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20 Common Weeds in Alabama and Ways To Get Rid of Them

Like in most places, weeds are a common problem in Alabama. Some are annoying plants on roadsides and other unoccupied areas, while others are invasive species that can overrun your garden or lawn. 

The good news is that you can eliminate most of these weeds. However, the first step towards eradication is identifying the species you are dealing with, so it is important to know the most common weeds in Alabama. 

Below is a look at these weeds, their botanical name, identifying features, and top ways to eliminate them. 

1. Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion
Dandelion. Image: Canva/freelancer_rlc
  • Local Name: Dandelion
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Common dandelion is a perennial flowering plant with leafless stems that can grow between 5 and 40cm (sometimes 70cm) tall. Its leaves grow in a basal rosette pattern, with blades about 1-8cm wide and 5-37cm long. 

The leaves are dark green and simple, with deep lobes and deeply serrated margins. When broken, they produce a milk sap. 

The plant produces solitary flower heads that look like puffballs at the tip of each stalk (stem). The flowers are bright yellow, with 100-300 ray florets surrounding a yellow disc of florets. 

Common dandelion is native to Eurasia. However, it is naturalized in several regions worldwide, including: 

  • USA (all the 50 states) 
  • Canada
  • South America
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • South Africa

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling or digging up the roots using special dandelion removal tools. This is best done when the soil is moist to facilitate the removal of the entire taproot.  
  • Natural methods: Homemade weedkiller remedies such as boiling water and vinegar-soap dish solution can help contain dandelion. 
  • Chemical herbicides: Selective broadleaf herbicides (dicamba, Mecoprop, and 2,4-D) or non-selective herbicides like glyphosate effectively eradicate dandelions. 
  • Prevention: You can prevent common dandelion infestations by mulching, regular mowing (for lawns), and applying pre-emergent herbicides. 

2. Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Common Chickweed
Chickweed blooms small white flowers. Image: Flickr/nickwood
  • Local Name: Chickweed 
  • Family: Caryophyllaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Chickweed is an erect annual plant that grows to only 2 inches (sometimes 4-6 inches) tall and forms thick, dense mats. Its small, light green leaves are about 3-10mm wide and 6-25mm long. 

The leaf blades are oval-shaped (with a teardrop-like appearance), oppositely arranged, and with a toothless margin. 

On the other hand, the stems are branching, light green (with purplish tinges), and coated with a line of hairs. 

Chickweed blooms small, white flowers (about 1cm in diameter) with five white petals. The flowers later develop into seed capsules containing several tiny reddish-to-brown seeds.  

The plant is native to Eurasia. However, it is widely naturalized in several regions worldwide, including: 

  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Alaska
  • South America (Colombia, Chile) 
  • New Zealand 
  • Pacific Islands

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Mechanical control techniques like hand weeding, cultivation, and solarization can help eradicate chickweed when the plants are small and young.  
  • Natural methods: You can eradicate chickweed using homemade remedies like boiling water, vinegar, vinegar-salt-soap dish solution, and rubbing alcohol. 
  • Chemical control: You can eradicate chickweed using post-emergent herbicides, such as dicamba, MCCP, and Fluroxypyr. You can also contain the weed by spraying pre-emergent herbicides to prevent the germination of new plants. 
  • Biological control: Birds and livestock can help contain the spread of the plant by grazing on the foliage. Ground beetles also feed on chickweed seeds, which can prevent the germination of new plants. 

3. Clover (Trifolium repens) 

Clover has white flowers that bloom from early summer
Clover has white flowers that bloom from early summer. Image: Canva/romeolu
  • Local Name: Clover, white clover, Dutch clover
  • Family: Fabaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

White clover (Dutch clover or Ladino clover) is a low-growing herbaceous plant that grows 6-12 inches tall. Its creeping stems (stolons) can spread about 10-40cm long, producing roots and shoots at the nodes. 

It has trifoliate leaves, with three green, oval-shaped leaflets surrounded by a distinctive white, crescent-shaped band. The leaflets form a shamrock symbol and are attached to the stems by a long petiole.

