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Mystery Flora: Decidedly Odd

So here’s one from early this spring. I thought it was one of the strangest flowers I’d ever seen, which is why I spent at least fifteen minutes on my knees in the grass with it, trying to get adequate photos of it.

Mystery Flora I

Mystery Flora I

I mean, it barely looks like a flower, does it? It’s a short little thing whose blooms peek from behind the leaves, and it’s one of those little plants that take root in expanses of municipal grass and never get paid much attention to, except when people are griping about all the weeds. I’ve always found the weeds to be the most interesting part of a lawn. Endless grass is dead boring. I like the subversive little somethings that break up the monotony.

Mystery Flora II

Mystery Flora II

Often times, they have lovely little flowers. There are times during the year here when lawns that aren’t regularly attacked with weed killer become quilts of colors – white and yellow and purple and pink and blue, some larger, some smaller, all lovely – except to those who have it out for things that aren’t boring old grass.

Mystery Flora III

Mystery Flora III

Later in summer, when there hasn’t been rain for two months and the cost of watering all that thirsty grass is prohibitive, the patchwork of weeds is often the only green in an expanse of dead grass. Ha! Take that, grass! You aren’t adapted for this climate. So there. Pffft.

You also don’t have exquisite little purple flowers and furry purple-green leaves. Double-pffft.

Oh. Oh, dear. This is me insulting grass directly. I think it’s a sign I’ve been working too hard. I should go don some armor and blow on the kitteh’s tummy until I’m refreshed and ready to tackle blogging again without taunting domesticated plants…

Comments

  1. rq says

    I got all excited, because it’s very similar to a plant we have here, in the similar-to-nettle family. But then I remembered that I suck at west coast plants, and – well, either way, here’s my guess:
    Lamium purpureum : a deadnettle (which means it looks dangerous but won’t sting). Here’s my favourite sentence from the wikipedia site: “If finely chopped it can also be used in sauces, but there is little to recommend about its flavour.”

    The white variety is very common here – basically it looks exactly the same, but it doesn’t have fuzzy purple leaves and has white flowers. :) So yes, exactly the same.

  2. says

    Huh cool. I think we used to call these “honeysuckles” when I was in grade school, though they’re nothing like true honeysuckles (genus Lonicera). If you plucked the flower and sucked on its base you could taste a bit of nectar. Nice to know what they’re really called.

  3. embertine says

    Hmmm, certainly likely to be a member of Lamiaceae based on the square stems. I initially thought some sort of Ajuga, but I think the leaves aren’t rounded enough, even for A. pyrimidalis, and besides, that doesn’t grow much in America. I concur with m’learned colleagues above. ;)

  4. rq says

    I think we should start a society for naming mystery flora and ufds, and we should call it The Society For Naming Mystery Flora and UFDs.

  5. Trebuchet says

    Cool! I see those in my yard pretty frequently, now I know what they are. Presumably they’re “dead” nettles because they don’t sting.