Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gone to Pot

Cannabis sativa.  Weed. Pot. Indian Hemp.  Mary Jane, buds, hippie lettuce, skunk weed, wacky tobaccy, combustible herbage.  Marijuana.  Completely to my surprise, as I was leaving work last week and noticed, in the parking lot island in front of my Jeep, this foot-tall, suspicious specimen with 7-fingered leaves and a weedy disposition.  On the grounds of Kansas State University and in full view.  I looked furtively around for federal or local surveillance and, finding none, snapped a quick blurry picture as proof.

Hey, I'm a gardener.  I notice plants.  I've been known to pull over on major highways and come to a full stop just to identify or photograph a particular flowering plant on the roadside.  You're looking at the far off scenery?  At the sunset or architecture or road signs?  I'm looking for unusual plant form or flashes of color, or interesting foliage.  I'm surveying habitat, speculating on species, and scrutinizing clumps that catch my eye.  The only hobbyists in the running for Voted Most Eccentric have to be gardeners or birders.  And I'm a little of both.

So I could hardly miss this plant, as it waved its lanceolate and toothed leaves and begged for attention.   Given its height, I might have noticed it sooner if I had parked in the nearby spot in the past week.  But there it was now, in plain view.  Not that I should have been surprised.  Hemp is, after all, naturalized in Kansas.  This Asian native was brought to the Great Plains in the 1880's.    Assuming the best intentions of our ancestors, it was presumably introduced for hemp fiber and used in production of rope, nets, and paper.  All that dancing around campfires was probably just coincidental.    

 I've never seen it in my own garden, likely because the disturbed areas of ground here were native prairie only a few relative years ago and doesn't contain seed.  Its presence in the Vet School parking lot could be due to avian-aided spread from wilder environments, or because some unburned herbage containing seeds was dropped nearby, or because it was intentionally planted in anticipation of a fall break period between classes.   The local police sit  next to this island frequently during the day, but I assume their motivation must be to utilize the afternoon shade of the tree in this island, not to protect their growing stash.

Anyway, there it is.  Or was.  You needn't find a sudden excuse to visit the Vet School.   The K-State groundskeepers had pulled it up by the next morning when I came back for a better picture.  All I found was a single partial leaf trampled to shreds near where bounty had been.  All that's left is the mystery of whether it was wild or a cultivated, fast-growning strain.   And who has the remnants of the plant and what they've done with it.

1 comment:

  1. It grows like crazy around Atchison because of all of the hemp that was grown for the river boats on the Missouri once upon a time. Now it's just that ditch weed.


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