February 17, 2016
February 17, 2016

Ladysthumb, or Polygonum maculosa, is an edible weed. It has also been used as a home remedy for controlling mild diarrhea and combating infections. The leaves and the flowers are both edible, although both have low nutritional value. Its most common name comes from the smudge mark found on nearly every leaf, and the same mark resembles that of a heart in some areas, causing some people to call it Jesus plant instead.

Ladysthumb is found growing in many different places, from roadsides to wooded pathways used for nature walks. It prefers moister soils, including those that suffer floods occasionally, and it has no preference regarding sun or shade. Soils rich in lime rarely experience this weed, so adding lime is seen as one method of weed control. Soils that are sandy and nutrient-poor, loamy and higher in nutrients, or denser with clay – all experience this weed. Ladysthumb is rarely found in areas that have not been cultivated or otherwise disturbed by people, making it much more likely to show up in your lawn or garden than in a field that has not been used in several years.

The pink and red florets grow in small buds along a section that is about an inch long. These florets will open individually. Birds enjoy eating the seeds, and thereby help spread this weed. Plants reach anywhere between two and almost four feet in height and often are found in clusters together. These clusters may be very large and cover a large area.

This plant is known to extract more than 60% of the nitrite in the soil it is growing in. While this can benefit some plants, it can also strip the soil of beneficial nitrogen by keeping it from forming. The root system is a short taproot and has several smaller roots branching out. It is typically easily removed and does not regrow from the root system if any remains behind. However, around waterways and ponds, this weed can become very invasive quickly, often requiring professional weed control from a lawn maintenance service. Several states have listed ladysthumb as a noxious or invasive weed for this reason. Having a lawn service keep control of this weed can ensure that any aquatic gardens you have will be kept clear of this weed and be able to grow your desired plants easily.