Weed identification is a vital first step towards eradication – it allows you to choose the correct solutions. However, identifying weeds is easier said than done.
Some of them – particularly weeds with huge leaves – look like actual plants or flowers. Other leafy weeds are even edible, yet they might give the false impression of a non-invasive plant.
Whatever the case might be, having big leaf weeds growing in your garden is not ideal. They are likely to be aggressive and can harm your plants. Some can even be poisonous and thus a huge hazard if you have kids or pets.
20 most common weeds with huge leaves
These are some of the most common weeds with large leaves you are likely to find growing in your garden:
1. Common Burdock (Arctium minus)
Common burdock, also known as lesser burdock is a biennial weed plant that primarily grows on lawns and gardens. It can also be found on landscaped gardens, paddocks, pasture, and along the road and streams.
Burdock can be identified by its large, heart-shaped leaves that look a lot like elephant ears. The leaves have a basal rosette formation during their first year and have a hairy texture on the underside. Another distinguishing feature is the purple to lavender flowers, which form at the leaf axis or the end of branches.
Common Burdock is an edible plant – usually the roots but also leaves and stalk. However, the plant is highly invasive, with a large root system that guarantees its survival.
It also spreads easily and quickly through the seeds. More than that, it is vulnerable to diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot and spread them to your plants. Therefore, it is better to remove it as soon as you spot it.
2. Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major)
Broadleaf plantain, also known as greater plantain or white man’s foot is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia.
However, it is widely naturalized, and you can find it anywhere in the world. It usually grows on gardens, lawns, meadows, roadsides, and even sidewalks (from the cracks).
Broadleaf plantain is characterized by huge leaves that are oval-shaped, and grow between 5 and 20 cm long. They have a smooth surface and margin and grow in a rosette formation close to the ground. The plant produces small, greenish-brown flowers that form at the top of the stem.
Broadleaf plantain is a beneficial weed plant, with the leaves being edible. However, it spreads easily through seeds, with a single plant producing up to 20,000 seeds. It is one of the most common weeds with huge leaves.
3. Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana)
Pokeweed, also known as American pokeweed is an herbaceous perennial plant native to the North American region. It sometimes grows in yards and gardens, but you are more likely to find it in forest edges, fence rows, and pastures.
American pokeweed is another one of the weeds with very huge leaves, which can grow up to 35 centimeters long.
They grow in an alternating pattern, and are medium green in color, with the underside having a lighter shade. It has white to greenish flowers (can also be pink), and green berries that turn dark purple when they ripen.
American pokeweed is an edible and beneficial plant. Young leaves and stems can be cooked and eaten. Juice that is extracted from berries can be used as a dye.
However, the plant is highly poisonous, especially the roots and berries. As it matures, the leaves and stems also become deadly.
4. Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)
Hedge bindweed, also known as Rutland beauty or bugle vine, is an herbaceous perennial plant that is found in temperate areas. It is one of the lawn weeds with big leaves that you are likely to find growing on your property.
Hedge bindweed leaves are matte green in color and can grow up to 10 centimeters long and 7 centimeters broad. It produces beautiful, white or pale pink flowers with dark stripes, which bloom in summer or late spring.
Hedge bindweed is one of the most aggressive weeds with huge leaves. It spreads quickly through its rhizome root systems. It is also self-seeding and can produce seeds that remain active for up to 30 years.
Lastly, the plant creeps and binds – hence the name – itself against other plants. Unchecked, it can weaken and even pull down shrubs and small trees.
5. Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti)
Velvetleaf is an annual weed plant native to Asia, but widespread in several regions of the world. It is a common sight on gardens, cornfields, landscape sites, and along roadsides and rail tracks.
Velvetleaf is a tall plant – growing up to 8 feet high. It is one of the tallest weeds with huge leaves.
Its flowers are yellow in color. The leaves are covered in short hairs, which produces a soft, velvety texture – hence the name.
The plant has many beneficial uses – it is edible, has medicinal uses, and is even used to make ropes and nets.
However, it is an aggressive and highly competitive weed, which steals nutrients from other plants.
6. Pigweed (Amaranthus spp.)
Pigweed is the name given to several species of perennial or annual plants, which are also known as amaranths. The plants are thought to be native to Asia and the Americas regions, but they are currently spread to every continent.
The pigweed plants have large leaves – up to 15 centimeters long – which grow in opposite or alternating formations. They are oval-shaped and have a dark or light green color (though some plants have leaves with purple hues). The flowers, on the other hand, range from greenish to crimson.
