There are various ways in which weeds can spread, including animals, water, and wind. This usually happens through spores and seeds. Weeds that stick to your clothes are usually spread by humans.
Not only do these weeds stick on clothes, but they also attach themselves to farm tools or pet animals in order to spread wide and far. Interestingly, most people are unaware of carrying these weeds, sometimes referred to as hitchhiker weeds.
Below is a list of the most common hitchhiker weeds and how to identify them.
1. Sandbur weed
Sandbur is one of those troublesome weeds found in pasturelands and patch lawns. The grassy weed thrives in dry soil and blends well with turfgrass.
Sandbur weed contains flat blade leaves, which can spread on your lawn, to form a carpet-like structure. These flat blades have hairy ligules with burrs on their ends which carry the seeds.
This grass with spiky seed pods will stick to not only your clothes but also your skin as well. Unfortunately, it is also the kind of weeds that stick to dogs due to their furs.
To control the weed infestation, you can mow them or pull it off with your hands. Also, during the fall season, you can fertilize your lawn to form a thick mat of grass that would choke the weed plants.
Additionally, using pre-emergent herbicides helps to prevent sandbur seeds from germinating.
Houndstongue is a biennial toxic plant that originated in Europe and has spread across the USA.
It has a rough texture, and its flowers come out of long coiled stalks.
Houndstongue is known for poisoning both livestock and wild animals that consume it. So, it would be wise not to have it in your garden for safety purposes.
It generates many burr-like seeds that stick to clothes and animal fur.
This invasive weed is found in most parts of the USA, and you can easily identify it once you understand its cycle. It resembles rosettes but has oblong leaves during the first year. It then grows up to four feet during the second year, when it produces flowers.
Houndstoungue red flowers produce three to four seeds contained in sticky seed pods. These sticky seed pods hook onto dogs, animal fur, and people’s clothing, spreading wide.
3. Hedge parsley
Hedge Parsley is a Southern Europe native weed that has spread to various parts of the USA. It is highly invasive and can survive in multiple growing conditions.
Torilis Arvensis is aggressive in growth and produces burr-like seeds that stick to animal fur and people’s clothes.
You are likely to find this weed growing on forests’ edges, roadsides, and gardens.
Torilis Arvensis flowers are white, tiny, and clumped together, with thin, rounded stems and fern-like leaves. Small white hairs also cover the stem and leaves.
Eliminate the weed by pulling with your hands or using a commercial herbicide. You can also mow early to suppress the seeds before they develop.
Alternatively, you can allow your livestock to feed on the weed before they flower because they are not toxic.
4. Palmer’s grappling hook
Palmer’s grappling hook is a wildly growing native weed that thrives on sand slopes, mostly in California desert regions, Baja-Mexico, Sonora, and Arizona. It is tiny, making it hard to notice.
However, this weed’s haired seed pods will stick to your socks, and that’s how they are spread.
Palmer’s grappling hook leaves, and stems are erect and herbaceous but can spread sometimes. Their stems and leaves are also covered with hooked white hair.
The leaves of Palmer’s grappling hook are lance-shaped, having rolling edges. This weed’s fruits are hairy green and emerge from small white flowers.
5. Beggarticks weeds
Beggarticks weed, also referred to as black-jack, farmer’s friend, or Spanish needle, is one of the common sticky weeds. It belongs to the aster family and is found across the USA, especially in disturbed places.
Beggarticks is annoying, and if left unattended in your garden, they can wreak havoc. The weed snowballs, suffocating the native plants.
The weed is noticeable due to its dull-green leaves with sharp edges. In addition, it has bright yellow flowers that look like daisies.
The weed’s stem is slim and leafy and can grow up to 1.8 meters high. Beggarticks’ fish-like sticky seeds will hook onto anything, including your clothes or the dog’s fur.
You can get rid of beggarticks by frequently mowing your garden. You can also uproot them when the soil is moist or even use designated herbicides.
6. Krameria weed
This perennial purple-flowered shrub is mostly found in Southeastern California and the Colorado desert. Krameria weed is drought resistant and only grows to a height of 0.9 meters. It has grey and ovate leaves which blend with the stem.
Krameria fruits contain radiating spines with several barbs and look like a small harpoon.
They have been cited for resembling the Uncarina of Madagascar. The barbs spread across the high section of each spine. They are the ones that easily stick on people’s clothes and are spread far.
7. Enchanter’s nightshade
Enchanter’s nightshade comes from the Willowherb family. It is a common garden weed but can also be found in woodlands, hedgerows, and the bottom of old walls.
Its oval leaves grow opposite each other. Enchanter’s nightshade has pink-white flowers that are loosely clustered and are mostly seen between June and August.
The plant is known because of its consistent climbing habit, and most gardeners consider it a weed.
However, Enchanter’s nightshade contains fruits covered with bristles containing hooks at the end. This enables them to attach to people’s clothes and animals for easy dispersal.
8. Catchweed bedstraw
Catchweed bedstraw is an annual plant native to Eurasia and North America. It has narrow, linear, whorled leaves and a shallow taproot that branches outwards. The stems are square in cross-section, mostly not branched, and weak.
This makes them unable to support themselves; hence they climb over other upright plants. Catchweed on their lay low and sprawling, creating thick, tangled mats.
Their leaves and stems are covered with hair-like bristles responsible for their tangled nature and sticky characteristics.
Catchweed flowers on the upper leaves range from pale green to white. Their fruits are covered with hairs that are hooked and appear like little brown things that stick to your clothes, facilitating their dispersal.
Catchweed can be found in waste sites, roadsides, disturbed areas, and shady, moist places.
9. Beggar’s lice
Beggar’s lice which is native to USA and Canada, is also referred to as the Virginia stickseed or sticktight weed.
It has irregular-shaped rough-textured leaves with green stems. Its tiny white flowers occur in mid-summer. During the first year of its growth, beggar’s lice only have the base spiral of foliage.
The flowering stalk starts ascending in the second year. Beggar’s lice name is derived from the characteristics of this plant’s seeds, which are burrs and highly sticky.
These burrs are super small and difficult to remove once they attach to your clothes or animal fur.
The entire stem or plant will likely be uprooted from the ground when the seed pod attaches to a cloth or fur. It is, therefore, a very effective technique for this plant to disperse its seeds.
10. Common burdock
Common burdock is also known as lesser burdock, little burdock, or button-bur.
It is another weed known for attaching itself to people’s clothes and spreading to long distances. Common burdock is mostly found in degraded places and pastures across the US.
It has large dark green leaves that are oval to triangular. The top leaf area is hairy, while the bottom area is woolly and pale green.
The common burdock flowers are tiny and many and come in various colors, such as lavender, white, pink, and purple.
Common burdock weeds are difficult to get rid of, as well as toxic. Some people will experience an allergic reaction if they contact them. They can also lead to eye infections and skin diseases in livestock.
Uprooting the plant from the soil when wet or mowing before bloom time is a good method to eradicate them. To control this weed, you can also use recommended herbicides such as glyphosate 2,4-d and Picloram.
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.