This pretty pink thing was in a $2 tray of seedlings I picked up at my local nursery last week. I was looking for something colour to fill a hole along the fence where I have (not quite countless) pots of plants hiding the boring fencing.
This is my next entry in Becky’s ‘In the Pink’ Square in September photo challenge.
Yes, it’s pretty.
Yes, it’s pink.
But after surfing the internet for more information about this plant, I’m sitting here now, looking at this photo thinking, “What have I done!”
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
I didn’t buy that little tray of Verbena seedlings because they were pink – just in case you are wondering. There were flowers of other colours in the tray – a red one, another that is deep purple, a lilac one and another that a very dark magenta as well as three that have unopened buds so I’ve no idea what colour they are.
No, I bought them because they were bright and colourful and they were $2.
They look cute and I thought they’d fill that hole and add a splash of colour to an area that is otherwise mostly green.
This morning my fingers discovered that Verbena or Vervain belongs to the Verbenaceae family together with approx. 250 other species of flowering plants that are either annuals or perennials.
I can almost hear you thinking, ‘That doesn’t sound so bad.’ and no it doesn’t.
So do read on, just as I did.
One of the genera that belong to this family is Lantana and here in Australia, it is an introduced, invasive, noxious weed. My father will be shaking his head when he reads this. He toiled for years clearing lantana from his property knowing livestock would die if they ate it, and sometimes, during extreme drought conditions, a cow might eat anything if she’s hungry enough. Ingesting lantana causes hepatotoxicity that has lead to widespread livestock losses in many countries, not just here in Australia.
Our Commonwealth Government classifies lantana as a Weed of Significance and regards it as one of the worst weeds we face. It was first declared noxious around 1920 and by the 1950s it had spread over more than 1600 kilometres of the eastern Australian coastline. It forms dense thickets that choke and exclude native species, leading to its complete dominance of the understorey of native bushlands and forests and, eventually, even the canopy. It has also been estimated that graziers spend $17.1 million a year on lantana control and lose more than $104 million in production due to lantana invasion.*
Lantana appears on the Queensland Government Restricted Invasive Plants list which means it must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
‘Wild Verbena’ is listed as an alternate name for lantana, so you see, I cannot help but think, “What have I done!”
AND – It is a problem in gardens because it can cross-pollinate with other weedy varieties to create new, more resilient forms.
That said, this Verbena is not the wild variety, nor is it lantana.
They merely belong to the same plant family and I do think these Verbena flowers are cute. That’s why I bought them, and yet, I feel so strongly about this that, should they die (of their own accord) I will not be replacing them in kind but will ensure the next time I buy a little pop of colour, I know exactly what I’m spending my money on.