Weeds With Fluffy Seed Heads

, Need to know whether you have crabgrass, chamberbitter, or common lespedeza? Our weed identification guide also tells you which herbicide… Tackle these pesky weeds in your yard before they spread.

Common Sonoma County Weeds in the Home Garden

Manage these summer weeds before they produce seed, without the use of chemicals.

Catchweed bedstraw or cleavers, (Galium aparine) is an annual plant with square stems, whorled leaves, and inconspicuous flowers. It is found intertangled in or climbing on other plants in the garden. The foliage and fruits are covered with tiny curved prickles that cling to clothing and fur. Manual removal or cultivation before plants develop fruits will control this plant. For more information, click here.

Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) is an annual or biennial plant with malodorous, dissected foliage, small pink flowers, and a slender taproot. This plant will grow in open or shady areas, and may hide beneath the foliage of other plants in the garden. Like other geraniums, herb-Robert should be pulled, dug up, or cultivated before flowers and seeds are produced. For more information click here.

Foxtails (Hordeum marinum and H. murinum), also known as Mediterranean and hare barley, are annual grasses with dense, bristly spikes. Mature foxtails have stiff, barbed awns that are hazardous to pets if consumed, inhaled, or lodged in ears. Small infestations can be removed by digging or hand pulling. Larger areas should be mowed prior to spike formation. For more information, click here and here.

Manage these spring weeds when young, without the use of chemicals.

Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) is an erect winter or summer annual characterized by its leafy green foliage, milky sap, and inconspicuous green flowers. This spurge and other annual species of Euphorbia are easily controlled by manual removal each year. For information on controlling petty spurge and other annual spurges, click here.

Cutleaf geranium (Geranium dissectum) is an annual or biennial plant identified by its rosette of roundish, highly dissected leaves on stalks, and tiny violet-pink flowers. Annual, manual removal before these plants goes to seed is an effective means of control. For more information click here.

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) is a winter or summer annual, identified by its narrow stock, prickly leaves, and small pale-yellow flowers. The tiny seeds are topped with a fluffy white pappus, allowing them to parachute away from the parent plant. Manual removal or mowing before the seed matures is an effective means of controlling prickly lettuce. For more information, click here.

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Ultimate Weed Identification Guide – With Pictures and Recommendations on How to Kill Them

Sometimes referred to as Poa annua, this annual bright green grass will pop up in your lawn in the cool months, but may not be very noticeable until early spring. This grass will grow in clumps and can be identified by its smooth leaf. The end of the leave will have a boat-like appearance. Although it can bloom in the winter, spring months are when the fuzzy white seed heads begin to appear. Moist soils are more favorable for annual bluegrass growth. In areas with extensive infestations, bare spots may be left behind after control. It is important to reestablish sod in these areas to prevent establishment of more weeds.

How to Kill Annual Bluegrass

Since annual bluegrass spreads and grows each year from seed, it is important to control before it is given an opportunity to flower. Apply atrazine (Southern Ag Atrazine Weed Killer for St Augustine Grass) is in November and then repeat in early January. This product is safe for centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass and dormant bermuda.

Broadleaf Plantain

First up in our weed identification guide is broadleaf plantain. This broadleaf perennial weed can be identified by its oval leaves growing erect in rosette, or flower-like arrangement. In addition, flower spikes will grow outward from the rosette. These rosettes have seeds that attach unknowing passersby. Broadleaf plantain favors dry, compacted soils and will sprout from dropped seeds or regenerate from taproot.

How to Kill Broadleaf Plantain

Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity Herbicide in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.

Chamberbitter Weeds

This lawn weed is a summer annual that grows beginning in the early summer. Subsequently, by mid-summer you can easily identify it. Resembling tiny mimosa tree sprouts, other names include “little mimosa” and “gripeweed”. Chamberbitter will have multiple branches. Furthermore, small leaflets on opposite side and across from each other will line the entire branch. Additionally, small ball-like seeds will develop on the underside of the branches. In conclusion, chamberbitter an annual.

