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MORRIS: Ragweed seeds make an excellent bird food

Parthenocissus quinquefolia: You may know this native wildflower by names other than Virginia creeper, such as Woodvine or American ivy.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia: You may know this native wildflower by names other than Virginia creeper, such as Woodvine or American ivy.

Our scripture for today has a wildflower theme, but is applicable to the political scene, too.The greatest of the judges of the Hebrew nation quoted a message God had given him, "He who rules over men righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springs out of the earth, through sunshine after rain" (2 Samuel 23:3-4).

Many wildflowers are weeds, but some are very beneficial, such as herbs. Some are rarely seen and others are everywhere. Ironically, some of the most offensive weeds have had beneficial uses.

Today we look at two varieties of ragweed. Both are the current culprit afflicting misery on fall hay fever sufferers. Both can be found in every state in the Union. Here in Rockdale County, most ragweed are of the common ragweed variety. I have seen only a few small patches of the great ragweed.COMMON RAGWEED

Ambrosia artemisifoliaThis ragweed can be found anywhere that the ground has been undisturbed since last fall. It survives all types of weather -- cold, hot, dry or wet. It thrives in sandy, rocky soil and in Georgia red clay.

It is most commonly seen along fence rows, in ditches along our roadways and especially between the road and the fences.

The blooms begin in July, peak in September, but continue through October. Of course you probably have not seen one of its blooms for two reasons: first, because the pollen irritates your nose and eyes, and, two, because the greenish white blooms are very small.

In fact, the blooms are so tiny that the wildflower books describe them as "indistinguishable." The flowers of the common ragweed occur at the end of branches along upright racemes. The plants occasionally grow to a height of 6 feet. The leaves are finely dissected as pictured.GREAT RAGWEED

Ambrosia trifidaThe great ragweed is so named because it has been known to reach 12 feet in height. The only other distinguishing marks are the leaves and flowering racemes. The leaves of the great ragweed are larger than those of the common ragweed and have three lobes. The racemes of this variety droop.

Ragweed in the fall is comparable to the pestilence associated with chickweed in the spring. The sap of the plants is so bitter that only goats will eat it, and they have to be very hungry to do that.

However, there have been two beneficial usages associated with ragweed. First, the leaves were used in a tea by early settlers for an upset stomach and second, the seeds make an excellent bird food.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.