SOARING BEAR Ph.D. Pharmacology
Scientific advisor to the health professions & herbal industry
Useful Weeds for Needs
Spray the weeds?
'Weed' is a state of mind, a plant looking for a use. Cultivated plants can be viewed simply as weeds with some of the wildness controlled or bred out of them. Where is the outrage about miles and miles of corn and wheat fields? Weeds are not always pests. They can be beautiful, tasty and useful. Bias against aliens is no better to plants than humans. Weeds are vital to healthy farmland and wildlife. They can make important contribution as bird feed and cover. Weeds can even be worth more than the crop they're growing amongst as shown by Gonzalez. What we often think of as prickly, poisonous weeds are sometimes there because of human land use practices such as slash & burn, overgrazing. They may be part of the habitat healing process. It is also part of the coping process of a changing habitat. Native and alien are transitory terms until the melting pot melds - Raffles. And then there are the native invasives. Check out Ryan's yard of weeds and Kathy Michels discussion. What may seem like a cute little flower in small numbers in the woods may not seem quite so cute in large numbers when they aggressively take over a garden or farm, unless they have economic value. Even if you buy the idea that some wild plants are more valuable than others, the distinction quickly becomes uncertain. Are violets weeds? Jack in the pulpits? Asters? Buttercups? Columbines? Wintergreen? How about corn and apples which have weedy qualities? Harm to wildlife by removing sage in Wyoming.
Weeds as soil indicators: Williams - Sides - Meleah - Oregon - Oregon - guru -
The issue of invasive species of plants and insects is as complicated as with legislating human migration and immigration and over drugs. Change (and disruption) happens and has been speeded up by human travels yet this phenomena predates humans. Invasive ideology questioned by Chew & Carroll. Exotics can increase diversity and co-exist (Heard).
I have learned much about wild plants along walks sponsored by native plant society. Some can be learned from invading birds too. When some people react by spraying out of desperation rather than finding the underlying disruption to the habitat that allowed invaders to dominate they end up polluting with poison and making things further out of balance. It is possible for invasive non-natives to fit right in without hurting natives link link. Remember that humans are not native to North America and have overwhelmed the environment, so should we spray ourselves? A recent study indicates that the two prime determinants of species invasion are population density and wealth - consider that when you drive your car and look at your house. It probably won't surprise you that birds are a factor in the natural distribution of plants. Who doesn't enjoy a garden of flowers, some of which came from somewhere else? Degree of invasiveness is probably important than national origin of a plant.
Weeds give you only three options: 1) Ignore them, 2) Trim them, or 3) Eradicate the damn things. While I don’t condone ignoring most problems, I usually ignore purslane until it is a full-grown plant. Then I harvest and eat it. Yes, the low-growing red stems and waxy leaves do grow large quickly, but the plants don’t seem to disturb anything. What’s more, I learned a few years ago that those oily leaves are packed with Omega 3s. (Rhea Kennedy)
Controlling movement of "invasive" species of plants is far more complicated than cutting and spraying them. Human-induced impacts, such as climate change, nitrogen eutrophication, urbanization and land use change are making the native-versus-alien species dichotomy in conservation increasingly meaningless. Simple criticism of invasives disregards basic ecological and evolutionary principles. Noxious weed proposa in Virginia. (gov)
Huge sums of money are spent on weed killer
herbicides, most of which harm the environment, and which ultimately result in herbicide resistant weeds (weedscience - NAS). Let's not forget the noisy weed whackers. Tax dollars
are spent on introducing bugs for biological
control of a few plants instead of devising new uses for those 'nuisances'.
success stories are touted, yet consider who they are for, who benefits?
Imagine going with nature a little more and spending less energy fighting nature.
Imagine people harvesting these as 'medicinal herbs' instead of spraying those
'noxious weeds' with herbicides. A good case in point is the St.
