The testplot area by the road is really helping me extend my knowledge of roadside plants. Getting rid of the grass allowed all sorts of disturbed site weeds to thrive which don't usually grow along here because of the competition from the grass. I find Pennsylvania Smartweed growing sometimes in the crack between the curb and the pavement along my street, but I haven't until now taken the time to identify it. I hadn't noticed Northern Willow Herb before. The plant in the testplot area was small and low to the ground but I later saw another one down by the Manotick Locks that was 4 feet tall and holding its own amongst the wild parsnip and goldenrod.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
The Prickly lettuce plant looks quite similar to a sow-thistle before the flower heads start to appear, the big difference at that point is the row of spines down the midrib of each leaf. Once the flowers start to emerge it looks quite different, as instead of a few upright dandelion-like flowers they have several nodding pannicles of buds that once they flower stand upright in a wide spray of flowers and seed heads(see picture at bottom). The flowers close-up shop early in the day so when I usually come by in the later afternoon they are all closed up. I had to go out to the test-plot area at midday on purpose to see the actual blooms.
Prickly lettuce leaf with spines down the rib
According to the wikipedia article, this is the closest wild relative of our cultivated lettuce although it doesn't look very similar. It is supposed to be edible, but has a milky white sap that is quite bitter. I wouldn't put it in my salad.