Sunday, July 16, 2006

Weeds - Says Who?

I pulled these while weeding the yard this weekend. The picture doesn't do this justice, but in looking closely I noticed the delicacy of each leaf and the beautiful reddish-purple spot right in the middle of the green, as if tiny angels with paintbrushes had placed each dot just so.

I've been aware of these and recognized them as weeds since childhood, yet I do not even know their name. Who is it that decides which plants are desirable and which are weeds? (Would it be didactic to make an extension to humanity here?)

Words began to dance in my mind as I worked, specifically the last two lines of the following:
All the grown-up people say,
"What, those ugly thistles?
Musn't touch them! Keep away!
Prickly! Full of bristles!"

Yet they never make me bleed
Half so much as roses!
Must be purple is a weed,
And pink and white is posies.

(From a Very Little Sphinx iv by Edna St. Vincent Millay 1929)


Tony said...

A rose in the middle of a bean field is a weed! Context is everything!

Heidi said...

Good point! Thanks! I often tell my math students how important context is. For instance "-" can mean "minus," "opposite," or "negative" depending on context. The notation (2,3) can be a range or a point depending on context.

I'd like to report that a number of emails came through regarding this post, and it is unanimous. The weed is called "spurge" (either prostrate spurge or spotted spurge). Thanks to all who educated me. At least as I am pulling it out of my flower beds now I will know what to call it, but I'm still going to enjoy the reddish purple dot centered on each leaf as I do.