White clover has white flowers (with pink tinges) which bloom from early summer. Each flowerhead has about 20-80 fragrant white florets. 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Central Asia

However, it is widespread in several regions worldwide, including North America, the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: It can be contained by mechanical methods like hand-pulling, digging out the plant with gardening tools, and cultivation (in gardens). 
  • Natural methods: It can be eradicated with natural weed killers like boiling water, corn gluten, and vinegar-soap dish solution. 
  • Chemical control: Selective broadleaf herbicides like Dicamba, Mecoprop, and Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid can eradicate white clover, especially if it grows in lawns. 
  • Prevention: You can prevent an infestation or re-infestation of white clover through preventative measures like mulching and adding nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn or crops. 

Here’s a complete guideline for eliminating white clover without killing your grass.

4. Mulberry Weed (Fatoua villosa

Hand-pulling is one of the most effective ways to remove the mulberry weed
Hand-pulling is one of the most effective ways to remove the mulberry weed. Image: universityofgeorgia/markczarnota
  • Local Name: Mulberry weed, Foolish weed, Hairy crabweed
  • Family: Moraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Mulberry weed (crabweed or hairy crabweed) is a tall, erect-growing weed that can reach up to 4 feet tall. Its leaves are yellow-green, alternately arranged, and have prominent veins and toothed margins. 

The leaf blades are heart-shaped, large (up to 10cm long), and covered with prominent hairs. The plant’s stems grow in a branching pattern and are covered with sticky hairs. 

Mulberry weed produces purple flowers which bloom in feathery clusters on the leaf axils.

The inflorescence changes to dark brown as the seeds form, developing into achenes that open up explosively, expelling the seeds up to four feet away. 

It is native to:

  • Japan
  • Indonesia
  • Korea
  • Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Korea
  • Australia
  • Pacific Islands
  • New Guinea

Removal Methods 

  • Hand-pulling: Hand-pulling the plant (including the tap root) can be an effective control solution when the plants are young and before flowering and seeding. 
  • Natural control: Mulching, suffocating with a plastic bag, or burning the plant with a weed burner. 
  • Chemical control: The best control solution is post-emergent herbicides like Glyphosate, Triclopyr, and Glufosinate, or pre-emergent herbicides to prevent germination of new plants.
READ ALSO:  Broadleaf weeds identification: common types with images

5. Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua

The weed commonly invades lawns and turfgrass areas
The weed commonly invades lawns and turfgrass areas. Image: Flickr/clemsonuniversity
  • Local Name: Annual Bluegrass, Low Speargrass
  • Family: Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Annual bluegrass is a clumping, slightly creeping, and low-growing grass (about 15-25cm tall) that commonly invades lawns and turfgrass areas. 

It has light green leaves folded in the buds and smooth (with no hairs) on both surfaces. 

The leaf blades are about 1-5mm wide and 1.3-12.7cm long and have slightly (sometimes transversely) serrated margins. 

The grass produces small white to light green spikes of open, triangular-shaped inflorescence panicles that bloom in clusters. The plant flowers all year round (except during harsh winters). 

It is native to temperate areas of: 

  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa

However, it is widely distributed in several regions, including North America, South America, Australia, North Africa, Antarctica, and more. 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: You can remove small infestations by hand-pulling or digging the grass with gardening tools. 
  • Natural control: Natural weed control remedies like white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda can help contain the weed grass.  
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated by pre-emergent herbicides like dithiopyr and trifluralin or post-emergent herbicides like Clethodim and fluazifop. You can also spot-treat with non-selective herbicides like glyphosate and Glufosinate. 
  • Cultural control: You can keep Poa annua away from your lawn by maintaining a healthy lawn, mowing regularly, mulching, proper fertilization, and other lawncare practices. 

6. Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Evening primrose is a highly invasive weed that is best controlled with chemical herbicides
Evening primrose is a highly invasive weed that is best controlled with chemical herbicides. Image: Canva/annagrigorjeva
  • Local Name: Showy Evening Primrose, Pink Sundrops, Pink Ladies
  • Family: Onagraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Evening Primrose (Showy Evening Primrose) is a perennial wildflower with hairy stems reaching up to 50 cm in height. It has green hair leaves with short (or no) petiole that grows to about 4 cm wide and 10 cm long. 

