Weeding Out Campion

On May 6th, after the rain stopped, I stopped by the flax plot to see how things were going. There were no flax seedlings, but there was a lot of some other plant that I didn’t recognize.

They were big, robust, and had very deep and spreading roots. Since the flax hadn’t emerged yet, I decided to seize the opportunity to weed out as much of these deep-rooted plants as I could. So, I got a pitchfork and began digging.

Here are some of the uprooted plants:

I noticed some dried seed pods in the soil, and it reminded me of a familiar wildflower. At the time, though, I couldn’t remember the name. Here are the seed pods:

Fortunately, Ryan from Many Hands Farm Corps came along, and stopped for a brief chat. I asked him what the plant was, and he identified is as campion. He also said it is the most significant weed he deals with in those fields. I can see why! It is incredibly hard to dig out.

The Minnesota Wildflowers page has some great information and photographs. I think this type is white campion, but I’ll know more once it blooms. According to my favorite weed identification guide Weeds of the Northeast, the Latin name is either Silene alba or Silene latifolia (it lists other synonyms, too). Here’s a plant that’s getting ready to flower right at the edge of my plot:

Campion is a very pretty wildflower, and once it starts blooming (which will be in May), I’m sure I will be happy to see it. Which really just underscores the fact that a weed is only a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to.

By the end of the evening, I felt pretty satisfied with the results of my weeding: