Just back from vacation. I noticed this morning that a lot of the low sidewalk weeds are in flower. On the walk to work, the carpetweed, doorweed, pimpernel and sand spurrey were in evidence, and possibly knawel as well. I have a feeling that the spotted spurge is about to burst, and the purslane can’t be far off. Sowthistles abound, and various solanaceae are of interest; black nightshade in flower, bittersweet nightshade with big new swollen green berries.
But most interesting of all these solanaceae is a charismatic weed, completely new to me! That hasn’t happened to me in the city for at least a year. The weed is:
- Buffalo Bur (Solanum rostratum) (nightshade family) – Big old papery yellow flowers. Fascinating pinnately-lobed leaves, reminiscent of white oak. Cruel, bristling, omnipresent prickles. Unbelievably wicked-looking spiny fruit. Apparently this was originally a weed of the great plains, named for its liking for buffalo wallows. It’s supposed to have a tumbleweed mechanism of seed dispersal. Buffalo bur truly has it all!
It was growing in the vacant lot next to my work building. (Where? I’ll never tell!) I’ve also seen crown vetch in there: which I think is the only place in Massachusetts where I’ve run into it. It’s common as all get-out around Sodus Bay; I suppose it was probably planted for erosion control. There’s a leguminous shrub growing in that site too, and maybe it’s also a rarity which came in with the construction dirt? I burn with anticipation!