Weeding Out the Threat
By Diana Hooley
For me, Idaho weed is not a psychedelic experience, but it is a psychotic one. Weeds can be crazy-making if you’re a farmer or gardener in southern Idaho. I didn’t really understand they could be such a big problem until I married into an Idaho farming family. I remember one of my first Thanksgiving meals on the farm. Aunt Maxine gathered all these interesting dried stalks of Indian tobacco and thistle to make an attractive holiday centerpiece. When Grandpa saw the bouquet, he yelled, “Get those weeds out of here! I spent all summer long fighting them, and I’m not about to stare at them over turkey and gravy.”
Idaho has sixty-seven plant species classified as noxious weeds. Grasses easily spring up in untended places where the climate is wet, but because of southern Idaho’s dry climate, the only plants that survive along highway medians and vacant lots are weeds. I’ve fought the good fight in my garden against the onslaught of such weed all-stars as lambs quarter, pig weed, and mallow. But probably the worst weed I’ve ever had to deal with is kochia. One time I was browsing in an antique store when I came upon an old seed packet of kochia from the 1920s. I marveled how anyone could be dumb enough to plant it. But Wikipedia calls kochia an “escaped ornamental,” meaning at one time it was considered a decorative bush.