Sunday, August 4, 2019


A fine border of smartweed edges a driveway in my neighborhood. I've been watching it grow all summer. The blooms, which look more like berries or unopened buds, are the same color as those of a nearby crape myrtle.  Who determines what is a weed? In earlier times, people used this bitter and acidic plant to treat  coughs, colds and kidney stones. Poultices of smartweed were recommended for hemorrhoids. Smartweed's  more ancient names indicate both its taste and its uses: water pepper, bitey tongue and smartass. It will dye cloth yellow. Unwelcome in our present-day lawns and gardens, perhaps smartweed is underappreciated these days.