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20 Common Weeds in Kentucky: Pictures and Elimination Techniques

The humid subtropical climate of Kentucky makes it conducive to a wide array of invasive plants. 

These weeds are a menace, whether encroaching on your lawn, garden, crop fields, roadsides, or other landscapes. 

To fight against these weeds, you must first understand what you are dealing with. 

Here is a list of the most common weeds in Kentucky, identifying features and the various techniques for eliminating them. 

1. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard
Garlic mustard. Image: Flickr/du773
  • Local Name: Garlic mustard 
  • Family:  Brassicaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Short-lived perennial or biennial 

Garlic mustard (jack-by-the-hedge or poor man’s mustard) is a herbaceous plant that grows to 0.6-1.1m tall. The plant resembles mustard and releases a characteristic garlic odor when crushed, hence the local name. 

In its first year of germination, it produces green rosette leaves, which are heart-shaped and about 2.5-15.2cm. In the second year, leaves start growing up the stem, taking on a more triangular shape and a strongly toothed margin. 

Garlic mustard produces tiny white flowers that grow in clusters at the stem tip. The plant also bears a long, slender green fruit pod containing many small, shiny black seeds. 

It is native to:

  • Europe 
  • Central and Western Asia 
  • Pakistan
  • China
  • Northwestern Africa (Morocco, Liberia)
  • British Isles 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling can be effective when dealing with young plants and when the soil is moist. You can also eradicate larger patches by cutting the stems to the ground before the plant seeds. 
  • Natural control: Natural remedies like boiling water, soap & vinegar solution, and a weed flame torch can help eradicate the weed. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using selective herbicides like Bentazon and Acifluorfen or non-selective herbicides like Glyphosate. 

2. Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Hand-pulling, digging, and chemical herbicides can help eliminate the weed
Hand-pulling, digging, and chemical herbicides can help eliminate the weed. Image: Canva/iana
  • Local Name: Chicory, coffee-weed, Blue daisy
  • Family:  Asteraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Common chicory is an erect, herbaceous plant that grows 1-1.5 meters tall. Its rigid, branching hairy stems are hollow and produce a milky sap. 

Cichorium intybus has stalked, lanceolate leaves measuring (7.5-32cm long and 2-8cm wide. 

Basal leaves grow in a rosette pattern and are hairy with pointed lobes and shallowly toothed margins, while upper leaves are small, alternate, and slightly toothed. 

The plant has showy, sky-blue to purplish flower heads, ray florets, and square-shaped petals with notched tips. The flowers open in the morning (before sunrise) and then close in the afternoon. 

It is native to:

  • Europe 
  • Western Asia
  • North Africa 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging with gardening tools are very effective at controlling chicory, especially when dealing with young plants. Regular mowing or deep tillage can also contain the plant.  
  • Chemical control: Large infestations can be eradicated using herbicides containing Dicamba, 2,4-D, clopyralid, Triclopyr, Fluroxypyr, and Aminopyralid. 

NOTE: Chicory is a desirable forage crop for livestock. Therefore, grazing can also control the plant, but it is not a permanent solution as it will regrow after grazing. 

3. Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

Bull thistle
Bull thistle. Image: nwcb.wa.gov
  • Local Name: Bull thistle 
  • Family:  Asteraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual (or biennial) 

Bull thistle (spear thistle or common thistle) is an erect-growing plant that can reach 1-1.5m in height. It produces spiny-winged stems that are heavily branched in the upper parts. 

Cirsium vulgare has dark green, spear-shaped leaves that are deeply lobed, with stiff hairs on the upper surface, soft hair on the underside, and stout, needle-like spines along the margin. 

The basal leaves are large (up to 30cm long) and form a rosette pattern. 

Bull thistle produces fragrant, pinkish-purple (sometimes white) flowers at the tip of the stems. The flower heads are shaped like gumdrops and covered with spiny bracts. 

