Monday, February 23, 2015


"An invasive species", says Wikipedia, "is a plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an Introduced species); and has a tendency to spread, which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health." So when we're talking about weeds, it's a plant that's everywhere you don't want it to be, taking up all the space for every plant that you want to be there. Basically, all the best plants are weeds here in Victoria. Dandelions are weeds. Apples, hilariously, are weeds. Fennel is a weed - at the shops the other day to buy some fish I saw fennel sprouting up out of the pavement, causing me to have visions of plucking fresh fennel to go with the fresh fish that I was going to get - though, as it turned out, the shop was all out of fish. Nettle is a weed, St John's Wort is a weed, blackberry, delicious blackberry is a weed of national significance, and horehound is a weed too.

I've been searching a lot for horehound lately, with very little success: posts on this forum and that forum asking if anyone had some in their backyard, searches on the Weeds databases on government websites, and so on. Horehound, as it turns out, is an invasive weed that is actually quite difficult to find - except, I suppose, if you don't want to find it. Perhaps a better definition of 'weed' in this case would be 'a plant that's everywhere you don't want it to be unless you want it to be'. Yes, well, I'll keep working on that one.

You might ask, at this point, why did I want this plant to be anywhere anyway? Yes, well, good question. You see, horehound is a brewing herb, a good base bittering component for ales. It's in the mint family, so on top of that bittering you'll get a minty, almost desserty flavour out of it - very well-suited for the darker ales. They used to make lollies from it (the weed, I mean, not the ale). I picked up some from an Organics store in Bright last year which I now suppose must have been shipped in at preposterous cost from an exotic locale far removed from these fair shores, which, considering it's a weed that can go invasive here in Australia, does seem rather eccentric.

Anyway, finally, we found a source of the allegedly-invasive horehound yesterday. A few posts on the Permaculture forum on Facebook and we found a wonderful permacultural-minded soul who had a few back paddocks full of the stuff. On presenting ourselves in aforementioned paddock yesterday afternoon, we did indeed find this dreaded weed, quietly marauding its way over acres of land, with a bunch of cows standing about apparently ignorant of the dire situation they were in, and a peppercorn tree in a similar state of denial. Who knows what would have happened to us if we hadn't picked the horehound we needed, stuffed it in bags, and went on our way? Probably nothing, which is what is all the more scary about it.

There's not really much to tell in this story - it's really another one of my endless anecdotes that never goes anywhere and takes a long time about it as well - but this is why this morning found me binding up sheaves of horehound and hanging it up in the shed to dry out. 

Hey, it was either the weed or me, man.

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