I follow quite a few gardening related blogs, websites and social media feeds and I’m constantly learning new techniques, questioning the validity of horticultural practice and discovering new plants and products. I love it when something pops up unexpectedly, or an answer to a question I had never thought to ask suddenly appears.
On Sunday both happened within minutes. Instead of just looking through my normal Facebook feed, I clicked around and selected ‘Most Recent.’ Up popped an entirely different set of posts: pages that the Facebook algorithm would not normally make visible to me without specifically searching for it. There was news from friends I thought had dropped off the face of the earth, only to realize they had simply dropped off the list of people Facebook thinks I should see. Likewise pages from organizations and groups I actually DID want to hear from – including one of the pages that help people identify plants.
The first post was from someone in northern California who wanted the ID of a plant I see often around here. A type of thistle (I thought) that has beautiful mauve flowers followed by a striking seed head. Turns out it’s not a thistle at all, but rather it’s called Dipsacus follonum, more commonly known as Teasel (or Teazle). This is an invasive biennial native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa but naturalized throughout most of North America. The first year’s growth produces a rosette of glossy deep green leaves that are covered in soft spines (it’s thought the plant may be carnivorous). In the second year a spike is sent up that produces one to many thistle-like flowers. Tiny seeds spread readily and although it’s generally considered a weed, I find it very easily controllable either by mowing or pulling. It’s an important winter food source for the European Goldfinch and, to my eye, it’s quite beautiful. Here it is in my garden (after blooming) a few years ago.
Seedheads of Dipsacus follonum, more commonly known as Teasel (or Teazle)
A bit further down on my ‘Most Recent’ feed, from the same group, was someone asking to ID a lovely blue flower I had in abundance two years ago. The flower is similar to Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis) but grows on a one to two foot high stem and lacks the splash of yellow in the eye of the flower. I had tried to ID this plant when it popped up with no luck, until this morning, when there it was: Cynoglossum amabile, with a common name Chinese forget-me-not. I think they appeared in my garden after I spread seeds that had been distributed by some forgotten charity. Here they are – such a beautiful blue, eh?
Cynoglossum amabile, common name Chinese forget-me-not, growing from seed scattered in this very weathered fountain basin. See the wasp nest?
So there you have it. Two plants identified and one lesson re-learned: remember to more regularly switch my Facebook feed to Most Recent!