Friday, April 8, 2016

Weedy wonderland

If they ever discover life on Mars, I would not be at all surprised if it turns out to be onion weed. That stuff is indestructible. However, I am not waking up my slumbering gardening blog to moan about onion weed. No, I have a completely different weed to moan about. 

Its common name is "coffee bush" but botanists more sensibly call it Breynia oblongifolia, and right now it is taking over our garden (or at least trying to). Here's a few photos of the evil weed in action.

I guess they called it coffee bush because its leaves are the shape of coffee beans?

This second snap is more like it. You rarely see one of these things on its own. Usually they come up in numbers, like this.

Fortunately, when small they are very easy to pull out of the ground. That isn't the problem — it's just the sheer numbers of them, everywhere.

Then, last night, over dinner with some good friends, birthday girl Rema described perfectly the coffee bush invasion in her Carlingford backyard. As Carlingford is on the other side of Sydney, at least 20km away, I can only conclude that coffee bush weeds have a masterplan to take over the whole of Sydney. They must be stopped!

Then it occurred to me that I have an excellent Australian weed reference book, so I decided to look up this plant. 

I'm not sure if Suzanne Ermert's book is still in print, as mine was published in 1998. If you can find a copy, it's a handy addition to your gardening library.

Click on the image from Suzanne's book and it should come up bigger, but in case that doesn't work, here's the terrible revelation contained within Suzanne's entry on coffee bush — it's a native plant! So maybe I might have to change my earlier statement so that Breynia oblongifolia is actually trying to RE-colonise Sydney. Who knows?

Left to grow on, it eventually forms a 2m (6 foot) high bush, which produces small green berries. And native birds like berries ...

I haven't exactly seen our native birds flocking around my weed patch feeding on them, so the weedy plants must be perfectly capable of spreading like wildfire without any help from native birds. 

But there you go ... my current most loathed garden weed is a native plant.

PS: why have I let the weeds take over, and why the absence from Garden Amateuring? It's been too hot, that's why. Ridiculous weather patterns lately. Once things cool down a bit, I have quite a few gardening projects to get underway, including a mini-makeover, so weather Gods permitting, expect a few more postings in coming weeks.