Cheating Weeds Out of their Day in the Sun

There is a new invader in the Okanagan and the Okanogan, our two homelands that are one. It is rush skeleton weed, and it has the potential to wreck stuff. Stuff like balers and combines. And grasslands. Here it is in Vernon…

Rush Skeletonweed

Showing off some of its 20,000 seeds. Control measures in Vernon appear to be Harold pulling it out when he can. 

This is one of the few plants that can take on cheatgrass, which is an invasive plant that cheats most native plants out of their spring water and keeps it all to itself. In the lower grasslands of the Okanagan, it has replaced the blue algal crust that once was the living diaphragm between the soil and the atmosphere and in which the seeds of native plants could effectively lodge and be nourished with water.

Russian Thistle (Another Nasty) Demonstrating its own Method of Cheating Cheatgrass
Go High, go Fast, Lose no Water on the Way, Prick Anyone Who Comes Close, and Tumble with the Wind, Yay!

Rush Skeletonweed can beat cheatgrass, too, by starting early when there’s water everywhere, and, like russian thistle, punching through the cheatgrass cover into the wind. It also has gooooooey latex sap which absolutely destroys farming equipment. We could do with less farming equipment, and more cheaters of cheatgrass, but is this the way? Surely, there are better things for this game of dominance in the new weed lands that were grasslands once. For instance, this…

Asparagus Gone to Seed

An introduced species, but much favoured of deer, humans and birds, and otherwise harmless.

If we’re going to go vertical to get out of the cheatgrass zone, why not asparagus? Or this species, which competes well with the skeletonweeds 20,000 seeds, having a few buckets full of its own to give away every summer and fall …

Wild Lettuce Reclaiming an Old Orchard
This stuff is everywhere that there is wind.

So, if verticality is a secret method of reclaiming land from cheatgrass in the weed lands, and wild lettuce grows everywhere, why not this?

Romaine Lettuce Gone to Seed
In a choice between rush skeletonweed and salad, or between cheatgrass and salad, or between latex-bitter wild lettuce and salad, I’ll take salad, thanks. Dressing on the side.

Who said lettuce has to grow in rows? If it self-seeds in wastelands and weedlands everywhere, and salad is there for the picking wherever you traipse in the spring, and it displaces the nasties in the process, how is that worse than trucking it with diesel fuel fromJohn Steinbeck Country? If we’re going to have weeds, let’s have ones that we can eat in the wet season.

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