The Boise River, which winds its way through the City of Boise, is flanked by a series of parks known collectively as the Ribbon of Jewels, named in honor of prominent women in the community. Most of these parks are vast expanses of turfgrass scattered with large trees and are meticulously maintained, except near the river where the vegetation is allowed to run a little wild. It is within these narrow strips of land, bordered on one side by the river and the other by regularly mowed turfgrass, that a veritable nature walk can be had right in the heart of the city.
While a few native plant species can be found in these strips, much of the vegetation is introduced. Some of the non-native trees and shrubs may have been intentionally planted, while others came in on their own. Most of the grasses and forbs in the understory are weedy plants commonly seen on all manner of disturbed lands. There are also, of course, a few weeds specific to riparian areas. Due to the wild nature of these strips and the abundance of introduced plants, the river’s edge makes for a great place to become acquainted with our wild urban flora.
Because these parks (which include the Boise River Greenbelt) stretch for miles through the city, practically any spot along the way could be a good place to look for weeds. I chose to narrow my search to the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park. What follows are a few images of some of the plants I found there, along with a list of what I was able to identify during my brief visits this spring. The list will surely grow as I check back from time to time. If you’re interested in learning more about the Boise River and its importance – not just to the humans who call Boise home, but also to myriad other living organisms – check out Boise River Enhancement Network and the work that they are doing to help protect and preserve this invaluable ecosystem.
Weeds found at the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park (while several of the trees and shrubs at this location are introduced, I only included those species that are generally considered to be weedy or invasive):
- Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo bush)
- Anthriscus caucalis (bur chervil)
- Arctium minus (common burdock)
- Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass)
- Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s purse)
- Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed)
- Cirsium arvense (creeping thistle)
- Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
- Chondrilla juncea (rush skeletonweed)
- Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed)
- Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
- Cynoglossum officinale (houndstongue)
- Descurainia sophia (flixweed)
- Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olive)
- Erodium cicutarium (redstem filaree)
- Euonymus fortunei (winter creeper)
- Galium aparine (cleavers)
- Hordeum murinum ssp. glaucum (smooth barley)
- Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris)
- Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
- Lamium amplexicaule (henbit)
- Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle)
- Malva neglecta (common mallow)
- Medicago lupulina (black medic)
- Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
- Plantago lanceolata (narrowleaf plantain)
- Poa bulbosa (bulbous bluegrass)
- Polygonum aviculare (prostrate knotweed)
- Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup)
- Rumex crispus (curly dock)
- Sisymbrium altissimum (tumble mustard)
- Solanum dulcamara (climbing nightshade)
- Sonchus sp. (annual sow thistle)
- Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
- Tragopogon dubius (salsify)
- Trifolium repens (white clover)
- Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)
- Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Like all posts in the Weeds of Boise series, this will be updated as I identify and photograph more of the weeds found in this location.
Just a comment to say how much I enjoy the articles. I received a BS in botany in 1969 Univ of Oklahoma, and discovered a whole new flora when I moved to Idaho a few years later. In the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve revived my interest in identification (XID weed and Idaho flora software are wonderful aids). And I look forward to Awkward Botany. Thank you.
Thank you for reading and for your kind words! I am always happy to hear that people find Awkward Botany useful, interesting, and something to look forward to.
I’ve noticed that creeping buttercup grows next to the irrigation ditches and in areas that receive flood irrigation. I wonder if the seeds are dispersed by the irrigation water, or if the plant simply grows well in wet areas.
Interesting question. I hadn’t considered that, I but I wouldn’t be surprised if some seeds are being transported by water. I’ll have to look into that. Thanks!
Love “Weeds of Boise”! TY. Going outdoors to learn the weeds is a great lifetime activity and compatible with pandemic isolation requirements! I find the I-Naturalist app of great help in this endeavor.
Thanks! I agree! I haven’t used the iNaturalist app much, but I should. I know that a lot of people find it fun and useful.
It is astonishing how many of these weeds, particularly in the photos, are familiar to me. You would see them as you stroll around Moss Vale, New South Wales, Australia. They are ‘international’ travellers
International travellers indeed! 🙂
Thanks, Dan, for a very interesting article. I can tell you spent considerable effort compiling your list–good to see.
Thanks Lynn! It has been a fun project.
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