pigweed4.jpg

Amaranthus retroflexus

As mentioned in previous posts, this has been an interesting year in the north part of Monument Valley Park! Lack of moisture in late winter, all spring, and early summer reduced the show of blooming native (and a few alien) plants in the park. Then an ill-timed mid-summer mowing of the meadow with the most interesting natives also cut into the bloom and eventual spread of many of these plants. But then in early July, it started to rain. And rain it did for most of the month – almost 4 inches in our neighborhood! Meteorologists said our usual August monsoon season arrived early (and unfortunately, it seems to have left early as well).

But oh how the weeds have responded – in our gardens, in the street medians, and in the parks. The weeds with an annual life cycle know when to take advantage of a good thing, and they’ve really taken advantage of this moisture and the lack of competition from other plants that would usually be up and growing. Hence, I’m seeing huge numbers of HUGE weeds – a display like I’ve never seen. I spent one day doing quite a bit of photography and enjoying learning about all these weeds. And I’ve encountered another new phenomenon – pretty strong weed allergies for me! Nearly all of these prolific weeds produce microscopic pollen that is spread by wind. So they don’t have gorgeous colorful flowers AND they cause quite a bit of allergy misery. (But I won’t take it personally.)

There are small populations of ragweed, Russian thistle, and some other common weeds. But for this post, I wanted to point those that are shwoing up in big numbers in Monument Valley Park.

The “big players” this year are as follows:

Wild Poinsettia (Poinsettia dentata) – Yes, it really is related to your poinsettias that you buy at Christmas!

Poinsettia dentata

Poinsettia dentata

Poinsettia dentata

Poinsettia dentata patch

Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) – This is a common weed here, but it is growing much taller than usual this year.

Chenopodium album

Chenopodium album

Chenopodium album

Chenopodium album leaf

Kochia (Bassia sieversiana) – This is one of those weeds that was introduced as an ornamental from Europe which then escaped and has since run rampant! Apparently both perennial and annual versions of this one exist. (This one is terribly hard to get a good photo of!)

Bassia sieversiana

Bassia sieversiana

Bassia sieversiana

Bassia sieversiana

Redroot Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) – This common annual weed usually is about 2 feet tall or even shorter. This year, I’m seeing them up to 6 feet tall.

Amaranthus retroflexus

Amaranthus retroflexus

Amaranthus retroflexus

Amaranthus retroflexus

Amaranthus retroflexus

Amaranthus retroflexus

Goldweed (or Cowpen Daisy) (Ximenesia encelioides) – Notice how this one has a showy flower? It’s not causing our allergies since it isn’t wind pollinated. This is a pretty plant, but I’m witnessing why it falls into the “weed” category this year. Well, first, it is introduced and has escaped. But the past few years, I’ve seen just a small clump of this in one area of the northern part of the park. This year, I’m noticing it in big spreads in many, many parts of the northern park area (and around town as well). The leaves really make it easy to identify and to tell it apart from the many many other yellow flowers that we see.

Ximenesia encelioides

Ximenesia encelioides

Ximenesia encelioides

Ximenesia encelioides leaf

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