Phoenix Gardening: What’s in a Weed?

Weeds are a matter of perception.  That’s completely contrary to what I learned as a kid but, as I get older, I find that this is more and more true.

Take Lantana, for example.  A hearty grower in Phoenix, Lantana is considered a noxious weed in Hawaii.  The same goes for Bermudagrass:  it grows well here (too well, I’d argue, which puts it into the weed category for me) but is a noxious weed in California.   But there are plenty of Phoenicians who cannot live without their Bermudagrass.  So…is it a weed?  You decide.

I have a plant that comes up with my wildflowers in the spring.  I’ve also seen it in the desert around Lake Pleasant.  My neighbor tells me it’s a weed.  But the foliage is interesting, it blooms these little yellow balls, it always smells like the desert after a good rain (similar to Creosote) and it fills in the empty spots in my wildflower bed.   So I water it.

But I’m still trying to identify it.  I found this book, Weeds of the West, and it lists some 350 weeds with some very good descriptions and pictures.  I might argue with some of their weed choices (Sunflowers…really?).  But then again…weeds are all a matter of perception!


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