How to Kill Chamberbitter

This means it’s best to control Chamberbitter in the early summer before it has begun to seed. Use an Atrazine Weed Killer as a preemergent in centipede and st. augustine lawns. Gallery 75 DF can also be used in centipede and st. augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia.

If Chamberbitter has already sprouted, use trimec on small plants in tall fescue, bermuda and zoysia lawns. Likewise, for st. augustine and centipede, Atrazine Weed Killer can be used as a post emergent. However, after it seeds, homeowners waste time and money trying to treat it since it dies shortly after.

Clovers

There are numerous species of clovers that may find their way into your lawn. These weeds will begin by seeds and then spread through seeds and rhizomes. Easily identified by their trifoliate (three leaves) low growth pattern. Leave will also likely have a light white triangle on the leaves. Flowers will grow in clusters and may be white or pink. This family of plants will grow in the spring, summer and fall, but is most noticeable when it flowers. Able to fix its own nitrogen, it can be helpful to your lawn in small amounts, but too much can result in a patchy lawn. Therefore, the best avenue is to control clover as soon as it is noticed.

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How to Kill Clover in Your Lawn

In centipede grass or fescue with heavy infestations, it is best to use what the pros use. Tenacity is an excellent choice for a weed killer. Fertilome Weed Free Zone is a combination of weed killers and is safe for bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, centipede grass and zoysia grass in the winter.

Common Chickweed

Chickweed is a winter annual that begins to sprout in the fall. It can easily establish in thin turf areas or dormant lawns. Chickweed will grow throughout the winter and begin seeding in the springsummer before dying. This plant can form dense mats of tiny egg-shaped leaves arranged in pairs opposite on the stem. The stem has a single line of hairs running along the leaf stem and main stem. Flowers form on the end of the stem and have five white petals.

How to Kill Chickweed

Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent. Your best bet to control of established chickweed is with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.

Common Lespedeza Weeds

This extremely common summer weed has three, oblong leaflets with smooth edges. These leaflets also have distinctive, parallel veins that connect into a midvein. If you let this weed hang around in your yard too long, the stem becomes woody. Common lespedeza has pink to purplish flowers. Common lespendeza is a legume Therefore, its seeds are produced in a bean pod.

How to Kill Common Lespedeza

Your best bet to control lespedeza is in the early spring with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.

Crabgrass

No weed identification guide would be complete without crabgrass! Crabgrass is a summer weed that sticks out in your lawns like hives from a bad shellfish allergy. This large, wide bladed grass has smooth edges and crinkled at the base. Hairs are also common where the leaves connect. Seed heads grow throughout the summer and has six long spikes.

How to Kill Crabgrass

In fescue, zoysia and bermuda lawns we recommend controlling crabgrass after it has begun to develop with Ferti-Lome Weed Out with Crabgrass Killer RTS. In centipede lawns use Arrest for best control and Southern Ag Atrazine for fair control in St. Augustine lawns.

Dandelion

I’m sure you have childhood memories of blowing on the puffy seedheads of dandelions. However, now that it is growing in your lawn you feel different. This perennial is easily identifiable by its seed head and yellow flower. However, recognizing it before it blooms can give you the upper hand on control. Leaves are notched and resemble spearpoints in a rosette pattern. When the leaves or stem is broken, a milky white sap will flow. Dandelions can regenerate from their taproot every year.

How to Kill Dandelion

Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.

Florida Betony

Florida betony is a winter perennial in the mint family. This plant’s roots, or tubers, resemble the rattles on a rattlesnake, hence another frequently used name is rattlesnake weed. These tubers are edible and can provide a nice crisp crunch to your salad. Other distinguishing characteristics include a square stem and leaves on opposite sides of the stem from each other. Pink to light purplish flowers will emerge in the spring.

