Did you just come across a plant with purple flowers in your yard or garden and aren’t sure what it might be? It is most likely weeds that have sprouted some flowers. If you are a gardener or farmer, you know how problematic weeds can be.
Many weeds are difficult to remove. They also take up valuable space and compete with other plants for important resources like water, sunlight and nutrients.
Since there are many types of weeds, many of them bearing similar characteristics, it can be hard to identify and distinguish them. Here, we’ll help you identify weeds with purple flowers and provide removal tips that work.
1. Creeping Charlie/ Ground Ivy
Creeping Charlie, scientifically known as Glechoma hederacea, is a very problematic weed. It is low-growing, usually between a few inches to two feet above the ground. As the name suggests, this plant is a creeper with fibrous roots that spread far and wide.
So if you spot a vine weed with purple flowers on your lawn, it could be a creeping Charlie.
Another thing to note about ground ivy is its shiny dark green leaves with serrated edges, which grow in opposite pairs along its square-shaped stems. The purple flowers bloom in the spring and summer.
This lawn weed is particularly problematic due to the large number of seeds it produces and its ability to spread vegetatively by rooting at the leaf nodes.
We’ve previously discussed several ways to get rid of creeping Charlie. Here’s a list of the most effective methods:
- Pulling: Most common for small pieces of land
- Digging: Better for relatively larger spaces which you intend to utilize
- Spraying: Use of herbicides for large areas
- Mulching: This prevents creeping Charlie from growing back.
This weed with tiny purple flowers in the grass (where it is often found) is often confused with creeping Charlie. Although they belong to the same family, they are not the same plant. Henbit is the less aggressive cousin to creeping Charlie.
This one, however, has hairy stems, rounded leaves, purple funnel-shaped flowers, and short stature, growing 10-25 cm above the ground. It also has a shallow fibrous root system.
A single henbit plant could produce up to 2,000 seeds in the spring, and you may want to get rid of it if you are a cattle farmer or have other plants growing around it, especially those that do not coexist well with other plants.
3. Canada thistle/creeping thistle
The scientific name for creeping thistle is Cirsium arvense. It is a perennial weed with a deep root system, making it very difficult to remove by hand.
The leaves are dark green, and its small purple flowers grow in clusters. They spread very fast, so early removal is key.
This is best done by trimming the plant down to ground level and then digging deep enough that the entire root system is removed. Note that you have to trim the plant multiple times to get rid of it completely.
4. Black nightshade
Solanum nigrum, a problematic garden weed, grows about two feet tall with small dark green leaves. The flowers could be white or purple.
It is particularly dangerous because many confuse it with the edible nightshade, but if ingested, black nightshade causes stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. The sap can also irritate the skin.
Removal can be done by hand pulling (wear gloves to avoid irritation), and if it has already produced seeds, dig up the entire plant and double-check the garden to ensure you got everything out.
5. Crane’s bill/Dove’s foot
Geranium molle has a deep root system and grows to about 20 cm in height. The leaves are lobed, and the small flowers have five petals.
For removal, it is best to hand pull or dig the root out, and it is best to do this in spring or fall. Mulching prevents the weed from sprouting again, but be careful to keep the mulch away from the base of trees.
6. Common thistle/Spear thistle/Bull thistle
Cirsium vulgare is among the easiest purple-flowered weeds to detect. It can grow quite tall, even reaching 6 feet. The leaves are prickly, and the stem is covered in tiny thorns. It grows both in the wild and in gardens.
The best way to get rid of it is by hand pulling from the root if you have a small piece of land. For larger areas, you can use herbicides, but be careful not to get them on your other plants.
Myosotis sylvatica, commonly known as Forget-me-nots, is a weed with tiny purple flowers often found in gardens and lawns. It grows low, with a height of up to 12 inches, with hairy leaves, and is considered quite invasive.
For removal, it is best to use a pitchfork to loosen the soil and hand-pull them by the root. You may need to repeat this a few times. If you don’t have a pitchfork, use a closely similar tool from this list of weeding equipment.
You can also use a glyphosate-based weed killer such as Roundup, but be careful not to damage other plants.
8. Wild violets
Viola Odorta is a beautiful but problematic weed with dainty purple flowers growing at the top. Once they take root, they become hard to control. They are very competitive with other plants and spread quite fast.
To get rid of these, hand pulling is the most effective method, but it can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large piece of land. The alternative is using herbicides and taking the necessary precautions to avoid damaging other plants.
Prunella vulgaris is a perennial weed with small tubular flowers and serrated leaves, mostly found in moist, shady areas. It is edible, with the leaves being cooked or eaten raw in salads and the flowers used as tea.
Removing this fast-spreading plant by hand-pulling them or mowing them before they flower is most effective in preventing seed production. It is not advisable to use herbicides on this plant, as they barely work.
10. Musk thistle/Nodding thistle
Carduus nutans are among the purple weeds found in grass and meadows. It takes two years for this plant to complete its life cycle, growing leaves from a rosette to the ground in the first year and a flowering stalk of up to 6 feet sprouts in the second year.
The flower comprises a cluster of many smaller flowers at the top of the stalk. Its spiny leaves form underneath the flower and produce up to 50,000 seeds per plant, which remain viable in the soil even after ten years.
This problematic weed is very competitive with other plants and can be poisonous to livestock if consumed in large amounts.
For removal, hand pulling is the best option, but it is best to protect your skin from the spiny leaves. Another option is using herbicides. The best time to remove musk thistle is during the rosette stage (first year) or the flowering stage in the second year.
More about weeds
- The most common weeds in New England
- These 10 weeds that stick to your clothes
- List of plant identification apps for Android
Carla is a student pursuing a B.S in Agricultural Systems Technology. With a passion for landscaping for over 4 years, Carla loves plants. She has previously contributed to several other sites in the space before joining InsightWeeds.