|Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) – in Canada, a weed; in Europe, a fairly respectable wildflower. I also happen to be rather fond of the fairy-ring flowers of narrow-leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Photographed on Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit.|
Many common North American weeds are aliens that piggybacked here accidentally with agricultural settlers. An interesting timeline in this report on Invasive Alien Plants in Canada suggests that roughly half of those known to have been imported arrived between 1800 and 1900.
The two pictured above were likely among them. Neither are among the villains listed by Ontario’s Invading Species (click through to acquaint yourself with the honest-to-badness bad guys). In fact, young plantain leaves are so edible, they’re sometimes considered healthful weeds.
Take care eating or picking viper’s bugloss. Its stems are exceedingly prickly, as you can see in these fascinating shots on Microscopy-UK. Some sources report that Echium leaves can be toxic, so never eat anything you’re unsure of. According to this blog, though, you can eat the pretty blue flowers.
|In the broad borders of Powerscourt House and Gardens in Wicklow, Ireland, the bees were having a field day in our native Canada goldenrod (Solidago). And could those be the dark brown spires of curly dock (Rumex crispus)?|
One gardener’s weed is another’s ornamental beauty.
Solidago is proof that you’re never a hero in your own country – the
plant we Canadians often take for granted is seen as a useful late-summer garden flower
in Europe. Of course, when your borders are this wide and this long, you’d have room for a few, er, expansive plants. And a few strapping gardeners to weed them.