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Any idea what this weird snake's head like thing is?

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Question from Stu


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Anyone know what this plant is? See pic

We've just moved into a new house and have no idea what this could be. It's just started to push through with spring coming a bit late in the UK, and it kind looks like a black snakes head!

Because there's so many of them, I snipped one open to reveal what kinda looked like sweet corn inside the tip?

I wonder if I'm being thrown off the scent of what it could be because it could be frost damaged through a harsh cold winter?

Any ideas?

Any idea what this weird snake's head like thing is?

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  • Views: 1086
  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Wed. 17th March 2010 15:57

More info?

Reply from Katy Elton

Hi Stu,

We're struggling to identify this from your photo - maybe some further information might help. Could you describe what the roots are like (or even better send a photo)? Is there any green new growth yet? Maybe you could send some more photos - perhaps of the inside of the bud as you mentioned, and a wider shot of how many you have coming through?

Hopefully this will throw some extra light on it. If not I'm afraid it may well be a classic case of 'wait and see'!

Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Posted: Fri. 19th March 2010 15:31

snake growth

Reply from Rosie Catherwood

It looks a lot like a new/old peony growth. If you scrape away the gravel is there anything else showing? Rosie

  • Posted: Wed. 24th March 2010 00:03

Found what it is - and it's not good... :(

Reply from Stu

Hi all,

Thanks for your replies of concern. I posted this on another few sites and have come up with a solution. Horsetail! - http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/horsetail.htm

It explains why the previous owners of our house has covered and gravelled the area, to try and keep the sun off it.

There's not really much quick cures, and every treatment suggestions that comes up seems to pan out as a couple of years! General weeding, keeping the sun off and using other plant coverage...

There is some suggestions of herbicides, but I'm not a big fan of chemical warfare... let alone research suggests these have silicon based bodies, so repels fluids!

Erradication suggestions welcome, as I can see me trying several solutions... I've already spent 3hrs last weekend "weeding" and I can see it becoming a frequent affair!


  • Posted: Wed. 24th March 2010 10:07

Re: Found what it is - and it's not good... :(

Reply from Carol

Hi Stu

It's silica-based (like sand) rather than silicon. They are difficult to get rid of and the roots go really deep. The things that come up first in the year make spores (to spread them around) so it's worth cutting them off before they spread the spores. They like damp and poor drainage, so anything you can do to improve the drainage upsets them.

  • Posted: Mon. 24th May 2010 18:50

Re: Re: Found what it is - and it's not good... :(

Reply from Stu

Hi Carol,

Thanks for correcting me to it being silica based and not silicon!...

I noticed that the area is really damp, and I've managed to rip out the spore shedding parts following a "don't let it see a Sunday" rule, and it's now in it's green needle phase. I can get a good old yank and pull some of the roots out, but I'm sure there'll be more... and more to come! Should I be weeding like this, being it can reproduce by rhizomes or should I just break the head pieces off?

I also read that there's a possible way of 'crowding it out'. Any idea what kind of plants to consider using?

I'm thinking of pulling up the stones and the tarp-cover, as the soil seems really, really damp...

Are there any other thoughts of how to dry out the soil?

The battle continues!....Thanks in advance for any tips!


  • Posted: Mon. 24th May 2010 19:48

Re: Re: Re: Found what it is - and it's not good... :(

Reply from Carol

I think it is worth pulling off the green needly bits. Even though it reproduces underground, the green bits are making the food for it to do so. The broken stems don't regenerate (like pruned shrub would). But it's like bindweed in that respect - it might take a while to starve out the underground bit.
I have a thickly populated patch of the stuff and a few strands coming up here and there over a wider area. I keep pullling it from the thinner areas, but have decided to leave it alone in one small area. (For a few months of the year, I actually like the green frothiness of it! and I tell people I keep it to feed the dinosaurs.)
Drying out the soil would mean major drainage here. I don't think digging sand into the first few inches of soil would make any difference? Is there scope to plant a thirsty tree? Like a corskcrew willow, or an ornamental coloured willow? I can't think what else would crowd them out. I have some dusky crenesbill that is crowding lots of things and they are coming up very happily through that!
Best of luck.
Shame we can't get a tame Diplodocus to munch them up.

  • Posted: Tue. 25th May 2010 08:08