Pigweed is edible, with the leaves being used as vegetables and seeds ground into porridge flour. In fact, some people don’t consider it to be a weed.
The plant is even cultivated commercially in some areas. However, it spreads easily through seeds, making it pretty invasive.
7. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
Poison ivy, also known as eastern poison ivy is a flowering plant that is native to Asia and eastern regions of North America. It is poisonous and causes painful itches and rash on the skin on contact.
Poison ivy has almond-shaped trifoliate leaves, which grow up to 12 centimeters long. In rare cases, the weed can have massive leaves that are up to 30 centimeters long.
The leaves are usually light or dark green in color but turn to bright orange, red, or yellow in the fall season. This is also one of the most common weeds with huge leaves.
8. Bitter dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
Bitter dock (broad-leaved dock) is a perennial weed that is common in pastures and gardens. It is native to Europe but has spread widely to all continents. It is a highly invasive plant that spreads quickly through seeds and an aggressive root system.
The bitter dock plant has large oval-shaped leaves that grow up to 30 cm long and 15 cm wide. They have a rounded tip, cordate base, and are slightly wavy at the edges.
The leaves are also smooth on the top and hairy on the underside. The plant produces small, greenish flowers that turn reddish-brown as they mature.
9. Common figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)
Common figwort, also known as woodland figwort, is a weed plant that grows in shady areas such as gardens, wastelands, cultivated fields. It is primarily found in the temperate regions of Northern America.
Common figwort grows tall and can reach up to 150 cm high. It has large leaves with toothed margins, ovate bases, and lanceolate tips, which grow opposite each other.
The plant produces globular flowers that are greenish-purple with hues of white.
10. Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
Princess tree, also known as paulownia or empress tree is another weed you can find in your garden, woods, or fencerows. It has a tall thick stalk and produces very attractive flowers.
But make no mistake! It is an invasive species that produces several million seeds, that germinate anywhere with small amounts of soil.
Princess tree is one of the tall weeds with large leaves, which reach up to 12 inches long and 9 inches wide. They are heart-shaped and hairy on both sides.
Another distinctive feature is its flowers, which are tubular and pale purple in color.
11. Honesty (Lunaria annua)
Honesty is a flowering plant that is native to Asia and the Balkans but naturalized throughout the world in temperate regions.
It is known by several local names such as silver dollars, money plant, Pope’s money, coins of Judas, or Chinese money. This is in reference to its disc-shaped silicles (fruits/seedpods), which look a lot like silver coins.
Honesty weed has large, pointed, oval-shaped leaves. They are coarse, have serrations, and are hairy.
In summer and spring, the plant blooms attractive white or violet flowers, and conspicuous silicles that are brown, green, or translucent (silvery).
12. Redshank (Persicaria maculosa)
Redshank is an annual plant that grows close to human activity. You can find it in gardens, yards, roadsides, along creeks, and even from cracks in the sidewalks.
The plant has several medicinal benefits and its young leaves are edible. However, it is invasive – spreading fast once introduced in an area – and competes for nutrients with other plants.
You can identify the redshank weed by its narrow but long and massive ovate-shaped leaves. They have distinctive brown or black spots in the center and have an entire margin.
The plant also produces small, seed-like, pink flowers, which grow at the end of the stem in a dense spike.
13. Hedge Woundwort (Starchycs sylvatica)
Hedge woundwort is a weed plant that is a common site on gardens, meadows, in the woods, along hedgerows, and on roadsides.
It is highly invasive, spreading through seeds that scatter far and with ease. It also has a vast rhizome root system, which spreads vigorously once it takes hold.
You can identify hedge woundwort by its stem, leaves, and flowers. The stems are hairy, the same as the leaves.
Its leaves are also large (up to 15 cm long and 5 cm wide), dark green, heart-shaped, and have a toothed margin. On the other hand, its flowers have a conspicuous magenta-pink color, with white markings.
14. Garlic mustard (Aliaria petiolata)
Garlic mustard is a biennial flower plant that comes from the mustard family. You can find it growing on hedgerows, edge of the woods, gardens, and landscape sites.
It is an invasive weed species that produces several seeds that sprout and overwhelm other plants. The plant also produces toxic compounds, that leech into the soil and kill beneficial fungi.
Garlic mustard has heart-shaped leaves with a toothed margin. They have a garlic and mustard flavor hence the name. The leaves are added to food as a spice or eaten in salads in some areas. They are also said to exhibit medicinal properties.
