Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mystery Tick Seed

Weed or flower?

Here are some photos of a plant I have not been able to identify. I always thought I knew its name, and it will always be called tick seed in my gardens. This was my grandmother’s name for this delicate member of the carrot family. The first time I found that a composite also shared the name I thought it was down right scandalous. I had to experiment to see if the seeds would really stick like ticks. To the right is a photo os a single plant growing with parsnips and Jerusalem Artichokes in a raised bed, directly below are some seeds, and further below is a whole colony intergrowing with a wild rose.

This is one of my favorite garden “weeds.” It begins its growth in the winter, when its fern like bright green early growth is most appreciated. Not only are the young leaves attractive, they protect the soil from compaction by our copious winter rain. The plants produce lots of organic matter, which can be cut or pulled for use in the compost pile or for mulch. If grown in mass and left to mature the airy plants make a mound about 3 feet high by three feet wide by mid June. They are a great feature for quick fill in borders or informal beds. (But they should be kept away from slower growing treasured plants.) The flowers and immature seed heads make great fillers in arrangements, much like baby’s breath. In the garden the flowers attract beneficial insects. And the colors are fabulous. They will absolutely self sow, which is cool by me. They are easy to pull or cut when they appear in an unwanted spot. And there is no such thing as too much organic matter!

I have heard this plant called miner’s lice and locally the seeds are often referred to as ‘Hitchhikers.” If any one can help me out with a botanical name, or other common names I would be most grateful.


Katura said...

Hi--surfing through your blog at random. I'm not entirely sure, but this plant reminds me a lot of wild carrot, Daucus carota.

(It has very grabby seeds, like you describe!)

And this site has a distribution map for the USA--very widespread!
(It's classified as a noxious, invasive weed in some states. But if it's not crowding out some other deserving plant in the wild, it sure does manage to be pretty.)

Harvest said...

Hi katura,

I do know exactly what wild carrot is, as I encourage it in my yard. And while this plant is a close relative, it is not the same thing. The flower heads are smaller, sparser, and have more color . . .

Thanks though . . .


Harvest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harvest said...

Identified! Field or Spreading Hedge Parsley. Eaten in Greece!

Torilis arvensis