Skip to Content

15 Common Weeds in Minnesota With Control Methods

Is your lawn, garden, yard, or landscape infested with weeds? Minnesota’s rich soil and conducive climate are perfect for beautiful landscapes, but they also allow unwelcome flora in the form of invasive weeds.

Some of these weeds are very aggressive and difficult to control, especially if you don’t know the plants you are dealing with. Therefore, before you consider eradication techniques, you must know what weeds you are dealing with. 

Below is a look at some of the common weeds in Minnesota, their botanical names, identifying features, and control methods. 

1. Black Medic (Medicago lupulina

Black medic
Black medic. Image: Canva/henrik_l
  • Local Name: Black medic; Yellow trefoil 
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual (short-lived perennial) 

Black medic (yellow trefoil or hop clover) is a winter or summer annual plant in the legume or clover family. It has low-growing prostrate stems that can spread reach 2-3 feet growing from a central taproot. 

It has pinnate trifoliate leaves with three small leaflets, each measuring 12-18mm long and 3-10mm wide. The leaflets are covered with sparse hairs, have smooth margins serrated towards the end, and have a short, pointed tip at the apex. 

The plant produces rounded yellow flower heads comprising 10-30 tiny, clustered flowers. It also bears coiled, single-seed seed pods that turn black when ripe, hence the name “black medic.”

It is native to :

  • Europe 
  • Asia 
  • Northern Africa
  • East Africa

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling or digging with gardening tools is effective when dealing with young plants in the early stages of infestation. Pull or dig out the weeds when the soil is moist for the best results. 
  • Cultural control: Black medic can be controlled through practices like fertilization, regular mowing, increasing the density of the turf, and maintaining adequate nitrogen levels. 
  • Chemical control: It can be controlled with post-emergence herbicides like 2,4-D, dicamba, Fluroxypyr, flumioxazin, triclopyr, sulfentrazone, quinclorac, MCPP, and others.  

2. Common Burdock (Arctium minus)

The common burdock weed can grow up to 1.8m in height
The common burdock weed can grow up to 1.8m in height. Image: Flickr/shellymorgan
  • Local Name: Common burdock; lesser burdock 
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial 

Common burdock (lesser burdock, little burdock, button-bur, or wild rhubarb) is a biennial, herbaceous wildflower. It is a tall-growing, erect plant that can reach up to 1.8 meters while forming multiple branches. 

It has dark-green leaves that are ovate to heart-shaped with wavy or toothed margins and rounded or pointed at the apex. The leaf blades are large, with the basal ones reaching 30-60cm long and those up the stems reaching 50cm long. 

Common burdock produces small pink or purple flowers that emerge from the leaf axils or bloom in clusters at the tip of the stems. Individual flowerheads dry up and develop into burs with hooked, sticky bracts that aid seed dispersal. 

It is native to :

  • Europe 
  • Asia 

However, it is naturalized in several regions worldwide, including: 

  • North America 
  • South America
  • Australia 

Removal methods 

There are multiple ways to get rid of burdock, including:

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling, digging, mowing, or plowing is an effective control solution when the weeds are young and before flowering. For more mature plants, the entire taproot must be dug out, lest the plant will regrow. 
  • Natural control: Natural weed killers like horticultural vinegar (poured on the taproot remaining in the soil) and boiling water (applied on young plants) can help to eradicate these weeds. 
  • Chemical: It can be eradicated by applying herbicides, such as dicamba, 2,4-D, and roundup (Glyphosate).  

3. Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea) 

Tillage or burning can help eradicate large infestations
Tillage or burning can help eradicate large infestations. Image: Canva/wirestock
  • Local Name: Tall fescue 
  • Family: Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Tall fescue is a cool-season perennial bunchgrass (clump-forming) that mainly invades lawns and pastures. Its erect-growing, unbranched stalks grow to 45-120cm tall. 

Its leaves are dark green, flat with distinct veins, rough on the edges, and fine-tipped. The leaf blades, which measure 10-60cm long by 3-12mm wide, are sheathed, though the lower leaf sheaths are not fused. 

Tall fescue produces inflorescence in the form of long (10-50cm) branching panicles. Each panicle has about 10-30 spikes that contain several green florets with purple tinges. 

