(Mostly about plants, but there are some points of linguistic interest.)
Yesterday, talk between Juan Gomez and me about weeds, prompted by my revisiting a wonderful gift from Steven Levine back in 2011 (posted about here on 7/6/11): Farm Weeds of Canada (2nd ed. 1923; 1st ed 1909), edited by George H. Clark, illustrations by Norman Criddle (Department of Agricuture, Dominion of Canada). More on the book and its excellent illustrations in a later posting; here the topic is two questions from Juan: What’s your favorite weed? What’s your least favorite weed?
Not easy questions, especially because each asks for just one plant, though a reasonable person might have several candidates. Then there’s the question of what counts as a weed; the Farm Weeds book isn’t just about plants growing where they’re not wanted (a common definion of weed), it’s about pest plants growing where they’re not wanted; any number of plants thrive as weeds in waste and disturbed places without giving grief — the little (scarlet) pimpernel, Anagallis, for instance (disussion in a 9/6/15 posting here) — and any number of lawn or garden escapes are in fact plants growing where they’re not wanted (escaped lawn grasses can easily become pests, in fact), but people don’t call them weeds (their ornamental function seems to take precedence). Finally, most weeds, even very invasive ones, have their good points: the common oxalis in these parts has lush green clover-like leaves and gorgeous yellow flowers, but it’s terribly invasive; poison ivy is dreadful, but its glossy leaves are handsome, and they turn bright red in the fall..
Having unloaded these reservations, I’ll still answer Juan’s questions: goldenrod good, dodder really really bad. With plates from Farm Weeds.