Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life

My Weeds

In an effort to become better acquainted with the property I live on, I am also endeavoring to learn about what weeds are growing here. According to some, by knowing what weeds I have they can give me an indication of the relative health of my soil, as well as its acidity level (in a more generalized sense).

So, with that in mind, here are some pictures (and tentative identifications) of my early Spring weeds. You can click on the thumbnails to see a larger picture.

Winter creeper vine

The first one up is an invasive vine. This sucker has come into my yard from my neighbor (not his fault, it was there when they bought the house). I pull on one part of it, and before I know it, I’ve got a length of it that extends about halfway across my yard (yard is 50′ wide, more or less). I tend to call it a tangleweed, because it tangles around the rake, or my boots tripping me. I’m not sure if this is a true “invasive” or if it’s just because I don’t want it. I haven’t yet been able to positively identify it, and I think I have either a couple of varieties of it, or I have a couple of different vines that look similar in leaf structure.

Purple dead nettle

The next one up is what I believe to be purple dead nettle (or deadnettle). From what I understand, it looks very similar to henbit. If this is indeed purple (or scarlet, or red) dead nettle, I’m not going to be too upset that it has such an established presence in my yard, as it food for the bees (when it isn’t raining or too cold for them to be flying). In this picture (to the right), you can also see what I think is a bittercress.

Hairy Bittercress

A better picture of what I think is bittercress is to the right. I’m not sure how I feel about the bittercress, except that I have seen the occasional bee checking out the white florets… and they have a firm hold of the soil on some of the “slope-ier” parts of the yard.

I know I have Japanese honeysuckle (vine) and Amur bush honeysuckle plants trying to take over the yard at various points. Both of these plants are quite invasive. I’ve read that the Amur honeysuckle is considered to be as bad as the kudzu vine that is doing its best to take over the South. I consider both of these (as well as the porcelain berry vine) to be the kudzus of the North.

Shepherd’s purse, wild strawberry, cleevers

This last photo (for now), shows a trio of weeds that are growing in the area that will be shaded by my lilac bush – what I believe to be shepherd’s purse (the rosette of deeply lobed leaves), along with wild strawberry and an escapee of mine (I think) – sweet woodruff (also known as “sweet-scented bedstraw” apparently). I had planted this is a completely different area, separated by sidewalks, in a spot that gets very little if any sunlight. It is a wonderful shade plant,with white flowers that has been used in flavoring wines or beers (it’s been awhile since I looked up the info). I don’t mind it having escaped (although it can be an invasive), as it is working on covering very shaded areas of the yard (where I have difficulty even growing shade-tolerant grass).

Sorrel, possibly wood sorrel

Another one of my ‘weeds’, this one I kind of want to keep as I believe it does have many uses – both culinary and medicinal. It is sorrel (if I recall correctly, it is wood sorrel). It is an eye-pleasing little plant, with pretty little yellow flowers.

What are your thoughts?