Some plants have it all backward. Flowers are supposed to provide the show; the seeds, not so much.
Thursday, September 07, 2023
Pilewort--A Native Weed With Hidden Flowers and Showy Seeds
During our monthly nature walk at Herrontown Woods this past Sunday, I was grateful that one of the participants pointed out some other activity around the pilewort flowers. A common local ant species was busy tending to a flock of aphids sucking juice from the stems. The ants harvest the aphids' honeydew.
Maybe the name comes from the piles of seeds it deposits all around. Another common name for it is fireweed, because it sprouts abundantly after a fire has swept through.
You might think this plant a menace that will take over. The nonnative lambsquarters, also an annual, can give this impression too, growing densely and tall the first year after a disturbance. But I've learned not to be concerned over their dominant presence. The first year's show of abundance fades in subsequent years until you can hardly find a one. Other plants move in, and pilewort awaits the next disturbance.