My six pictures for today are not from any of the landscapes. Nor are they from my garden. They are not from the forests or parks or other people’s gardens either. That is nothing new. I sometimes get my pictures from some rather randoms situations. These six are a bit more random than just average random though. They happen to be from around the big compost piles, where we dump some of our green waste and horse ‘fertilizer’.

This is the same compost pile where where the ‘Good Weeds‘ grow. Yup, good weeds from the bad neighborhood.

The first #1 is exotic. The second #2 and the third #3 are assumed to be native, but might possibly be exotic. The others are quite native.

1. Mullein – is a naturalized exotic species. It does not seem like the sort that would naturalize. To the contrary, is seems to be quite docile here. It is sometimes left in gardens where it self sows, just because it is appealing.P90727

2. Unidentified – but believed to be native, these tiny silvery white flowers are not as pretty as they are up close in this picture. I just happen to like them. I think I studied it in school, but just I can not remember what it is.P90727+

3. Bull Thistle – is not so easy to distinguish from other similar species. I do not even know if this is the native bull thistle. The prickly scales are not as straight as they should be. It is the only one that we now as such here.P90727++

4. Yerba Santa – seemed to be more purplish when I took this picture. The foliage looks grungy to me, as if sticky with honeydew and a bit of sooty mold. That is natural for it, and may explain why it is an unpopular native.P90727+++

5. Sticky Monkey Flower – has a funny name. It is native, but the sticky monkey that it is named after is not. It gets a bit shabby if allowed to grow wild in home gardens, but can be improved by aggressive winter pruning.P90727++++

6. Evening primrose – is not the same as the common yellow evening primrose that is familiar elsewhere in America, although I really do not know what makes it so special. Another species has smaller pastel pink flowers.P90727+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

26 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Bad Neighborhood

  1. Of course your mullein are much bigger and better than mine in my garden and I am hoping mine will also leave a few seeds when it goes. I had a look at your unidentified “weed”. could it be an antennaria anaphaloides (pearly pussytoes) according to my search app. I am really no expert, but got curious. Your plants in sunny California certainly grow bigger and better than ours in Switzerland.

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    1. Although the unidentified species is not the pearly pussytoes from the east, I believe that ‘pyssytoes’ is one of the common names for it. I refer to it as buckwheat, but is not that either. It looks more like pearly pussytoes than buckwheat. I should refer to it as ‘pussytoes’ because we have buckwheat in the region.
      Your mullein looked about like ours. It may seem taller in the picture because it is up on the edge of one of the compost piles. Some of it does not even bolt. It gets no water there. Only the thistle gets big and full . . . but not in a pleasant way. The pussytoes and evening primrose stay quite low to the ground. The yerba santa and sticky monkey flower are not really all that pretty. In fact, they are rather scraggly. The sticky money flowers are quite small, and in a rather boring color. They just look big in the picture.

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      1. It sounded like you had been reading my other blog (not in a good way)! Yes, these are pretty cool. There is a colony of bearded iris there too. They were dumped years go, and just forgotten. I would like to relocate them into the landscapes in autumn. This primrose is sort of new to me. They grew at the farm years ago, but I sort of ignored them off in the distance. I still sort of expect them to be pink lie they were where I went to school. That was a different species, but it is the one I knew.


  2. Hi Tony….I think your unidentified plant number 2 is Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea, a member of the Sunflower family) It is a native of the USA and makes a very special flower essence. I have tried to grow this plant in France from seed I imported from the US, but failed dismally! There must be a secret to it….ie either chilling the seed (which i tried) or soaking or heating them…they are very small, like carrot seed.

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    1. That looks more like it, and sort of fits with what I remember about the name. I sort of thought that it was something ‘pearly’. Ours might be a local variety of the species. I remember it in San Luis Obispo County, and the part of northern Los Angeles County that extends into the Mojave Desert. Our version is slightly different, but likely the same. I was not certain if it was a native or an introduced exotic, but if it is pearly everlasting, it would be native. Thank you.
      I doubt that the seed need much of a chill. Our climate is rather mild. Some seed here germinate better after fire, but this species has such a broad range that extends into regions that rarely burn.


    1. It is not hops. Someone likely identified it as pearly everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea. The silver leaves are quite narrow, and might be shriveled by now.
      I have not notice damage on the mullein, but have not looked either. It is something of a wild plant that I don’t pay much attention to. Cabbage loopers are not such a serious problem here.

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      1. It may not be as interesting as it looks in the picture. At least in our climate it is not very interesting. It is normally rather crispy looking by now. I just happen to like it while it is silvery like this. It does not get very big.

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  3. The mullein is common in areas west of San Antonio. It’s said to grow locally, too, but I haven’t seen it here. I didn’t realize that it’s an introduced species. It’s sometimes called flannel mullein, but I’ve also heard it called ‘cowboy toilet paper’ because of those large, soft leaves of the basal rosette. Self-explanatory, I suppose!

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    1. Yes, it is so common, but not too abundant, as if it belongs here. When I was a kid, I noticed what looked like it in paintings of local scenery, so got the impression that it had always been around. I really do not know what the flowers in the paintings were.


    1. Thank you. Yerba Santa is more weird than interesting. The name implies that it is useful for ‘something’, but it really does not seem to be all that special. The flowers are pretty, but the foliage looks like seaweed after an oil spill, or greasy fried spinach.

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    1. Mullein might be useful, although not an evergreen perennial. Bull thistle is ‘interesting’ but not very appealing. The others are just too scraggly. They look fine here, but I would not recommend them elsewhere.

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  4. I’ve been walking past a plant of mullein on the roadside near my allotment and thinking I’d collect seed if it isn’t mown down before they ripen. A really tall one is quite a sight. Apparently we have several garden species that escape and breed with our natives, as well as a couple of naturalise non-native species.

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  5. Oh moth mullein \ Verbascus thapsus – yep we have that one here too – in drier hillside areas like Nelson (41°S) it becomes dominant as nothing eats it. Lots of seeds too, I’m surprised they’re not a problem in CA.

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    1. They might be a problem elsewhere. It is naturalize here, but seems to be polite about it. There is not attempt to get rid of it. Some of us even like it if it appears in our gardens.

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  6. Years ago I was standing outside after a cousin’s wedding and pointed out this plant I’d been noticing off and on to my dad with the usual question: “What is that stuff?” he looked at it a minute and said “Wild mullein. Mother used to make a poultice with it when we had chest colds.” I always notice it now.

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