05 September 2012

Weedy Wednesday: Mare's Tail

...also known as horse tail, also known as horseweed.  Being the feminist that I am, I shall say "Mare's tail."

         I periodically (as with everything I do) become obsessed with weed identification.  Through repeatedly letting my garden get wildly out of hand and then going in and pulling everything up by hand I've become closely acquainted with a few of the (in my opinion) more pernicious weeds, such as spurge, crabgrass, brambles, and the invasive-but-at-least-it-has-a-pretty-flower knotweed.  But weed ID is even more satisfying and fun when I'm out and about and can look at plants by the roadside and know what they are. 
          For Weedy Wednesday (look, I already told you I'm a sucker for alliteration, ok?), I'm going to do a series on weed identification, focusing on one weed each essay.  I will post the official source of identification (usually from what seem to be state university student projects, although some information comes from the NC Extension Office), where you can see their pictures of the plant, information from those sources, and my own personal pictures as documentation.  Often times there are several closely resembling varieties and what I hope to accomplish is that by posting pictures of the actual plant I'm looking at, any random imaginary passerby (yes, I'm looking at you - goshdarnit, I need a poster) can help decide whether or not I've correctly identified the weed.

           I chose mares tail for my first Weedy Wednesday  because, one, its really, really common in my neck of the woods - it even showed up in my garden; if you go look at the before picture you can see it. And two, MamaBear asked about it and since I didn't recognise the adult plant, I was prompted to check the online sources that I mentioned earlier...which got me rooting around even deeper, looking for other plants I recognised in one stage or another, and well, one thing led to another and here we are.

           So, there are several source for mares tail.
           There's the NC State University TurfFiles (*snicker* I like that)
           Apparently mares tail is ubiquitous in more states than NC, since the University of California included it in their Integrated Pest Managemnt gallery
           And this...company (I don't know, and really couldn't care less, I just think they have a really good weed ID thingy) has a really good weed ID thingy that you can search by state.  It has an oh-so-fancy pop up function though, so to see mares tail you'll have to scroll down because I can't link directly to it.

           So, finally, Duh-tuh-duh-duh, we come to MY pictures!


There are several fallow roadside fields that are practically nothing but mare's tail.  The NC State blurb (it's really not very detailed, but what more can you say, I suppose?) informs us that the height of the plant depends on the soil in which it grows.  I think our local soil agrees with mare's tail tremendously.  The blurb also states that the plant produces copious seeds.  I think I got the specimens in my garden pulled up before they were done flowering, but if not, I hope my mulch stands up...

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