Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Who are you calling a weed?

by Kelly

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. ~A.A. Milne

Just down the street from me is an empty lot...it's been abandoned for sometime now.  I happened to be walking my dogs a few days ago and our path that day took us by the empty lot.  And I literally stopped in my tracks. Because the entire lot was covered in henbit...a delightful carpet of magenta blossoms.

Now, most likely, if you're reading this and you're a dude, you are probably grimacing at the idea of an entire yard full of weeds.

But it's like most things in life I have found...it all depends on the way you look at it.  So I did a little research on this often maligned and despised common yard weed.

As it turns out, common Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is a member of the mint family and most likely Mediterranean in origin.  And in addition, it is an important source of pollen and nectar for honeybees in the early spring.

Fascinating right?

Well to my delight, while crawling around on my hands and knees taking pictures of henbit, I stumbled across many of the most common wildflowers in northeast Oklahoma.  Lamium purpureum, or common deadnettle, is a kissing cousin to henbit.

This little cutie is known as the American Field Pansy (Viola bicolor).

And very closely related is the Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia).

This little guy is most commonly known as Eastern or Virginia Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) and is a member of the portulaca family.  Native Americans used it widely as a food source...they cooked the root (or 'corm') like a potato.  They also believed it to have medicinal properties.

I also stumbled across this teeny little wildflower - a Bluet (Houstonia pusilla).

And finally...last but not least...quite possibly the bane of every lawn-lovers existence...

I'm sorry, but this time of year, after a long, cold, miserable winter, the sunny blossoms of the Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) just make me so happy.  And in case you were curious, dandelions have a number of culinary and medicinal uses.  The greens can be eaten cooked or raw and are high in vitamins A, C, Iron, and are higher in calcium than spinach. 

There you have it.  Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about some of the most common weeds, er wildflowers in my neck of the woods.  But as we look forward to Earth Day this month, and nature being our theme, I thought it was appropriate to give these wildflowers more than a passing glance.  Plus if there are wildflowers, then it must be spring.  And I think we can all agree that is reason enough to celebrate!

So tell us, has spring made its way into your neck of the woods?  Feel free to share with us some of your favorite wildflowers in the Flickr pool or on Instagram using #focusingonlife.

Happy spring my friends! Love, kelly


Jeanne said...

Love your shots, and especially this henbit. I have photographed this many times and think is it so interesting. So niice to know some more about it. Great way to appreciate spring!

Sarah Huizenga said...

After seeing your photos I won't look at weeds the same this year. And your right after the long winter anything with color will look good to me.

Dotti said...

Yes! The color is such a welcome treat every spring but this spring it seems even more so. I'm sure I've seen henbit ... just hadn't been properly introduced. Lovely photos to show us the beauty of flowers growing in the wild. And a great way to recognize our April theme.

AFishGirl said...

My Mom just loved dandelions. She used to tell me they reminded her of us when we were little and bringing her "bouquets" of them. A really warm memory for me. On another note, I think you and Fishboy are cut from the same cloth. A few years ago he decided to identify and photograph all the wildflowers (and weeds) in our back yard and near the river that we fish . Over a hundred. You can see them here if you're so inclined...
Thank you for making me smile this morning.

heyjudephotography said...

I love your plant lesson today Kelly. I agree! It is all in the way we look at them. I've photographed and picked many a weed, and have received some strange looks from people as I've done it. Oh well! And I thought I was the only one who thought the color of dandelions was, well, dandy!

Kim Stevens said...

I love this time of year when all the wildflowers of Texas are blooming along the road side and highways. I knew dandelions were supposed to be a good green to eat, but have never tried them, I mean I have a dog and you just don't ever know where they've been! lol ;) We have a weed that grows, that has the sweetest little daisy-like flower on it, but I have no idea of the name. I always figure if the butterflies and the bees like 'em they must not be too bad? Loved your take on this for our theme, like Dotti said . . . I feel the same way about insects (Linda, wink wink)

terriporter said...

The spring wildflowers when you've had the winter you've had must make you so happy! I agree, they are definitely not weeds! Just too beautiful to be weeds. I'm in love with the deadnettle with those sweet little hearts hanging from them! You just have to get close enough to see the beauty, like in a lot of things. Thanks for sharing the weed (er, flower) information with us, Kelly!

Cathy said...

We have beautiful weeds here in Washington and many of them have ended up in vases around our home. Great post Kelly. I always learn something from you! And your photos are stunning. So much beautiful bokeh!

Liz said...

Beautiful DOF in these images!! Well done. And an interesting post.

Deanna said...

Oh I am still waiting on our "weeds" to present themselves here, so I especially enjoyed seeing your sweet little wildflowers in abundance. One of my favorite framed images is the one I have on the walls in my guest bedroom of my husband's hands holding dandelions.

Amy Burzese said...

We have these all over the place. I've always thought it a little odd that all of those little tiny ones are lavender. I picked some today just because of your post. :)

Linda/patchwork said...

Henbit is a pretty little flower. I'm glad you were 'down low' and got such good shots of the other ones, too. They're pretty.
Now I need to go see if we have any of those.
We have few wildflowers, right here around the house. I think that's because the deer must eat them.
Thanks for sharing yours.

Roxi H said...

I love ALL flowers except Henbit. It's my garden's worst nightmare. I cannot get rid of it. I have photographed it but I still hate it. Because of our drought, we have no wild flowers yet unless we've watered. I'm jealous of yours.

Ida said...

Lovely shots of the flowers on the (weeds) I think they are pretty but I must admit that Dandelion (not my favorite) but oh how our yard seems to attract them.

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