Spear thistles are not used as weapons… but can hurt!
- Spear thistles are a biennial or annual thistle plant native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa.
- Spear thistles have the scientific name Cirsium vulgare and they are from the family Asteraceae, the family of asters, sunflowers and daisies.
- ‘Spear thistles’ are also known as ‘bull thistles’, ‘black thistles’, ‘scotch thistles’ ‘Fuller’s thistles’, ‘swamp thistles’ and ‘common thistles’ among others.
- Spear thistles grow to be 1 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 5 feet) in height, with flower stems at the end of the branches, and look similar to the well known Scotch thistle or cotton thistle, although they are a different species of plant and have the scientific name Onopordum acanthium.
- Spear thistles have flower heads that are bristle like and are coloured pink to purple, and the plant has green, sharp spiny leaves.
- Spear thistles are classified as a noxious and an environmental weed in some countries, and is a particular problem in Australia, parts of the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Spear thistles typically grow in sunny open areas, such as paddocks and fields.
- Spear thistle stems, flowers, roots, and seeds can be eaten and the stems and leaves can be peeled and then steamed or boiled.
- Spear thistles flower during spring to autumn, but only in their second year of growth.
- Spear thistle plants have been used medicinally and parts of the plant can be made into paper.
Bull Thistle, 2014, King Country, http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification/bull-thistle.aspx
Cirsium vulgare, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirsium_vulgare
Canna indica can be very deadly.
- Canna indica are perennial plants that are native to the Caribbean and American tropical habitats.
- Canna indica is from the family Cannaceae, the family of canna lilies and is one of the 19 species in the group, and is also referred to by a number of other scientific names.
- Canna indica is also known as ‘saka siri’, ‘canna’, ‘coyol’, ‘bandera’, ‘achira’, ‘platanillo’, ‘wild canna lily’, ‘Indian shot’ and ‘chanacle’.
- Canna indica have small, black, spherical seeds that are dense and sink in water, and are hard enough to be used as bullets, hence one of its common names ‘Indian shot’.
- Canna indica prefer moist, sunny conditions and are often used as an ornamental in the garden, or they can be found in swamps and wetlands, and are also able to be grown in chemically polluted water as a treatment solution.
- Canna indica plants grow to be 0.5 to 2.4 metres (1.6 to 8.0 feet) in height, and have papery seed capsules after flowering
- The rhizomes of Canna indica are edible and are served cooked, and they have also been used medicinally.
- Canna indica have red or yellow coloured flowers sometimes with spots, that flower in autumn and summer and its large green leaves can be used for paper making.
- Canna indica seeds are commonly used as beads in jewellery and rattles in some musical instruments, and a purple dye can also be made from them.
- Canna indica are invasive in many countries including Australia, some islands in the Pacific, and South Africa, and spread easily by their rhizomes and seeds.
Canna Indica – L, 2012, Plants For a Future, http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Canna+indica
Canna Indica (Wild Canna Lily), 2011, BioNET-EAFRINET, http://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/eafrinet/weeds/key/weeds/Media/Html/Canna_indica_(Wild_Canna_Lily).htm
Canna Indica, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canna_indica
Red orchid bushes have red flowers and are bushes, but they are not orchids.
- ‘Red orchid bushes’ are also known as ‘red bauhinias’, ‘Pride of De Kaaps’, ‘orchid trees’, ‘nasturtium bauhinias’, ‘African orchid trees’ and ‘African plumes’.
- Red orchid bushes are from the family Fabaceae, which is the family of legumes, beans and peas, and their scientific name is ‘Bauhinia galpinii’.
- Red orchid bushes are clambering, evergreen perennial shrubs that are native to south and east Africa.
- Red orchid bushes have flowers 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) in diameter, with five petals and three large stamens, and are usually red, although pink and orange varieties are also available.
- Red orchid bushes generally grow to be a height of 3 to 5 metres (10 to 16.4 feet), but may climb higher with the support of other trees.
- Red orchid bushes generally bloom during spring, summer and early autumn, and follow with long green seed pods that turn brown and split open, releasing the seeds.
- Red orchid bushes are often used as an ornamental in gardens, and they prefer sunny or partly shady conditions.
- Red orchid bushes are a weed in some countries, including parts of Australia, as the seeds and cuttings are easily grown and spread by garden waste, water and garden trimmings, and the plants can be found on abandoned urban land, forest and woodlands.
- Red orchid bushes attract butterflies and bees, and the branches have been used for basket weaving and roof trusses.
- The green leaves of the red orchid bush are shaped a bit like a hoof, and are symmetrical with two lobes.
Bauhinia galpinii, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bauhinia_galpinii
Red bauhinia, n.d, Brisbane City Council, http://weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au/weeds/red-bauhinia-bauhinia-galpinii
Slender vervain: a pest in some places, an ornament in others.
