Plants found in a Toronto city park

(Question)

I was walking my dog in a park downtown and I noticed he started eating the leaves of some plant. He must have had 7-8 leaves. Then I noticed some other similar plants nearby. I took some pictures and am wondering what these plants are. I attach the one he was eating – it has very sharp thorns.

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(Answer)

Hi,

The plant you discovered during your walk in a downtown Toronto park may be one of the many cultivars of Weigela. The botanical name is Weigela florida.   The distinguishing characteristics are the oval leaves arranged on opposite sides of the stem, the funnel shaped flowers and the thorns. In addition, June is the prime bloom time for Weigela. You should see a lot of it around the city.

Weigela is very popular in our parks and home gardens. There are many cultivars but generally Weigela is a small deciduous shrub with arching branches covered in bloom at this time of year and with a prolonged season of bloom. They are easy to grow – in particular, they are highly tolerant of pollution. The flower colour of the different cultivars is white, pink, purple or red. Leaf colour also varies and may have white or yellow variegation.   Not all cultivars have thorns.