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Weeds (Grade 8)

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Weeds

Perhaps you have heard the saying, "Ill weeds grow apace." It is certainly a true one, for most of the plants which we call weeds grow quickly and well wherever they are allowed to remain. We shall not have far to look for the three weeds which I want to show you this morning. The first of them is the Stinging Nettle. It grows round the wood-pile in the middle of the poultry-yard, and there are great clumps of it beside the hedge which divides the poultry-yard from the kitchen garden.

It is really a very handsome plant, though you may not have thought so before. Look how tall and straight the stems are, and how evenly and regularly the dark green pointed leaves grow from it. They grow in pairs, on opposite sides of the stem, and are serrated. There is something rather unusual about the stem of the Nettle which we will notice at once. I have brought out a pair of thick leather gloves, so that we can pick a stem without being stung.

You know what shape the trunks of trees are. Round? Yes; round or nearly so. So are the stems of most plants; the stems of the Red Valerian are round. The stem of the Nettle, however, is square, or if not perfectly square, it has four distinct sides. Perhaps you had never noticed this before, for the Nettle is certainly not a plant with which one cares to have very much to do.

Both the stems and leaves are covered with tiny hairs. These hairs are really small hollow tubes ending in a sharp point. When the Nettle stings you it first pricks the skin with these sharp points, and then a drop of poison falls from the tube into the wound the point has made.

If you happen to get stung by a nettle do not bathe your hand with cold water; that will only make the pain worse. While you are waiting for the pain to pass off remember that in India there are nettles whose sting causes great pain which lasts for several days. You might be much worse off, you see!

The small greenish-yellow flowers of the Stinging Nettle grow in long feathery clusters on stalks which spring from the main stem close to a pair of leaves.

The young leaves of the Nettle are said to be very nice boiled as vegetables; I cannot say that I have ever eaten them myself. Years ago country people used to take a great deal of nettle tea as medicine in spring. Nowadays they seem to prefer patent medicines from the chemist's shop. A dye is made from the roots of the Nettle, and another dye from the stem and leaves. The young leaves or tops, when chopped up, are good for poultry, especially for turkeys. So nettles are useful, you see--not merely stinging weeds. The Nettle, too, is a relation of the hemp plant from which we get our string and ropes.

You may sometimes see or hear of the White, Red, and Yellow Dead Nettle, but these are not really nettles at all. Their leaves are somewhat similar, but they are quite different plants.
1. 
What does the phrase "ill weeds grow apace" mean?
  1. Weeds that are dying often grow slowly.
  2. The plants we don't want to grow often grow quickly and abundantly.
  3. Removing weeds allows other plants to grow well.
  4. Weeds are sick plants that have the ability to ruin our gardens.
2. 
What can you infer about the stems of nettles from the description in paragraph 2?
  1. They have prickers.
  2. They are smooth.
  3. They are hard to pull.
  4. They look pretty.
3. 
Why does the author include information about nettles in India?
  1. to highlight another type of nettle
  2. to describe how much a nettle's sting hurts
  3. to contrast with the sting of an ordinary nettle
  4. to explain why you shouldn't run cold water on a sting
4. 
What is the purpose of paragraph 7?
  1. to explain why nettles are weeds
  2. to describe the effects of nettle poison
  3. to show the importance of nettles in medicine
  4. to share why nettles are useful
5. 
Which two paragraphs least fit with the rest of the passage?
  1. paragraph 5
  2. paragraph 6
  3. paragraph 7
  4. paragraph 8
6. 
What is the purpose of the passage as a whole?
  1. to describe different types of weeds
  2. to talk about nettles
  3. to highlight poisonous plants
  4. to share an opinion about weeds
7. 
Which statement provides the main idea for the passage?
  1. Nettles are annoying and should be handled with care, but they still have many uses.
  2. Weeds are annoying and take over gardens, but are very important.
  3. Weeds often grow much faster and more abundantly than the plants we want to grow.
  4. Nettles come in many different varieties, but all have square stems.
8. 
According to the passage, poison from nettles can kill someone.
  1. True
  2. False

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