Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just At Eye Level

I had only just laid down on the cool grass in the shade of Sister Maple, arm draped across my pregnant belly, when a chestnut colored treasure caught my eye. There in the midst of my jungle of English ivy, something had gone to seed. Something I hadn't seen in my yard before. Something closely resembling a dock (Rumex spp.) species... But which one?

Skipping into the house, I grabbed one of the many baby food jars I have carefully stored away in my cupboard and headed out to collect the seeds. Normally I wouldn't collect seeds from a plant that is the lone specimen in an area, but, well, this is my lawn and an area that gets mowed, which might explain the extremely small size of this plant. That and the enormous amount of shade from Sister Maple. Oh, and the stranglehold of English ivy. The dock species that I'm familiar with from Ohio and Michigan are all large plants, at least a couple of feet tall. Some are 5 feet or more. What amazes me is that this plant managed to gather enough energy to produce seed, even at its tiny size!

Most of the dock species are edible in moderation, though there's a fair amount of oxalic acid in them. They are best cooked. There are, of course, medicinal uses as well, but I'll wait until I have a positive identification to go into those.

I know this is a dreadful leaf photo, but the plant is angled in such a way that it's difficult to get a good one. You can kinda get a sense of size if you compare the leaf to that of the English ivy in the background. If anyone thinks they know which plant I have here, please feel free to comment! I'm guessing that it's a dwarfed Yellow Dock (R. crispus). Regardless, I've saved the seeds from this little miracle. Next spring I'll sow them in good sun and see exactly what it is I have here...

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