How to Kill Florida Betony

The opportune growing time for Florida betony is in the spring and mid to late fall. Therefore, this is the best time to kill this weed, with fall the most effective. It is important to use a weed killer that will move throughout the plant and kill the tubers as well. For centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass and dormant bermuda, Southern Ag Atrazine Weed Killer for St Augustine Grass is recommended. Apply this product in mid to late October and then repeat in mid to late February.

Florida Pusley

Even in the dry-dog days of summer, Florida pusley grows strong. This plant is extremely drought-tolerant. When your lawn is stressed and begins turning brown, this could be the only thing still growing. This summer annual grows outwards, or prostrate, instead of upwards. If not controlled, it can form a dense blanket infestation. Leaves grow on opposite sides of a hairy stem. Small star-like flowers cluster at the end of the stems.

How to Kill Florida Pusley

Mowing frequently can prevent florida pusley from seeding, but it will not rid your yard of it. If caught early enough, Pendimethalin granules can be used as a preemergent. After established, 2,4-D in centipede and Carfentrazone (Quicksilver) in centipede, kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, st. augustine and zoysia.

Ground ivy (creeping charlie)

This perennial herb, unless killed, will sprout year after year from its extensive root system. Ground ivy will likely pop up in areas of thin turf, in damp-shady areas. A cousin to mint, this plant has square stems and leaves opposite of each other. Leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped. Leaf edges have a rounded tooth appearance. Flowers are a violet-purple color.

How to Kill Ground Ivy

Your best bet to control ground ivy is in the early spring with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.

Hairy bittercress

Hairy bittercress is an annual that will germinate from seed in the fall. Favoring shady and lawns that are mowed too short, this weed will grow throughout the winter before flowering in the spring. Initial leaves of hairy bittercress will be heart-shaped and remain close to the ground during winter. Spring will encourage upward growth with pairs of kidney-shaped leaves. White flowers will form before transitioning to long, wiry seed pods. Once these seed pods rupture, they are capable of shooting seeds up to 16ft from the plant.

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How to Kill Hairy Bittercress

Ferti-Lome Broadleaf Weed Control with Gallery is a great pre-emergent that is effective on a variety of broadleaf weeds, particularly hairy bittercress. Apply this granular weed killer in late winter in Tall fescue, bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede, zoysia, and bahia lawns. For already established bittercress, treat with Fertilome Weed-Out Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec in bermuda, bent, zoysia, fescue, St. Augustine, and centipede lawns.

Henbit

Henbit has rounded-toothed leaves that encircle half of a square stem. Paired with another leaf on the opposite side, the leaves appear to fully wrap around the stem. With a similar appearance to ground ivy, henbit grows erect (up to 16” high) instead of staying low to the ground. Furthermore, flowers of henbit are vase-shaped and purple. Also, each flower has reddish spots on the petal tips. This annual will begin growing in the fall of areas of bare or thin turf. Henbit will continue to grow during warm periods of winter months before flowering in the spring.

How to Kill Henbit

Henbit cannot be controlled by mowing. Gallery can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent. Your best bet to control of established henbit is with the weed killer Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec. It’s safe for St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue lawns.

Lawn Burweed

If you ever asked as a child “Are there any stickers?” before you walked across the grass, you were likely talking about lawn burweed. This annual has many names, stickerweed, sandspur, and spurweed. It is a pain in your feet as a child and is a pain in your @$ as an adult. Lawn burweed begins growing in the fall continues slowly growing throughout the winter. Leaves and stems are hairy and slightly resemble cross between parsley and rosemary. In the spring, burweed begins a rapid growth and develops the spiked seeds that plagued bare feet across the country.

How to Kill Lawn Burweed

Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent in the early fall. You’re wasting time and money trying to apply a post-emergent in the spring. Post-emergent burweed control in St. Augustine, centipede, bermuda, zoysia and tall fescue, the best produce is Southern Ag Lawn Weed Killer with Trimec.