The plant also bears one-seeded achenes containing several seeds (a single plant can produce 5,000 – 50,000 seeds). The seeds have plume-like hairs and can be dispersed by wind over a long distance. 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Northern Africa
  • Western Asia
  • Pakistan 
  • China 

However, it has been naturalized in several regions, including the USA, Canada, South America, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Digging (gardening tools), close cutting, cultivation, and tillage are very effective at controlling bull thistle. Mowing is, however, not effective, as the plant can produce new shoots from the basal buds. 
  • Chemical control: Bull thistle can be eradicated with herbicides like Dicamba, 2,4-D, MCPA, Picloram, and Clopyralid at the rosette growth stage. Budding plants can also be sprayed with Chlorsulfuron or Metsulfuron. 
  • Cultural control: Good grazing management (avoiding heavy grazing) can prevent bull thistle encroachment in pastures. Livestock can also graze on bull thistle plants, preventing their spread. 

4. Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia

Common ragweed
Common ragweed is notorious for producing large amounts of pollen responsible for hay fever. Image by: Flickr/stacey
  • Local Name: Annual ragweed, short ragweed
  • Family:  Asteraceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual  

Common ragweed (annual ragweed, short ragweed, low ragweed, or hay fever weed) is a summer annual plant that can grow up to 1.2m tall. 

The plant as purplish stems that are heavily branched and covered with soft, white hairs. 

It has green, fern-like leaves that are deeply lobbed, pinnate, and covered with soft hairs. Leaves on the bottom portion of the stem are alternately arranged, while those on the upper sections are opposite. 

The plant bears inconspicuous yellowish-white flowers that form in clusters on terminal branches. The flowers produce massive amounts of pollen, responsible for the high cases of hay fever in Kentucky.

It is native to:

  • USA 
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • South America 
  • Caribbean
  • Cuba 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: When dealing with young plants, hand pulling and digging effectively eradicate ragweed. The weed can also be controlled by cultivation and aggressive tillage. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated with herbicides like 2,4-D, Glyphosate, Dicamba, Clopyralid, Flumioxazin, Glufosinate, Cloransulam, and Atrazine. The herbicide choice will depend on the plant’s location and growth stage. 
  • Cultural control: Ragweed can be controlled or prevented with techniques like regular mowing, crop rotation, growing of aggressive cover crops, mulching, and shading. 
  • Biological control: Biological solutions for ragweed include ground common beetles and ragweed leaf beetles. However, biological solutions are not very widespread. 
READ ALSO:  Creeping Inch Plant (Callisia Repens)

5. Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

Nutsedge is an aggressive weed that's best eradicated using chemical herbicides
Nutsedge is an aggressive weed that’s best eradicated using chemical herbicides. Image: lancaster.unl.edu
  • Local Name: Nutsedge, Field nutsedge, or yellow nutgrass
  • Family:  Cyperaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Yellow nutsedge is a perennial (sometimes annual) plant in the sedge (not grass) family that can grow to 90cm tall. It has solitary, triangular-shaped stems that grow from a tuber.

The plant has yellow-green, grass-like leaves with a smooth, shiny (waxy) upper surface, prominent midrib, and long attenuated tips. 

The leaves are large (0.5 inches wide and 12-35 inches long) and emerge from the base of the plant. 

Yellow nutsedge produces golden-yellow seed heads at the tip of the stems, each inflorescence containing about 1,500 viable seeds. 

In addition to the numerous seeds, the plant reproduces via rhizomes, making it very aggressive. 

It is native to:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Southern Europe
  • Africa

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: For small infestations, hand-pulling can be an effective solution. However, the entire plant (including the roots) must be removed lest it regerminates. 
  • Chemical control: Yellow nutsedge is best controlled by chemical herbicides like Sulfentrazone and Halosulfuron, Mesotrione, and Imazosulfuron. 
  • Cultural control: Techniques like healthy lawn management, regular mowing, fertilization, and mulching can control yellow nutsedge grass in lawns. 

