Plant of the day: dotted smartweed

Unattended roadside ditches can also double as great wild gardens. Lush greenery thrives in the moist earth, and the plants found here can be really diverse as passing cars (and creatures) spread seed. True, there tend to be a lot of weeds in these places–but native plants can be found here as well.

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Dotted smartweed (Persicaria punctata) is a pretty little native with a diminutive spike of white flowers. The leaves emerge from a papery sheath that wraps around the stem–and is often present in member of this family, the Portulaceae. Dotted smartweed likes to grow (usually near the coast) in wetlands, marshes and moist on hillsides.

Random fact: that papery sheath is called an “ocrea” and is formed by stipules, the leaflike structures at the base of the leaf stem.

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