Plant Identification

What goes in the Weed Guide and what is here in the Plant Guide is completely arbitrary. You may have something in the weed guide that you love in your garden and similarly you may have something invasive or even with an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) which is annoying in your garden. Decide what you like and don't like! Check both pages if you're looking for an ID.

Acanthus Mollis (bear's breeches)

these are along the Regents Canal near me, I can't imagine they self-seeded, I think there must have been some guerilla gardening going on, they look spectacular, getting lots of sun, my garden acanthus spinosus (spiny bear's breeches) is poor in comparison and a favourite of the slugs, haven't had a flower this year

acanthus mollis

bindweed to the right

acanthus mollis

Agastache anisata

not a weed after all, end of June I wasn't sure what this was but the pic below, end of July does look like agastache anisata and it smells strongly of anise

I think this is the pot above a year and a half later but will confirm as it develops, agastache in the middle, aquilegia to the right

agastache anisata

it has turned into a magnificent self-seeder, original plant on the right, large self-seeded plant between the paving slabs in the middle, a smaller self-seeded plant between the slabs on the left and a self-seeded plant in the pot on the left, the bees are loving the flowers on all of them

agastache anisata

anemone Harmony Orchid

very small seedling, I was thinking aquilegia? hardy geranium? but it became clear when it got a flower bud

and here is that seedling 2 months later

two weeks later and it has a nodding flower bud

new Anemones

pics coming

Aquilegia  please see the Weed Guide

Aucuba

aucuba flower

Borage

often confused with green alkanet which also has blue flowers (see them below in the Comfrey pic)

borage flower

this has self-seeded (from my garden) in the garden next door

borage

borage buds

borage leaves, buds just forming in the centre

Calendula (Pot Marigold)

very distinctive curved seeds

calendula seedling

calendula seedling

calendual seedlings

calendual seedlings

calendula seedlings and small plants

calendulas

calendulas in bloom

calendula

calendula

Campanula

I have this in the weed guide as it self-seeds a bit like a weed, top and bottom of the cyclamen coum below are some seedlings, the bottom ones look like green alkanet

close-up of the top seedling from the pot above

Centaurea Montana, mid-March

centaurea montana

the top two in the pic below are self-seeded centaurea montana

the bottom one is a globe thistle, both plants are extremely similar at this point, the prickly edge on the globe thistle is the determing characteristic

the terracotta pots below are the same as those above

bottom left pot: pansy/viola , bottom right pot:  teasel? forget-me-not ? willowherb

Cerinthe

Don't think it's considered a weed but it is a self-seeder you may find appearing in the garden. I originally planted seeds for this two years ago. These two suddenly appeared this week (late August).

cerinthe

Cerinthe is the large-leaved plant on the right. The others look like pansies or violas. I don't recall planting them specifically in this pot but I've certainly planted plenty of seeds for them in the past and they do self-seed.

cerinthe

on the left below is a cerinthe seedling, they are quite identifiable from their earliest appearance, unlike the red-tinged seedlings on the right which I'm not sure if they are verbena bonariensis or wild basil (both grow nearby) but will update when they are more identifiable

Chinese Lanterns

I don't consider this a weed but I include it to help identify it in case it is mistaken for a weed. It has a way of blending into the background in the spring/summer before the amazing lanterns appear. I forgot what it was this year and almost pulled it out as a weed and I've had it in my garden for 10 years! And of course if you do pull it up as a weed you'll miss the lanterns.

1. Chinese Lantern seedling

chinese lantern

2. small Chinese Lantern plant

chinese lantern

2a. Chinese Lantern before it flowers

chinese lantern

3. Chinese Lantern with white flower

chinese lantern flower

4. full size Chinese Lantern plants, with white flowers

chinese lanterns

5. Chinese Lantern with orange "lanterns"

I took this photo in October last year. There's nothing like this mass of orange lanterns at the end of the season. And leaving them, they'll self-seed. (the large-leaved plants are bergenia)

chinese lanterns

Comfrey

before the flowers appear, just wanted to capture the look of those upright textured leaves

purple flowers the bees adore

comfrey plant (on the right) with buds before it bloomed, green alkanet on the left, also a bit on the right with blue flowers

borage

Cornflower seedlings

all cornflower seedlings aside from that larger grass-like one on the right - something indeterminate from the bird seed

cornflower seedlings

cornflower seedling

Cotoneaster lacteus  (milkflower cotoneaster)

I have never seen a flower, or any distinguishing feature, on this shrub in the garden next door but recently I noticed  there's one that blooms and produces seeds nearby so that could be where this came from and the seedling in that pot below.

