Monsters of vegetative spread: dragon’s teeth

Another posting on invasive plants, in particular those that spread vegetatively, rather than via seeds or by suppressing neighbors chemically. Vegetative spread proceeds by division, by creeping (above or below ground), by vining, or by a method I’ll call dragon-toothing. Some looking back at postings on vining invasives, then on to dragon’s teeth.

Three postings on vining invasives:

from 3/14/13, “wisteria”: the vine wisteria, in the Fabaceae, or legumes: “Wisteria is considered an invasive species in many parts of the U.S., especially the Southeast, due to its ability to overtake and choke out other native plant species. [It can also do considerable damage to structures if not kept carefully in check.]”

from 8/28/13, “Vining menaces”: one monster from the Polygonumaceae, or buckwheat family …: mile-a-minute vine. And one from the Fabeaceae, or legumes: kudzu. Both vining menaces.

from 8/26/15: “Vining invasives”: porcelainberry (Ampelopsis), grape vines, English ivy

And then this horror, from 7/9/14, “Japanese knotweed”:

another monster from the Polygonumaceae: Japanese knotweed. Vegetative, but not vining: “new plants can grow from the tiniest fragments of stem or rhizome, all too easily carried by floodwaters or by human activities such as the dumping of garden waste. What’s more, pieces of rhizome can remain dormant for years before sprouting.”

Each fragment is a dragon’s tooth, from which a fresh threat can come forth, as in Greek mythology. From Wikipedia:

In Greek myth, dragon’s teeth feature prominently in the legends of the Phoenician prince Cadmus and in Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece. In each case, the dragons are real and breathe fire. Their teeth, once planted, would grow into fully armed warriors.

Cadmus Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth (illustration for A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, pub. 1910) by Maxfield Parrish, 1908

Cadmus, the bringer of literacy and civilization, killed the sacred dragon that guarded the spring of Ares. The goddess Athena told him to sow the teeth, from which sprang a group of ferocious warriors called the spartoi. He threw a precious jewel into the midst of the warriors, who turned on each other in an attempt to seize the stone for themselves. The five survivors joined with Cadmus to found the city of Thebes.

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