Because of the amount of time I spend pulling weeds not only here in our flower and vegetable gardens, but also when In Oregon at both our son’s and daughter’s places and at the Christian school where our son and daughter-in law teach, our son jokingly said that I may soon need a new pair of “weeding glasses!” As I thought about that, I guess there may have been some truth his quip. If you are going to pull weeds, you need to know what are weeds versus plants that should remain. So, that brings up the question of what makes something a weed or a noxious weed versus a valued plant or wildflower? One person’s wildflower may be another person’s weed!
For many years, I have been interested in identifying wildflowers that grow in our area of northwestern Montana, so have taken many, many flower pictures when hiking or hunting and try to identify them. We also make inspirational note cards which we sell at our local “Copy This Send That” store. This past Saturday we took a walk in an area where we had recently cut some wood and noticed a flower we had never seen. We went back to get some pictures and to try to identify it—so far no luck. But we are guessing, though it is quite pretty, that it is actually a noxious weed since it has grown up on and near a newly built road and has spread quickly. It probably came in on the equipment that built the road in an area where I have spent a lot of time over the years and have never seen it there before.
Several years ago, in the same area, during hunting season, I spotted a unique dried flower which, again, I had never seen in the area or anywhere else in the many places we have hiked. I went back in the spring to see it in bloom. Since it had already multiplied, I dug up a sample and sent to the University of Montana Biological station where it was identified as Viper Bugloss, a noxious weed originating in France!
A native plant is one that is part of the balance of nature that has developed in a particular region or ecosystem over hundreds of years. An invasive plant (species) is one that is non-native, and has spread rapidly, disrupting native plant communities of ecosystems. Not all non-native plants introduced to a new area are invasive. Some do not threaten the existing ecosystem. A weed is a plant that is not valued in the place where it is growing and poses a threat to agriculture and/or the natural ecosystem. A noxious weed is a plant that is particularly troublesome, causing damage to crops, gardens, livestock, or the public health and environment.
Here are a few that qualify in our area as noxious weeds: spotted knapweed, orange hock weed, leafy spurge, hound’s tongue, Canada thistle, cut-leaf daisies, curly-leaf pondweed, Dalmatian toadflax, and common tansy.
The challenge Is to be able to detect what are valuable plants and what are destructive weeds. Many of the plants categorized as noxious weeds are actually very attractive flowers! The problem is they crowd out the plants that are valued and agriculturally beneficial. It is amazing here in our area how over the years we have lived here, spotted knapweed got started and spread so rapidly to the forests on logging roads as seeds were carried by trucks and equipment. Sadly it has squeezed out grasses upon which the elk and deer graze. One plus is that the knapweed blossoms are frequented by honey bees and make great-tasting honey!
From lots of experience weeding our gardens, I have developed some pretty effective “weeding glasses,” to detect what are weeds and what are the plants I have started to produce corn, beans, lettuce, carrots, etc. I wouldn’t dare send a non-gardener out to weed the vegetable garden without a pair of “weeding glasses” or I would probably lose some of what I am trying to grow.
Interestingly, in the Bible, we see examples of how the enemy, Satan, comes and sows noxious weeds among the grain. In Matthew 13:24-30 we have Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. Tares were weeds, probably darnel, whose blades closely resembled wheat, but could be distinguished from wheat when fully ripe. Satan has sown his counterfeits in the church and they often are hard to distinguish from the real thing. We definitely need “weeding glasses.” That is, we need to be so familiar with God’s Word and in tune with the Holy Spirit, that we can spot Satan’s counterfeits, even though, like many noxious weeds, they are attractive, and look a lot like that which they are counterfeiting. Jesus often warned about false prophets who would infiltrate the church. He said, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7:15). He went on to say, “you will know them by their fruits” (v. 20).
If we are going to be “fruit-bearers” for Christ, we need to be able to detect the true from the false, by becoming very familiar with the real thing, through letting “the Word of God richly dwell within us” (Col. 3:16) and by being “diligent to present ourselves approved to God as a workman who does not to need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Then we will have “weeding glasses” to be able to spot that which is phony and there to squeeze out the productivity in our lives for Christ.
P.S. Thanks for praying for the shoulder surgery (last Wednesday, July 3rd). Although it involves much pain, hopefully it will remedy the torn rotator cuff. Pray for patience for the patient!