Weeds: the worst and the not so bad
I mentioned in my post on the benefits of weeds that I wanted to begin a post on weeds, and here it is. My two questions are, what are your worst weeds, and why? and which are the ones you're actually rather fond of, or that at least have some positive or endearing qualities? The rule is that if a plant is wild and self-sows into your garden, it can be considered a weed--or not, as you please; in other words, you can talk about desirable wild plants as weeds or just concentrate on the more dubious members of your plant community. If you know the botanical names of the weeds you mention, it would be helpful if you give it; sometimes I don't know the common names of weeds, and in this I imagine I have company.
I fight an endless battle against Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis); and there's another invasive grass from hell, that spreads like B.g. but is much taller and bigger in all its parts: could this be Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense)? Fortunately it's not all over the garden like Bermuda grass, but worrisome where I do find it. There are two major very tiresome weeds that I don't know the names of: one is an Asteraceae (daisy-aster family) with a vague resemblance to chicory and wild lettuce: it has yellow flowers and a taproot and all its growth is sticky and somewhat prickly, and it seeds like mad. Another may be an Apiaceae (carrot-parsely family), annual, that has tiny white flowers and make zillions of extremely clingy seeds that have to be removed from clothing one by one. I've thrown clothing away because of this plant. Thistles (Onopordum acanthium?) are an awful weed that must be attacked with leather gloves and a shovel: fortunately we don't have an large population of them. Wild clematis (Clematis vitalba) is terrible: it seeds freely, and if the seedlings aren't caught they can overwhelm anything. Elms (Ulmus minor) are even worse; it's impossible to live with the invasive roots of elms, and nothing short of serious poison will kill them. Our wild ligustrum (L. vulgare) is invasive. Knotweed has no redeeming features, beyond that of being a plant, but it doesn't rival these others listed for obnoxiousness. Mallows (Malva sylvestris?) are deeprooted and hateful but not a large population in our garden. We have areas of a wild non-edible strawberry (Potentilla?), another weed that has to be dug out with a shovel. Oh heavens, how could I forget Artemisia vulgaris and stinking Parietaria officinalis, both perennial and invasive. We have a variety of ugly grasses but I don't know their names.
Now, nice weeds. I leave out all the pleasant herbaceous wild plants that populate the garden, and concentrate on those are are honest to goodness weeds but with some virtues. Most of them are edible. I like to have a population of dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) on hand, both for our rabbit and for occasional spring or fall salads. Dandelions are almost ornamental, and (I had to read this in a book to know it) their flowers are fragrant. Nettles (Urtica) are edible, and who knows why else, I rather like to see them around...perhaps because they suggest fertile soil. Chicory (Cichoruma intybus) is edible and has beautiful flowers. Violets (Viola odorata) are invasive, but they're also fragrant and lovely (and edible), so I forgive them their faults and just pull them where I don't want them. I get along fine with plantain (Plantago).
No doubt there are many others, but these are some of my weeds. How about you?