Plant of the day: cape weed

A coastal bluff is carpeted with a mat of yellow daisies. The leaves are grayish green, woolly, and shaped like deeply lobed arrowheads. The flowers are bright yellow, blooming a few inches above the rosette of leaves.

This is cape weed, or Arctotheca calendula, an invasive species introduced from South Africa. It spreads via underground stems called stolons, as well as by seed. It has often been planted as an ornamental because of its flashy flower and long blooming period, but ecologists discourage this because of its tendency to invade delicate coastal prairies.

Traditionally, cape weed was considered to be one species but it is now actually identified as two separate species–the fertile Arctotheca calendula and infertile (or, rarely fertile) Arctotheca prostrata which can only reproduce via stolon and not by seed. The leaves of the infertile species, prostrate cape weed, are either entirely yellow on their underside–or they are tinted a reddish to brownish hue on the outer half of the leaf. The petals of the fertile, “standard” cape weed are a steely blue color underneath.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Invasive, Non-native, Plant of the day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s