It is native to 

  • Europe
  • Asia 
  • North Africa

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: You can hand-pull or dig small patches of tall fescue before the plant flowers or produces seeds. When dealing with large infestations, you can also suppress the aggressive growth by tillage or burning. 
  • Cultural control: You can control tall fescue with frequent mowing to heights of about 2-3 inches. Mulching, fertilizing lawns, overseeding, and keeping your lawn thick and healthy can also control or prevent infestation. 
  • Chemical control: The invasive grass can be eradicated by herbicides such as Glyphosate, paraquat, and imazapic. 
READ ALSO:  15 medicinal plants, their uses, and botanical names

4. 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: Stinging nettle; Common nettle; Burn nettle; Nettle leaf
  • Family: Urticaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Stinging nettle is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows to 0.9-2 meters tall and has an underground rhizome system to form thick, dense colonies. Its stems are stout, erect, four-angled, and covered by stinging hairs. 

The leaves are light green, oppositely arranged, elliptical to lanceolate, and measuring about 7-15cm long by 1.27-4cm wide. The leaf blades have toothed edges, prominently sunken veins, and are covered by hairs, giving them a velvety appearance. 

Stinging nettle produces tiny green to brown flowers in clusters at the tip of the stems. The plant bears male and female flowers, with the female flowers emerging on top of the male ones. 

It is native to:

  • Europe
  • Temperate Asia
  • Western North Africa 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: You can hand-pull or dig out (with gardening tools) young plants before they start flowering. Mowing and cutting the stems close to the ground can also reduce growth, overwhelm the plant, and eventually kill it. 
  • Chemical control: Stinging nettle can be eradicated using herbicides such as Glyphosate, isoxaben, oxyfluorfen, and oxadiazon. 

NOTE: When hand-pulling stinging nettle, wear hand gloves and other protective clothing to protect yourself from the stinging hairs. Also, you must remove the entire rhizome system from the ground, or the weeds will regrow. 

5. Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) 

Oxeye daisy, locally known as common daisy
Oxeye daisy, locally known as common daisy. Image: Flickr/james
  • Local Name: Oxeye daisy; Common daisy; Marguerite 
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

The oxeye daisy is a perennial flowering plant that grows to 81cm tall and has a creeping underground rhizome system. Its stems are hairy (mostly on the lower parts), slightly grooved, and slightly branched. 

The leaves are alternately arranged, spatula to oblong-shaped, with teethed or lobed margins. The plant has large, basal rosette leaves (4-15cm long by 4cm wide) with long petioles, while the upper leaves lack petioles and are smaller (up to 7.5cm long). 

L. vulgare bears conspicuous flowers that look like daisies. Each flower head is about 2-6cm wide, has a yellow disc at the center, and several white ray florets. 

It is native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia. However, it is widely distributed in New Zealand, Australia, And North America, among other regions. 

Removal methods

  • Mechanical control: It can be controlled by hand-pulling or digging up young plants before seeding. Repeated mowing may help to prevent seeding and reduce aggressive growth. 
  • Cultural control: Grazing by livestock (sheep) can help reduce the population of oxeye daisy plants, but it will not eradicate it. 
  • Chemical control: It can be eradicated using herbicides, such as Glyphosate, 2,4-D, picloram, aminopyralid, clopyralid, Metsulfuron, and dicamba. Repeated applications might be necessary for total eradication. 

6. Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis palustris)

Herbicides offer the best way to eradicate creeping bentgrass
Herbicides offer the best way to eradicate creeping bentgrass. Image: umass.edu
  • Local Name: Creeping bentgrass; carpet bentgrass; bentgrass
  • Family: Poaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Creeping bentgrass is a cool-season, low-growing perennial grass that grows to about 40cm tall. It spreads aggressively through underground rhizomes and creeping stolons (up to 1 meter long), forming dense ground patches. 

Its leaves are bluish-green, 2-10cm long by 2-6mm wide, finely toothed at the margin, and with a pointed tip. The leaf blades are flat, have a prominent mid-rib on the undersurface, and are smooth with no hair.

From around midsummer, A. palustris bears spikelets of inflorescence that bloom in clusters at the tip of the stem. These spikelets are purplish but turn a tan, straw color when mature.  

It is native to: 

  • Europe 
  • Asia 
  • North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco)

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: You can attempt hand-pulling for small patches, but this is impossible when dealing with many plants due to the creeping stolons that wrap around other grass or plants. 
  • Cultural control: Grazing, mowing, cutting, and prescribed burning might suppress the spread of the grass, but these techniques will not eradicate it. 
  • Chemical control: Agrostis stolonifera can be controlled with herbicides such as Glyphosate, fluazifop, clethodim, Sulfosulfuron, and Sethoxydim. 

7. Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides

Chemical herbicide treatment is the method to completely eradicate the aquatic weed
Chemical herbicide treatment is the method to eradicate the aquatic weed. Image: clemson.edu
  • Local Name: Buttercup pennywort; Floating pennywort; Water pennywort
  • Family: Apiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Floating pennywort (buttercup pennywort or floating pennywort) is an aquatic perennial plant. It has stoloniferous stems that float on water, spread horizontally, and produce roots and shoots at the nodes. 

Its leaves are large (2-6cm in diameter), kidney-shaped, and attached to long petioles (5-35cm long). Each leaf blade has 3-7 rounded lobes with smooth to scalloped margins. 

Buttercup pennywort produces rounded clusters of tiny white, yellow, or greenish flowers. Each cluster has about 5-10 star-shaped flowers, with each head sporting five tiny petals and spreading stamens. 

Hydrocotyle ranunculoides are native to North and South America regions. However, it is widespread in other regions, such as Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, where it is considered invasive. 

READ ALSO:  What Is The Difference Between Rhubarb and Burdock?

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Physical control is possible through weed-cutting buckets, boats, or hydro-raking. This can help reduce the biomass of the weeds, but it might not completely eradicate them, especially when dealing with a large infestation. 
  • Chemical control: Chemical herbicides such as Glyphosate and diquat are the most effective method for eradicating buttercup pennywort. However, several applications may be needed to completely kill the weeds. 

8. Hoary Alyssum (Berteroa incana)

Hoary alyssum
Hoary alyssum. Image: Canva/aga7ta
  • Local Name: Hoary Alyssum 
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial (annual, sometimes perennial) 

Hoary Alyssum (false hoary, hoary alison, or hoary berteroa) is an herbaceous flowering plant growing 30-80cm tall. It produces single or multiple branching stems that emerge from the base of the plant, which are covered with dense hairs. 

The leaves are alternately arranged, 3.5-10cm long, smooth on the margin, and covered with dense hairs that give them a grayish-green appearance. When the plant is young, it produces basal rosette leaves, which wither away when it flowers. 

Hoary Alyssum bears a rounded cluster of tiny flowers at the tip of the stems and the top of the plant. Each flower has four small, deeply notched white petals and six yellowish-green stamens. 

It is native to Central Europe and Asia but has been widely distributed to other parts of Europe and North America. 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Small patches of young plants can be controlled by hand-pulling, digging, and hoeing. Repeated cutting can also prevent seeding and contain the spread of Berteroa incana. 
  • Cultural control: Practices such as fertilization, overseeding, mulching, and planting ground cover crops can help control the spread of weeds. 
  • Chemical control: It can be controlled with herbicides such as Glyphosate (non-selective), 2,4-D, dicamba, and Metsulfuron methyl or a combination of 2,4-D + dicamba and Metsulfuron methyl + aminopyralid. 

9. Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)

Herbicides provide the best way to eradicate leafy spurge
Herbicides provide the best way to eradicate leafy spurge. Image: Flickr/wfdetector
  • Local Name: Leafy spurge 
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Leafy spurge (green spurge) is an herbaceous perennial plant that forms colonies through spreading rhizomes and grows to 1-1.2m tall. It produces single or multiple stems that emerge from the base of the plant, which are erect, smooth, and branched. 

The leaves are small (4-8.5cm long by 1cm wide), alternately arranged and lanceolate. They are also stalkless, hairless, toothless (entire margin) with a pointed tip at the apex. 

The plant bears umbels of showy flowers that bloom in clusters at the top of the stem. Individual flower heads have green-yellow petals that look like bracts. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe (including France, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, and Netherlands) 
  • Asia (Korea, Siberia, and Himalayas)
  • Alaska

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling, mowing, and tillage can help control Leafy spurge infestation, but these methods might not be enough to eradicate the weeds. 
  • Cultural control: Sheep and goats can graze on the plant, greatly reducing its population density. 
  • Natural control: Prescribed burning can help suppress the growth and spread of Leafy spurge. 
  • Chemical control: The plant can be eradicated using herbicides such as Glyphosate, Glyphosate + 2,4-D, dicamba, fosamine, sulfometuron, quinclorac, imazapic, picloram + 2,4, -D, and dichlobenil.  

10. Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica

Repeated herbicide treatments and tree stump removal are required for complete eradication
Repeated herbicide treatments and tree stump removal are required for complete eradication. Image: ncsu.edu
  • Local Name: Common buckthorn
  • Family: Rhamnaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Common buckthorn is a perennial, woody shrub that grows up to 10 meters tall. Its leaves are dark green (but turn yellow in autumn), elliptical to ovate, and measuring 2.5-9cm long by 1.2-3.5cm wide. 

The leaves are arranged oppositely (sometimes alternately) and covered with sparse hairs on the underside. They also have a toothed margin, rounded or tapered at the base, and a small abrupt point at the apex. 

Common buckthorn bears small, yellowish-green flowers in clusters, with male and female flowers on different plants. It also produces fleshy green berries (which turn black when ripe), which are readily eaten by birds, which then disperse the seeds in droppings. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe 
  • Asia
  • Northwest Africa 
  • British Isles 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling, digging out, repeated cutting, and frequent mowing can help control and eradicate young seedlings. Larger machinery, like a tractor, can dig out more mature plants. 
  • Natural control: Prescribed burning with a flame weed torch can also kill young plants. 
  • Chemical control: Rhamnus cathartica can be controlled using herbicides such as triclopyr, picloram, and Glyphosate. However, repeated applications and techniques, such as tree stump treatment, are needed for complete eradication. 

11. Common Mallow

Common mallow
Common mallow. Image: Flickr/carlwilson
  • Local Name: Common mallow; Cheeses; Cheeseweed
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Common mallow (dwarf mallow, Cheeseweed, Cheeseplant, or roundleaf mallow) is an herbaceous plant that grows to 60cm tall. Its leaves are dark green, alternately arranged, kidney to heart-shaped, and with long petioles (up to 12cm). 

The leaves have toothed margins and rounded to pointed tips. Each leaf blade has 5-9 shallow lobes and can reach up to 2.5cm long by 3cm wide. 

READ ALSO:  30 Common Weeds in Nigeria, their Botanical Names, and Pictures

Common mallow produces single-stalked flowers that bloom in clusters of 2-5 from the leaf axils. Each flower head has five white to pinkish petals, a column of white stamens, and pink styles at the center. 

It is native to: 

  • Europe
  • Asia 
  • Africa (except sub-Saharan Africa)

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging with gardening tools can control small patches of young seedlings. Regular mowing below 3 inches can prevent seeding and overwhelm large infestations. 
  • Cultural control: Practices like mulching, shading, and planting competitive plants can contain the spread of common mallow and prevent new seedlings from germinating. 
  • Chemical control:  Common mallow can be controlled with herbicides like dicamba, 2,4-D, triclopyr, or Glyphosate. 

12. Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea

Hand-pulling, mulching, frequent grazing, and chemical herbicides can help control the grass
Hand-pulling, mulching, frequent grazing, and chemical herbicides can help control the grass. Image: msu.edu
  • Local Name: Reed canarygrass
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Reed canarygrass is a tuft-forming perennial grass that grows to 2 meters tall. Its smooth, erect-growing, green, bamboo-like stems branch occasionally at the nodes. 

Its leaves are blue-green, alternately arranged, pointed at the tip, and measuring 10-30cm long by 0.5-2cm wide. The leaf blades are flat, hairless, and have an entire margin, but they have a rough texture on the surfaces and along the edge. 

Reed canarygrass produces flowers in clusters at the end of the stems. The blooms can reach up to 30cm long and are green to purplish (but turn to a tan, straw color as the seeds mature). 

It is native to: 

  • Europe
  • Asia
  • North America 

Removal Methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging out (everything, including the rhizomes) can help control small patches of reed canarygrass. 
  • Natural control: Burning can suppress the reed canarygrass population and even kill some of the seeds in the soil. However, it could also have the opposite effect of stimulating the rhizomes to produce new germinations. 
  • Cultural control: Mulching, frequent mowing, and grazing can help control the grass population. 
  • Chemical control: Reed canarygrass can be controlled using herbicides such as Sethoxydim, imazapyr, and Glyphosate. 

13. Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa

Wild parsnip
Wild parsnip. Image: Canva/mantonature
  • Local Name: Wild parsnip
  • Family: Apiaceae 
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial/ Short-lived perennial 

Wild parsnip, a root vegetable similar to carrots, is common in Minnesota yards. The plant produces compound, mid-green rosette leaves with 5-15 oblong-elliptic, hairless, and coarsely toothed leaflets in its first growing season. 

During the second season, hollow and grooved branching stems develop from the rosette, and new alternate leaves emerge alternately. The plant also produces greenish-yellow flowers in clustered umbels at the tip of the stem. 

Wild parsnips have a long, thick, fleshy, cream-colored tap root (like a carrot) that is edible. Its flavor is sweet and earthy. However, if the plant is left in the ground for too long, the taproot becomes woody and bitter. 

Pastinaca sativa is native to Europe and Asia. However, it is widely naturalized in several regions worldwide, including North America, where it is mostly considered invasive. 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and cutting the rosette leaves to the soil surface is an effective solution in the first season. For the second season repeated cutting and frequent mowing can help contain the spread of the plant in the second season. 
  • Cultural control: You can keep wild parsnips at bay by planting competitive beneficial crops or groundcover plants. Other cultural control techniques include mulching and repeated mowing (before flowering). 
  • Chemical control: The plant can be controlled with herbicides such as aminopyralid, dicamba, diflufenzopyr, 2,4-D, Picloram, or Triclopyr. You can also spot-treat individual plants with Glyphosate. 

14. Creeping Yellowcress (Convolvulus arvensis)  

Spraying chemical herbicides is the most effective way to control field bindweed
Spraying chemical herbicides is the most effective way to control field bindweed. Image: Canva/dadalia
  • Local Name: Field bindweed
  • Family: Convolvulaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial 

Creeping yellowcress (Field bindweed) is a creeping (or climbing) herbaceous plant with stems that reach 0.5-2 meters long. Its leaves are alternately arranged, arrowhead-shaped (sometimes triangular or oblong), and about 2-5cm long. 

The leaf blades have untoothed margins, rounded to pointed tips, and a square to heart-shaped base. The plant produces showy, white to pale pink funnel-shaped flowers with five fused petals that open in the morning and close in the afternoon.  

Although common in Minnesota, it is not native to the USA.

Creeping yellowcress is native to:

  • Europe 
  • Asia 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling and digging with gardening tools is an excellent solution for young seedlings. Repeated cultivation and tillage (young plants) can reduce the plant’s population and eventually deplete seeds in the soil.  
  • Cultural control: Practices such as mulching, shading, planting of competitive plants, suffocation with plastic cover, and withholding water can help control infestations. 
  • Chemical control: Spraying chemical herbicides is the most effective way to control field bindweed. Top herbicides include 2,4-D, dicamba, trifluralin, pendimethalin, oryzalin, and Glyphosate. 

NOTE: Once the plant has established rhizome root systems, cultivation and tillage become ineffective as it can cut up the rhizomes and spread them, causing increased encroachment.  

15. Wild Cucumber

Hand-pulling, repeated cutting, and applying chemical herbicides are the best ways to control the wild cucumber
Hand-pulling, repeated cutting, and applying chemical herbicides are the best ways to control the wild cucumber. Image: Canva/aga7ta
  • Local Name: Wild cucumber; Bur cucumber; Prickly cucumber
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual 

Wild cucumber is another common weed in Minnesota that grows in the wild and most often along roadsides. It is an annual vine with creeping stems that reach up to 8m long. The stems trail on the ground or climb over plants and other structures by coiling around them with tendrils. 

Its leaves are alternate with five triangular lobes and can be as large as 5-15cm long. The leaf blades have slightly toothed margins and are attached to the stems with a long petiole. 

Wild cucumbers have fragrant white to yellowish flowers, with male and female flowers on the same plant. They also bear pod-like fruit covered with spikes, giving them the appearance of spiny watermelons. 

Echinocystis lobata is native to North America, including Canada and most U.S. states. It is also widely distributed in other regions worldwide, including Europe and Asia. 

Removal methods 

  • Mechanical control: Hand-pulling or digging out the plant with gardening tools when dealing with young seedlings. For more mature plants, repeated cutting to ground level can suppress the aggressive growth of the species. 
  • Chemical control: Wild cucumber can be controlled using herbicides such as atrazine, glyphosate glufosinate, isoxaflutole, metribuzin, chlorimuron, parquet, and others.