Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lots of Love in a Mist / Wild Geranium or Weed?

Love in a Mist? (Or weeds in a mulch?)

Near as I can tell, I have a bevy of Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena) seedlings springing up in my flower beds.

I sowed a small packet of Love in a Mist seeds last year, a few flowered eventually and now it looks like those fortunate few have replicated themselves en masse.

(Either that or I could be nurturing a crop of weeds with benign neglect, but from what I remember of last year's Love in a Mist plants - and from what I can find on the Internet this year - I'm pretty sure I have the right ID. Looking forward to their cheerful blue blooms and bizarre seed pods soon.)

Many Internet sources list Nigella damascena seeds as being edible (for instance Mother Earth Living and PFAF), although supposedly they are not as flavorful (and therefore not as frequently used for culinary purposes) as the seeds of N. sativa.

And speaking of is-this-a-weed-or-a-desirable-plant, does anyone want to chime in on whether this is really a wild geranium (and therefore presumably desirable) or a pernicious weed that I should pluck with all due haste?

Desirable wild geranium or sneaky weed?

22 comments:

  1. Google Image "squirrel corn" or "Dicentra canadensis" and see if your plant looks like that. It's a weed, but a kind of pretty one. Squirrels and chipmunks love to transplant the tubers so if that's what you have, you'll see this plant come up in all kinds of odd places.

    You might pull up part and see if there are yellow tubers clustered on the roots below.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Laurrie.

      I'll thin one of the thicker patches and see if I find any 'corn' at the roots. But I have a feeling this is love-in-a-mist. (The Dicentra leaves and leaflets seem to be a bit thicker than what I've got, if Internet photos are to be believed.)

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    2. Dicentra Canadensis is not a weed, and what you have is not it. Read this blog by Dr. Tom Barnes about this beautiful wildflower:
      http://kentuckynativeplantandwildlife.blogspot.com/2013/03/plant-of-week-squirrel-corn-dicentra.html

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    3. Thanks for the link, Dottie. I agree that I don't have Squirrel Corn -- and if I did, as you say, I think I'd be inclined to think of it as a wildflower.

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  2. I'm not sure about the Love in a Mist, but the bottom one looks like Wild Geranium to me. We have it growing wild in our woods. I enjoy it in the right spot. The purple flowers are so pretty.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I hope you're right. It does look a bit like the Carolina Geranium photos I've seen online. (And Carolina Geranium is typically called a weed too, even though folks - including me - pay good money for other geraniums!)

      http://commodities.caes.uga.edu/turfgrass/georgiaturf/WeedMngt/grsweedpages/Gerca.html

      http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/55196/

      The foliage on mine does not seem quite as dissected as these though. I wonder whether my Rozanne geraniums might have self-sowed? But I think they're supposedly sterile... http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://northernshade.ca/wp-content/images/geranium-rozanne-leaves-looking-fresh.jpg&imgrefurl=http://northernshade.ca/2009/08/05/hardy-geraniums/&h=600&w=800&sz=203&tbnid=vLhyjm9x27N79M:&tbnh=92&tbnw=122&zoom=1&usg=__bsLVDVcESo0a31hSTE0Eo5pYyEo=&docid=tz3UKycdeZ88lM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rkhGUbqyMIaztAa16oCoBA&ved=0CDoQ9QEwAA&dur=362

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    2. Geranium maculatum is not a weed; it is a native wildflower, and one of the best. I have never heard it called "Carolina Geranium" before. Is this something new? This reminds me of those who call Gelsemium sempervirens "Carolina Jasmine" instead of what it really is, "Yellow Jessimine", Jasmine and Jessimine are not een in the same family; one is in the Jasminum family (as Jasmine is), and one is in the Gelsemium family, like Yellow Jessimine. I'm sorry my uppity side has to come out, but this things really are annoying to me. If things like this are not corrected, plants (and other things) will lose their proper names forever; no one will know a thing, and we'll all live in complete ignorance about the Plant World. And, one more thing....I looked at that plant that looks like the native Geranium again, and I've changed my mind. The native Geranium has a more upright habit, rather than prostrate. It could just be the photo, but now I'm inclined to think it's something else - it still may be something you like, though, so just wait and see.

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    3. it is a weed and a plant just depends where it is growing lol the gardener's perspective is the factor of live or die .

