Monday, June 20, 2011

A weed only by name: Part III

T.C. Sorry for the delay with this post I got tied up on Sunday and could not get the photos edited nor the post posted.

Before I start with the third installment of the 'A weed only in name'  series I'd like to thank the Cumberland County Progressives for having me as their guest speaker at the meeting yesterday.  For those attending your questions were excellent, you covered  a great range of topics and even highlighted some concerns that will likely be addressed right here on LITFM in the coming days. Thank you for attending, and making the event a success. For those interested the Cumberland County Progressives website can be found at the address below, please check it out it's a good site and their TV show is really good!

Horticultural Field Trial 001-2011: "The Pod People"
The final results of the study were calculated and the stand of Taichung show peas surveyed produced 9.25 pounds of snow peas. The tallest vine reached 7' 1"  or 85 inches which is important because the stated average height for the variety is between 3 and 4 feet. Overall this variety has been added to the Verticulture Seed Bank. The entire list of Verticulture Compliant Plants will be published at year's end.

Without further delay here is the third installment of the 'A weed only in name' series where we take a good look at plants deemed weeds somewhat unfairly and why they should be cultivated. The two herbs in today's post are Impatiens capensis and Plantago major; their common names are Jewel weed and Broad-leaf Plantain respectively.

Impatiens capensis - Jewelweed

Jewelweed is a native species of Impatiens and can often be found growing in the woods with poison ivy growing nearby. This proximity is  quite helpful because the juice of crushed jewelweed foliage can be used to soothe poison ivy rashes as well as insect stings and bites in general.  To the casual observer it looks like normal impatiens on steroids as the average plant can get up to four feet tall. The name jewelweed probably derives from the pale green translucent stems  and  the large bright orange flowers which are readily visible from a distance. In cultivation Jewel weed needs a soil that is rich with compost or leaf mold or to some degree effectively mimics the soil structure of a deciduous forest.  It is a good attractant to pollinators and will resow itself if it is happy as it is an annual.  If you want impatiens without all the maintenance or fertilization go for jewelweed  in both the north and the south you will be delighted with the stands of flowers and foliage as well as a free source of poison ivy relief.

[Photo Coming soon]
Plantago major - Broad Leaf Plantain
These plantains were harvested from a job-site and seemed to recover very rapidly 
from transplant shock becoming firmly rooted in their pots in less then a week.

Ah, the noble plantain, a much maligned herb that is often given a bad name by the herbicide companies and by a few garden experts with too narrow a view point.  For those not familiar with broad-leaf plantain,  it is a neat foliage plant with heavily ribbed leaves and spathe-type flowers. Broad-leaf plantain is more readily found up north though as the picture shows when you find one you are liable to find others close by. In cultivation Plantains are generally undemanding, in fact since they tolerate leeched soil with ease giving them better soil guarantees you good quality plants. For herbal uses plantains are noted to have astringent, diuretic and expectorant properties and is also noted to be valued for treating respiratory, gastrointestinal, bladder and ulcers. Also the juice from crushed plantain foliage is noted to relieve insect bites and stings. As a food young leaves can be used as a forage salad green or cooked like spinach and the ripe seed if ground is said to yield a flour substitute. Also it is said that the foliage of mature plants can yield a gold to tan colored dye.

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