It's the Plants, Darling

Too Confused To Keep Mum

Mum_3Though I have no memory of planting mums last fall, that means nothing. I stick a lot of plants in the ground and am often surprised and delighted at what comes up in the spring.

All summer, I’ve been enjoying the highly incised silvery-green foliage of the mums I don’t remember planting, which grew to three feet tall because I didn’t remember to pinch back what I didn’t remember planting. But instead of producing flowers in September as I expected, they are behaving more like a grass, generating fronds with small seed pods. None of my books is any help whatsoever in explaining this phenomenon.

Is this what happens when you try to perennialize these plants? Are they unhappy about my cold winter and this year’s cool summer? Or are they unhappy about not being composted last April?

Posted by on September 12, 2008 at 9:51 am, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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25 responses to “Too Confused To Keep Mum”

  1. Eliz says:

    You gotta be kidding me. Those are mums?? Wow.

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    It sure doesn’t look like any mum I’ve ever seen.

  3. Julie says:

    Sorry, I don’t think it’s a mum either. It’s pretty, but not a mum. However this reminds me of the stepping stone that I saw a year or so back. Might be old to some – but I still find it amusing. To quote – “I don’t remember planting that”.

  4. susan harris says:

    So pretty!! And probably not a mum.

  5. Rosella says:

    Doesn’t look like a mum. Does it smell like a mum?

  6. sort of resembles a “wild” astilbe if there is such a thing

  7. I’m pretty sure this is pigweed (Chenopodium spp). The good news is that your memory is okay–you didn’t plant it.

  8. Diana says:

    I hope this is a joke. Highly incised silvery-green foliage, 3-foot tall, blooming with long grass like seed heads. Sounds like Ragweed to me. You image sure looks like Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida). Google it and if you agree with me pull it up and make all of the allergy sufferers in your neighborhood happy.

  9. TC says:

    I concur with those above me. I just wrote an article on mums and your mystery plant is not a chrysanthemum.

    I’d bet a Yankee dime that it’s Ambrosia trifida; common ragweed.

    Pull it out!

  10. Michele Owens says:

    No, it’s definitely not ragweed. I don’t think it’s in the chenopodium family, either. I know those well. It doesn’t look at all weedy. The plant has a nice, solid shape, the foliage is elegant. And there are only two of them in my yard, one in the front and one in the back–just as if I’d planted them.

    But in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I will consult Weeds of the Northeast and report back.

  11. Frances says:

    It looks like one of the tall artemisias. That is the flower form and the foliage should be scented.

  12. tulipa says:

    Sounds a bit off the wall, but could it be a blooming lemon verbena (aloysia triphylla)?–them leaves odoriferous?

  13. tulipa says:

    Sounds a bit off the wall, but could it be a blooming lemon verbena (aloysia triphylla)?–them leaves odoriferous?

  14. Michelle’s right it’s definitely not ragweed (Ambrosia spp), but I’m still thinking pigweed or lambs quarters. It definitely has silvery foliage… Look at these links:; . If it is, it’s edible, a relative a spinach.

  15. JT says:

    Lemon verbena does not have silver leaves, they are bright green and scented like lemons.

    I would say this is artemisia, based on the leaf color, shape, and the flowers shown here. I’ve had it come up from seed, maybe that’s what happened here.

  16. Carrie says:

    Mugwort: Artemisia vulgaris

    check this out- note especially the comparison at the bottom of the page of this herb/weed to mums and ragweed in appearance.

    Do we have a winner?

  17. Michele Owens says:

    Carrie, I think you nailed it. And mugwort is also called chrysanthemum weed, which argues that I am not entirely crazy in assuming all summer that what I had were mums.

    Here’s another good link:

    This weed is unusual in that it’s so neat-looking and not very seedy. It’s really pretty–I’m tempted to roll the dice and keep it.

  18. Pam J. says:

    very entertaining post & comments! Did you notice this at the end of the Ohio State site?

    Toxicity: Mugwort is said to cause dermatitis resulting from contact with skin or from drinking tea made from the weed.

    Many superstitions surround this plant; it was believed to provide protection from fatigue, sunstroke, wild animals, and evil spirits.

  19. Well thank goodness someone told you what it was. Frances got it right first. I read her comment and was ok now I don’t have to ID it for you. As the number one garden blogger in Ragweed search hits, I knew it wasn’t Ragweed. Number one I tell you in Ragweed, my most viewed post. All that I do and they want Ragweed.

  20. Michele Owens says:

    Sorry, Frances. Christopher C. is right. You got it first. Now the question on my mind, is did I buy this thing? Or did it ride on a nursery plant?

  21. shira says:

    Mugwort can be a real nightmare to get rid of. If any piece of the root is left behind when pulling, it will send up a new plant. It’s also highly evolved – can withstand mowing and all the common weed-killers. Speaking from experience on this one!! According to one of the professors at school, the only way to get rid of it is to double dig it out, ugh.

  22. Barbara says:

    Not a mum.

    Try to – – easy now – pull it out. If easy, then mugwort gets my vote. If not, leave it and see what happens!

  23. Since I’m surrounded by Ragweed and Lamb’s Quarters, I knew that wasn’t it. Thanks, Frances, for the i.d.~~Dee

  24. Frances says:

    Thanks, Christopher. ;->