Plants That Bite! Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica

Last weekend I was doing some indoor pot maintenance and had a shocking little surprise. I was bitten… By a PLANT! Well, stung would be more like it. I looked down to see I had grabbed a hold of some stinging nettle or Urtica dioica. As I rubbed out the prickles*, I decided I would provide this post as a public service message to all of you that want to become horticulturists. This job is DANGEROUS! It would be safer to become a fireman, cop or perhaps a crash test dummy…

*In botanical terms, thorns are derived from shoots, spines are derived from leaves and prickles are derived from the epidermis and can be found anywhere on the plant.

This is what the culprit looks like. Forgive the late Easter decoration… I left it there for a size reference. Not very large, if hiking, you wouldn’t even notice this ‘lil guy. It’s when it sneaks-up on you, all alone in a pot, not worth me putting gloves on to yank it does it pull a sneak attack and stings! ZZZZZT!

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Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica

Not all things are evil all the time. Nettle has a good side. It is a great herb with many wonderful medical benefits.

For centuries, nettle has been utilized to treat allergy symptoms. It has been found that nettle’s aerial parts (used in tea) may decrease the amount of histamine that is produced by the body in response to an allergen. An allergen is an element such as pollen that may trigger an immune response in individuals who are sensitive to it. Through this possible action, the aerial parts of nettle may help to reduce allergy symptoms.

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There is no part of this plant that does not sting..

Another hypothesis is that nettle’s aerial parts may interfere with the body’s production of prostaglandins and other inflammation-causing chemicals. Subsequently, nettle may have an anti-inflammatory effect. It may also heighten responses of the immune system. Chemicals in nettle’s aerial parts are also thought to reduce the feeling of pain or interfere with the way that nerves send pain signals. All of the effects may reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis and other similar conditions.

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When it comes to prickles on this plant, they are EVERYWHERE on this plant!!

Nettle has been studied and shown promise in treating:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Bladder infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Gingivitis
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Sciatica
  • Tendinitis

The root is used as a diuretic, for relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) including other prostate problems and as a natural remedy to treat or prevent baldness.

An infusion of the plant is very valuable in treating:

  • Anemia
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Eczema

A nettle extract can be applied to the skin to relieve joint pain and muscle aches. The astringent properties of nettle’s aerial parts may also help to reduce the swelling of hemorrhoids and stop bleeding from minor skin injuries such as razor nicks. An astringent shrinks and tightens the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. As a shampoo additive, it can help curb dandruff and clean overly oily hair and scalp.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Robber Fly – Promachus rufipes

The robber fly, Promachus rufipes is a highly formidable insect that has been known to take down hummingbirds. The name “robber flies” reflects their notoriously aggressive predatory habits; they feed mainly or exclusively on other insects and as a rule they wait in ambush and catch their prey in flight.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-27-2014

Terrific Tuesday to you’s!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!

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Lactuca serriola – Prickly lettuce

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Many hydrangeas ready to find a home… Won’t you please save the hydrangea!!

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Many more to choose from!

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Anethum graveolens – Dill

This is VERY close up.

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Campsis radicans – Trumpet flower

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Here it is climbing up my cherry tree. This reminded me of a clapping game we would play. I don’t remember the point of it, however it was like ‘patty-cake’.

See, see my playmate,

come out and play with me.

and bring your dolly’s three,

Climb up my cherry tree.

Slide down my rain barrel,

unto my cellar door.

And we’ll be jolly friends forever more.

I don’t see this one online anywhere, however we had another version…

See, see my enemy,

Come out and fight with me.

and bring your vampire three,

Climb up my poison tree.

Slide down my razor blade,

unto my dungeon door.

And we’ll be enemies forever more!

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Prunus sereta – Black cherry

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Moooon – I think this was the auto setting.

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And this was the night setting… Hmm. maybe it’s the other way around?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

The Little Sunflower That Could

When I saw the tiny cotyledons poking out of the cement, I knew it was a sunflower. However, I never thought it had a chance… It was growing right in the main thoroughfare to the front door of my home. This is where the UPS, FedEx, USPS person, all unwanted solicitors, friends, neighbors, neighborhood dogs, and we come through. Really, I would have taken a few baby pictures had I thought it would survive to flowering.
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This is what it looked like right before we had our party. I was somewhat embarrassed that I had a plant growing within my walkway. However, I was pulling for the little guy.. who wasn’t so little anymore!