NOTE: Due to the deep rhizomatous root systems, tilling and cultivation are not recommended control practices. These can break up and spread the rhizomes in the soil, causing aggressive germination of new shoots. 

6. Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea

Little hogweed
Little hogweed. Image:clemson.edu
  • Local Name: Little hogweed 
  • Family:  Portulacaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual (Perennial in some regions)

Common purslane is a succulent plant that grows to heights of about 40cm. It has smooth, reddish stems (green in young plants) that are mostly prostrate, forming a thick, wide mat on the ground. 

It has succulent glossy leaves alternately or oppositely arranged and clustered on the stems at the tips or joints. 

The leaves are paddle-shaped, green in color (with marron tinges), with an obtuse apex and entire margin, and range in size from 40-60mm long and 15-25mm wide. 

The plant produces yellow flowers with five (occasionally four) notched petals and several yellow stamens. The flowers are borne individually at the tip of the stems, in the middle of leaf clusters. 

Portulaca oleracea is native to the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India. However, it is widely distributed in several regions worldwide, including North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling can be effective when the plants are young (before they form tap roots). The entire plant must be removed and disposed of lest it take root again.
  • Chemical control: Chemical herbicides such as dicamba, 2,4-D, mesotrione, isoxaben, indaziflam, carfentrazone, atrazine, oxyfluorfen, diuron, and Fluroxypyr are very effective at eradicating common purslane. 

7. Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Queen Anne's lace grows 30-120 cm in height and has conspicuous white round flowers
Queen Anne’s lace grows 30-120 cm in height and has conspicuous white round flowers. Image: Canva/dutchlightnetherlands
  • Local Name: Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Family:  
  • Annual or Perennial: Short-lived perennial; biennial 

Wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, or European wild carrot) is an herbaceous plant that grows 30-120cm tall. 

It has erect, green stems that branch from a single base and are covered with coarse hairs. 

It has finely divided fern-like leaves (with a lacy design) but with an overall triangular shape. Lower leaves are larger and have long petioles, while upper leaves are smaller and have short stalks. 

Wild carrots produce clusters of conspicuous, white, round flowers with a lacy appearance. Occasionally, a pink, red, or purple flower blooms in the middle of the white inflorescence. 

The plant’s root tubers are similar to those of true carrots. They are edible when the plant is young but become fibrous and woody as it matures, making them tough to consume. 

It is native to:

  • Europe 
  • Southwestern Asian 
  • Northern Africa 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: You can control small infestations by hand-pulling or digging the plant out of the soil. For large infestations, regular mowing and repeated tillage before seeding can control the plant and eventually deplete its seed bank.
  • Chemical control: Herbicides like dicamba, Glyphosate, 2,4-D, MCPA, Picloram, Chlorsulfuron, Dichlorprop, Hexazinone, and Imazapyr can eradicate Daucus carota

8. Spiny Amaranth (Amaranthus spinosus) 

Spiny amaranth also locally known as pigweed
Spiny amaranth also locally known as pigweed. Image: Flickr/dineshvalke
  • Local Name: pigweed 
  • Family:  Amaranthaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Spiny amaranth (spiny pigweed, thorny amaranth, or prickly amaranth) is an erect-growing plant that can grow to 100cm tall. 

It has heavily branched, bushy, green to reddish stems, with strong, swollen spines growing from the base of the leaf stalks. 

The plant has simple, alternately arranged leaves that are egg- to diamond-shaped and measure 2.5-7.5cm long by 1-2.5cm wide. The leaf blades have a wide base, acute apex, and entire margin. 

Spiny amaranth produces a dense inflorescence of small, green flowers with no petals and five dried-up sepals. 

The flowers are unisexual, with female flowers forming at the base of the flower spikes and the male flowers at the tip. 

