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Under Her Thumb

Photos & text by Albert Brian Vick,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator

We’re having some fun with “weed identification” at the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden. Our goal is to identify all of the prevalent volunteer plant varieties and learn about the generally unknown characteristics. So far we’ve covered Lambsquarters, Palmer Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, and Datura.
We think this one is Lady’s Thumb Weed – Polygonum Persicaria L. – and along with Buckwheat it’s a member of the Knotweed family (Polygonaceae). It’s a very attractive plant, but too vigorous to allow it to compete with the vegetables for scarce resources. Some reference sources indicate the plant is an important food source for wildlife, and parts may be edible by humans – but we’re not endorsing that latter thought without a lot more research. Many thanks to Kyle Cooper, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden summer intern, Lucy Coggin, from Education,  and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden library staff for making the identification.

Lady’s Thumb: an elegant plant, with long, slender oval leaves and variegated coloration.

 

We found only one flowering so far, and the flower spikes helped with the identification.

 

The complex, vertical stems can form quite a dense hedge, with a height of five feet.
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