This cotoneaster lacteus nearby has those distinctive leaves.

cotoneaster lacteus

and when it has the red berries

cotoneaster lacteus

Delphinium seedlings

delphinium seedlings

a few weeks later

delphinium seedlings

and a few weeks later still, have transplanted them into bigger pots but that little one in the foreground in a small pot - obviously the result of a very late germination, so much smaller than all the others but the seeds were sown at the same time

dephinium seedlings

another seedling appeared in this pot, very furry/hairy leaves and stem

an unpdate of the plant above, a month or so later, now about 29 cm tall, sadly consumed by slugs after I planted it in a flowerbed

this is another batch of seedlings, extremely long time to get going, wanted to show how the third leaf, ie the first after the 2 seed leaves, has that distinctive shape seen on the young seedlings above

this self-seeded in a pot (the one with the suspected groundsel from the front wall), shown below with the unknowns

Mexican fleabane/Erigeron karvinskianus

March 2017 I first noticed this and didn't know what it was. I tried to research plants with this leaf shape, which is distinctive, but didn't get very far.

erigeron karvinskianus

April 2017

a few weeks later into April, not much change

at some point I thought it must be erigeron and the lower leaves must be differently shaped, nothing else made sense

the buds are looking a bit like daisy-like

Globe Thistle (Echinops)

an established plant from August 2013

echinops (globe thistle)

some young plants (on the left) 3 from the garden centre (front right), lesser knapweed (back left) March 2014

echinops and lesser knapweed

see the globe thistle seedlings above compared with the centaurea montana

Foxglove seedlings (and 1 lupin seedling on the left)

think that's a forget-me-not to the left, then a foxglove seedling then small pots of foxglove seedlings with a taller seedling on the right which I'm not sure of

Grass-like plants from bird seed

Green Alkanet

I also have this in the Weed Guide but worth showing in this Plant Identification section as I absolutely love it and the bees love it and it blooms early before other plants. A wonderful flowering plant.

Honeysuckle leaves

I'm fascinated (and annoyed) by plants that have differently shaped leaves on the same plant. It can make identification very difficult. This new shoot on the honeysuckle has some very different leaves on it.

honeysuckle leaves

a piece of the honeysuckle broke off, good chance to show it up close

honeysuckle leaves

Thank you to Jacqui who suggested this self-seeder was honeysuckle as well.

Nov 2015

April 2016 it has another stem and I repotted it. It is looking more honeysuckle-ish.

Hollyhock seedling

I know these seedlings so well. Until those textured leaves appear the first leaves can be mistaken for different things, esp annual mercury.

hollyhock seedling

below are some hollyhock seedlings from seed I collected - a better, if less controlled, result is from the hollyhocks self-seeding themselves

it was taking so long I threw in some free tomato seeds I got from Heinz so the other seedlings are tomatoes, far left verbascum thapsus which self-seeded and the very small symmetrical seedlings (also self-seeded) on the top row look like snapdragons

hollyhock seedlings

Iris

sprouts

iris sprouts

Japanese Anemone

this is a known plant on one side of my garden (path in the middle between the flowerbeds)

Lavender or rosemary seedlings with an oenothera seedling at the back, 2 willow seedlings (centre and right) and a larger unknown (willow?) seedling at the left

I've planted both lavender and rosemary seeds, they look similar, in hindsight I should have labelled them better

large seedling on the left above, repotted below in an effort to grow it until it's identifiable

Lupin seedlings

very distinctive leaves making id easy, or at least once the set of leaves after the seed leaves appear

lupin seedlings

I don't know exactly what happened to the middle seedling on the top row below, looks like the leaves were bitten off, assume by a pigeon but no other damage evident

lupin seedlings

Lycium barbarum (goji berry/wolfberry)

Reader Kate shared these photos of a shrub she is finding invasive. Thanks to the RHS forum for suggesting the goji berry id. It is known under various other names as well.

Mahonia

this has flowers in late winter

mahonia

The mahonia (on the right next to the half-barrel) was here when I moved in so I don't know what variety but always yellow wonderfully scented flowers in the winter.

Viewed from the other side, bottom left is a small self-seeded mahonia. I've not seen one self-seeding - didn't know they spread like that. The large mahonia is just beyond the evergreen.

back garden

close-up of that shrub

mahonia

Milk Thistle

I love thistles, especially milk thistle with those great flowers.

