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Recently some plants have grown in one of my plant pots. I didn't remove them because they looked nice, but I don't know if they are weeds or plants.

Please help me identify them.

weeds or plants?

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The large-leaved plant is clearweed (Pilea pumila), and the smaller-leaved one is a spurge (I presume spotted spurge, Euphorbia maculata). Neither really is a * terrible * weed, but they aren't particularly ornamental, either. [clearweed, btw, while related to nettles, isn't edible]

  • itsmatt and Steve K - What features did you use to identify the middle plant as spurge? It looks so different than any spurge I've seen in my yard, which generally has a thick red stem and much smaller leaflets. My experience is limited to my little corner of the upper Midwest, though, so I'm positive there are spurges I haven't seen. It still looks like a vetch to me - with the right number and configuration of leaflets. What am I missing? – michelle Jun 13 '13 at 16:33
  • The leaves on spurge (and the plant in the picture) are alternate. The leaflets on vetch are opposite, and there is a forked tendril at the end of the leaf. Pull off a piece of the plant. If it is spurge, there will be white milky sap. – Yewge Jun 13 '13 at 16:39
  • I grew a vetch last year, hairy vetch, with alternate leaflets, so I know some of the vetches do alternate. I'll give you that it does not have a tendril. Crown vetch does not have a tendril, though, right? Sorry to keep coming back with more questions, and thanks in advance for answering, as I'm enjoying learning how to better identify the weeds. :) – michelle Jun 13 '13 at 18:24
  • Well, the leaflets on vetches (Vicia) aren't always strictly opposite, but they generally are opposite-ish. Crown vetch is in a different genus (Securigera / Coronilla), so it's a "vetch" in common name only. – Yewge Jun 13 '13 at 18:48
  • You guys are too technical about plants, I like both plants should I pot them separately? I like them anyways they will grow fast and green will be my balcony. That's what my intention. – Kunal Bhatia Jun 14 '13 at 3:29
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Both, of course. Weeds are plants. They just happen to be plants you don't want where they are. :)

In my yard, which is more meadow-like, I don't discourage the growth of dandelions and clover. Our honeybees love them. So I don't view them as weeds. In the eyes of many folks, though, those would be considered weeds and people spend lots of time and money and chemicals to combat them.

I'm no weed expert but here are my thoughts based on the picture I see. I suspect someone might be able to confirm my thoughts or provide another answer.

The small multi-leafed one in the middle of the picture looks like spurge to me. It's a weed that spreads slowly. I think it looks kinda nice but it is a weed. When I find it in my strawberries, I pull it out. See my update below

I believe the other larger leafed one is a nettle. It's a weed too. There are some uses for nettles, for sure, but for most folks nettle is just a weed and gets pulled out.

If your goal is to grow something else (intentionally grow something else) then I'd remove them. Weeds pull nutrients from the soil that your intended plant could be using. Weeds will also compete for space.

Update:

The smaller one might be something like Phyllanthus tenellus, which is in the Euphorbiaceae family. Looking at the weeds of India, this is one that looks similar.

It might also be a Senna based on it's leaf shape.

I'd be inclined to think it is one of these two rather than a spurge as I earlier thought.

  • itsmatt and Steve K - What features did you use to identify the middle plant as spurge? It looks so different than any spurge I've seen in my yard, which generally has a thick red stem and much smaller leaflets. My experience is limited to my little corner of the upper Midwest, though, so I'm positive there are spurges I haven't seen. It still looks like a vetch to me - with the right number and configuration of leaflets. What am I missing? – michelle Jun 13 '13 at 16:32
  • @michelle Leaf shape and orientation were my criteria, though, as I mention in my updated answer, after realizing the OP was from India, I looked up a few that are common there. I'm not a weed expert but it might be either of the two I listed based on their characteristics. The picture's not clear enough though. – itsmatt Jun 14 '13 at 12:54
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The one in the center looks like a vetch. I think itsmatt may be right that the other is a nettle. Does it have little hairs all over the leaves and stem? If so, be careful touching it without gloves! Nettle won't make a very good container plant, I'm afraid, but you might consider cooking it up if you determine that is what you have. It is very nutritious, and to my mind, tastier than spinach when it is cooked. Stir frying it or blanching it for a few minutes is enough to remove the sting.

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I'm more interested in the one described variously as nettle or Pilea, the larger leaved two that are the same - looks remarkably like Honesty (Lunaria annua) to me, but can only really be that if you had some previously, or someone nearby did. And the 'vetch' or 'spurge' could equally be a burgeoning Indigofera...

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