The leaves are alternately arranged, with pointed tips and wavy (sometimes toothed) margins. 

The plant also produces showy, pink to whitish flowers that open in the evening (or cloudy weather) and close in the morning. 

Evening primrose flowers are cup-shaped, with four heart-shaped, fragrant petals. The plant also bears seed capsules, which produce egg-shaped seeds clustered in two or more rows. 

It is native to:

  • Kansas
  • Missouri 
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas 
  • New Mexico

It has since become naturalized in several states across the United States and Mexico. 

Removal Methods

  • Hand pulling: Pulling (or digging out) the entire plant from the roots. You can also contain the spread of the plant by cutting off the flowers before they produce seeds. 
  • Chemical control: Because of its highly invasive nature, Oenothera speciosa is best controlled by chemical herbicides, for example, non-selective herbicides like glyphosate. 

7. Black Nightshade (Solanum americanum) 

Black nightshade
The American black nightshade. Image: Flickr/Fungoal
  • Local Name: American black nightshade
  • Family: Solanaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Black nightshade (American black nightshade, small-flowered nightshade, or glossy nightshade) is an herbaceous flowering plant that grows up to 1-1.5m tall. 

It has green to purplish hairy stems, which grow in a branching pattern. 

The plant has green, hairy leaves that are alternately arranged, ovate to lanceolate in shape, and with entire (sometimes irregular) margins. The leaves are large, reaching about 7cm wide and 10cm long. 

Black nightshade has tiny white (sometimes purplish) star-shaped flowers with a yellow, cone-shaped stamen. It also bears clusters of green berries, which turn into a shiny black or dark purple when ripe. 

It is native to:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Melanesia 
  • New Guinea
  • Australia 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling or digging up (with tools) the entire plant from the roots for small infestation. It can also be eradicated by regular mowing, plowing, and cultivating when dealing with infestations in lawns or crop fields. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated by applying post-emergent herbicides like dicamba, glyphosate, Glufosinate, and bromoxynil. You can also apply pre-emergent herbicides like Atrazine, isoxaflutole, or pyroxasulfone to prevent the emergence of new shoots. 
  • Cultural control: Cultural practices like mulching, soil PH tests, fertilization, and planting of high-yielding competitive plants can help curtail or minimize the spread of Solanum americanum. 

8. Carolina Geranium (Geranium carolinianum) 

Mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing your grass can keep the Carolina crane's bill weed away
Mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing your grass can keep the Carolina crane’s bill weed away. Image: ncstateuniversity
  • Local Name: Carolina Crane’s Bill
  • Family: Geraniaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual (or biennial)

Carolina geranium (Carolina Crane’s Bill) is a short, erect herb that grows to about 30-45cm tall. Its hairy, pink-to-red stems emerge from the base of the plant in a radial pattern. 

It has grayish-green, opposite palmate leaves divided into five segments with a deeply toothed margin. Like the stems, the leaflets are covered with fine hairs. 

The plant has small flowers that bloom in tight clusters at the tip of the stems or branches. The flowers have five petals and are light pink, white, or lavender. 

Carolina geranium is native to North America. It is also widespread (and considered an invasive species) in several states across the USA and central and south Mexico. 

Removal Methods 

  • Hand weeding: Its shallow taproot makes it easy to pull out the entire plant, especially in gardens, lawns, and landscape beds. When hand-pulling, it is vital to remove the plant before it produces seeds. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated by spraying post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D, Mecoprop, dicamba, and glyphosate. Pre-emergent herbicides like Atrazine can also prevent the germination of new plants. 
  • Cultural control: Mowing, fertilization, irrigation, and keeping the grass healthy can help control the weeds in lawns and turfgrass areas. 

9. Giant Foxtail (Setaria faberi

Digging out the plants or spraying herbicides can eradicate the grass
Digging out the plants or spraying herbicides can eradicate the grass. Image: Canva/kihoon
  • Local Name: Japanese bristlegrass, Nodding foxtail, Chinese Foxtail
  • Family: Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Giant foxtail (nodding bristlegrass, Chinese millet, or giant bristlegrass) is a clumping, colony-forming grass reaching 2-5 feet tall. 

