Velvetleaf is one of those plants you don't notice until you look, then you see it everywhere - field edges, disturbed areas. Non-native (noxious in north west states) originating from China velvetleaf was brought to the Americas as a new source of fiber, especially for use as rope for ships. It was grown for about 100 years until it was abandoned for easier, more durable fibers. It is now found in all the lower 48.
The name velvetleaf comes from the soft cottony texture of the leaves - can be used as tp in case of outdoor emergency. Seeds are edible.
Lamb's Quarters is another very common weedy plant that can be found throughout most of the world and all of the Americas. In our area there are two different subspecies one native (Chenopodium album var. missouriense - Missouri lambs quarter) which is on the endangered list, the other introduced (Chenopodium album var. album - lambs quarter). This plant grows best in disturbed soils - barnyards, roadsides, cultivated fields. Each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds and each seed has the capability of sitting dormant in soil for up to 40 years before growing!
As with most non-native species, this plant is useful - it is a great source of vitamin A & C, leaves can be added to salads but it is best used either steamed or added to soups or curries (it is very abundant in India).
Common Mallow, aka - buttonweed, cheese plant, cheeseweed, is a non-native weedy plant found in waste areas, barnyards, etc.
It is found all over the world from Asia to Africa to Europe to the Americas and with good reason too. This plant has many uses. All parts of the plant are edible. "The leaves can be added to a salad, the fruit can be a substitute for capers and the flowers can be tossed into a salad. When cooked, the leaves create a mucus very similar to okra and can be used as a thickener to soups and stews. The flavour of the leaves is mild. Dried leaves can be used for tea. Mallow roots release a thick mucus when boiled in water. The thick liquid that is created can be beaten to make a meringue-like substitute for egg whites. Common mallow leaves are rich in vitamins A and C as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and selenium."
Great Blue Lobelia is a native perennial blooming in late summer/ early fall in the eastern US. Its large showy flowers make it easy to spot and identify. Each flower is split into two 'lips' - the upper has two segments and the lower has three.
This flower is the blue counterpart of the Cardinal Flower (bright red blooming about the same time).
All parts of this plant are toxic, even though it once was supposed as a cure for syphilis (as reflected in its species name).
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.