Thursday, May 16, 2013

weeds and tomatoes

My tomato plants are growing. They were set out 5 days ago and I can see  they have  in this short time. It is interesting to note that at one time tomatoes were thought to be poison and only later were found not to be poison but the weed  that are hiding the calves is  Hemlock and deadly poison.
The calves are wanting their feed. You can hardly see them for the blooming weeds . I took this photo out the bath room window this morning.
We are getting a slight drizzle here.
The weed growing all around the fence rows here is Hemlock.
Poison Hemlock
Conium maculatum
It's hard to choose what adjective best describes poison hemlock, but "big" is certainly a contender.  It looks a little bit like common Queen-Anne's-lace on steroids.  Like Queen-Anne's-lace it is a biennial, living two years.  The first year it produces a low rosette of leaves; the second year it takes off, growing into a huge, flower-covered plant up to 9 feet tall.  "Pretty" is another adjective that comes to mind.  The plant itself is too big and coarse to be considered pretty, but the tiny white flowers, with their five petals are elegant and are born in profusion in flat topped-clusters known as umbels.  The leaves are finely divided and fern-like.  The stems, which are hollow, are mottled with purple, as seen in the picture below. 
Poison hemlock is a weed.  A simple definition of weed is a plant found where humans don't want it.  A lovely petunia in the lettuce bed, for example, is a weed.  To botanists the term weed has a more particular meaning.  A weedy plant to them is one that can thrive in disturbed areas.  Living in disturbed areas is a perfectly respectable evolutionary adaptations.  Nature creates disturbed areas frequently, whenever a major storm knocks down trees, or lightning sparks a fire.  These provide opportunity for early colonizing species that like open space, lots of light, and disturbance.  Mankind, too, creates lots of disturbances.  Roadsides, trailsides, backyards, and agricultural fields are all disturbed areas.  Plants that like disturbance found humans a blessing and multiplied in villages and on roadsides.

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