Down to Earth

Plant Terrorists: These plants like to move in and take over.

| April/May 1995

“I hate violets,” a woman said, pointing to a small violet colony growing under the baptisia.

“Why would you hate such lovely plants?” her companion asked.

“Because they’re terrorists,” she replied. “They just move in and occupy an area, driving out everything else.”

It was a beautiful sunny morning, and the woman’s remark disturbed me. I have always felt that every plant is a part of nature and that no plant is any more or less worthy than another. Admittedly, I have my favorites, and I don’t like horseweeds growing in my parsley bed, but I’d never considered a plant worthy of hatred.

Upon reflection, the episode of the Woman-Who-Hated-Violets reminded me of a plant that I had come to like less than the rest. I didn’t hate it, but it could readily be called a terrorist.

When I first moved to the farm fifteen years ago, a small patch of ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) grew under my bedroom window. The plant looked innocent and took up a space no larger than a chair cushion. In full sun in that spot, it seemed an attractive ground cover.

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