Unless you’re taking a herbarium specimen or moving stuff in the garden, we often don’t see how deep some native plant roots are. Today I helped two friends rescue plants from a remnant prairie that is about to be dozed and built on. (We dug with permission.)
Spiderworts, native perennial dayflower, an all yellow Gaillardia, fleabane, western horse nettle, and Heterotheca (I think?) all came up easily with a sharpshooter shovel. Little bluestem has very deep roots but I think they are supposed to be okay to divide. Fern acacia (I think??) had a longer root (over a foot for a 6” tall plant) that may have broken.
Last summer I made an attempt at identifying the dayflowers (Commelina species) in our yard and the only ones I found were the invasive, human-introduced Commelina communis. However, Abby gave us some native Commelina erecta and this year we noticed some of the dayflowers had thinner leaves like on the ones she gave us. So I decided to take a look again.
It seems like for our yard, the broad vs narrow leaves are pretty indicative. So we’re going to continue pulling the broad leaved invasive ones. The Flora of North Central Texas indicates the native C. erecta has three varieties and one is narrow leaved, so the leaves probably don’t work in all regions. Once some of the dayflowers go to seed I will check to make sure they also have the smooth seeds that C. erecta has. I’m pleased to see we have more of the native species than I expected.
Even though the two species look very similar, the native species will have existing ecological and evolutionary relationships with the other plants and animals and microbes here. The human-introduced species may or may not have those. To be a good neighbor, I want to make sure our yard provides maximal food and shelter to local species, which means keeping more plants with those existing relationships.
All this to say, after keying out with the NC TX flower, I am disappointed to find my yard full of dayflowers appears to be full of the invasive, non-native version.