Venus’ Looking Glass: Coming to a Parking Lot Near You

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Some of the weeds encountered in parking lots, alongside roads, around abandoned structures, and in similar places are worth a second look. Our native annual Venus’ looking glass (Triodanis perfoliata) is one of those weeds. Or plants, if you prefer. Venus’ looking glass is in the Campanulaceae, or bellflower family. It is widely distributed across North Carolina and the U.S., and has the capacity to establish, grow and flower in poor soils and the hottest-of-the-hot microclimates. Such as a slightly overgrown parking lot planter. The flowers are very attractive if you take a moment to look a little closer, and according to the Illinois Wildflowers website, are visited by small bees, bumblebees, flies, small butterflies, and skippers. So while on one hand, the plants may look a little weedy and out of place, on the other hand, the flowers are providing sustenance for beneficial insects. Maybe we don’t have to pull or spray all of them.
The single stem of a Venus' looking glass plant

The single stem of a Venus’ looking glass plant, sprawling over a parking lot curb, New Bern, 4/6/21.

Purple flower

Dark-purple lines converge towards the center of the flower, where we can see the large pistil in the center, surrounded by smaller stamens.