Cobbler’s pegs and dandelions

This morning as I walked down through the front garden to fetch the newspaper I spotted a familiar plant— cobbler’s pegs (Bidens pilosa). Although small, the plant had a single flower. Faster than the speed of thought I had stooped and plucked it out. Then I paused— my front garden is full of so called weeds; trad (Tradescantia fluminensis), basket grass (Oplismenus aemulus/imbecilis), violets (Viola odorata), fat hen (Chenopodium album), ivy-leaf toadflax (cymbalaria muralis)… just to name a few! They grow in unhampered abundance, none were planted. So why pick on the cobbler’s pegs?

On Summerfield, there are patches dense with Bidens species. When they are loaded with seed I don’t dare walk through them for fear of being covered like a pin cushion and so spread them further. Then every now and again, after the seed has fallen I go on the attack pulling them out.
Bidens pilosa is listed in Diego Bonetto‘s book, Eat Weeds. The leaf and flower are edible. It has medicinal value. “In traditional Chinese medicine [it] is called xian feng cao and is used for clearing heat and removing toxins…” (p166) He writes, “The plants that grow uninvited in our immediate surroundings represent the current status of coevolution… It is important to note that even when we, in our part of the world, deem a certain plant a ‘weed’, without value, it may well be one of the ‘chosen’ crop foods in another culture.” (p.20) So if there is a problem, it is not the plants but us,.
Down the street 260m away on the corner with a laneway, there is a beautiful diverse patch, dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), mallow (Malva parviflora), plantain (Plantago lanceolata), cobbler’s pegs… thriving.