While harvesting in my garden the other day, I spent some time looking at variety of weeds that had moved in. While much of the garden is browning and fading away, the yellow flowers of the sweet clover were quite pretty among the green leaves. A multi-headed white flowerette bloomed from a weed whose name I don’t know. What makes a weed …a weed? In a different area of the yard, the weeds might be viewed more as pretty wildflowers. Do we determine its weed-ness based on utility? Herbalists consider dandelions quite useful. They contain important vitamins and minerals. They have medicinal value. They can be used to make wine. On beauty? Dandelions are a very lovely yellow that is often the only guaranteed color of early spring. On popularity? Admit it, dandelions are everywhere. They’re quite popular… in a negative way. Do we determine a weed based upon how hard it is to remove for the yard or garden? Okay, in this category, dandelions are weeds.
As I looked around at my weeds, I wondered if how we view weeds isn’t a bit like how we view people. Often a person’s value is determined by what they do (utility) or how they look (beauty) or how much they are liked (popularity). People are often weeded out of groups by those very basic criteria. People can be identified by ‘weedy’ characteristics. “They just go where ever they please.” “They are so hard to get rid of, they never want to leave.”
So weeds are just really in the eyes of the beholder.
My mother always called me an ugly weed, so I never was aware of anything until I was older. Plain girls should have someone telling them they are beautiful. Sometimes this works miracles. – Hedy Lamarr
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. -Ralph Waldo Emerson