Fun feature: Dave's Garden Book ReviewBy Melody Rose (melody)
October 8, 2011
Weeds of the South
Edited by: Charles T. Bryson and Michael S. DeFelice
Some say the definition of a weed is a plant that is growing where it is not supposed to. In fact, weeds affect the ecosystem, cost huge amounts in loss of agricultural products and have unwanted effects on humans and livestock. Identifying these plants is a daunting task, but this comprehensive book does a fantastic job.
Easy enough for a novice, with a simple botanical key in the front, clear line drawings show exactly what stolons, rhizomes and tubers look like. Leaf shapes are clearly defined and inflorescences (flower shapes) plainly illustrated. The mystery of umbels, panicles and corymbs no longer confuse the beginner.
Clear images of seedlings, mature plants, flowers and seed along with a distribution map help identify each plant. Many of these weeds are found throughout North America and not just limited to the South. Gardeners from many regions will find it helpful.
Each plant is listed by its common name, but botanical designation and synonyms are properly noted. The habitat and origin section is quite interesting and many plants thought to be native are actually introduced. Who would have thought that Kentucky Bluegrass was an Eurasian native? Toxic properties affecting humans or livestock are noted and if none is known, that is mentioned too.
I appreciate the sections on sedges and grasses. Many of my common enemies land in these categories. I do battle with nutsedge, flase nutsedge and flatsedge along with their numerous cousins. It helps to know the name of my enemy.
No control measures are offered, but identification is half the battle. If a gardener knows what weed is lurking in their gardens, finding the proper method to safely remove it is one step closer. Grasses are sometimes difficult to control, but if properly identified, the task isn't as daunting.
Readers will note that some favorite, common wildflowers are listed in this book too. Wildflowers can be troublesome weeds in the wrong situations and unfortunately, some of the prettiest faces tend to be garden thugs. Understanding invasive habits prevents gardeners from introducing something aggressive to their environments.
Weeds of the South, is not just for Southerners. Gardeners throughout North American and beyond will find it indispensible.
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