The Weed that is Dangerous to Photograph

The plant that I know as Kochia is all over the city in summer and fall but grows mainly right beside the highway and, as such, I had to stop the car when traffic allowed, and dash out to rip up a sprig for these photographs.

As noted on the United States Dept. of Agriculture website, the plant has many common names and has had a few scientific names over the years:

Bassia sieversiana; Kochia alata; Kochia trichophila;
Kochia trichophylla; burningbush; Mexican fireweed;
mock cypress; fireweed; mirabel; summer cypress;
common kochia; Mexican summer-cypress; railroad
weed; belvedere; firebush; poor man’s alfalfa; common
red sage.

An Asian species, it grows well along railroads and highways where salt applied in winter favours such plants of salty habitats.

The flowers are unusual in that they have no petals.

The plant forms pyramidal or rounded bushes up to 7 feet tall.

It is reported that the roots can be 8 feet deep and have an 8 foot radius enabling the plant to draw water from some distance.

Kochia provides cover and seeds for birds.

The high protein seeds make good food for chickens and are also eaten by deer.

Grasshoppers do not eat it.

In China and eastern Europe, Kochia is used in broom-making.

Kochia is grown as an ornamental for its bright red colour in fall.

cultivated version called “Burning Bush”

Miles Hearn

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