This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wild geraniums

When I was checking out the non-existent canoe ramp the other day, I noticed a nice patch of wild geraniums along Washington Avenue. They are woodland plants and do not look at all like the cultivated geraniums that are very popular in gardens and as houseplants. That may be because the garden plants commonly sold as geranium are in fact Pelargonium.
Apparently the wild geranium is quite easy to cultivate. I think the Nature Conservancy people were giving them away a couple years ago at earth day in Brookside Park. The plant flowers in the spring and it has very pretty leaves all year long.

In the same area was a large stand of garlic mustard, which is one of the invasive plants that is hardest to control. It likes the shade of the woods and does not like to be mowed, so it is not a problem for most homeowners. The people in charge of forests are concerned because it "has the capacity to crowd out and destroy all of the native wildflowers that bloom during the spring." But it is not without some good points: "young leaves are edible to humans and quite nutritious – they can be added to salads or boiled in water and seasoned like spinach." So if you want to help preserve the woodland flowers, go out, find some garlic mustard, and eat it.
Notice the four petals of the flowers. It is in the mustard family, as are familiar garden plants such as cabbage, turnips kohlrabi, cauliflower, and broccoli. It also has rather attractive leaves.


Anonymous said...

I picked some garlic mustard the other day, and stuffed it in a turkey breast with a couple of bay leaves. Gave the turkey a wonderful herb flavor.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful color on those wild geraniums. I've only seen the pink variety before.
Another nasty note on the garlic mustard. The seeds stay viable in the seed bank for as long as seven years. It spreads very easily, and is very difficult to eradicate, even with much diligence.