Ironically, many folks thought it was faux. Really? Why would I put a sunflower in the middle of my walk?

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The crack is only about 1/4″ inch or .635 centimeters. It is slightly heaving the cement on the left side. That’s actually helping get rid of the puddle that used to form here. Awesome!

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I seem to have gone through a wardrobe change.

I can’t believe how large the stalk could get coming through such a small opening.

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Almost!

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Pop!! Here is what sunflowers do best. No other flowers surpass these giants.

For life to have happened in such adverse conditions is downright difficult to believe. This little survivor should teach us that life is amazing, must be enjoyed and should not ever be taken for granted!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-25-2014

Happy Monday to you all!

It will be a short week at work for me, as I took off Thursday and Friday to enjoy a camping trip to Michigan. For all you outer-continental readers, Monday is a national holiday called ‘Labor Day’.

In accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday September 5, 1882, in New York City. The Central Labor Union arranged one the following year on September 5, 1883.

In 1884, the first Monday in September was chosen as the holiday and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example and celebrate a “working man’s holiday”. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many parts of the country.

The nation started giving increasing importance to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. Oregon was the first state to pass legislation for Labor Day on February 21, 1887. During the same year four more states: Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York created the Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and all the territories.

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!

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Stachys bysantina ‘Helen Von Stein’ or ‘Big ears’ – Lamb’s ears or betony

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Cucurbita pepo – Pumpkins

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Hibiscus trionum – Flower of the hour

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Cucumis melo – Cantaloupe, also cantelope, cantaloup, muskmelon, mushmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, Persian melon, spanspek or Garmak

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Physalis longifolia – common groundcherry, long-leaved groundcherry and wild tomatillo.

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Silphium perfoliatum – cup plant

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Oenothera biennis – bastard evening-primrose, common evening-primrose

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Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’ – Rose of Sharon

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Prunus × cistena – Sandhill cherry

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Leucanthemum superbum ‘Becky’ – Shasta daisy

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-23-2014

Happy Saturday to you all!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!

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Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Victoria’ – (any guesses on this one?) Rhubarb!!

It’s not just for the veggie garden anymore!!

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This is Chenopodium album or Lamb’s quarters. A weed to most of you, however a tasty spinach-like treat for others like me! My eye was immediately drawn to the purple spots on its leaves. What IS that?!? Seems it has been seen before by peeps on the internet, however, I could not find any info on it aside from, “Yes, it has been confirmed that people do indeed see the purple on the lamb’s ear. That is all.”

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So, pulling out my best magnifying glass (and the zoom lens for you) I got a little closer. the damage was from the back. This is a fuzzy plant.

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I’ve also seen this plant with purple leaves at the top.

Just as I was going to give up… I mean, who would put the effort into studying what harms weeds?!? A pesticide specialist and plant geeks like me! I finally found someone who may know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure it tells the whole story, however it talks about this species of plant containing salt bladders in the leaves as a defense mechanism to pests.

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Perhaps this is the culprit?

So, if the research is true,in summary: the purple is the plants defense mechanism (the salt bladders) that the ‘lil bug has damaged and caused the leaves to turn purple. Sure, final answer.

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Limenitis arthemis – Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral on Silphium perfoliatum – cup plant

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Cornus mas – Cornelian cherry or dogwood

The fruit can be used raw, dried or used in preserves. Raw, it has a juicy, acid flavor. The fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavor and texture and is very nice eating, but the unripe fruit is rather astringent. It is rather low in pectin and so needs to be used with other fruit when making jam. At one time the fruit was kept in brine and used like olives. The seeds can also be roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute. It is very high in vitamin C.

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Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanilla Strawberry’ or ‘Rehny’

Still has a bit to go in it’s color changero from white to pink.

