Weeds of Boise: Abandoned Pizza Hut on Ann Morrison Park Drive

There is an old Pizza Hut on the corner of Ann Morrison Park Drive and Lusk Street. I’m not sure how long it’s been closed (if someone knows for sure, please let me know), but it has to be well over a year – probably several years. It’s clear that the landscaping has not been maintained for a while. The turf grass in the hellstrips is now mostly weeds, the Callery pears and crabapples are in need of some serious pruning, and the mugo pines and horizontal junipers are slowly dying off. On the other hand, the Oregon grapes and barberries look just fine. They never really needed our help anyway.

I like checking out lots with recently abandoned buildings because you can see in real time just how quickly weeds take over once humans stop their meddling. As the months and years pass, and as the plants that humans intentionally placed there decline, it becomes increasingly obvious that weeds truly are the wild flora of our cities.

My first few visits to this site were on March 21st, 25th and 28th of 2020. During those visits, I made a list of all the weeds that I could easily identify and noted a few individuals that I will need to come back to. What follows are photos of a few of the weeds I came across, along with a list of the weeds I was able to identify.

Every lot needs a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).

Common mallow (Malva neglecta) in mulch.

The turf grass in the hellstrips has been replaced by several different weeds including tiny, early spring favorites like bur buttercup (Ceratocephala testiculata) pictured here and spring draba (Draba verna).

Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is prolific in a bed on the north side of the building. On the east side, this plant had already flowered and gone to seed by mid-March.

The tough taproot of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) easily works its way into cracks in pavement and concrete.

A bull thistle rosette (Cirsium vulgaris) perhaps?

Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) was common on the site, including (perhaps not surprisingly) in this parking block.

horseweed seedling (Conyza canadensis)

Weeds found at the abandoned Pizza Hut on Ann Morrison Park Drive:

  • Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass)
  • Ceratocephala testiculata (bur buttercup)
  • Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
  • Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
  • Draba verna (spring draba)
  • Hordeum murinum ssp. glaucum (smooth barley)
  • Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
  • Malva neglecta (common mallow)
  • Medicago sativa (alfalfa)
  • Poa bulbosa (bulbous bluegrass)
  • Rumex crispus (curly dock)
  • Senecio vulgaris (common groundsel)
  • Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
  • Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

This post will be updated as I identify more of the weeds and capture more photos. I also anticipate that this lot will not be abandoned for that much longer. It’s located near Boise State University in an area that has seen a lot of development in the past few years. I can’t imagine prime real estate like this will stay feral indefinitely. Until something is done with it, I’ll keep checking in.


14 thoughts on “Weeds of Boise: Abandoned Pizza Hut on Ann Morrison Park Drive

  1. I really appreciate the horseweed seedling photo. I have horseweed, of course, but didn’t know its early offspring.

  2. Thank you! I enjoyed. Spring gets my botanical juices flowing, and I love help identifying whatโ€™s coming up here in northern Idaho (Kendrick area).

    Nora Abbott

  3. Great post, Daniel. I’m going to send you some pictures of the empty lot above the Parkview Condos in Ann Morrison Park.

  4. I am in New South Wales, eastern Australia, and I am surprised by how many of these weeds, or their close relatives, are also growing in urban areas here. Mallow and Dandelion are just as ommon here. Some common names are different – we call the Conyza canadensis Fleabane for example

  5. Wildflowers and spring weeds: the perfect hobby during this COVID19 pandemic when all of my usual botanic garden haunts are closed. People see me kneeling in the grass to take photos and ask if I am OK. I wish more people shared our joy in botanizing- best pastime ever. Amazing how many wonderful plants you found in one Pizza Hut lot !

  6. Pingback: 2020: Year in Review – awkward botany

  7. I never imagined there were so many weeds. I’m new to Boise & gardening, so I’m sure I should expect to see any of these weeds in my yard and gardens. The yard is very well kept, but my gardens need to be thoroughly cleaned up for spring & summer blooming season, so I will be doing that soon. Any other advice you might offer to a new Boise gardener will be appreciated. I’m very thankful you are willing to share your knowledge with us. Awkward Botany will be my most frequently referenced website for more weed related information as I dig and learn what I have in my own Boise gardens. Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading! And welcome to Boise! Great to hear that you’ve found my posts valuable. When it comes to the Treasure Valley, I mostly just write about weeds. To learn more about gardening in the area, be sure to follow my wife Sierra a.k.a. Idaho Plant Doctor on Instagram and/or else where (https://www.instagram.com/idahoplantdoctor/). She’s the real expert on that stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

      • You are so very helpful. I have a Spring Clean-Up Horticulture Coaching session scheduled in May with Sierra, Idaho Plant Doctor, & I just can’t wait to begin digging and cleaning up my gardens. Thank you for teaching us vital details about Boise weeds and beyond and suggesting that I contact Idaho Plant Doctor for additional help with my Boise gardens. I searched for “weeds” and found awkward botany.com with specific Boise weed information. How cool is that?It is so clever that you used a vacant lot as a project to teach us. Thank you Daniel!

        • That’s great to hear! I’m glad that you will be getting help from Sierra. She does a great job ๐Ÿ™‚
          I’m always happy to help with weed identification, so no worries!

  8. Pingback: Vacant Lots as Habitat for Insects – awkward botany

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