Aside from the leaves, you can identify the plant by its white flowers with four petals. The flowers bloom around spring and summer and are edible.
15. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca)
Stinging nettle, also known as common nettle, is an herbaceous perennial plant native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Over time, it has naturalized and become endemic to all continents.
It has several benefits, from being used as food, medicine, and even raw materials for the textile industry.
However, it is an invasive species that is hard to eradicate. More than that, it is irritating, especially the stinging nettle hairs and the pollen that causes hay fever.
Stinging nettle has dark green leaves that grow opposite each other on the stem. They are pretty large, reaching up to 15 cm (length) and 5 cm (width).
The leaves are serrated and have tapered ends. The plant also produces tiny, greenish-white flowers in the summer, that grow in clusters from the stems.
16. Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)
Japanese knotweed is a perennial plant that comes from the buckwheat and knotweed family. It is native to Asia, particularly Japan, but is a common sight in Europe and North America.
The weed commonly grows on hedgerows, riverbanks, waste grounds, and roadsides. But you can also find it in your garden.
Japanese knotweed has appealing red-brown stems, which turn green at the tip. It also sports bright green, heart-shaped leaves that grow alternately on the stem.
The leaves are large and broad (up to 15 cm long and 12 cm wide), have smooth surfaces, and an entire margin. As for the flowers, the plant produces small, greenish-white flowers, which are clustered along the stem.
Its root structure enables it to grow faster. Here’s a detailed guide for eliminating Japanese knotweed.
17. Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum)
Russian comfrey is a perennial plant, which is a hybrid of the rough and common comfrey plants. It primarily grows on roadsides, woodlands, and waste grounds. However, it can invade gardens and other cultivated lands.
Russian comfrey has large, lance-shaped leaves, which can grow up to 14 inches long. They are medium green in color and have a wavy margin.
Its flowers, on the other hand, are purplish-blue in color and appear around summer.
Russian comfrey has many benefits, from medicinal uses, and ironically, weed control. It is planted as a cover plant in some areas, to smother weeds and provide organic matter after cultivation.
However, this is one of the highly invasive weeds with huge leaves that have aggressive rhizome root systems that allow it to spread fast.
18. Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)
Green alkanet is a perennial plant native to the European region, but also common in most parts of the world.
It is a tall-growing plant, that is a common sight in shaded areas, and is often found close to buildings.
Green alkanet has large, green, hairy leaves that grow in a basal rosette formation in the lower part of the stem. On the other hand, those on the upper part are attached to the stem and grow in an alternating pattern.
The plant also produces beautiful, blue flowers, which grow on the upper axis of the leaves.
19. Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
Giant hogweed, also known as giant cow parsley or wild parsnip, is an herbaceous perennial plant.
It is native to the Eurasia region but has spread all over the world. The weed was primarily introduced to new areas as an ornamental plant.
Giant hogweed has giant compound leaves with three leaflets that are deeply lobbed. The lower leaves are massive, growing up to 1.5 meters across the stem.
The plant also produces small, white flowers, which develop into seed pods, with each producing over 1,000 seeds.
Giant hogweed spreads easily through its seeds. It also has a giant tap root system that makes it a nuisance to eradicate. It is also pretty poisonous, with the stem producing sap that causes skin irritation, lesions, and blisters.
20. Dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis)
Dame’s violet is a flowering plant known by several local names, such as dame’s rocket, dame’s gillyflower, and summer lilac, among others.
It is native to Eurasia but has spread worldwide – cultivated mostly for its ornamental benefits.
Dame’s violet plant is tall growing – reaching heights of up to 1 meter high. It produces several upright stems, which are hairy.
Its leaves are bright green, lanceolate-shaped, and have a toothed edge. They grow alternately on the stem and have short hairs on both upper and lower parts.
Dame’s violet also produces conspicuous flowers, which range from white to lavender or purple. It blooms in late spring and early summer.
Looking to identify weed plants in your garden? The above are some of the invasive weeds with huge leaves.
Most of them are easy to identify as weeds due to their aggressive nature. However, some can pass for flowers or beneficial plants, and others are even edible and cultivated for food.
Nonetheless, these plants are invasive weeds. If left uncontrolled, they can overwhelm your garden, making it hard to grow other plants.
Now that you know how to identify them, you can move on to the next step – finding the perfect eradication solution.
IW’s Chief Editor and a lover of green spaces.