Volunteering suspense

Giant plantAbout two weeks ago, I noticed that I had a ginormous volunteer. By something, I mean this was the plant equivalent of a two-by-four hitting me in the head from behind. I didn’t see it coming, but when it arrived, I surely noticed. This was a huge plant.

“There is a giant set of leaves growing out of the compost pile,” I said to Steve, who had been by to water the garden while I was out of town (I consider it a type of shared custody, really…).

“I saw that,” he said. “I wondered where it came from.”

I should stop for a moment and explain that I went from being scared of compost piles to having two. First, I bought a wire box to throw the compost in, and set that up. Then, Steve’s Mom bought me a large, black plastic composting bin. Allegedly this bin is supposed to heat up the kitchen scraps and make compost faster, and I do have faith in the chemical reaction between black plastic and the sun.

So, of course, like any fickle young lady, I abandoned my original wire-encased compost pile and went with the newer, higher-tech, younger model. That’s where all my kitchen scraps and leftover bouquets die a natural (ever-so-natural) death.

Yellow flowerIn the meantime, the original pile sat there, slowly doing what compost piles do, except that then it spit out this monster plant. I don’t know what it is, and when I first noticed it, of course I hoped it was something tasty. Like a cantaloupe vine. Or a crème brulee plant.

But now it is developing these little yellow flowers, so I’m wondering whether I might be in for some sort of significant floral treat later in the summer.

If you recognize this bad boy, let me know what it is, will you? Because while I like surprises, the suspense is killing me.

25 Responses to “Volunteering suspense”

  1. 1 Jeanne July 12, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Some type of nasturium, maybe? Can’t way to see what the flowers look like.

  2. 2 Matt July 12, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Post more pics of it. Perhaps it’s a pumpkin? Somehow I ended up with 3 of these volunteering in my garden/yard this year. Although the stems don’t appear to be prickly so it’s probably not this.

  3. 3 Chigiy July 12, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I thought it might be a pumpkin at first or some sort of melony thing. Is it standing upright? Does it have those curly little tendrils that grab on to things and climb? If it doesn’t have these tell tale elements of a vine, then I think it’s that plant that Seymour has to feed with human flesh in “Little Shop of Horrors”. Any nieghbors missing?

  4. 4 Annie in Austin July 12, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Genie, I think it’s a weed in the mallow family that came here from India.

    Check this out:

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. 5 gardenqueen July 12, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    I’m with Annie. I thought it might be a melon or squash, too, until I saw the upright stem. If it is, get out before it goes to seed.

  6. 6 Trey July 12, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I’ll make it three. It does seem to be the weed Annie mentions. Of course to the Chinese who used it for medicine it may not be a weed. A is any plant that is out of place, and I am afraid this one is.

  7. 7 Trey July 12, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Lets try this again. A weed is any plant that is out of place.

  8. 8 Katiez July 13, 2007 at 2:52 am

    My pumpkin starts out with very high leaves like that! Wait and see what the flowers produce!
    Did you know that cucurbits will not breed true? That is, if you plant melon, zucchini, cucumbers, squash all in the same garden and, the following year something comes up from seed it will be a bastard child, not a true anything. I let them grow one year and I had what looked like a stiped acorn squash with the color of a melon and flavor and texture of a zucchini. MysteryVeg! LOL

  9. 9 Sally July 13, 2007 at 6:04 am

    Did you throw cucumber leavings in there? Looks like a cuke to me. I once had a pumpkin grow out of mine (left over jack-o-lantern, dontchaknow). It was too cool. And produced the prettiest pumpkin I’ve ever seen. Only one, mind you, but perfect. That flower is too small for squash. My bet is on cucumber. You’ll know soon enough.

  10. 10 Don July 13, 2007 at 9:28 am

    It’s velvet weed: you’ll see it popping up everywhere; it’s one of the things farmers are always spraying for… welcome to Iowa.