1. I gathered seeds from this seedhead

milk thistle seedhead

2. excellent germination

milk thistle seedlings

3. these two self-seeded, those small true leaves on the right seedling are the first indication of what plant it is

a close-up of that seedling a few days later

milk thistle seedling

4. the full-grown plants with those great flowers which bees love

milk thistle

Mint

mint

another type of mint in the bottom pot (nepeta top pot and pot to the right)

a month later, a type of mint with that distinctive smell

Morning Glory

1. middle of August

2. couple weeks later, partly eaten by something

3. looks like bindweed or morning glory, I did have morning glory in that position a couple years ago, maybe it self-seeded

4. definitely morning glory

morning glory

Nemesia

Thank you to the RHS forum who helped me identify this as nemesia, a garden flower which I've never grown so wasn't that familiar with it. I saw this in central London (Sept 2016) growing in a crack between paving stones and was quite curious. I thought it must be a weed to grow and survive in those conditions but turns out is a garden escapee.

pink flowered weed

Nepeta (catnip/catmint)

the usual nepeta (garden catmint) from the garden centre (Nepeta faassenii) has purple flowers and is sold as a garden plant but it's still attractive to cats - my cats love it

nepeta

close-up of the flowers

nepeta

 "catnip" (nepeta cataria) with white flowers which I grew from seed, some cats like it and some couldn't care less! just when I was trying to establish this Jeffrey went mad for it

cat with catnip

close-up of the flowers

catnip

nepeta

this is the purple-flowered nepeta after the flowers have wilted but wanted to focus on the leaves (on the right some lesser knapweed flowers), also see the nepeta photos above under Mint

nepeta

this pot has nepeta in the middle but masses of willowherb seedlings, one with a pink flower bud on the right

nepeta

another nepeta sprout

this nepeta self-seeded in a pot

Nigella seedlings

nigella seedlings very early

then those distinctive leaves appear

nigella seedlings

Oenothera

this self-seeded, I thought it was verbena bonariensis as the leaves looked like it to me but suddenly this flower appeared, later identified as oenothera, just from that one plant I have masses of oenothera plants self-seeding, it's taking over from snapdragons and nigella as the most prolific self-seeder

this photo was taken end of August 2014

this photo was taken November 2015, another oenothera self-seeding with snapdragons and nigella in the cyclamen coum pots

oenothera

I found one of my pots completely full of oenothera and wanted to dispose of them today and found the roots incredibly strong and dense. These self-seeding plants are turning out to be incredibly invasive.

the oenothera continues to self-seed (August 2016), tolerable as an unexpected flower

oenothera

Pale Flax (Linum bienne)

I saw this along Regents Canal middle of May 2017.

pale flax

Passion Flower

mid-August this self-seeded between the paving slabs on the patio next door, my neighbour on the other side has one, cutting of which is shown below

end of August and it now has more passionflower-like leaves

still growing between the paving slabs

Peanut, not really a weed but it has appeared in my garden unexpectedly, since I started putting them out for the squirrels.

peanut seedling

Potato, not really a weed but it has appeared in my garden unexpectedly, next to the compost pile.

potato plant

potato flower

potato flower

potatoes on the compost pile have gone mad

potato

Ranunculus come as those claw-like tubers/corms (will check the exact term) which you can just see slightly above the soil - not that they should be visible but those have just ended up that way, I planted some last year or the year before but they were a total failure and they did not grow - maybe I planted them too deep? I don't know. I had spectacular results with them a few years ago. I don't know what I did differently. will find a pic

ranunculus

Scabious seedlings

scabious scabiosa seedlings

scented leaf geranium

I now have another unknown seedling which I'm wondering is another ivy leaved geranium, I will have to pot it up and see

this photo was taken end of Sept, the previous one below was taken in March

ivy leafed geranium

at one point this was in the weed guide as an unknown weed but as it's developed it's clearly a scented leaf geranium, which I did have at one point in the garden but it died, I didn't know they self-seeded but they must do as it's clearly here in one of my pots!

scented leaf geranium

sea holly (Eryngium)

end of October small plant from last year, never flowered, not sure what the secret is to getting them to flower

sea holly

in another pot, this is a small plant from this year which did not flower, shown in situ in the next pic

sea holly

Oct 2015 the pot below has 3 sea holly plants, two flowered (the ones with the tall flower stems), one has not

sea holly

April 2016 that pot above with the 2 sea holly that look like they will bloom again this year, wondering what will happen with the one at the bottom

sea holly

Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata)

I had this in the weed gallery but didn't know what it was. I saw it again this week along the canal so decided to try again to research what it was and I think it is skullcap.

I took this pic in 2015.

skullcap

I took this pic today (20-5-2017). I hope it will have more flowers soon and I'll be able to get a close-up of the flowers in focus.

skullcap

skullcap

snapdragon (I use that common name for antirrhinum)

I planted one packet of seeds a few years ago and now have them self-seeding everywhere, every pot I have seems to have snapdragon and nigella

 sea holly

snapdragon seedlings

these snapdragons look a little different, not sure why, I have lots in pots but not many actually in the ground and these have lasted the winter there

snapdragons

a snapdragon has self-seeded itself on the path, oxalis around it, blue flowers are green alkanet

verbascum

 

 

 

 

