Friday, February 4, 2011

An ugly weed.

As a result of high rainfall this season, there are a lot of different weeds flourishing in Vinoland right now, and not all of them are as pleasing to me as the well-disposed field marigold that I blogged about last year. One particular weed, common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) appears to be thriving in Vinoland right now: it's everywhere!
Groundsel has the ability to adapt to many kinds of environmental conditions and can be found growing just about anywhere. And, this year it seems to have discovered, in Vinoland, an environment that it really, really likes. Fortunately, it mostly dies off in the long, dry summers we have here in California, but the seeds produced during the dry months are simply biding their time until the very first hint of moisture, come autumn, awakens them. Groundsel contains high levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which, if ingested in large quantities, are toxic to humans and livestock - lovely. It can be such a nuisance that the state of Colorado has it listed as a hazardous, noxious plant. It is a vulgar weed, indeed.
Groundsel's one and only redeeming feature is that it reminds me of my grandmother, as she used to feed her pet budgerigars groundsel leaves as a treat. My gran would often ask me to go out and find some, which invariably meant going out into the road, as no groundsel dared rear it's ugly cotyelons in my grandfather's pristine, weed-free garden. The memory of groundsel can, and does, elicit a smile from me. The reality of groundsel, proliferating everyplace I glance, only serves to make me frown.

6 comments:

Affer said...

Your blog is simply amazing! Yes, I too have GBMS (oh, that's Groundsel Budgie Memory Syndrome!)but I'm sure that the 'groundsel' I fed my budgies was different to that which you have photo'ed.....which is probably why my budgies regularly dropped off the perch (as they say)!

Thomas said...

Ugh! I spend whole summers in search and destroy missions with this invasion weed.

There must be a reason behind the fact that weeds flourish without attention but our garden foods need loads of our support.

Leads me to wonder which has the right to the earth?

Vinogirl said...

Affer: Thanks!
Hmmm...my gran's budgies seemed to fall off their perch with alarming regularity also!

Thomas: Like with most people, if weeds would just behave and contain themselves, they could live side by side with my flowers, shrubs and vines just fine.

Ron Combo said...

It's a budgie frenzy! My budgie (Joey) also used to pig out on groundsel. My psycho brother took him out at the end with a .22 rifle as he had a terrible growth on his bottom. Poor Joey. Enjoyed his groundsel 'though!

Thud said...

Ron...the growth on your brothers bottom made him kill your budgie, a family with problems I think.

Vinogirl said...

I think all budgies were named Joey, weren't they?