- A ‘slender vervain’ is also known as a ‘tuberous vervain’, ‘purpletop’, ‘purple verbena’, ‘veined verbena’, ‘large-veined verbena’, ‘sandpaper verbena’, and it also has many other common names.
- Slender vervains are native to many countries in South America, and more specifically Brazil and Argentina.
- Slender vervains can grow up to 60 centimetres (24 inches) in height.
- The scientific name for slender vervain is ‘Verbena rigida’, and it has also been known as ‘Verbena venosa’, and it comes from the family Verbenaceae, the family of vervains or verbenas.
- Slender vervains have purple or magenta coloured flowers that bloom on the top of spikes at the top of the plant in summer and autumn, and the plants have rigid, rough and hairy leaves that have serrated edges.
- In 1993, Slender vervains were awarded the United Kingdom Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
- Slender vervains are best grown in areas with full sun and damp, well drained soil, and are often grown to add colour in the garden, in pots, or for cut flowers.
- Slender vervains grow from rhizomes, and are herbacious perennials with parts of the plants dying off each year.
- Slender vervains are classified as a weed in South Africa, Australia and some parts of the United States, and are found near roads, inhabiting forests, fields and river areas, as well as cotton farming land.
- Slender vervains were introduced into Europe by Dr John Gillies, a Scottish botanist and retired navy surgeon, in approximately 1820.
Bourne V, How to Grow: Verbena Rigidia, 2013, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/howtogrow/3348813/How-to-grow-Verbena-rigida.html
Verbena Rigidia (Herb), 2010, Global Invasive Species Database, http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?fr=1&sts=&lang=EN&si=1371
Verbena Rigida, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbena_rigida
White weeping brooms do not sweep or weep!
- White weeping brooms are perennial woody shrubs from the family Fabaceae, which is the family of legumes.
- The scientific name for the white weeping broom is Retama raetam, and it is also known as ‘White broom’.
- White weeping brooms grow up to 3 metres (10 feet) in height and 6 (20 feet) metres in diameter.
- In winter and spring, white weeping brooms bear numerous, clustered groups of 3 to 15 flowers that are small and coloured white .
- White weeping brooms have small green seedpods often containing two seeds, and a single plant can produce thousands of seeds during its lifetime.
- White weeping brooms have greyish-green foliage of droopy branches and small, mostly insignificant leaves.
- White weeping brooms survive well during drought, possibly being the most tolerant of the three Retamas in the genus.
- White weeping brooms are native to North Africa and the southern countries of Europe (Mediterranean countries).
- White weeping brooms are classified as invasive weeds in some countries, particularly some parts of Australia.
- White weeping broom seeds are often consumed by hares, who transport them to new locations, and the seeds can be seen in the ground a few years after they drop, and can readily germinate at that stage.
White Weeping Broom, 2013, Lower Eyre Pest Management Group, http://www.pestandweeds.com/weed-profiles/trees-shrubs-weeds/white-weeping-broom/
White Weeping Broom (Ratama raetam), 2009, The Government of South Australia, http://www.senrm.sa.gov.au/Portals/10/Pest%20Plants%20and%20Pest%20Animals/white%20weeping%20broom%20NY%20fact%20sheet.pdf
Woolly nightshades may look harmless, but they can be deadly.
- Woolly nightshades are shrubs or small trees that generally grow up to 4 metres (33 feet) in height, however they can sometimes grow much taller than this.
- Woolly nightshades are native to South America and can live up to 30 years.
- Woolly nightshades have become an invasive weed where they were introduced as ornamental vegetation in New Zealand, and are also a significant problem in Australia, India, some countries of southern Africa, and many islands, particularly in the Pacific.
- ‘Woolly nightshades’ are also known as ‘ear-leaved nightshades’, ‘flannel weeds’, ‘bugweeds’, ‘tobacco weeds’, ‘wild tobacco trees’, and ‘kerosene plants’.
- The scientific name for woolly nightshade is Solanum mauritianum, and it comes from the Solanaceae family, which is the family of tomatoes, potatoes and nightshades.
- Woolly nightshades have a hairy green stem, or trunk, with large leaves covered in very fine hairs and smell like herbicide, especially when torn or scrunched.
- Woolly nightshades have purple coloured flowers with yellow middles, which flower mostly in early spring, although they can flower throughout the year.
- All parts of woolly nightshades are highly poisonous and can cause fatalities, particularly if the yellow berries are consumed, and the hairs can cause irritation to the skin.
- Woolly nightshades can produce at least 2,000 seeds a year, which come from the yellow berries the plant produces, that are often dispersed by birds.
- Woolly nightshades is a fast growing plant, and can be killed by cutting or uprooting the plant, and spraying with herbicide.
Solanum mauritianum, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_mauritianum
Woolly Nightshade (Solanum mauritianum), n.d, Vegetation Specialists, http://www.vegetationspecialists.co.nz/woolly-nightshade.html