Scientific name: Persicaria virginiana

Also known as “Jumpseed”, Virginia Knotweed benefits ducks, other birds and small animals (according to internet sources).

We don’t typically have ducks passing through our back yard, and I’ve never seen any small animals eat it. In the fall when the seeds formed it attracted cardinal birds. For a few weeks they would visit daily and jump from the ground to pick off the seeds!

My parents had this plant in their back yard when I was a kid. I had no idea what it was back then, but when it went to seed, I would go back there, and pull on its long tails, stripping it of flowers (or seeds – I’m still not sure what I was stripping – probably the flowers). It was a relaxing fun thing to do in childhood. It spread pretty well, so I (hopefully), didn’t end up eradicating it.

Fast forward 30 years, and I’m rediscovering the same plant in a whole new light! As an adult, it returned itself to the focus of my attention in my yard far away from where I grew up, in full bloom, growing in the shadiest, deepest section of my raingarden. This time, I didn’t strip it, I scoured the internet, and pestered the plant-ID Facebook groups to find its name, and to my joy, discovered it was the native!

I’m looking forward to watching it spread because it’s such an underrated native plant. As it matures, it produces rich green, and bushy leaves, and grows under the cover of trees (a perfect replacement for your dear-ravaged hostas). So, if you’re struggling to find a good shade-loving plant in a moderately wet location, that is also juglone resistant this is for you!

Sources: https://aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/smartweed/jump-seed/

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