Sunday, October 11, 2009


Horse-nettle, Solanum carolinense, along with earlier posts, has made an annual cycle here. Funny thing is that when I recently came across a large patch, I somehow thought it was a new species find. Actually thought the same thing about yesterday's Burdock too! :-)

For a serendipitous etymological angle, this article from Michael Quinion's weekly e-magazine, World Wide Words, arrived yesterday.

The little perennial topped the pernicious list of many a farmer of olden times, spreading furiously both by seed and root. Attempts to kill it off by uprooting it often caused it to spread. Agriculture and Life, in the following snippets, not only illustrated the usual methods of extermination but also offered advice for more thoughtful control:

"But these are the methods for the small patch and probably for the small farmer. For the infested farm of the larger farmer, good farming is the effective remedy. For this he must seek a rotation that will give him money—-making crops which are inimical to the persistence of the horse nettle. Perhaps nothing better can be suggested than alfalfa followed by corn or potatoes, and these in turn followed by oats and peas cut for hay and the ground again seeded to alfalfa. The alfalfa is cut three or four times in a summer."

"Another part of good farming is the securing each season of clean seeds, another is the attention to fence rows and corners to see that few if any plants go to seed there, and yet another farm practice is the seeing to it that weed seed is not brought on to the farm from neighboring places. This often requires that a man become a crank to see that the State laws for the mowing of weeds along the road-side are enforced. Many weed .seeds are scattered in manure and to prevent this it may be necessary to compost the manure. To prevent too heavy loss for the compost it may be necessary to mix with it land plaster or a calcium phosphate ground rock."

Cromwell, Arthur D. Agriculture and Life. Philadelphia, London, 1915. 265. Web. Google Book Search. 10 Oct 2009.

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