It has smooth, erect-growing solitary stems that branch from the base of the plant. 

Setaria faberi has large (4-6 inches long and 7-20mm wide), light-green alternate leaves with short hairs on the upper surface. 

The leaves are attached to the stem by a round, open sheath with several hairs along the margin. 

The grass produces green, drooping spikeheads at the tip of the branches. The inflorescence (which resembles a foxtail, hence the common name) turns straw-colored over time. 

Setaria faberi is native to Asia. However, it is widely distributed across the United States. 

READ ALSO:  How to get rid of white clover without destroying the lawn

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Digging out the entire plant using gardening tools, frequent mowing, and repeated tillage before seeding can eradicate the grass. 
  • Chemical control:  Spray with non-selective herbicides like glyphosate or selective herbicides like Lambient. Repeated treatments might be needed to eradicate new germinations if the grass has already produced seeds. 

10. Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago rugelii)

Broadleaf plantain
Broadleaf plantain. Image: Canva/skymoon13
  • Local Name: American plantain or Black seed plantain
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Broadleaf plantain (pale plantain, or Rugel’s plantain) is a perennial herb with erect-growing flowering stems that reach 5-25cm in height. 

It produces large, basal rosette leaves, with mature leaf blades reaching 3-6 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. 

The leaves are light green, oval to elliptical in shape, hairless, and wavy in margins. A thick stalk (up to 0.5 inches) with deep purplish red tinges attaches the leaves to the base of the plant. 

Plantago rugelii has inconspicuous, cellophane white flowers with four triangular-shaped petals that are folded back. The flowers bloom in a clustered spike head that forms at the top of the stems. 

The plant is native to North America and common in the central and eastern United States and Eastern Canada. 

Removal Methods 

  • Hand weeding: Pulling the plant by hand or gardening tools may help eradicate small patches. However, the entire plant must be removed to prevent re-germination. 
  • Chemical control: Spray with pre-emergent herbicides like isoxaben, indaziflam, and mesotrione or post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, diquat, glyphosate, Mecoprop, and Triclopyr. 

Since this is a broadleaf weed, you can use any of these broadleaf elimination methods.

11. Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Chemical herbicides are the best option to eradicate the aggressive woodland sunflower weeds
Chemical herbicides are the best option to eradicate the aggressive woodland sunflower weeds. Image: wildrootsnativenursery
  • Local Name: Woodland sunflower, spreading sunflower 
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial:  Perennial 

Woodland sunflower (rough sunflower or rough woodland sunflower) is a tall-growing herb that can reach 60-180cm tall and 30-90cm wide. 

It is an aggressively growing plant that can spread vigorously through creeping rhizomes, forming large colonies. 

Helianthus divaricatus has dark green, short-stalked leaves arranged oppositely on the stems. The leaves have a wide base, a pointed tip, smooth to slightly toothed margins, and hairy undersides. 

The plant has conspicuous, star-shaped, bright yellow flowers, with 8-15 yellow florets surrounding a yellow or orange central disc. Flowering occurs from early summer to fall and form at the tip of the stems. 

It is native to central and eastern North America, including: 

  • Alabama
  • Louisiana
  • Iowa 
  • Florida
  • Oklahoma
  • Ontario
  • Quebec

Removal Methods 

Because it aggressively spreads through rhizomes, most weed control practices, such as hand-pulling, mowing, and tilling, are ineffective. 

Therefore, chemical herbicides are the best solution to eradicate Helianthus divaricatus. 

Depending on where it grows, you can spray infestations with broadleaf herbicides like Triclopyr and Clopyralid or non-selective herbicides like glyphosate. 

Note: Woodland sunflowers have an impressive rhizome root system that can keep producing new shoots after the old ones die. Therefore, several herbicide treatments are needed to eradicate the plant. 

12. Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hairy bittercress
Hairy bittercress. Image: Flickr/maureen
  • Local Name: Hairy bittercress, common bittercress
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual (sometimes biennial) 

Hairy bittercress is a low-growing plant with short stems (3-8 inches long), often reddish purple at the base and greener up the stem. 

It has small, green, basal rosette leaves that are pinnately divided into about 8-15 leaflets and attached to the stem by short petioles. 

The leaflets are ovate to round in shape with smooth or serrated margins. The upper part of the leaflets stems, and petioles are covered by sparse hairs. 

Cardamine hirsuta has small, white flowers with four white petals. The flowers bloom in clusters, with single flowers forming on erect pedicels (stalks). 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Southeast Asia
  • South Asia
  • Central Asia
  • Africa (central, north, and horn of Africa)

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Small patches can be easily eradicated by hand-pulling or digging them out with gardening tools. Tillage and mowing can also be used to control it. 
  • Cultural control: Mulching, fertilization, and proper lawn management can contain the spread of hairy bittercress and keep it off your lawn.  
  • Chemical control: Spraying with selective and broadleaf herbicides like 2,4-D, Mecoprop, dicamba, glyphosate, Triclopyr, and clopyralid. 

13. Common Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus

Common sow thistle
Common sow thistle. Image: Canva/simoncountry
  • Local Name: Sow thistle, smooth sow thistle
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Common sow thistle (hare’s colwort, hare’s thistle, milk thistle, or soft thistle) is an erect-growing plant with hollow stems that reach up to 30-100cm in height. 

It has simple, dark green leaves that measure about 6-20cm long by 2-9cm wide. 

The leaves are lanceolate to oblanceolate in shape and alternately arranged (one leaf per node) along the stem. 

Lower leaves have serrated margins and deep lobes, while upper leaves have shallow and entire, serrated margins. 

The plant produces conspicuous yellow flower heads. Each flower head has 80-250 ray florets without a central disc. 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Western Asia
  • Middle East
  • Africa

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling can be effective when the plant is young. However, older plants are harder to pull out of the ground, as they can easily break off only to re-emerge later. 
  • Natural control: Natural weed killer solutions like vinegar, boiling water, corn gluten, and others might work in small patches of young plants. 
  • Chemical control: The weed can be eradicated by spraying herbicides like glyphosate, diuron, clopyralid, 2,4-D, and dicamba. 

14. Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium) 

The Thorn apple has white or violet trumpet-shaped flowers
The Thorn apple has white or violet trumpet-shaped flowers. Image: Canva/picturepartners
  • Local Name: Jimsonweed, Devil’s apple, Thorn apple
  • Family: Solanaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Jimson weed (devil’s trumpet or thornapple) is an erect, bush-forming herb that grows to 60-200cm tall. Its stout, green to purplish stems are hollow inside and branching in the upper portions. 

The plant has simple green leaves measuring 8-25cm long by 6-17cm wide, arranged alternately along the stems. The leaf blades are ovate to elliptic, with deep, irregular leaves. 

Datura stramonium has white to purplish trumpet-shaped flowers that open at night. The flowers release a pleasant fragrance that attracts nocturnal moths. 

It also bears a green, spiny fruit capsule that turns dark brown when mature.  

Jimson weed is native to tropical regions of the Americas. However, it is widely distributed across several regions worldwide. 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and cultivation are effective against young plants. However, older plants may re-emerge after cultivation. 
  • Chemical control: Post-emergent herbicides like glyphosate, glufosinate-ammonium, and clopyralid; pre-emergent herbicides like flumioxazin and oxyfluorfen; and broadleaf herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, and Triclopyr. 
  • Biological control: Alternaria crassa, a fungus, and threelined potato beetle (Lema trivittata) effectively control Datura stramonium. 

15. Common Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea

Hand-pulling and chemical herbicide application are effective in eradicating the weed
Hand-pulling and chemical herbicide application are effective in eradicating the weed. Image: Canva/hsvrs
  • Local Name: Purple morning glory, Tall morning glory 
  • Family: Convolvulaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial in native habitat but annual or short-lived perennial in naturalized areas. 
READ ALSO:  Granadina (Passiflora subpeltata) Classification, Uses, Distribution

Common morning glory (tall morning glory or purple morning glory) is a climbing plant that can grow up to 2-3m in height. It has purplish-green trailing (or entwining) stems covered by hairs. 