Nutsedge

Resembling a grass, nutsedge (yellow and purple), often grows faster than your centipede grass. The easiest way to identify nutsedge is by pulling up a plant and looking for the tubers or nutlets. Another distinguishing characteristic of sedges is their triangle shaped stem, which differs from the hollow ones of grasses.

How to Kill Nutsedge

Since sedges aren’t grasses, standard grass weed killers will not kill it. The best weed killer for nutsedge is SedgeHammer. With a name like that, how can you go wrong? When applied according to the label, this product is safe on bermuda, centipede, tall fescue, St. Augustine and zoysia lawns.

Old World Diamond Flower

Old World Diamond Flower is a summer weed with smooth, oblong-pointed leaves that are arranged opposite of each other on the stem. The dainty, white flowers have a long stalk that connects multiple flowers to the weed stem.

How to Kill Old World Diamond Flower

This weed can be difficult to control. There are no pre-emergent option available. Products like QuickSilver with carfentrazone can be an effective post emergent weed killer when used at the appropriate time. Safe for bermuda, St. Augustine, centipede and zoysia yards, however check the label for best application times.

Purple Deadnettle

Deadnettle is a winter annual that you may not notice until it begins to bloom early spring. However, it’s best to identify and control it during the winter while it is actively growing. If you wait until it flowers, you run the risk of seeds falling into your yard to give problems in future years. This weed is in the mint family, therefore has square stems and leaves opposite on the stem. The leaves are triangle shaped and bunched at the top. This makes the plant appear to be top heavy. Upper leaves will also have a hint of purple coloration overlaying the base green.

Deadnettle can be controlled after it begins to grow with the weed killer Fertilome Weed Free Zone. This product is a combination of weed killers and is safe for centipede grass, bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass in the winter. In centipede grass with heavy infestations or history of deadnettle, it is best to use what the pros use. Tenacity can be applied before the deadnettle has appeared or after and will knock it out.

Purslane

Purslane is summer annual that grows between May and August. If left unmanaged, this weed grows in mats along the ground. This lateral growth pattern, instead of erect, is identified as prostrate and exhibited by several nuisance lawn weeds. Purslane can be distinguished by its succulent, or thick and fleshly, leaves and stems. Leaves are light green. Likewise, stems can vary from light green to maroon on older weeds and on its underside areas. Purslane has yellow flowers with 5-petals.

How to Kill Purslane

Prevention is the key by having a dense, healthy lawn. However, if purslane develops, it can be hand-pulled or treated with a weed killer. Preemergent weed killers include Gallery 75 DF in centipede and st. augustine, tall fescue, bermuda and zoysia yards. Simazine can be used in centipede lawns. Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity Herbicide in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.

Spurge

You’ve likely seen this fast growing weed growing between the cracking in the sidewalk or parts of your lawn where there isn’t much grass. Spurge has a reddish brown stem and dark green leaves that are arranged opposite of each other on the stem. The most identifiable characteristic of this plant is the potentially irritating milky white sap that seeps out of broken leaves. This annual has a tendency to grow throughout the summer. If you let this one hang in your lawn long enough, a small white flower will show up on the end of the stems.

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How to Kill Spurge

You are not going to be able to mow spurge out of your lawn. Gallery 75 DF can be used in centipede and St. Augustine, as well as tall fescue, bermuda, and zoysia lawns as a preemergent in the early Spring. Post emergent control can be obtained by Tenacity in bermuda, tall fescue, kentucky bluegrass and zoysia and 2,4-D in centipede.

Virginia Buttonweed

This weed is often mistaken as a grass. However, if not treated and killed at the root, this perennial weed will plague lawns year after year. The leaves are a darker green on the top and connected directly to a slightly hairy stem. Virginia buttonweed flowers have white, star-shaped flowers with reddish-pink stripes. It is extremely hearty and cannot be mowed out of your lawn.

