The Prettiest Weeds Money Can Buy
You’d think the folks that sell seeds would know better than to collect and package weed seeds for sale, but they clearly don’t. There are plants that, in the Bay Area, at least, are meddlesome weeds, and yet companies sell them as ornamental flowers and vegetables. While these plants might be an annual plant in many parts of the country, they are downright dangerous to introduce to your garden: you will regret it. …That being said, these same plants are freaking gorgeous, and if you have to find you have to put up with them, just be glad they aren’t Wild Fennel*.
Rat Tail RadishAKA: Aerial Radish, Spicy Bean Source: Botanical Interests This is my favorite Bay Area weed, for two reasons:
- It grows beautiful bunches of flowers in so many colorways, even in the same area. Just small patch of them in my yard can sport yellow, bright pink, white-and-pink, white, yellow-and-pink (my fave!), and purple.
- They are easy to pull up when you don’t want them any more–the roots are short and come out of the ground very easily.
Miner’s LettuceAKA: Winter Purslane Sources: Amazon, Territorial Seed These cute little lilypads, with their tiny cascade of white flowers, pop up in the wet winter of the Bay Area, and die away in the heat of summer. This means they really don’t crowd out summer vegetables, and I’ve even heard of them being used as a ground cover to form a mat of green to keep other winter weeds from popping up. As their name suggests, these plants were eaten by the gold miners in the Bay Area, and are actually quite nutritious, if a little bland. I recommend using their leaves in salads with a tasty dressing, and not as a spinach substitute in anything cooked (as I had seen suggested online), as the taste is too mild and the texture too tough for cooking.
California PoppySource: Amazon The orange poppy is the California State Flower, so I’m not surprised it’s easy to find sources for the seeds. They are beautiful, and, like the Rat Tail Radished and Miner’s Lettuce, thrive only in the wet winter, fading away in summer. Their roots are also shallow, so the plants come up whole when you need to remove them. There are many colors and varieties of poppies available for purchase. If you already have native poppies in your area, there are a few things you need to know before you plant those other varieties.
- Wild poppies have evolved to thrive where they grow. Adding new varieties that will cross-pollinate with the native, orange poppies can weaken their next generation. You could end up with no poppies.
- Wild poppies’ brilliant orange color is dominant, so even those blue, white, and red beauties you plant this year will be orange poppies next year.