Its leaves are green, simple, alternately arranged, and measuring 4-8cm long by 3-5cm wide. 

They are heart-shaped, with a wide base and sharp tip, covered with slight hairs on the upper surface, and sporting an entire margin. 

Ipomoea purpurea has showy white and purple (sometimes blue or pink) trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowerheads have a long stalk (up to 12cm) and small bracts covered in hairs. 

The weed is native to Mexico and Central America but widely naturalized in temperate and subtropical regions worldwide. 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling is effective when dealing with young plants. Small infestations of mature plants can also be cut down and the roots dug out. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using various herbicides, such as 2,4-D, Atrazine, glyphosate, oxyfluorfen, promamide, diuron, diquat, and simazine. 

16. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison ivy
Poison ivy. Image: Canva/skhoward
  • Local Name: Eastern poison ivy
  • Family: Anacardiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Poison ivy (Eastern poison ivy) is a deciduous, woody vine that causes itchy and painful skin rushes, hence the name. 

It can grow as a shrub (up to 1.2m tall), trailing vine (10-25m long), or climbing vine (entwining on trees and other structures for support). 

The plant has light to dark green trifoliate leaves that turn red, orange, or yellow during the fall. 

The leaflets (2-15cm long by 2-10cm wide) are alternately arranged in clusters on the vine and have a glossy surface with an entire (sometimes slightly serrated) margin. 

The plant also produces inconspicuous, small, yellow-green clustered flowers with five petals. The flowers later develop into green berries that turn greyish-white when ripe. 

It is native to:

  • Asia
  • USA
  • Canada

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling, mowing, or cutting might be effective for small infestations. However, these methods increase the risk of coming into contact with the plant, which is highly toxic to the skin. 
  • Natural control: It can be controlled through natural remedies like salt & dish soap solution, vinegar, and boiling water. 
  • Chemical control: Herbicides such as glyphosate, Triclopyr, and 2,4-D are the best way to eradicate poison ivy. Stump herbicide treatment can also be very effective at eradicating large plant infestations.  

17. Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) 

Pokeweed forms a thick tap root system that requires intensive  chemical control treatments
Pokeweed forms a thick tap root system that requires intensive chemical control treatments. Image: mcclungmuseum
  • Local Name: American pokeweed, common pokeweed
  • Family: Phytolaccaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Pokeweed (common pokeweed, American pokeweed, pokeberry, pigeonberry weed, or inkberry) is an herbaceous plant growing to 1-3m tall. 

It has smooth, pinkish-red stems that are partially hollow and slightly rigid to flexible but not sturdy. 

It has alternate, lanceolate to ovate green leaves with a smooth surface and an entire margin. When mature, the leaves reach 41cm long and have a distinctive, unpleasant odor. 

Pokeweed has white to greenish (sometimes pink or purplish) flowers, bon in clusters along the stem. 

These flowers, which have sepals but no petals, mature and develop into purplish-black berries when ripe.  

It is native to:

  • Asia
  • North America 
  • South America 

Removal Methods 

  • Hand weeding: Hand pulling can be effective when dealing with young plants, especially when the soil is moist. You could also physically remove mature plants, but this would require digging out the entire root system, which can be too intensive. 
  • Chemical control: Herbicides like 2,4-D, glyphosate, and dicamba effectively eradicate pokeweed infestations. 

NOTE: Phytolacca americana has a thick tap root system. Therefore, most natural (homemade) weed killers that only affect the foliage may not effectively control the plant. 

18. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica

The stinging nettle plant has heart-shaped leaves and a slender stem
The stinging nettle plant has heart-shaped leaves and a slender stem. Image: Canva/africaimages
  • Local Name: European stinging nettle, Great nettle 
  • Family: Urticaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Stinging nettle (common nettle, burn nettle, nettle leaf, or stinger) is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows 0.9-2m tall. 

