Thursday, August 20, 2009

Name that Late Summer Weed!

     The sights, smells and sounds of late summer in the wilds of Sacramento County: the faint but unmistaken aroma of virgate tarweed in the unirrigated pastures,  the persistent buzz of increasing populations of yellowjackets, the return of the doves (idiots! don't they know dove hunting season opens here September 1?) and the pretty (but deadly) presence of today's Garden Grappler: a low growing plant found in dry locations. 
     Deadly to fish, anyway. Native indian tribes would ground up this plant and throw it in pools and slow moving streams for the purpose of gathering fish. The active ingredient in this plant, saponin, forms a soapy lather that clogs fish gills, making them unable to breathe.
And the fine, harsh bristles on the leaves and stems can form fatal hairballs inside browsing animals. Quail, though, enjoy the seeds of this plant.
Gardeners know, too, that wearing gloves is a necessity when removing this weedy plant. It's those irritating, bristly hairs that give the plant its grey color.
What is this late summer annual that is part of our outdoor world?
The first correct person to email the answer to gets a copy of the Dr. Earth Gardening Guide! 
10 Kharmic bonus points if you come up with the botanical name. 100 Kharmic Bonus Points = 1 less day in Purgatory:
Good luck!

CONGRATULATIONS to Greg of Roseville, he was the first correct respondent! 
The correct answer:
Turkey mullein (Croton setigerus or Eremocarpus setigerus)


  1. 8/30/09 Fred, I oouldn't find where else to ask this -but did also lesve the question with the radio receptionist/call taker- so here goes:

    A rapidly growing broad leaf shrub sprung up in a raised bed in the spring and in two months had reached a height of about a yard and a half or more with its broad leaves and small morning glory like flowers that opened in the evening. It also had VERY very sharp light green colored spike balls on it. What in the world is it?

    Also Fred, how can i get a web site like yours. It's very informative! What software did you use to produce it!


    (916) 978-4015

  2. Does anyone know how to get rid of it? It is taking over our meadow in Sonoma County.