Hello fellow readers,
“Is there such a thing as wild hydrangea?” asked Tammy of Marshalls Creek, PA. There is. Hydrangea arborescens is commonly known as Smooth Hydrangea or Wild hydrangea, and it’s native in the woodlands of the northeast, but it blooms in the spring. The plant Tammy notices gracing roadsides this time of year is Japanese knotweed, also called Asian Knotweed, which tells its origin. From late summer into fall, it’s a showy, white lacey plant is often seen in swaths. And, it’s quite magnificent with white sprays covering shamrock green smooth-edged leaves. Though indeed shrub-like, Fallopia japonica is not a woody plant. Rather, a hefty herbaceous perennial in the buckwheat family. Its stems are hollow and look bamboo-like, growing ten to thirteen feet each year. Sadly, it’s invasive, though pollinators are pleased with the plethora of plumes.
Some call it Fleece Flower, Monkey Weed, or Donkey Rhubarb. They say it tastes like very sour rhubarb, and you’d have to be dumb as a donkey to eat it. The thing is, donkeys aren’t dumb. They are quite smart but indeed stubborn. We can’t blame an animal for digging in its heels to protect itself.
Another wild beauty is Orange Jewelweed, also known as Spotted Jewelweed. I look forward to seeing this annual North American native along streams, creeks, and in trenches roadside. Native Americans used the juice of the leaves as a poison ivy rash remedy. They grow three to five feet tall and have stems that are almost see-through and succulent-like. The flower’s shape reminds me of foxgloves, though they dance on the tips rather than ride all along the stems. Upon researching Impatiens capensis, I learned about a unique feature that earned its other common name Touch-me-not. When the inch-long seed pods ripen, they explode! With just a light touch, the pods promptly peel back and fling out tiny seeds. Whoever thought plants could be such fun! Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com
Here’s a link to a video demonstrating Jewelweed seed pod fun! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ_vxAZZ–4