How To Identify The 15 Most Common Weeds Draft

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Where blooms dance in the breeze and foliage unfurls, there’s always a relentless battle against invaders – garden weeds. These unwelcome guests disrupt the aesthetic harmony and compete fiercely for resources, threatening the health and vitality of your cherished plants. Here are 15 weeds and how to identify them. 

Dandelions – Leontodon taraxacum


Dandelions are often grown in lawns, meadows, and gardens. They thrive in various soil conditions and spread rapidly through wind-dispersed seeds. They’re characterized by their bright yellow flowers atop hollow stems, deeply toothed leaves forming a basal rosette, and milky sap.

Oriental Bittersweet – Celastrus orbiculatus


This woody vine is one of the most invasive weeds that can damage trees. It spreads rapidly by seeds and vigorous twining stems. It has glossy green leaves, small greenish-white flowers, and orange-red berries in fall. It can smother and kill native vegetation.

Nutsedge – Cyperus spp.


As a seemingly innocent weed, it often competes with veggies for food. It has triangular stems, grass-like leaves in sets of three, and distinctive flower clusters resembling spiked balls. Hand pulling removes tubers, mulching to suppress growth, and applying herbicides containing sulfentrazone will help eliminate it. 

Purslane – Portulaca oleracea


Purslane is sometimes called pigweed but shouldn’t be confused with edible pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus. It has succulent, fleshy leaves ordered alternately along thick stems and yellow blooms. Before the plant matures, you can hand-pull it or use a broadleaf herbicide.

Poison Sumac – Toxicodendron vernix

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This plant has compound leaves with 7-13 leaflets, smooth margins, and a glossy appearance. It grows miniature yellowish blooms followed by white berries, which cause allergic reactions upon contact. It’s found in damp woodlands, marshes, and swampy or wet areas along riverbanks, thriving in acidic soils and spreading through rhizomes.

Common Ragweed – Ambrosia artemisiifolia


If you’re allergic, you’ll probably suffer if common ragweed grows in your garden because of the pollen it produces. It often grows in ignored and disturbed areas, featuring finely divided foliage resembling ferns and green blossoms. Hand-pulling before flowering and mowing before seed formation will help get rid of it.

Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica


Stinging nettle grows in moist, nitrogen-rich soils, along riverbanks, and in wooded areas. It tolerates shade and spreads vigorously by rhizomes and seeds, with toothed, heart-shaped leaves and non-showy greenish blossoms. The barbs and stinging hairs cause allergies when you touch them, so wear protective clothing when handling the plant.

Poison Ivy – Toxicodendron radicans

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Many leave this weed because it grows as a shrub, vine, or ground cover. It adapts to various conditions with three leaflets per leaf, which can be shiny or dull, and clusters of white berries. You shouldn’t touch it because all the parts cause a severe allergic reaction.

Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta


This is a member of the mustard family and has small compound leaves with toothed margins and miniature white blooms on slender stems. The seeds explosively disperse when pods mature, spreading the plant in shady and moist conditions. Applying herbicides containing glyphosate or dicamba will help prevent its growth.

Crabgrass – Digitaria spp.


Crabgrass gets its name from creeping on the ground, usually displaying opportunistic growth in thin or bare areas, especially in compacted soil with poor drainage and cracks in hardscape. This weed has distinctive seed heads with finger-like spikes and rosette-pattern leaves.

Goosegrass – Eleusine indica

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Goosegrass thrives in compacted soil and high foot traffic areas and spreads rapidly by seed and stolons. It has flat, spreading stems with coarse hairs, compact seed heads with spikelets arranged in pairs, and forms dense mats when left neglected. Regular mowing prevents seed formation.

Chickweed – Stellaria media

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Although it looks attractive when it grows into thick mats, Chickweed grows rapidly in cool, moist conditions and spreads quickly by seed, taking years to completely eradicate. It has oval leaves arranged oppositely along the stem with tiny white star-shaped florets.

Japanese Knotweed – Fallopia japonica


Japanese knotweed is highly invasive, spreads rapidly through rhizomes, and tolerates various soil types and conditions. It has tall, bamboo-like stems, heart-shaped foliage arranged alternately along the stems, and clusters of tiny white flowers that look good when in bloom. But it leaves dry canes that disturb your landscape design.

Wild Madder – Galium mollugo


This weed grows in disturbed areas, roadsides, and fields. People used to call it bedstraw because it was used as bedding material, while the roots were used as a natural red dye. It has clusters of white florets and fragrant foliage that form mats if not controlled.

Orange Jewelweed – Impatiens capensis


Traditionally, people used this weed as a natural remedy for poison ivy. It has succulent stems with orange tubular flowers and foliage with jagged edges. It grows in wet areas and has a shallow root system, so it can be hand-pulled. 

Written by Bruno P