Sunday, July 4, 2010


The flower of the Fogfruit, Phyla lanceolata, is small and unimpressive, but I look at this plant just about every day. The thing I find most interesting about this plant is the fact that it did not exist at Blue Jay Barrens until about five years ago.

It grows along the edge of my driveway in an area that receives the runoff from my water garden. Fogfruit lives in areas of moist soils, usually in floodplains or wetlands, so it needs supplemental water to survive on this dry slope. When I first noticed it, there were only a few stems and I awaited a flower in order to put a name to the plant. Since it is a native plant, I left it in place. I imagine it arrived as a seed stuck to some vehicle’s tire. I thought it would be interesting to observe the strategy it used to make a place for itself in its new location.

Fogfruit would probably make an interesting ground cover in the landscape. The upright growth reaches about 12 inches and grows closely enough together to crowd out most other vegetation. The only hazard for the plant here is being run over. Visitors don’t understand my annoyance when they rundown what they see as a weed in my driveway.

Along with the upright growth, there are prostrate branches that spread out from the main bunch of stems. This seems to be its prime method of claiming new territory.

At each node along the stem, a cluster of root buds are ready send roots into the soil and form an independent plant.

Like an army of invading soldiers, the plant creeps through the grass. It’s good at keeping its head down and avoiding the blades of the mower. It’s doesn’t produce a flower in the lawn, but the plants will eventually reach a point where the mower doesn’t go and vertical growth will again be possible. The plant has covered a distance of about eight feet in five years. So far I haven’t seen any plants appear down slope as a result of seed movement. To find a suitable place to colonize, the plant will have to travel about 100 feet to the moist area near the pond. I’ve done a lot of studying about the ways in which plants and animals insert themselves into a new location and this plant has given me a very interesting example to follow.

This rabbit sat and watched as I took shots of the Fogfruit. WARNING – If you don’t want your image of a cute rabbit to be spoiled, stop reading now. Really, I know there are some of you who are going to wish you had stopped. It wasn’t intentional, but I managed to take more shots of ticks. Those large veins in the rabbit’s ears are serving meals to many hangers on. There’s also a fat guy on the left side of the head. Around here, summer rabbits always seem to be loaded with ticks.


  1. Interesting once again. Gee, I can't keep visitors from driving on/stepping on recognizable flowers (daffodils, etc.) beside my driveway. I can imagine how frustrating it could be trying to explain how important your greenery is to you!

    Great post. :)


  2. I have a tiny purple flowering weed that popped up this year in my driveway, now I'm going to have to figure out what it is.

    I hate ticks, and hate is a strong word.

  3. Hi, Lois. I like to believe that some of the people I explain things to will at least consider other points of view.

    Renee - You never know what treasure might spring up in the middle of your driveway.

    At least you can see a tick when it gets on you. I'm jigger bit like crazy and I've never seen one of the little guys.

  4. Oh even yuckier - jiggers. Just the thought makes my skin crawl! Gah!