Immediately upon walking out of church Sunday, I was struck by a distinct sweet smell that was not familiar, and yet in the back of my mind (or my nose’s mind) I had smelled it before long ago.
Across Huffville Road from the church, along a fence at the edge of a steep pasture that drains rain to the Atlantic (the other side carries it to the Gulf, but that’s another story) was a stretch of untended, unplanted wildflowers of a most distinct yellow. I recognized it as Graveyard Spurge.
The spurge family, Euphorbiacaeae, has common representatives as crack in the sidewalk plants, and in the seasonal Poinsettias we see at Christmas. In some settings, you’d easily mistake them for cacti, since they have the similar abilities and adaptations to withstand very dry conditions.
What I did not know about this invasive alien plant is that it’s seeds have a unique means of dispersal: link
“Fruits are explosive. Capsules that split open when mature and throw seed to over 16 feet. The plant reproduces vegetativelyÂ through lateral root buds, forming extensive clonal populations. The taproot may reach lengths ofÂ approximately 10 feet and give rise to lateral roots, which produce adventitious buds.”
No wonder, then, that it is often found in dense stands along the side of the road, and especially visible this time of year when in flower.
Other facts to know are that some folks are reactive to it’s milky sap:
‘Toxicity:Â It is potentially toxic to horses and cattle. All parts of cypress spurge contain toxic latex thatÂ irritates the eyes, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract and causes dermatitis upon contact in some people.”
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: From whence and when, the subtitle of this post? Codgers and Codgerettes?