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Weeds are more than inconvenient plants!
Whenever I hear someone say, “A weed is just a plant growing where you don't want it,” my internal botany nerd kicks into high gear.
In botanical science, there is a defined category of plants called weeds. It’s not a negative term, but rather it helps define very specific characteristics that only certain plants have. Weed plants are very adaptable and able to create symbiosis within a broad range of cultural conditions. They produce abundant amounts of viable seed. Weed plants have unique and clever mechanisms by which they disperse their seed farther and wider than non-weed plants.
Importantly, many weeds also provide the predominant basis of nutrition for a large number of pollinating insect species. In addition, weeds are often the first plants to move into territory disturbed by events such as forest fires and landslides. Weeds “re-vegetate” these areas and alter the soil biology, thereby preparing the ground for higher level plant families.
The idea that a weed is a simply a plant in an inconvenient location may be a popular sentiment, but it’s not accurate from a botanical point of view, and doesn’t reflect the importance of these plants. “Weed” is a specific category of plants that play a crucial role in our interconnected biosystem.
Maureen Murphy, owner
Bayview Farm & Garden
Farm & Garden