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Wildflower and Weeds – What’s the Difference

Do you believe a wildflower is a weed? Surprisingly, there are two unique differences between a weed and wildflower, and one of them is extremely important for the birds, insects, and land. However, each definition is open for interpretation. We may consider wildflowers or weeds a nuisance, but understanding the difference is important. Before you pull the flowering weed from your garden, consider the beauty and important purpose it has to nature. Now, for some definitions and history.

What is a weed?

A weed, by expert definition, is any plant that’s unwanted and uncultivated. Honestly, that’s it. Plant life that is native or non-native but essentially one that was not purposely placed or desired. We could interpret a weed as unwanted and serving no purpose. Cultivating plantlife is estimated to have originated over eleven thousand years ago. Human beings spent a large part of their daily life searching for plant life to eat. As things developed, raising animals for food became part of daily life. In order to raise animals for food, abundant plant life is also necessary.

It’s believed that this process, along with climate change, began the movement of domesticating animals and the cultivation of plants. The focus moved to plants that were edible and necessary for both human and animal survival. The cultivation of rice, corn, and roots became a staple to early cultures. Although many plants are here naturally and serve a simple purpose on its own, humans have selected what’s important in plant life and what isn’t for obvious reasons. And so it is, the category of weed is born. Although the small weed in your yard is not a factor in the global agricultural industry, it is interesting to note the beginning of cultivation. Farming and cultivated plants have been a major influence on the globe for at least the last two thousand years.

What is a wildflower?

various wildflowers and weeds growing in field in countryside
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A wildflower is any flowering plant, native or naturalized, that is completely self sustained and requires no help to grow. Free and resilient to disturbances of the land, growing strong roots, spreading seed, and surviving on their own. As nature intended. Sometimes we can run into issues where a native plant to one region makes its way to another region. By nature, it will root itself and spread as they do best.

This can, however, cause problems where a new species of plant disrupts the natural balance. Choking out other native plants or killing native insects. With the human ability to travel freely from one continent to another in record time, this will continue to be a problem. It’s through these global changes that nature also adapts. That’s the power of a wildflower.

Balanced nature

With this in mind, we could say that if the weed or flower doesn’t serve a purpose, removal is necessary. However, now days if the plant isn’t either edible or used for esthetic reasons, the removal becomes easier. Just remember, Earth needs wildflowers. The insects and birds rely on plantlife more than anything else. Wildflowers provide a healthy balance for all walks of life. First, Humans use wildflowers for medicinal purposes and the enjoyment of natural beauty. Second, insects use the pollen, and birds eat and transfer the seeds. Finally, the wildflower needs the birds and insects to thrive.

A weed to one is a beautiful flower to another

Native and naturalized flowers are important for agriculture, insects, and birds. If a visit to Florida is in your near future or you’re lucky to live here, take some time to notice the beauty along the roadsides, wooded trails, and marshland. It may surprise you to find beauty hiding in plain sight. We love to venture the trails and try to identify new wildflowers in Florida. Actually, our Pug (Doodle) is a frequent flower finder. He loves to smell every flower he can find, even venturing off the path to plant his face against the bright petals.

Save the wildflowers, bees, and birds by planting native wildflowers and giving your next weeding needs a second thought. Wildflowers are important to nature and the Earth.

What is your favorite wildflower? Let me know in the comments, then head over and read about the Spiderwort, a wildflower native to Florida.

Rannae D

An artisan and writer.

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