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    4. Hi Dottie, I think Geranium carolinianum (http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/55196/) is a different plant than Geranium maculatum (http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/2649).

      The foliage looks much bigger to me on the Geranium maculatum, for one thing.

      And just because lawn care companies called something a weed, doesn't mean I agree! After all, many of them think that violets are a weed and I intentionally sowed violet seeds last year and hope that they will reseed into the lawn! :)

      Anyway, as you say, with the could-be-a-geranium, I'll wait and see what it turns out to be! There's always time to pull later on and I'd rather let a weed bloom than run the risk of pulling a potentially desirable wildflower.

      @Unknown, as you say, to some extent any plant *could* be a weed depending on the gardener's perspective. Or as Emerson said, a weed is a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.

      Yet Michael Pollan has a deeper (and I think) better analysis of what weeds really are and why many of them are primarily a problem in areas disturbed by people - http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/weeds-are-us/

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    5. I am relieved to know that people haven't started calling our native Geranium maculatum "Carolina Geranium." Whew! I'm glad to know, too, that it's Geranium carolinianum that's considered a weed and not Geranium maculatum. I have Geranium carolinianum around also, and I knew it was a Geranium but didn't know it had a common name. It's really quite pretty if you get down an examine it closely, but the flowers are so tiny that it's not very noticeable in a garden, although I've thought a time or two about digging it up and putting it in mine.

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  3. It is possible it is a weed or the wild geranium. I do love the flowers of wild geranium. I think it is hard to tell at this stage. Many of my weeds look similar.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Since there are only a couple of these weed-or-geraniums, I'll wait and see!

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  4. I vote wild geranium, but I would wait and see a bloom before I decided to eliminate it. There are lots of "weeds" in the geranium family that appear in my garden from time to time, but this looks more civilized to me. Give it a chance; it won't bite you.

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    1. I sure hope not! Now a biting geranium, I would have to pull. LOL.

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  5. I vote wild geranium too but you will be able to know better once it flowers...I love wondering and waiting to see these surpises in the garden.

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    1. Thanks Donna. Looks like most everyone thinks I should wait until it flowers, so that's what I'll do! I like these surprises myself. I'm still such a novice gardener (just a few yrs experience) that each spring is full of MANY surprises! :)

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  6. Your wild geranium is a cutie so keep it. As for all that nigella, ARGH! I scattered some seed in late Feb and nothing, nada, zilch has popped up yet. I'm hoping they just need more time because, let me tell ya, I'm dying for some love in a mist! :o)

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    1. It took the nigella that I sowed last year a LONG time to sprout. I'd pretty much given up on it when I think it *finally* sprouted either in the summer or the fall, I forget which.

      Clearly, the self-sown seeds have a much better germination rate. Maybe it needs the freeze-thaw cycle of a full winter? (Or I'm misidentifying these seedlings complete, which is another possibility.) ;-)

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  7. I sowed a bunch of Nigella, my seedlings look like yours. I am wondering about thinning them out a bit. We have lots of wild geranium in the garden too.....I just pull it out.

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    1. Hi Janet - Happy to know that my tentative seedling identification seems accurate! I haven't thinned mine out at all yet. I think you could thin some and leave some crowded together to see if it makes any difference once the blooms start appearing (which has not happened yet in my garden). Look forward to seeing photos of your Nigella!

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  8. It is both. Studies show that the Wild Geranium fights against Hepatitis B. So, preserving the plant is good. However, it will harbor turf flies. So should cut is back during the hot summer months. It will survive the winter, but the flies will eat holes in it and it will not be that desirable. It will begin to flourish once again early spring. So, supply it with iron and you will have delicate blooms for April and May. Keep the plant rooted. And don't be afraid to cut it all the way down. It will grow back, with very little attention.

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    1. Thanks for the information about the potential medicinal benefit vs. Hepatitis B. I know that scientists have derived many useful compounds from plants and no doubt there are many plants whose therapeutic benefits have yet to be discovered.

      Thanks also for the suggestions on how to care for the wild geranium to improve its aesthetic appearance. I'll try your recommendations next time a wild geranium pops up in the yard! (Well, I may try your recommendations on cutting the plant back - I doubt I'll fertilize it. I barely/rarely fertilize the plants I buy and install, so I don't think I'll coddle any wild plants that pop up on their own! :)

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