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£#@¡!!§¶* weed!Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011, at 4:47 PM
For photo prints, go to www.stevenfoster.com/prints.html
Science knows it as Torilis arvensis a member of the parsley family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae). Now just because I mentioned parsley family doesn't mean you want to eat it. Poison hemlock, also in the parsley family, will kill you if you eat it. It is not, however, among the plants that are part of collective cultural common knowledge, except to curse it.
Hedge parsley is not like a dandelion or a pine tree -- we all have a fairly good idea of what they look like. We do, don't we?
No, this plant is one of those, "I don't know what you call it, but I sure do hate the thing." If you don't mow lawns, hike, weed-whack, or garden, but you do laundry, you know this plant, too.
We can describe the plant and name it in a phrase. I propose a new name -- common curse weed. Yes, it's common, but the etymology derives from the fact that we commonly curse it. We know the seeds (technically fruits) because we have likely seen them in the laundry (before and after washing), entangled in socks, t-shirts, cotton shorts.
Kids attract them. Curse weed! If you brush up against the thing, especially males with hairy legs (not to be gender presumptive) they knot in your leg hairs, and hurt to pull out. Curse weed!
This invasive alien has been in the Ozarks for about 100 years. It hails from southern Europe and the Middle East. Japanese and Korean researchers have researched the plant's chemistry for potential anti-cancer value, and it is regarded as a plant toxic to livestock (and perhaps humans), yet is listed as an edible plant in Crete.
Most of the research on its chemistry and pharmacology has been done in Iran. Few among us read Japanese, Korean or Persian. Curse weed! In the Ozarks, we will probably do little more than be annoyed by it. Curse weed!
Steven Foster is a world renowned botanical photographer. He has published many books, including 2 for National Geographic
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