Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tar Weed

One could say that the predominant smell of California range land this time of year is that of tar weed, notwithstanding the fact that this year it seems to be wildfire smoke instead. Nevertheless, during the summers here at Dryad Ranch we know we are home when we are greeted with the aromatic scent of the native yellow tar weed, Holocarpha virgata ssp. elongata. The variety with which we are blessed can get more than 2 feet tall and as its name suggests, is quite sticky and tarry. It sports small prickly burrs that attach to pants legs and that combine with the resin to make a mess of horses’ faces as they graze.

It is starting to bloom now, with small yellow blossoms appearing at the end of the stalk. It is very well adapted to the very dry conditions and seems to be one of the few plants that bloom this time of the year. In the photo below, pretty much everything in the meadow that has even the slightest appearance of green-ness (other than the tree leaves) is tar weed.

Some additional links to descriptions of tar weed:

And in case you were feeling left out and were really hoping your state could get some tar weed, according to this range map retrieved from the USDA web site, you ain't gonna be so lucky!


Tom Hurley said...

Wouldn’t it be nice to find a use for tar weed? Like maybe it cures cancer or Alzheimer’s or acne? Then you wouldn’t have to win the lottery!

betsycam said...

I'd love to know the best way to remove it from the animals - not just the horses' faces and legs, but from the dogs, too! We have it here in San Mateo county, and I have Australian Shepherd who become such a mess after running through the pastures! Regular baths just don't seem to be able to tackle this stuff!

Ruth said...

I have tried Simple Green and that actually worked very nicely. Also Goop hand cleaner works great too. I only used it on my guys legs. Wish there was something else that was gentler that i could use on his face.

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