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Clematis alpina white – seed heads

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Hemerocallis ‘Barbara Mitchell’ – Daylily

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Hemerocallis ‘Pardon me’ – Daylily

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Póg Mo Thóin!

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I thought this wine was a great pairing with the pickles I was about to make. Alas, it is green, just like my pickles. Many folks might not understand my wine pairings, to which I then let them have some Póg mo thóin!

I love a little Póg mo thóin when I’ve had a bad day. I love to tell others when they have caused my bad day to enjoy some Póg mo thóin also. Sometimes I love to shout to the world Póg mo thóin! You all! Póg mo thóin! is the best wine around to enjoy on a Friday.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday, if not, you can Póg mo thóin!
© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-21-2014

Happy Thursday to you all. =-)

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!image

Calamintha nepeta ‘Montrose white’ – Calamint

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Lysimachia clethroides ‘Goose-neck loosestrife

The flowers tend to bend and look like a goose neck…

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Aster  ‘Blue Autumn’

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Ummm Let me just guess at this one…

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I was by my favorite perennial nursery within these recent posts. I obviously got a bunch of my material here. They have a demonstration garden here, with all the beauties labeled for easy ID =-)

Makes my life easier!!

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Cute! Like me, short and sassy. ;-) Ironically, I have grown an inch in my middle age, I’m now a statuesque 5′ 5″ tall. HeeHee! My doctor is the only one with the true proof of this. Maybe going to the back-crack doctor has spread out some bones?

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Oenothera missouriensis – Missouri evening primrose

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-20-2014

Happy Hump Day!

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!!image

Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie glow’ – Black eyed Susan

I’ve so designed this flower into my front garden that will be installed next spring. I think it’s just very different than most flowers. As you could imagine, my garden will be full of many plants most folks don’t see. I refuse to plant a (normal) hosta, daylily, coneflower, or astilbe in my yard. They are beautiful in their own right, however over-planted and well, predictably boring.

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hmmm, mark this spot to ID later!

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Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’ – Blazing Star or Gayfeather

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Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’ – Blazing Star or Gayfeather

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Helenium ‘Short n Sassy’ – Sneezeweed

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Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue rivulet’ – Bellflower or harebell

This plant got its name, “Harebell,” from an old wives tale that witches or other practitioners of the dark arts used the juices of the plant to turn themselves into rabbits. The plant has a long history in folk tales of being negatively associated with witches, fairies, and the devil, and is also sometimes known by names like Goblin’s thimble, Witch’s thimble, or Dead Man‘s Bells.

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Phlox paniculata ‘Pixie miracle Grace’ – Tall garden phlox

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Rudbeckis fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ – Black Eyed Susan

Who is Susan & why does she have a black eye? She really has brown eyes, just saying…

This was written by: John Gay 1685-1732
All in the dawn the fleet was moor’d,
The streamers waving to the wind,
When Black-eyed Susan came on board,
Oh where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William, if my sweet William
Sails among your crew?

Oh William, who high upon the yard,
Rocked with the billows to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
He sigh’d and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly thro’ his glowing hands
And as quick as lightning, and as quick as lightning
On the deck he stands.

So sweet the lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
If, chance, his mate’s shrill voice he hear,
And drops at once into her nest:
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William, might envy William’s
Lip those kisses sweet.

‘Oh Susan, Susan, lovely dear!
My vows shall ever true remain,
Let me kiss off that falling tear,
We only part to meet again:
Change as ye list, ye winds, my heart shall be
The faithful compass, the faithful compass
That still points to thee.

‘Oh, believe not what the landsmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind,
They’ll tell thee sailors when away,
In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present, for thou art present
Wheresoe’er I go.

If to fair India’s coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright:
Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale,
Thy skin as ivory so white:
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul, wakes in my soul
Some charm of lovely Sue.’

Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn:
Though cannon roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his dear return:
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears, lest precious tears
Should drop from Susan’s eye.

The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
Her sails their swelling bosom spread:
No longer can she stay on board -
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head:
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land,
‘Adieu,’ she cries, ‘Adieu,’ she cries
And waved her lily hand.

This poem also encourages gardeners to plant black eyed Susan’s with sweet Williams as they will bloom at the same time.