Verbascum

Great mullein (Verbascum thapsis) is in the Weed Guide but, of course, there are lots of other varieties of verbascum people grow in their gardens for the flowers. I had some seeds in a special offer mixed packet of perennials a few years ago. I didn't know this plant so for a while it was in my "unknown" category. Eventually it grew extremely tall (one of the tallest plants I've had in the garden) and produced white flowers. I see now why I didn't put this pic on my site - an awkward size pic of an awkward plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

close-up of the flowers, they were all along the upper part of the stem

verbascum

I think this recent (6-2016) seedling might be from that plant.

possible verbascum

The next year (2017) I continue to have seedlings although I haven't had verbascum flowers for 2 years, they do look quite similar to polyanthus but when they shoot up from the middle it's clear they are verbascum. I have planted them in the garden next door and will take a photo.

verbascum small plants

Verbena Bonariensis

self-seeds easily, smallest seedling:

verbena bonariensis seedling

taller seedling in the middle surrounded by violas and foxglove on the right

pansy seedling

verbena bonariensis

verbena bonariensis has square stems

verbena bonariensis

verbena bonariensis

 

 

 

 

This grows quite tall and thin so difficult to show the entire plant with the flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flower close-up:

verbena bonariensis flower

Vetch

I first planted this as a green manure, after one of the times the garden next door was destroyed with building work. I love those purple flowers but it's quite small. I pulled this up by accident when I was attempting to make room to plant the small hollyhocks (see Seeds).

vetch

Viola/pansy seedlings

this is the earliest viola seedling, a pair of leaves after the seed leaves

viola seedling

close-up  of a seedling from another sowing

pansy seedling

Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

Pink flowers in a ring around the stem, also shown in the background of one of the sea holly pics. I had a lot of difficulty finding out what this was but while looking through my wildflower book last night (9-10-2016) looking for something else I saw this and immediately saw a match, surprising as some of the drawings in that book are not in enough detail. I previously thought this was a phlomis. I saw Turkish Sage (also a phlomis but with yellow flowers) on Gardeners World (8-7-2016) and those flowers around a stem looked so unique I thought it must be a phlomis, tuberosa was the closest I could find but after seeing this in the wildflower book and the distinctive way the leaves flow down from the flowers I knew it was wild basil.

wild basil

wild basil

wild basil

wild basil

 

Unknowns

do get in touch if you recognise any of these, julie at gardenwithoutdoors.org.uk, thanks

This is along the Regents Canal, close to me and the large Sainsburys which I frequent, I initially thought this was dock but flowers, hanging down, are different from the clusters of flowers on the stem I usually see with dock so not sure.

 

close-up of the flowers

back in my garden, between these two pics I hope this is clear, looks a bit like blackberry, a bit like campanula, will have to wait and see

is this the same? looks a bit different, blackberry?

When this first appeared I thought it might be veronica, now it's looking like a dock but not sure and if it is dock I don't know what kind, kinds I see don't have leaves opposite but this one definitely does. A morning glory self-seeded with it and is climbing up it.

morning glory climibing up unknown

after the flower faded

those distinctive curved leaves at the top, they mean dock to me but maybe other plants have them but I don't know what they are

with my seed trays, 3 of these seedlings have appeared in two different trays, they are very distinctive, I don't recognise these seedlings but must be something I have growing, there are too many of them, maybe knautia or scabious? I'll just have to wait and see

quite close to a sea holly seedling (also don't know the seedling top right)

they've appeared in other places

a couple weeks later and they're larger

This pink flower is growing next door. I don't know what it is. This pic was taken middle of May 2017.

 

IDs known now

Beginning of June, this is looking erigeron-like but after my last self-seeder with the different leaves at the bottom, I don't know. It has buds so hope it will soon become clear. Borage bottom left, morning glory right.

end of June 2017

definitely erigeron karvinskianus, first distinctive white flower at the bottom (nasturtium above, morning glory bottom)

erigeron karvinskianus

that previous self-seeded erigeron with the mitten-shaped leaves at the bottom (not even visible now), this started growing last autumn or winter whereas the one above appeared this spring so maybe that determines those early different leaves appearing or not

erigeron karvinskianus

The weed in the centre with the very thin wiry stem is the one I'm wondering about. (on the left is buddleja, on the right deadnettle), April 2017

2 months later in June, 3 more leaves, I'm thinking this is mahonia, the leaves are looking similar to my mahonia, next pic below

mahonia seedling

this is a mahonia I have in the back garden, where I discovered a small mahonia which self-seeded at some point in the past, so it is something they do, I see similarities with the leaves above

mahonia

there are so many seedlings here in this pot, it must be from a seedhead or flowers nearby, no doubt will become clear eventually, the large seedling is a foxglove

I'm thinking the two on the right above might be wood avens. I have repotted them to see how they develop. The smaller seedlings I'm pretty sure are aquilegia which I've re-potted and pics are at the Seeds page.

wood avens seedling

definitely wood avens, will find the photograph I took