When Is A Weed A Weed?

By Heather / July 12, 2020
Bighead Knapweed

When is a weed a weed?

This question came up for me when I was doing some research on flowers in my garden.

Years ago I had bought a plant at a local craft fair and the seller told me it had beautiful yellow flowers.

Well at that point in time I really didn’t have a garden per se.

I was just planting some plants around a stump that was in the yard.

There already was some heather and a couple of primroses there so for a couple of dollars this might be a good addition to the family.

Until this year I never knew what it was called.

It was just a plant that grew about 4 feet high on long stems and had these awesome buds.

Bighead Knapweed bud

The buds look like a fuzzy door nobs that then bloom into beautiful yellow flowers.

Bighead Knapweed bloom

So this year I found a place on the internet that you could upload a picture of a plant and it will tell you what it is.

I’ve been having a wonderful time identifying plants in my garden that I had no idea what they were called.

Taking a picture of the plant I uploaded it to Plant Net a discovered it was a weed.

Not just any weed but a troublesome noxious weed.

It has many different names but it goes by Big yellow Centaurea or Giant knapweed.

Not being native to this part of the world it is definitely having an impact.

In Washington state, it is illegal to sell it.

Similar to the butterfly tree here in BC.

It is invasive and it is displacing native plants especially in fields where cattle graze.

Each seed head carries over 200 seeds that are dispersed not by the wind but by direct contact by livestock, farm equipment, vehicles and humans.

And the only way to get rid of them is to dig them up by the roots.

Well, you can imagine if you have a whole field of them it would be almost impossible to annihilate them.

Until I found out this information this was just a pretty plant with an unusual bud that bloomed every year without me having to take care of it in any shape or form.

I’ve never watered, fertilizer or talked to it.

But like the weed that it is, it needs very little attention of any kind.

The interesting thing is that mine is very well behaved, being the same size as when I bought it 10 years ago.

It sits in a corner of the garden providing bright yellow flowers amidst a dark forest background.

Apparently I don’t touch it or go near it when it goes to seed otherwise I’m sure my yard would be full of them.

But for now… my beautiful weed is just that… a beautiful weed.


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