Plant World

Plant Diversity

What is a weed?

The dictionary definition is any plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially a plant growing where it is not wanted in cultivated ground. Some celebrated authors have had their own definition of a weed. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) wrote, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” James Russell Lowell (1819–1891) wrote in 1848, “A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919), a Wisconsin poet (more famous for her expression “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone”), wrote in her poem “The Weed” that “a weed is but an unloved flower.” Finally, Shakespeare (1564–1616) wrote in Richard III, “great weeds do grow apace.”


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