Amaranthus spinosus is native to the tropical regions of North, Central, and South America. However, it is widely distributed in various ecosystems worldwide, including in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling, digging, cutting, cultivation, and mowing can be effective when dealing with young, delicate seedlings, especially after a flush of germination. 
  • Natural control: Natural remedies like boiling water, flame torch, vinegar, and corn gluten can also help to control young plants. 
  • Chemical control: Amaranthus spinosus is vulnerable to several herbicides like MCPA, 2,4-D, EPTVC, acifluorfen, atrazine, Glyphosate, oxadiazon, paraquat, propanil, trifluralin, and oxyfluorfen. 
  • Biological control: Pigweed weevil is a biological agent effective at controlling spiny amaranth in Thailand. 

9. Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Common blue violet
Common blue violet. Image: Canva/samudri7
  • Local Name: Common blue violet; meadow violet; wood violet
  • Family:  Violaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Common blue violet is a short-growing, herbaceous plant that grows to 15-25 in height and width. Its basal, heart-shaped green leaves have a width of 1 to 3 inches and a height of 5 to 6 inches. 

READ ALSO:  Bleeding Heart Tree (Homolanthus populifolius)

The leaves are wide at the base and toothed along the margin. The upper surface is smooth, while the lower surface is hairy like flowering stems. 

The plant produces conspicuous blue (sometimes whitish, pink, or lavender) flowers, borne individually at the tip of the flowering stems. 

The flowers have five spreading, irregularly shaped petals with white and pale yellow tinges at the base. 

It is native to:

  • U.S.A. 
  • Canada
  • Mexico 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling or digging is an effective solution for controlling small patches of common blue violets. However, the ground must be moist to remove the entire plant, including the rhizomatous root clumps. 
  • Natural control: Natural remedies like vinegar-soap dish solution and boiling water can kill the weeds. However, several treatments might be needed to completely overwhelm the violets. 
  • Chemical control: Herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, Triclopyr, and Fluroxypyr eradicate large infestations of common blue violets. 

10. Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Hand pulling and repeated slashing or mowing help eradicate small weed infestations.
Hand pulling and repeated slashing or mowing help eradicate small weed infestations. Image: Flickr/julian
  • Local Name: Poison hemlock 
  • Family:  Apiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial 

Poison hemlock is an herbaceous, rapid-growing plant that can reach 2.4 meters in height. At the end of its lifecycle, its hollow, dark maroon stems become brown and dry. 

The plant has bright green, fern-like, pinnate leaves with toothed edges. 

The overall shape of the leaves is triangular, with a single leaf section (comprised of several tiny leaflets) measuring about 50cm long and 40cm wide. 

The plant also produces tiny, white, lacy, and umbrella-shaped flowers that bloom in clusters at the tip of the stems. These flowers then develop into green, deeply ridged fruits containing several seeds. 

As the name suggests, all parts of the poison hemlock plant are poisonous, especially when ingested. 

The plant also releases a strong, unpleasant odor (more pronounced when the leaves are crushed) that carries with the wind. 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • North America
  • North Africa
  • Western Asia
  • Mediterranean

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling is an effective control method for small infestations and moist soil. You can also overwhelm and eventually eradicate the plant through repeated cutting, slashing, or mowing close to the ground. 
  • Chemical control: Herbicides like dicamba, 2,4-D, Glyphosate, and Triclopyr are very effective at eradicating poison hemlock and are less labor-intensive. 

11. Oriental Lady’s Thumb (Persicaria longiseta

The oriental lady's thumb is an annual herb that grows 30-80 cm tall
The oriental lady’s thumb is an annual herb that grows 30-80 cm tall. Image: ncsu.edu/keisotyo
  • Local Name: Oriental lady’s thumb; British lady’s thumb; Long bristle smartweed
  • Family:  Polygonaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Oriental lady’s thumb (low smartweed, bristled knotweed, or tufted knotweed) is an herb that grows to 30-80cm tall. 

It has hairless, branching stems, which might trail at the base and start rooting at the lower nodes when they come into contact with a growing media. 

The leaves are lanceolate to elliptical and are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaf blades are about 8cm long by 3cm wide, have an entire margin, and can be slightly hairy on the undersides. 