How to Kill Virginia Buttonweed

Virginia buttonweed is a perennial weed, meaning that it can regenerate from the roots in subsequent years. This means it will likely take multiple treatments to control. Apply Fertilome Weed Free Zone in the spring as it is beginning to grow.

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Wild Violets

This perennial will show up year after year in your yard and is one of the hardest to control. Early identification and maintenance is key to eliminating wild violets from your lawn. Most likely found in wet, shady areas of the yard, wild violet will spread quickly through an extensive rhizome system. There are numerous species of wild violets and flower colors can range from white, blue, purple and violet. However, the leaves of this family of plants will be heart-shaped and cupped to form a funnel-like appearance.

How to Kill Wild Violets

Wild violets are best controlled in the fall. Avoid hot dry times and begin your treatments after temperatures have dropped. Unfortunately, there is no effective weed killer that will eliminate wild violet before it grows. Also, be prepared to make multiple treatments to rid your yard of this nuisance weed. In dormant bermuda grass and zoysia grass, use TZone SE. In centipede grass, use Tenacity. Don’t be shell-shocked with the price of either of these, nothing cheap is going to kill wild violets.

7 prolific weeds found in local yards and ways to control them

Don’t get this confused with our native geranium, this low-growing annual has shiny light green leaves, red stems and small dark pink flowers. It has a tendency to break off at the crown and re-sprout if not carefully removed. Hand pull before they go to seed. Remove as much root and stem as possible. Put all parts in a bag and toss in the trash. Visit the patches for a few years to dig any leftover plants that are missed the first time around.

Hairy bittercress

This plant grows in a ground-hugging rosette with tiny round leaves and sends up white flowers on slender stems. They have shallow roots making it easy to pull, but make sure you pull them before they go to seed to keep it from spreading prolifically. One plant can produce hundreds to thousands of seeds within weeks and launch them several feet away.

Traveler’s joy

This woody deciduous vine is a pro at blanketing its surrounding areas. Its leaves are compound and usually arranged with five heart-shaped leaflets. Its white flowers bloom in the summer followed by feathery seed heads. If the plant is established, cut the vine around waist height, remove all root material and dispose in the trash. If you wish to tackle an infestation, contact your local weed control program.

English ivy

Remove the berries of this evergreen vine before they ripen to prevent its spread by birds. It easily takes root, climbing up trees and buildings. Cut the vines around the trunk of the tree to kill the ivy in the upper branches. For patches on the ground, get some gardening scissors and start pulling and cutting. Gloves are recommended, as its sap can cause skin dermatitis. Bag the ivy and toss in the trash.

English holly

Commonly known for holiday décor, the berries of this broadleaf evergreen tree or shrub are toxic to humans. The plant sports dark green lobed and glossy leaves with spiny edges and can grow to 20 feet tall. It can spread via vegetative reproduction, when a new plant grows from a new stem of the parent plant. Hand pull or dig up small plants easily. Larger plants can be removed with a weed wrench. Toss the berries in the trash and the rest of the plant in the compost bin.

Canada thistle

This perennial quickly spreads through roots and seed. It features hairy stems and smooth leaves with wavy and spiny edges, and has purple or sometimes white flowers. Preventing establishment is most effective to control this species. You can get rid of thistle manually, by digging it up. Gloves are recommended, since it is prickly. It is important to remove the flowers, before it seeds.

Knotweed

This bamboo-like perennial spreads by rhizomes, having a deep root system that can sustain the plant. Targeting the root system is key to controlling knotweed. Digging is possible for small plants, but make sure you get all of the root material and dispose of it in the garbage. Contact your local weed control program to rid of bigger patches of knotweed.

Additional resources

For more information on these and other weeds, check out the 4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area.

Not sure whether something you want to plant may become a problem? The Portland Pland List provides extensive information on native and invasive plants in the area.

Need to talk with an expert? Contact your local soil and water conservation district.

Sign up for the Backyard Habitat Certification Program.