What kind of weed are you dealing with? If weeds have invaded your property, this is the first question you need to answer. By correctly identifying the invasive plant, you can use proper and effective eradication techniques.
Unfortunately, weed identification, especially when dealing with broadleaf weeds, is not easy. There are several invasive species, and some are very easy to confuse with others.
But worry not! Here is a list of the most common types of broadleaf weeds with their scientific names. It covers the essential information you need to identify different broadleaf weeds.
What are broadleaf weeds?
It is essential to look at broadleaf weed’s definition before looking at the various types of these invasive plants.
Broadleaf weeds are invasive plants with broad leaves that usually grow from a stem. The leaves typically have a central vein at the center, with other small veins that branch out.
These weeds are also very conspicuous and stick out. Therefore, you can identify broadleaf weeds by photo comparison with ease.
20 most common broadleaf weeds
These are some of the most common broadleaf weeds that you might come across in your yard.
1. Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Are chickweeds broadleaf weeds? Yes, they are. They are an annual and perennial flowering plant native to the European region. However, they have spread and adapted to various areas worldwide.
Chickweeds are low-growing plants with hairy stems. They have broad, long and oval-shaped leaves pointed at the tip. They also produce small, white, star-shaped flowers.
Chickweeds are a beneficial weed plant due to their several health (herbal) benefits. However, they are an invasive species, easily proliferating moist and fertile soils. A single chickweed plant can produce several thousand seeds, making them a nightmare to kill.
2. White Clover (Trifolium repens)
White clover is a perennial broadleaf invasive plant native to Europe and Central Asia. However, it can be found worldwide and is common in the North American region.
White clover has broad, ovate, and dull green leaves with white markings (sometimes can be red). The plant is trifoliate – has compound leaves with three leaflets. It has white flowers, which appear in groupings of smaller flowers.
3. Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Wild Geranium is a perennial plant native in the North American region. It is considered by many people to be a wildflower – and is cultivated for its aesthetic and medicinal properties. However, it is a fast-spreading plant that proliferates through the use of rhizomes.
Wild Geranium has conspicuous basal leaves that have about three to seven lobes. The leaves grow from long stalks – about 12 to 28 inches tall.
Another distinct feature of the plant is the attractive purple leaves, which have five rounded petals. Therefore, you can easily identify the wild Geranium in your property by comparing it with other broadleaf weed pictures.
4. Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Milkweed is a perennial plant that is native to the North American region. It is considered by some to be a wildflower but is an invasive plant spreading aggressively through seeds and rhizomes.
Milkweed has leaves, which are wide, thick, and long (about 10 to 20 cm) and grow in opposite pairs. They have a smooth surface on the top and fine hairs at the bottom. It also has pink (sometimes white) flowers that form a spherical cluster.
5. Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Bull Thistle is a biennial weed plant that is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has dark green, oval-shaped leaves that are broad at the apex with spines at the edges. As the plant matures, the leaves become deeply lobed and the spines more pronounced.
Aside from leaves, the bull thistle has distinct pink to purple flowers. They protrude out of a gumdrop-shaped flower head, with spines that extend all around.
6. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion is a perennial broadleaf weed that grows in sunny regions of Northern America, Europe, Australia, and several other regions. It grows from taproots, which produce several stems with short hairs. It has basal leaves – growing from the stem, close to the ground.
The dandelion plant’s most conspicuous feature is its yellow blooms. The flowers grow on hollow stems, with the seed head having a puffball-like appearance.
7. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Ground Ivy is an aggressive perennial weed that is pretty difficult to control. It goes by several other names, the most popular one being creeping Charlie.
Ground Ivy, like the name suggests, grows close to the ground and spreads by creeping. It has round kidney-shaped leaves that are bright green and have scallops at the edges.
Another way to easily identify the plant is by its purple (or blueish) funnel-shaped flowers that sprout along the stems.
Chicory is a biennial, but primarily perennial broadleaf weed that propagates by seeds. It has a distinctive basal rosette, from where winged branches and sparsely spaced leaves grow.
Chicory leaves are rough and hairy on both upper and lower surfaces and are similar to those of dandelions. When blooming, the plant has conspicuous, bright blue flower heads that grow on tall stems (up to three feet).
9. Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
Curly dock is a perennial broadleaf weed. You can usually find it on low-maintenance fields, pastures, nurseries, and orchards. It is also a common sight on roadsides. It usually grows in the Northern America region – all over the U.S and Southern Canada.
The curly dock can be identified by its shiny, green leaves, which transform into a reddish-purple color as the plant matures. The leaves grow from the bottom of the stem, in a rosette pattern.
They are oblong-shaped and have wavy margins. When flowering, the plant produces elongated stems, with yellow (or reddish-brown petals).
10. Prostrate spurge (Euphorbia supine)
Prostrate spurge is an annual broadleaf weed that is a common sight in the summer. It is an aggressive, fast-growing plant, that grows in poor soils, poorly maintained turf grass, driveways, sidewalks, etc.
Prostrate spurge has red, low-growing stems that form a mat-like appearance. Its leaves are dark green in color, and sport red spots at the center. When flowering, the plant produces small and pink flowers. The stem also has a milky, white sap, that can cause skin irritation.
11. Wild violets (Viola papilionacea)
Wild violet is a perennial wildflower that is native to the eastern regions of North America. It is a beautiful violet flower, that produces dainty petals in spring. However, it is also an aggressively growing weed that proliferates lawns and yards and is hard to eradicate.
