Mysterious garden delight or horrible weeds you decide.
May 3, 2012 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I could really use some help identifying some plants that have popped up in my garden.

I have recently moved to the US and am finding I am on a steep learning curve where plant species over here are concerned. Now the warmer weather is here a bunch of new plants are popping up in an old garden, before I go mad and dig them all up I wanted to make sure they are all weeds. I have had mixed results asking friends and family as none of them are gardeners.

I apologise in advance for the pictures. My stupid camera insisted on taking all pics in landscape mode, I so have to find the manual.

1/ This looks (and smells) like a member but it's not one I am used to seeing. Does it look like a mint to anyone else before I start putting it in my iced tea?

2/ This had taken over one whole garden bed last Autumn when we moved in. It stinks when cut and it was covered in lots of black berries that stained our white dog purple.

3/ My MIL insists these are daylillies, but they just look like clumps of large floppy grass to me.

4/ This is a low sort of ground cover no more than 6 inches high.

5/ These are growing at a fast rate of knots and have a strange sort of hollow stem with pith in.

Any help appreciated. These are probably simple to ID if you are used to gardening in the Midwest, but this is my first year here with a garden of any sort and our 100 year old very run down garden has thrown up some great finds, like vast swaths of lily of the valley and tulips and a beautiful rhododendron I'd hate to dig up some other treasure by mistake.
posted by wwax to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1 is mint, 3 is daylilly, and 4 looks like parsley. Don't know about the others.
posted by raisingsand at 9:05 PM on May 3, 2012

3) looks like daylily to me too.
4) might be true geranium. Foilage. Flower.
posted by jamaro at 9:08 PM on May 3, 2012

2. might be pokeweed. Did it grow super tall?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two looks like the shoots of poke weed. How big were the plants?
posted by miss patrish at 9:26 PM on May 3, 2012

1. Is from the mint family if it has "square" stems. Could be Lemon balm. Does it smell minty or lemony?
2. I forget it's name, but obviously not something you want to keep.
3. definitely daylily
4. Cranesbill
5. Not sure from that angle. I suggest taking a sample of each to a local nursery.
posted by Isadorady at 9:29 PM on May 3, 2012

If #1 smells like mint, it's mint.
#2 is poke.
#3 is daylilies.
#4 does look like parsley, but parsley can take many forms...
#5 I don't know what it is other than that it's definitely a weed. That is, I've seen it often, it never comes to anything better than that, it's a weed that I don't know the name of.
posted by bricoleur at 9:29 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, I'm voting maybe mint, poke, daylilies, not parsley, probably weed, and weed.
The last two I just have a common name for, and I've heard it used for a couple different plants, so it wouldn't do much good to give it to you. Have you checked your phone book to see if you have a local agricultural extension agent close by? Forming a relationship with your ag agent or a knowledgeable nursery worker is worth gold when you're trying to garden in a new area.

I learned to garden in Pennsylvania. Nobody watered there unless you wanted a mushroom-mold-snail garden. Idaho, we water every day, sometimes twice. Who Knew? Thanks Mr. Ag Agent for not laughing 30 years ago!
posted by BlueHorse at 10:34 PM on May 3, 2012

#4 looks like a geranium. Doesn't seem very filaree-ish to me.
posted by retypepassword at 10:40 PM on May 3, 2012

#4 is not parsley, parsley does not stay low. It's Carolina geranium, a very common groundcover weed. Great resource for Midwest weed ID.
posted by desuetude at 10:42 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

#5 might be a motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)? Pull it. (Or harvest it for medicinal purposes?) I found it through looking at pictures in Ohio State's weed guide.
posted by retypepassword at 11:24 PM on May 3, 2012

#1 looks very much like like catnip.
posted by jon1270 at 3:53 AM on May 4, 2012

#1 is probably mint (simple smell test will tell you:); if it doesn't smell like mint, it may be catnip / catmint (Nepeta spp.), or even a Lamium (groundcover)

#2 is Pokeweed / Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana). This is a tenacious perennial weed that spreads like mad - when you go to pull it, try to get the whole root, or it will regrow. Tis takes time and perseverance :)

#3 is indeed a clump of daylilys (Hemerocallis)

#4 is a geranium of some type (Geranium maculatum) There are many that have been cultivated, and also a couple wild ones. They all have pretty flowers, but the cultivars will have larger ones.

#5 does look like a motherwort. This is a rather pretty plant, but also spreads quickly - if you choose to keep it, you might want to relegate it to a small section of the garden lest it take over:)
posted by PlantGoddess at 5:03 AM on May 4, 2012

FYI, pokeweed berries are poisonous.
posted by eleslie at 6:19 AM on May 4, 2012

#1 Take a leaf and crush it between your fingers. If it's mint, it will smell minty. But to me, it looks a little more like lemon balm. If it's lemon balm, it will smell lemony. Another possibility could be catmint/catnip. I'm sure you could find a cat who would be happy to test it for you.

#2 sounds like pokeweed to me too. One of its other names is inkberry. In my experience, it is a pest and I wouldn't want it in my garden.

#3 is definitely daylilies.

#4 looks a little like cranesbill geranium.
posted by fancyoats at 3:18 PM on May 5, 2012

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