The plant also produces clustered inflorescence spikes at the tip of the stems. The spike heads are long (up to 8cm) and contain several dark pink to reddish flowers.  

It is native to:

  • China 
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Korea
  • India 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling digging, frequent mowing, and repeated tillage can control small plant infestations. 
  • Natural control: Natural herbicides like vinegar, acetic acid, boiling water, and a weed flamer can also help contain the plant. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using several general-use herbicides, such as Glyphosate, 2,4-D, Triclopyr, and Dicamba. 

12. Carolina Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense

Hand-pulling and repeated chemical herbicide treatments are the most effective horsenettle eradication techniques
Hand-pulling and repeated chemical herbicide treatments are the most effective horsenettle eradication techniques. Image: Canva/sushilmurmu
  • Local Name: horsenettle; Bull nettle
  • Family:  Solanaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

California horsenettle is an herb in the nightshade family (not a true nettle) that grows to 90cm tall. 

Its green, upright, branching stems are covered with sharp prickles, and older stems become woody over time. 

Its leaves are oblong to egg-shaped, 6-11cm long, with irregular lobes and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves, arranged in an alternating pattern along the stem, are covered with fine hairs and sharp spines.

The plant produces white or purple flowers, which bloom in clusters at the apex of the branching stems. Each flower has five star-shaped triangular petals with a yellow stamen protruding from the center. 

It is native to: 

  • Southeastern United States 
  • Canada 
  • Mexico 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: You can get rid of small patches by hand-weeding them. Other mechanical techniques like tilling and mowing are ineffective and might encourage new infestations. 
  • Chemical control: You can eradicate the plant by spraying herbicides like atrazine, Glyphosate, glufosinate, dicamba, halosulfuron, and nicosulfuron. Repeated herbicide treatments may be required for full eradication. 

13. Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Purple deadnettle, locally known as red henbit
Purple deadnettle, locally known as red henbit. Image: Canva/romy
  • Local Name: Red henbit 
  • Family:  Lamiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Purple deadnettle (red deadnettle or purple archangel) is a short, herbaceous flowering plant that grows 5-20cm tall. Its square-shaped, purplish-green stems branch at the plant’s base.

The plant has spade-shaped, purple-green leaves forming dense clusters near the top of the stems. The leaf blades have serrated margins and are covered with fine hairs, giving them a fuzzy appearance. 

Purple deadnettle produces purplish flowers that form above the leaf axils. The flowers are tubular with three petals (one hood-like at the top and two lower lip petals). 

Lamium purpureum is native to Asia and Europe. However, it is widely distributed across Northern America. 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling is effective as the plant has shallow roots thus easy to pull it out from the soil. It can also be controlled by mowing or tillage. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using post-emergent herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, Fluroxypyr, MCPA, and Triclopyr. 

14. Large Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis

Large crabgrass
Large crabgrass. Image: Flickr/nysipm
  • Local Name: Hairy crabgrass; Northern crabgrass; Hairy finegrass
  • Family:  Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual  

Large crabgrass (hairy crabgrass, crab finger grass, or hairy finger-grass) is a tufted annual grass that grows to about 60cm tall. It has hollow spreading stems that root at the lower nodes. 

It has dull light-green leaves (that may turn reddish with age) sheathed at the bottom, growing to about 3-17cm long and 2-14mm wide. The surfaces of the leaf blades are covered with dense hairs. 

Large crabgrass produces pale grey to purplish inflorescences, forming clusters at the tips of the branching stems. 

READ ALSO:  10 tall weeds with thorns (picture identification)

The flower spikes turn dark purplish when they mature and contain several tiny yellowish brown, oval-shaped seeds. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe
  • Asia 
  • Northern Africa

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging out with gardening tools can effectively deal with small infestations. However, you must remove the entire plant from the roots else it will regrow. 
  • Natural control: You can kill crabgrass using natural remedies like boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar. However, these are only suitable for isolated crabgrass patches or if you are spot-treating. 
  • Chemical control: Crabgrass can be controlled with chemical herbicides such as Dithiopyr, 2,4-D, Pendemethalin, Fenoxaprop, Prodiamine, Quinclorac, and Bensulide.

15. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Ground ivy is an aggressive weed that forms dense mats on the ground
Ground ivy is an aggressive weed that forms dense mats on the ground. Image: Canva/apugach
  • Local Name: Creeping Charlie 
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Ground ivy (creeping Charlie, creeping Jenny, runaway robin, or gill-over-the-ground) is a low-growing perennial herb that grows to 5-6 cm tall.

It has branching horizontal stolons that can grow to 2m long, taking roots at the nodes to create thick, dense mats on the ground. 

Glechoma hederacea is easily identified by its bright green, kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. 

The leaves are alternatively arranged on the stem and have long petioles. The leaf blades measure 3-6cm long and 2-3cm wide. 

Ground ivy has conspicuous blue-purplish flowers that grow in clusters of two or three from the leaf axils. 

The flowers are tubular with irregular petals and feature a notched and extended upper lip and 3-lobed lower lip. 

Ground ivy is native to regions across Europe and Asia. It is also a widely distributed species found across the US, except for the states of New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: You can control small patches by hand-pulling them from the ground or digging them out with gardening tools. However, mechanical control is ineffective for large encroachments due to the plant’s aggressive spreading habit. 
  • Chemical control: Ground ivy can be eliminated using herbicides like 2,4-D, Triclopyr, MCPP, and non-selective options like Glyphosate. 

16. Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii

Hand-pulling, digging, and prescribed burning will help eliminate burn honeysuckle infestations
Hand-pulling, digging, and prescribed burning will help eliminate burn honeysuckle infestations. Image: Canva/apugach
  • Local Name: Bush honeysuckle 
  • Family:  Caprifoliaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Amur honeysuckle is a deciduous shrub (sheds leaves seasonally) that can grow up to 6 meters tall. It has leggy, woody, branching stems that can grow like a small, spreading tree or a multi-stemmed shrub. 

Its leaves are deep-green, oppositely arranged, ovate in shape, 5-9cm long and 2-4cm wide.

 The leaf blades, which have an entire margin and are slightly hairy, are broad at the middle, tapered at the base, and pointed at the apex. 

The plant produces white to pinkish tubular flowers with five petals that emerge in pairs from the leaf axils. 

It also bears bright to dark red berries (with 2-3 seeds per berry) eaten by birds, thus aiding in their dispersal. 

It is native to: 

  • China
  • Siberia 
  • Korea
  • Japan

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling is effective for small, young plants, while larger plants can be dug out using gardening tools
  • Natural control: Prescribed burning is used to control Lonicera maackii infestations. However, the plant will often regrow back, so repetitive burning is needed to deplete the nutrient reserves in the roots, killing it off entirely. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using systemic herbicides like Glyphosate or Triclopyr, which can be applied to the forage, cut stems, or the bark.  

17. Common Velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus)

Common velvet grass, also known as yorkshire fog
Common velvet grass, also known as yorkshire fog. Image/clemson.edu
  • Local Name: Velvetgrass
  • Family:  Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Common velvetgrass (Yorkshire fog, meadow soft grass, or tufted grass) is a clumping perennial grass that grows up to 1m tall. Its erect, hairy stems are white at the base with pink veins. 

It has flat, elongated leaves that measure about 5-20cm long by 4-12mm wide. The leaves are covered with soft hairs, giving the plant a velvety gray-green appearance, hence the name. 

Velvetgrass has a whitish (with purple tinges) inflorescence that forms spikes at the tip of the stems. These spikes contain several tiny seeds, which help spread the grass aggressively. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe 
  • Western Asia
  • Canary Islands
  • Northwestern Africa 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling, repeated short-cutting, intensive mowing, and aggressive tillage can reduce the population of this invasive grass. However, these control solutions are very labor-intensive. 
  • Natural control: Burning can be used to control velvetgrass. However, the grass can re-emerge from the soil’s seeds; thus, repeated burning is needed to completely eradicate it. 
  • Chemical control: Velvetgrass can be sprayed with non-selective herbicides like sethoxydim and fluazifop or spot-treated with non-selective herbicides like Glyphosate. 

18. Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Hand-pulling and chemical herbicide application will help eliminate the perennial weed
Hand-pulling or chemical herbicide application will help eliminate the perennial weed. Image: Canva/claudiodivizia
  • Local Name: Star-of-Bethlehem 
  • Family:  Asparagaceae/ Hyacinthaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Star-of-Bethlehem is a perennial, herbaceous, and bulbous plant that grows up to 15-30cm tall. It initially forms basal leaves, which emerge from the plant in tufts from the root bulbs. 

The leaves are shiny and dark green, with a prominent white to light-green midrib. They are also long (up to 30cm long and 8mm wide), with a smooth margin and a tapered tip. 

The plant produces showy, bright white, star-shaped flowers at the stems’ tips. Each flower has six lanceolate to oblong petals with a green stripe on the underside. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe 
  • North Africa
  • Western Asia 
  • South America (Argentia and Uruguay)

Removal methods

  • Hand-pulling: Hand-pulling is effective for small patches. However, you must pull (or dig) out the entire plant from the bulbous root, or it will regrow. 
  • Chemical control: Large infestations are best eradicated using chemical herbicides such as sulfentrazone and carfentrazone.  

19. Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)

Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed. Image: Canva/glock
  • Local Name: Japanese knotweed; Japanese buckwheat 
  • Family:  Polygonaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Japanese knotweed (Asian knotweed) is a fast-growing, clumping herbaceous plant that can grow 3-4m tall. Its erect, hollow stems with swollen nodes give it a bamboo-like appearance. 

It has lime-green, ovate leaves 7-14cm long and 5-12cm wide with an entire margin. The leaves are petiolate, are arranged alternately along the stem, and have a truncated base and a pointed tip. 

The plant produces small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in clusters from late summer to fall. The flowers are borne in erect racemes, about 6-15cm long. 

It is native to: 

  • Japan 
  • China
  • Korea
  • Taiwan

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling can be an effective control solution for young plants, especially in moist soil. Grubbing can also control mature plants, but the removed parts must be disposed of properly or burned.  
  • Chemical control: You can eradicate large infestations of Japanese knotweed using systemic herbicides like Glyphosate and Triclopyr. These can be applied to the foliage or through cut stump treatment. 

20. Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculate

The woody vine climbing on a tree
The woody vine climbing on a tree. Image: Canva/inahwen
  • Local Name: Oriental bittersweet 
  • Family:  Celastraceae
  • Annual or Perennial:  Perennial 

Oriental bittersweet (Asian bittersweet or Chinese bittersweet) is a woody vine with thick branches that can grow to 10cm in diameter. 

It has a spreading or trailing growth pattern, and its branches can reach heights of 19m depending on surrounding vegetation or structure. 

The plant has glossy green leaves (2-13m long and 1.5-8cm wide) alternately along the stem. The leaf blades are oblong to ovate with serrated margins, rounded tips, and short petioles (1-3cm long). 

It produces small, greenish-yellow flowers with five petals. It also bears green, round fruits, which turn yellow when ripe before splitting open to reveal bright red, berry-like sectioned capsules (each containing 1-2 seeds). 

It is native to: 

  • China
  • Far East Russia
  • Japan
  • Korea 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: Hand pulling is effective for juvenile plants. Repeated cutting and mowing can also control mature plants. However, mechanical control is very labor-intensive and may not be effective for large infestations. 
  • Cultural control: Grazing by livestock (goats and sheep) can help to control and prevent the spread of the plant. However, it will not eradicate it. 
  • Chemical control: Chemical herbicides like 2,4-D, Glyphosate, and Triclopyr are effective at controlling the plant. However, repeated applications may be required for total eradication.