The wildflower can grow in any area, even tolerating droughty conditions. However, it prefers moist, fertile soils. It can be easily identified by its heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges, and large blue to purple flowers.
12. Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
Bittersweet nightshade is a semi-woody, perennial vine that is native to Europe and Asia. However, it has spread and become natural in almost every region, including North America.
It is an aggressive weed plant, which is a common sight in less maintained gardens and lawns. It can also grow on landscapes, along fence rows, streams, and wetlands.
Bitter nightshade has arrow-shaped leaves, which are usually lobed at the base. They are dark green in color but can sport purple tinges.
It produces star-shaped flowers with a yellow stamen protruding from the center. It also produces green berries, that turn bright red when they ripen.
13. Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Common ragweed is one of the most commonly occurring broadleaf weeds in the Americas region. It can be found on lawns, gardens, agricultural fields, and waste areas. It is an annual crop that sprouts in the summer and is popular for its pollen that causes serious allergic reactions.
You can identify common ragweed by its dark-green, thick, hairy leaves that look like a spatula as the plant emerges. Over time, they progress into a fern-like shape, with the hairiness becoming more pronounced.
Common ragweed grows tall and upright and blooms by producing green to yellow, streamer-like flowers. At the top of the stem are the male flowers, which produce pollen.
14. Dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium)
Dog fennel is one of the most common broadleaf grass weeds that affect lawns. Also known as summer cedar, it primarily grows in poorly maintained turf, lawns, golf courses, or playfields.
Dog fennel is a tall-growing plant that can reach up to three feet. It has soft and week stems, which become hard and woody as the plant matures.
It is easily identified by its hairy stem and oval-shaped, hairless, and finely dissected leaves. The weed produces small white flowers, which look a lot like daisies.
15. Common yellow oxalis (Oxalis stricta)
Common yellow oxalis is an invasive weed plant found in the North American region. It primarily infests cultivated gardens, but can also be found on roadsides and waste areas.
Common yellow oxalis has long petioles, from where three heart-shaped leaflets grow from. It also produces conspicuous yellow flowers with five clustered petals.
16. Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red clover is a herbaceous flowering plant that is native to Europe, Africa, and Western Asia. However, it has naturalized to many regions and is a common sight in North America.
Red clover has dark green leaves that sprout as three leaflets from long-growing leaflets. The plant is very similar to white clover, with a few differences such as pink to red flowers. It also grows vertical and tall, while the white clover weed grows short and spreads horizontally.
Both red and white clover plants are used as forage due to their legume fruits. However, they are fast-growing and spread easily through seeds and rhizomes. As such, if not closely monitored, they tend to become invasive; driving out other native vegetation.
We have created a guide to help you eliminate white clover from your yard.
17. Fireweed (Erechtites hieraciifolia)
Fireweed, also called American Burnweed, is an annual broadleaf weed that sprouts in the summer. It is a robust growing plant with long stems that can either be hairy or smooth.
Fireweed produces bright-green leaves that are narrow and pointed at the base and tips. However, their most distinctive feature is the pink to purple flowers with four petals – similar to those of the evening primrose.
18. False dandelion (Hypochoeris radicata)
False dandelion, also known as Carolina False Dandelion or Leafy Stem Dandelion is a perennial broadleaf weed. It is native to the European region but has spread to the Americas, Asia, and Oceania region.
False dandelion primarily grows in lawns and paddocks. It is very similar to the dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) but has several differences – hence why the name.
Both false and true dandelions have similar bright green, leaves that are serrated along the edges. However, the former’s flowers are hairy and have rounded lobes, while true dandelions are smooth and pointed.
The flowers are also similar – bright yellow and growing at the end of the stems. However, false dandelion flowers grow high above the rosette leaves.
19. Horseweed (Conyza Canadensis)
Horseweed is a common broadleaf weed that primarily grows in agricultural areas in the North and Central Americas. It is a native plant to the region but is considered a weed due to its high proliferation.
Horseweed produces several small seeds, that are scattered wide and far by the wind. It is also very tough, and can even be resistant to strong herbicides such as Glyphosate.
You can identify horseweed by its elongated and pointed leaves with serrated edges. They grow in a rosette arrangement at the base of the stem, then alternately along its length. The stem is also tall and upright-growing and can reach high heights of up to five feet.
20. Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus)
Pigweed is a broadleaf plant that sprouts in the summer. It is known by several names, such as Amaranth Pigweed, Careless Weed, or Green Amaranth.
It is a species of the Amaranthus family of plants, which are cultivated in several regions around the world as leafy vegetables. Despite being edible, pigweed is an aggressively growing plant.
It invades crop fields, gardens, lawns, and spreads very fast by producing thousands of seeds. The seeds are also very tough. They can survive for a few decades and still sprout when the right conditions occur.
You can identify pigweed by its stems and leaves. The stem grows upright and tall, from where the leaves branch freely. The bottom part is smooth but becomes hairy at the top.
The leaves are oval-shaped and pointed at the tips. They are shiny and dark green with a smooth top and hairy bottom.
Do you have a broadleaf weed problem? With several types of these weed species – some very similar – proper identification is a crucial step towards identification.
The above are some of the most common types of broadleaf weeds that you are likely to encounter.
Some of the weeds are conspicuous and easy to identify. On the other hand, some are harder to identify, and can even look like other plants.
However, by closely looking at their features, you can be able to distinguish them and choose the right control solution.
- List of beneficial weeds and their uses
- The most common weeds and their scientific names with pictures
- The different types of sticker weeds
- List of lawn weeds in Virginia
IW’s Chief Editor and a lover of green spaces.