Weed of the Month: March 2014


(Marrubium vulgare)


(Photos: http://rurification.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/horehound-candy.html , http://www.herbosophy.com.au/horehound-marrubium-vulgare/, http://kaweahoaks.com/html/horehound.html  )

This plant is originally from temperate climate areas such as Eurasia and Europe. It is now a weed of pastures, and apparently affects the flavour of meat from grazing animals forced to feed on it, since it contains a bitter alkaloid. Maybe this same alkaloid is the reason it was used in some beers and cordials? The plant also invades areas of disturbed native vegetation. Horehound grows to about 60+ cm high, with stems that are four-sided.  Grey-green on top, whiter underneath, the oval-shaped leaves of horehound sit opposite each other on these stems; they look woolly, and really crinkly, with lots of deep veins. The edges of the leaves are quite scalloped. The flower heads form dense groups around the stems, near where the leaves come off.  If you have ever worn cloth garden gloves when removing these flower heads, you’d know how clingy the fruit or burrs are…not a good idea! No wonder they get carried easily by animals in their fur.

Plant of the Month: March 2014



(Ptilotus spathulatus)


(Photos: E. Cousins, Cape Jervis)

A rarity around the Cape Jervis area, but if you do see it, you’ll understand where its common name comes from … those oh-so-fluffy flowers! They also give rise to the other common names Cat’s Paw or Lambtails. The creamy-yellow flowers in the photo above are about 5cm high. They appear on twining stems coming from a basal rosette of green leaves, seen in the second photo. You can also see in that photo that the leaves at the base are darker on top, and lighter underneath. These are about 6cm long; the leaves on the twining stems are much smaller. The entire plant ends up being about 40cm wide, but only about 5-10cm high. The tap roots are an Aboriginal food source. Drought tolerant, moderately frost hardy… another ornamental plant for your coastal garden?