John's Wort story. It was introduced to Australia and California from Europe
in the 1800's as a medicinal plant. It grew well in overgrazed pastures leading
to ranchers prevailing upon the federal government to pay for a control program.
A mite was introduced and now limits the spread. And now this same plant is
one of the top selling medicinal herbs of commerce. Plants that are considered
as weeds deserve further scientific investigation before tax dollars are spent
There is a change in attitude underway. Along the highways of America mowed grass is being replaced by wild plants (NY Times story). The battle with weeds is one we will never win because they are strong and adaptable. Biodiversity can be aided by using the weeds rather than trying to kill them. Give away your week killer and the weed whacker and join the weeds for needs revolution! New research indicates invasives are not more likely to be weedy than natives.
Weeds have many uses and may be harvested instead of sprayed by herbicides. Until I can get around to a more thorough compendium on this topic, here are preformatted links to Medline and web literature to help you find uses and to find the plants.
preformatted Medline search links:
|AGERATINA||Mist flower, Croftonweed||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|AGROPYRON repens (Elymus repens)||Quack Grass, Couch Grass||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|AGROSTEMMA githago||Corn Cockle||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|AILANTHUS altissima||Tree of Heaven||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|ALLIARIA petiolata||Garlic Mustard||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|AMARANTHUS retroflexus||Redroot Pigweed||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|CYNODON dactylon||Bermuda grass||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|CYTISUS scoparius||Scotch Broom||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|ECHINOCHLOA||Barnyard Grass, Water Grass,||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|EICHHORNIA crassipes||Water Hyacinth||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|EUPHORBIA esula||Leafy Spurge||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|ELAEAGNUS umbellata||Autumn Olive||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|HEDERA helix||English Ivy||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|HERACLEUM mantegazzianum||Giant Hogweed||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|IMPERATA cylindrica||Cogon grass||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|LAMIUM amplexicaule||Henbit Deadnettle||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|LAMIUM purpureum||Purple Deadnettle||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|LONICERA japonica||Japanese Honeysuckle Bush||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|LYGODIUM microphyllum||Climbing Fern||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|MICROSTEGIUM vimineum||Stilt grass||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|OPUNTIA||Prickly Pear Cactus||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|PHALARIS arundinacea||Reed Canarygrass||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|PHRAGMITES australis||Common Reed||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|POLYGONUM cuspidatum||Japan Knotweed||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|ROSA multiflora||Multiflora Rose||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|SALSOLA||Russian Thistle, Saltwort||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|SAPIUM sebiferum||Chinese Tallow Tree||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|TAMARIX||Tamarisk, Salt Cedar||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
|XANTHIUM (strumarium & spinosum)||Cocklebur||yahoo||usda||picsearch|
Some 'weed' oriented sites to inspire more research into their uses:
USDAaphis - USDAnoxious - USDAinvasive - WeedIDLucid(bear1j) - NPSalien - NPSalien - NPSupdates - BLM - plantright - CalDFA - Calweed - CalInvasivePlants - noxioustimes - NatureConservancy/ UCDavis - NatureConserv - NYBGweeds - British Columbia - BritCol - Sasketchuan - Arizona - Colorado - Colo Weed Mgt Assn - Connecticut - Hawaii - IdahoMontana - Illinois - Indiana - Iowa - Iowa - NJRutgers - NY - Ohio - Oregon - Utah - WSU - King County, Wa - Wyoming - World - World - Weed o' Week - Cropnet - merriweb - weedsmart - garden invaders - globalWeeds - Coomb - forestryimages - Fletcher - Australia - googleweedID - invasiveguide - invasiveatlas - Finneyfrock - Francis - InvasiveOrg - ChicagoBan - plantwise - replacements - MexicoInvasives - SoUSInvasives - SoUSInvasives - SoUSInvasives - MapsInvasive - RussiaWeeds - BugwoodInvasipedia - Australia -
© 2004-2008 Soaring Bear; your comments & corrections are welcome
To those whose voices have not yet been heard.