Its erect, four-angled, green stems are covered with stinging hairs that can cause skin irritation. 

The plant has soft, green leaves about 1-6cm long by 1-4cm wide, arranged oppositely on the stem. 

The leaves are egg-shaped with a wide base, pointed top, coarsely toothed margins, and covered with stinging hairs (like the stem). 

The stinging nettle has small, inconspicuous, green to yellow flowers forming clusters in the leaf axils on the upper stem. The plant also bears egg-shaped tan achene fruits, each enclosing a single seed. 

It is native to:

  • Europe 
  • North America
  • Parts of Asia
  • North Africa 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: You can hand-pull young stinging nettle plants, carefully protecting your skin from the spiky hairs. Repeated mowing or cutting down of the plant can retard its growth and eventually overwhelm the plant. 
  • Chemical control: You can remove large infestations with herbicides like glyphosate, oxadiazon, oxyfluorfen, and isoxaben. However, several treatments might be needed to completely eradicate the weeds. 

NOTE: Stinging nettle has an aggressive rhizomatous root system. Therefore, digging, cultivating, and tillage are not recommended removal methods as they can disturb the soil and cut up and spread the rhizomes, leading to new plant germination.  

19. Wild Mustard (Sinapis arvensis

Spraying herbicides can get rid of large patches of wild mustard
Spraying herbicides can get rid of large patches of wild mustard. Image: Flickr/solanosnapper
  • Local Name: Corn mustard
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Wild mustard (corn mustard, field mustard, or charlock mustard) is an annual herb in the mustard family that grows to 20-80cm tall (although it can sometimes exceed one meter). 

Its erect, reddish, branching stems are covered in coarse hairs. 

Sinapis arvensis has medium green leaves (4-18cm long and 2-5cm wide) that initially develop from a basal rosette. 

The plant produces bright yellow flowers (typical of mustards), which bloom in clusters at the top of the stems. 

The flowers have four petals, spreading sepals (bracts), and are edible (with a flavor similar to that of radish or cabbage when cooked). 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Temperate regions of Asia
  • Northern Africa

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging out the plant are effective non-herbicide control options when dealing with young plants (before seeding) and small infestations. 
  • Chemical control: For mature and large patches of wild mustard, spraying with herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, glyphosate, paraquat, MCPA, and mesotrione can help eradicate the weed. 

20. Mock Strawberry (Potentilla indica

Mock strawberry
Mock strawberry. Image: Canva/garmasheva
  • Local Name: Mock strawberry, Indian strawberry 
  • Family: Rosaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Mock strawberry (Indian strawberry, false strawberry, or backyard strawberry) is a low-growing shrub that grows 6-7cm tall. 

It has creeping runners (more than 30cm long) that spread along the ground, producing new shoots at each node. 

The plant has dark evergreen trifoliate leaves, alternately arranged and attached to the stems by short stalks. 

Each leaflet is about 2-4.5cm long, elliptical in shape, roughly veined on the undersurface, and with a toothed margin. 

Mock strawberries have solitary yellow flowers with five obovate petals, five green bracts, and numerous yellow stamens. 

The plant also produces fleshy-looking, bright red fruit resembling a true strawberry. The fruit is edible, but many consider it dry and lacking the sweet flavor of true strawberries.  

Potentilla indica is native to Asia in the following areas: 

  • India
  • Bhutan
  • Nepal
  • Afghanistan
  • China
  • Pakistan
  • Thailand 
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia 
  • Taiwan
  • Laos
  • Korea

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: You can eradicate mock strawberries by hand weeding them. Hand-pulling is easier when the soil is moist, but you can also use a digging tool. 
  • Natural control: Natural weed remedies like vinegar, boiling water, cornmeal, and baking soda can effectively eradicate mock strawberries. 
  • Chemical control: Selective, post-emergent herbicides like Mecoprop, dicamba, Triclopyr, and 2,4-D are very effective at eradicating infestations. 
  • Cultural control: Practices like mulching, regular mowing, proper fertilization, soil PH management, improving drainage, and healthy lawn management can curtail the spread (or prevent encroachment) of Potentilla indica.