Skip to content

Horseweed

In 1970 Dr. John E. Franz, laboring away (with many assistants) in his lab at Monsanto discovered something called glyphosate that looks like this:

620px-Glyphosate.svg

Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, in other words, a chemical that kills some plants, but not others. Franz, et al at Monsanto thought this might be good for agricultural purposes and in 1974 put it in a vat labeled Roundup.

Carnage ensued, not only of so called “weeds” but also of animals, microbes, fish, and other plants. But Monsanto didn’t care. Its profits were too great, its reach too wide, its power too seductive to stop now.

19467648_1358139317568100_6036583413566544118_o.jpg

But then something happened. One day, that seemed like any other day, in a field, that seemed like any other field, a crop duster rained its poison down upon its unsuspecting prey. But on that day Conyza Canadensis rose up, resisted, refused to go quietly into that not-so-good night. As Superman is immune to the radiation of the Earth’s sun, Conyza developed an immunity to the toxic powers of Roundup.

20638906_1398647163517315_4163015327868089398_n.jpg

 Indeed it can be said that this is from whence it gathers its strength. Since embarking upon its epic quest to reclaim our fields from monoculture and parks from banal botany, Conyza has recruited twenty-three others to join the ranks of Superweeds including the mighty Amaranthus Palmeri and the swift Ambrosia Artemisiifolia.

Meanwhile, the goons at Monsanto thought they would counter by spreading more of their toxic agent. But to no avail and there are some reports of Superweeds growing up to three inches a day.  The fight continues. 

20620752_1398647146850650_2283255844637634616_n.jpg

It’s no wonder horseweed is tenacious as it is. Afterall, it is a Native American plant defending its own turf.  As such, it was employed by numerous indigenous peoples for a variety of purposes. The Seminole used as a cough and cold medicine; the Hopi for headaches; the Zuni to treat rhinitis; and the Miwok to flavor food with a taste similar to that of onions. Nearly everyone used it as a fire starter in the days when friction was required to sprout a flame.

First noticed by colonizing Europeans in 1640, it soon made it’s way across the Atlantic likely as a stowaway in the pelt of a beaver or the murky depths of a ship’s ballast. Immediately thereafter it was recognized for its worth and the entire plant was dried to make a dropsy treating tea.

Unfortunately both here and across the pond, the courageous Conyza has fallen out of favor. But what superhero hasn’t been misunderstood at one time or another? It’s time will again soon come. In the meantime, you can find Conyza growing in Bronx back alleyways, sprouting in Maspeth parking lots, and hanging out on the hippest corners of Bushwick.

 

 

IMG_20160824_165558IMG_20160804_205600

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Instagram

I found this Mugwort growing in a city lot at the end of the Harlem River Walk where I probably should not have been but was happy I went. The background orange is actually an enormous steel pipe. #cityplants . . . . . . . #cityweeds #citynature #citystreets #orange #urbanflora #urbanbotany #urbanplants #urbanexploration #naturephotography #urbanphotography #natureinthecity #plants #instaplant #plantscout #harlem #nyc
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the #uws is currently under construction so of course I snuck in and found these beautifully geometric #cityplants . . . . . . . #nyc #cityweeds #plants #plantphotography #urbanflora #urbanexploration #urbanplants #urbanphotography #instanature #natureinthecity #instaplant #citystreets
#cityplants have such a way of adapting to their environments while also changing them often for the better. Perhaps this might be a good definition for resilience... ♥️🌱 . . . . . . . #urbantrees #trees #treesofinstagram #resilient #resilliantcities #urbanresilience #resilience #futurecity #weedy #weeds #urbanflora #nyctrees #urbannature #urbanecology #botany #wildplants
Feeling stressed about #monday ? Try a salad of Prickly Lettuce, aka Opium Lettuce because of its high concentration of lactucarium, a natural sedative qualities, guaranteed to chill you out. 💤💤💤💤 #cityplants . . . . . #cityweeds #naturalremedies #naturalsolutions #wildedibles #urbanforaging #urbanflora #urbanecology #plantfacts #plantscout #plantsofinstagram #instaplant #justleaves #natureinthecity #plantphotography #botany
More than just a beautiful flower, Thistle has long been known to be a powerful antidote to toxins. In fact, in the early 12th Century the incredible polymath Hildegard von Bingen recommended it to those who had been poisoned. By the by she lived to 81 in a time when the average life expectancy was just over 30. #cityplants . . . . . . #flowerfriday #flowers #flowerpower #plantfacts #plantfacts #ethnobotany #biodiversity #botany #urbanplants #urbanflora #urbanecology #wildflowers #nyc #flowersofinstagram #plantphotography #weedy #weekend #happyfriday
Not for nothing but it turns out that Tree of Heaven is the original #rogaine (remember that old chestnut?) since in ancient China doctors prescribed a pulp if its leaves to cure baldness. Idk, maybe? #cityplants . . . . . . . #naturalremedies #treesofinstagram #trees🌳 #trees #forestforthetrees #urbantrees #urbanplants #chinesehistory #hiddenhistory #ethnobotany #urbanbotany #biodiversity #urbanphotography #naturephotography #plantfacts #plantsofinstagram

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: