Nothing rude, honest – just seeking your attention. There is a big pale green 4 feet tall weed in the back garden. I was cutting some of it away to give more room for the rose and the sweet smelling Daphne when I thought it would be good to know the name of the beast I was decimating. Here it is. No flowers yet, but close examination suggests they will be yellow, like small dandelions.
The books told me it is prickly lettuce, and it does have many sharp points standing out on the underside of each leaf’s midrib. It has another name – the compass plant. This is because the leaves on the north and south side of the plant (when its in full sun) turn to get more sunshine on the top and bottom surfaces. You can see a north pointing leaf below, and a west facing one below that. Put that in your Baden-Powell scouting for boys hat.
Now the nipples. On the other side of the garden was another weed, smaller but with yellow flowers. At first glance I thought, or hoped: wall lettuce, just for balance you understand. But it was too hairy, and the leaves to angularly incised. No, it was nipplewort. Wall lettuce exudes a milky sap when cut, but nipplewort does not, so no explanation there. Perhaps the flower buds look nipple-like?