The Country Diary of a GenX Woman

A Guilty Pleasure

20130831 048These bright “mini sunflowers” are the prolific capeweed (Arctotheca calendula), so I did feel guilty admiring them.  Like the  metallic pink flower on our other major weed, the guildford grass, it is a thing of great beauty.  I had never looked closely at them, so I hadn’t noticed the metallic blue-black centre.  This the disc floret typical of flowers in the asteraceae family – like asters, daisies and sunflowers.   The inner portion of the flower head is composed of many small tubular flowers or florets. These gradually open out as the flower matures and the pollen holding “style” is pushed up through the tube.  The yellow petals or straps are the ray florets.  The bees and hover flies were almost rolling themselves in the pollen. 20130831 011

It is a weed of concern as it out-competes other plants and can cause nitrate/nitrite poisoning of livestock, particularly ruminants.   The horses eat the flowers in the morning when they are closed and seem to love the dried up plant in summer.   The main issue for the plant is that it plays host to the red legged earthmite.   We have a lot less now than we had in the first year as we have slashed many areas that it used to grow and planted other things like the kikuyu, oats or trees. Apparently it can taint the milk of the goats, but the plants should have died off before we start drinking the milk.

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Inspired by The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady