What The Heck Is This Stuff?

Black lives matter. I know that. But I have a particular responsibility for these black lives. They sprang from tiny seeds in a packet I found in my collection of seeds. I sprinkled them on good soil in a pot and lightly covered them. I had no idea how old they were and did not expect much. Nearly all sprouted, for I soon had a crowded mess of these little black things.

I had stuck the packet in the soil at the edge of the pot but with the weather the packet had curled up to shade the plants. I pulled it out and put it under the pot. When I transplanted half of them to roomier pots I lost the paper in the wind. I have no recollection what these are. Google image search suggests leafy vegetables like spinach. I doubt I would buy such things. I like green. I suspect this was a “bonus” seed packet from a supplier of seeds. I’ve reviewed all my invoices and can’t find anything that matches. I’m drawing a blank. My own image search came to Heuchera, some of which are black.

Any ideas? Upon close examination I find the colour might be dark purple, not black, but in sunlight they sure look black. The leaves are somewhat toothed, but also ruffled and “bumpy”. I’ve seen spinach with the bumps but not with teeth. I suppose I could eat a leaf…

I like plants that are nutritious, useful or good-looking. So far, these are none of those. I hate to waste resources on something this ugly. Do they have any redeeming features like souped-up photosynthetic conversion efficiency? I suppose I can let them grow until fall and decide whether to bring them in as houseplants or let them suffer winter. What say you?

UPDATE Well, I was pretty well convinced this was red leaf lettuce but today I was checking things in the garden and noticed they certainly don’t look like any lettuce I’ve ever seen, even the red/purple kind. In fact, today, when I tasted a leaf, I can confirm it’s definitely SWEET BASIL. There is purple basil in this world, too. I guess basil is without flavour while young…

Early’s does sell purple, ruffled basil.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to What The Heck Is This Stuff?

  1. Richard Chapman wrote, “My wife (a plant person) says it looks like red leaf lettuce.”

    That seems to match the colour and the shape of the leaf but the plant seems to have a stem with leaves branching off at intervals. Lettuce is more a clump. Maybe it’s the level of maturity. ISTR the seeds were really tiny, like lettuce. They were in an envelope inside the packet just so they could be handled. I mixed them with soil to plant them. I thought I detected a pleasant odour when I sniffed them in the hot sun but there’s no taste of lettuce. They certainly are lettuce-like in texture though. If so, this is another huge win for the game of finding what I can grow with my hard water. The plants seem to be thriving unlike my onions which are barely doubling in diameter from the sets after months in the ground. Thanks to your wife, Richard.

    Here is an image of red lettuce seedlings. It’s very close.

    Ha! I found one of several companies from which I buy seeds sells “Blackhawk” lettuce. I did find their invoice from 2013 with sweet basil, other seeds I planted right beside these black things. The invoice is not detailed enough to identify the item, though, but the price matches “raw edible”… So, the evidence is mounting that this is a strange kind of leaf lettuce. Presumably it’s highly nutritious, being so ugly… 😉

  2. Richard Chapman says:

    My wife (a plant person) says it looks like red leaf lettuce. Try eating it. If it doesn’t kill you, then that’s probably what it is.

  3. John Doe wrote, “Perhaps it can be dried and smoked?!”

    It doesn’t have any aroma at all and I haven’t eaten any yet… Maybe its flowers will be redeeming. Almost any flower would be spectacular against such a grim background.

  4. John Doe says:

    Perhaps it can be dried and smoked?!

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