Weeds of Boise: Awkward Botany Headquarters

Last December, Sierra and I left apartment living behind and embarked on a new journey as homeowners, which you can read about in this January’s Year in Review post. This means that Awkward Botany Headquarters now has a yard, and having a yard means we also have weeds.

For many people living in urban areas, the weeds of most concern to them are the ones found in their yards, especially for those that garden or like to keep a tidy yard. Removing weeds is a constant chore. They are always popping up and getting in the way of our plans. In fact, that’s the very definition of a weed – an uninvited plant growing in a location where it isn’t wanted. Despite our best efforts, our yards are always going to have some amount of weeds in them, so what better place to familiarize yourself with your wild urban flora than in your own yard? Or, in this case, our yard.

Our house is located in an area of Boise called the Bench. The Boise Bench, which is actually a series of benches or terraces, is located south of the Boise River and overlooks downtown Boise. The formation of the benches began 2 million years ago as the Boise River cut through the valley. Over time, sediments were deposited at the south bank of the river as it cut further and further northward, leaving behind the series of large terraces. Early in Boise’s history, the Bench was largely agricultural land thanks to the construction of canals. As the city grew, housing and commercial developments expanded across the Bench and have now displaced most of the farmland. Urbanization of the Boise Bench continues today at a steady clip.

While I haven’t had a chance to explore every square inch of the yard, and the growing season is just getting started, what follows are a few photos and a short list of some of the weeds I’ve encountered so far.

  • Arctium minus (burdock)
  • Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass)
  • Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s purse)
  • Cirsium arvense (creeping thistle)
  • Chondrilla juncea (rush skeletonweed)
  • Digitaria sanguinalis (crabgrass)
  • Draba verna (spring draba)
  • Elymus repens (quackgras)
  • Epilobium sp. (willowherb)
  • Erodium cicutarium (redstem filaree)
  • Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
  • Hordeum murinum (wild barley)
  • Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
  • Lepidium sp. (white top)
  • Malva neglecta (common mallow)
  • Poa bulbosa (bulbous bluegrass)
  • Polygonum sp. (knotweed)
  • Portulaca oleracea (purslane)
  • Sonchus sp. (sowthistle)
  • Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
  • Tragopogon dubius (salsify)
  • Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)
  • Veronica sp. (speedwell)

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. Do you have a yard in an urban area? What weeds are you seeing in your yard this year? Let us know in the comment section below.

3 thoughts on “Weeds of Boise: Awkward Botany Headquarters

  1. Hi Daniel,

    It seems that as a fellow Bench Dweller, we encounter some of the same weeds. To add to your list, I regularly encounter: bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), catnip (Nepeta cataria), annual Honesty (Lunaria annua), perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and a few bulbs, Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and Grape Hyacinth (Muscaria armeniacum). I had a lot of prickly lettuce when I bought my house and am happy to say that with diligence, that one can be extirpated from the garden in a year or two.

    • I’m sure our yards have very similar weeds! It will be interesting to see what else pops up. Prickly lettuce should be easy to manage. It’s actually one of my favorite weeds, mainly because it is the crop wild relative of lettuce, which is a story I enjoy.

  2. Nampian here. We have plenty-o-bindweed in bounteous flower. White top, which we’ve sampled – boiled and drained. Purple mustard, salsify, both of which we’ve also tasted, as we have common mallow, lambsquarters and dandelion. Curly dock, narrow lead plantain, red root pigweed, roadside sunflowers, red stem filaree. I might regret allowing the quack grass to stay. But the goats like to eat it, and it makes a nice long leaf before going to seed. White clover, of course. Yellow sweet clover is up to my chest and fully in flower now. Alfalfa is flowering, too, an escapee from the field next, which I encourage for the goats’ sake. Puncturevine has sprouted – I think the cotyledons look like little green hot dog buns. Couple of varieties of thistle – maybe scotch and Canadian.

    Siberian elm seedlings. Some kind of shrub I haven’t been able to identify is prolific, a slow grower with leaves like my apricot, only smaller with less gloss. One of these days it will flower, right?, and tell me what I need to know. Wild rose – dog rose, I think. Ornamental plum seedlings. Black walnut seedlings.

    The lines really blur. I didn’t plant any of these on purpose (transplanted some trees) but most are welcome for one reason or another. The only one we might like to see none of is puncturevine. We might not miss bindweed if it left.

    A few weeds I haven’t identified yet. Grasses I find intimidating to name.

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