  11. 11 Mordy July 13, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Velvet leaf. Put that in the search box in quotes in Google images, and you’ll see lots of similar photos.

  12. 13 inadvertentgardener July 13, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Jeanne, Matt, Chigiy, Annie, gardenqueen, Trey, Katiez, and Sally, after going to check out a couple of sites, I’m going to have to agree with Don and Mordy — it’s definitely velvet weed. And, in fact, it has really soft leaves, so that makes a lot of sense.

    Steven, I will definitely eradicate it!

  13. 14 Don July 13, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Sheesh… I had a feeling I said velvet weed; as Mordy says it’s velvet leaf… I was thinking weed. Here in Iowa if you buy top soil it often sprouts a jillion of these as they strip the topsoil from fields, and with the soil disturbed, velvet leaf then germinates.

  14. 15 Annie in Austin July 13, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Abutilon theophrasti is just the botanical name for ‘Velvet leaf’, Genie. I thought it was interesting that the same genus, Abutilon, also includes cultivated flowers like the Abutilons called Flowering Maple or Parlour Maple… think you could ‘civilize’ that big rascal near the compost pile?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  15. 16 inadvertentgardener July 14, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Don, leaf, weed, whatever it is, I suspect I should just get rid of it. That’s probably why it came up in that pile — that’s where I poured the leftover dirt from the giant pot where I sunk the lavender over the winter.

    Annie, I kind of wish I could civilize it…I have to say I’m a little sad that I’m not going to get to keep it because it’s so invasive…

  16. 17 1916home.net July 14, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    If I had to guess, Im going to say honeydew. Im suprised no one mentioned this yet. Have you had any honeydew in the past couple months? Im growing watermelon, honeydew, and pumpkins. Pumpkins have huge yellow flowers, honeydews have big green leaves like pumpkins, but small yellow flowers. Hhhhmmm… then again, my honeydew is staying relatively low to the ground, not going upwards.

  17. 18 1916home.net July 14, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I wouldnt get rid of it. This is like buried treasure :) transplant it someplace else in the garden!

  18. 19 Michael July 14, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    There’s a pretty-close replica outside the window of my (and Dan’s) office. Dan damned it as a weed and Matt tried to pull it up unsuccessfully. It is like a tree!

  19. 20 Sassy Gardener July 14, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    If you do ever have a creme brulee plant crop up in your garden, I’d love some seeds. :)

  20. 21 inadvertentgardener July 15, 2007 at 12:05 am

    1916home, I probably ought to pull it, but I might leave it for just a little while. The yellow flowers are really pretty.

    Michael, a ha…one at work, huh? I’m going to have to go look at it on Monday when I go back in. Hmm… And yeah…it is like a tree. Really an incredible stalk!

    Sassygardener, if I end up with one of those, I’ll save some seeds for you and me and then make a killing selling the rest of them!

  21. 22 Robin Tetzloff August 22, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I come from Colwell, Iowa, Floyd County, County Seat Charles City. I now live in Bolingbrook, Il. Just recently I had this velvet leaf growing in my back yard. 2 miles from us is a development with hughe piles of dirt and a zillion of these plants growing.

    I grew up on a farm near Colwell and we always called this “Button Weed.” When I looked it up under Iowa weeds button weed was identified as Virginia button weed. I called an old farming pal near Colwell and he confirmed that people around Colwell still call it button weed, but now also by the correct name, “Velvet Leaf.”


  22. 23 inadvertentgardener August 24, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Robin, so THAT’S button weed! I’d heard of it before, but didn’t know what it looked like (although it sounded interesting, regardless). And now I know it’s a plant of two names.

  23. 25 Virginia Hill September 3, 2009 at 8:55 am

    How do I get rid of Virginia Button Weed without killing my grass?

    Also where did this weed come from? We did not have it in previous years. Is it possibly from the fertilizers we use today? It is a nightmare because it multiplies so quickly with all of its seeds. Does it die in the winter?

    I would sincerely appreciate a reply on this matter


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