Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not all weeds are bad.

Weeds and naturally occurring plants in our yards get a pretty bad rap. There are weeds that take over lawns and flower beds and turn manicured landscaping into something unsightly.  Kind of like the weeds that are surrounding my Soap Aloe in the backyard
...and the weeds I just pulled out of my front garden.
But then every once in a while, something starts growing that you didn't expect. Maybe it's a offspring of a plant you already like. Or maybe it's something new that catches your eye. Like this weed that started growing up my Oak Tree.

It's a pretty neat looking plant, but I have seen these completely take over a telephone pole.  I don't think I want that to happen to my beautiful Oak Tree.

This next little thing started growing in a crack between the cement and my house, under the water spigot.  It was a neat shape.  The leaves pointed up and formed little square that got smaller up the stem. It was shaped similar to a pyramid.  It was pretty cool until I demolished it.
The following vine grows everywhere down here.  And it grows over anything. Fences, lanai cages, other plants, lawns, the list is endless.  While it isn't on any Florida Invasive Species lists (, I think it soon might be.  It's the Bitter Melon and it's medicinal uses can be found all over the Internet (and apparently, it's edible, too!).  I let it grow because during the summer it turns my chain-link fence into a beautiful green wall that is dotted with yellow flowers in the morning. The flowers fade in the full sun, but that green wall hides my neighbors' rather unsightly yard.

It gets these REALLY BRIGHT colored orange fruit that are edible.
Over the fifteen years that my parents have lived in their house the yard has changed so much.  The list of reasons it has changed is as long as the list of changes itself.  One change that was unexpected and welcomed was the growth of this Butternut Tree
Where the tree stands now used to be a row of Ixoras (Ixora coccinea).  The seed most likely blew in from across the street and started grow right in the center of one of the Ixora bushes.  Because of it's protected location, the seedling never got mowed down and was allow to grow large enough for us to realize what it was. My parents decided to keep it, especially since they had lost their mature Maple Tree because it was on top of the septic tank that the city ordered them to crush.  Eventually, the tree blocked the sun from the already scrawny Ixoras and they perished.  But now my parents have a beautiful shade tree again to help cut down on cooling costs...
all thanks to Mother Nature.


  1. My, how I hate Virginia creeper! It is truly trying to take over everything in my garden...trees, pool screens, shrubs, etc., etc. Bitter melon is a nasty one, too. How lucky that your parents got a shade tree from a weed! And to think, if it hadn't been protected by a hedge, it would have been pulled long before it reached any size at all.

  2. Virginia Creeper. Is that one climbing up my Oak?

  3. Looks like Virginia Creeper to me. Younger leaves seem to have leaflets of three, maturing to leaflets of five. Very vigorous, but it probably keeps all the birds in my garden. Then again, they are probably helping to spread it. It is a native.

  4. One of the first things I noticed when I joined Blotanical was that some plants considered weeds here (because they are invasive) are garden favourites in other countries and vice versa. What is a weed anyway? - just a plant growing where we don't want it to grow.

  5. I found you over at Dragonfly garden. Always glad to find another Fla. gardener. Weeds certainly can take over in no time in Florida. That butternut tree is really neat...never heard of it before.

  6. @Susan I have to admit that Butternut Tree is probably not it's real name. When I google "Butternut Tree" some other tree is more prevalent. It's a name that my parents gave it a long time ago and it has stuck. I have yet to find that particular tree's true identity.