Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mystery Plant

It is not a common experience to encounter a totally new plant in our gardens at our age.  Pictured is just such a plant.  Early every spring, cardinal flower plants are potted up with the intention of moving them into the basement when hard frost threatens.  We have yet to knowingly see cardinal flower plants from seed.  Several never before seen plants growing in with the cardinal flower were potted up in the hope that they might be the desired from seed plants.

These mystery plants demonstrated several traits that did not fit our expectations.  The stems had a reddish cast as did the leaves.  Veins in their leaves did not match the structure of cardinal flower leaves.  Still we planted out these strangers determined to identify them.  Dark pink buds opened to reveal tiny pinkish white flowers.  Becky took to the books to identify these aliens.

Broad leafed willow herb, a British wildflower, is her identification.  Next the decision of what to do with these plants needed to be made.  Their flowers are so small and reluctant to open that no reason to keep them as a garden specimen presented itself there.  The stems and older leaves did create an interesting red tinged visual statement but they seemed laced with evil.  The size of the seed pods clinched our only reasonable action.  At least three more than an inch long rods can be found in the picture.  These will fill with an unbelievable huge number of seeds.  That many new weeds we do not need.  The carefully potted up and planted out plants have been removed.  Two more found growing next to the stone wall where these were first seen are also gone. All were placed inside of the black plastic baking bag used to transform garlic mustard to mush.  We will take no chances with regrowth following placement on a compost pile.

The remaining question of the source of this plant is unanswered.  As earlier stated, we have never before seen them or anything like it before.  These were found in a spot where we previously set out purchased plants.  A seed or two may have been hidden away in the root mass that was placed in a soil-less mixture required to sell plants.  We unknowingly acquired a vicious sedge in a plant sold bare root so anything is possible.  That sedge remains despite of our efforts to eradicate it.  I swear that it can grow if nothing more than the scent of a root is left in the soil.  We hope that the willow herb is easier to eliminate.


Indie said...

I have never seen that one before. Glad you can eradicate it before it becomes a nuisance! I've successfully grown cardinal flower from seed by wintersowing, but I don't think I've ever seen any volunteers from seed from my plants. It does make one wonder how it survives in the wild when it seems so stingy with its seedlings. Maybe it pops up more easily in a different habitat with more water?

Indie said...

Hi Becky, here is what I commented back on my site, but I thought I would post it here too for you.
I have written a post about wintersowing here:
I have wintersowed all sorts of plants over the past few years, and it really is much easier for those perennials that need a lot of cold moist stratification like cardinal flower. (Usually about 75 to 80% of the perennials I plant by wintersowing come up for me.) It's really nice to be able to have something gardening related to do in winter, too. Often I start my wintersowing after there is snow on the ground. Hope that helps with propagating your cardinal flowers!