displacing native cottonwoods and willows along waterways.
American Willowherb Epilobium ciliatum
This perennial native has become a favorite food source for the invasive Australian Grapevine Moth's larvae here in North America, and has become invasive in China and Europe after being introduced in those countries.
Common Purslane Portulaca oleracea
While this invasive annual is mostly considered a lawn weed in the U.S., it is grown extensively as a vegetable that is eaten fresh or in soups throughout Europe, Asia and Mexico.
Hoe Nightshade Solanum physalifolium
This invasive annual is known to carry a bacterium that causes brown rot, which can spread when rivers along which the plant are growing are tapped to irrigate potato fields.
As you are toiling or basking in maintaining your garden this summer, we hope you take break to enjoy the many Gardens here at Red Butte. Whether as a pleasant respite or a source of inspiration, this is a great time to visit the Garden.
Photos by Sarah Sandoval