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20 weeds with long narrow leaves

Weeds are commonly present in gardens and farms that may grow wild and compete for resources with the plants you’ve grown.

While most of these weed plants are referred to as “weed,” it’s important that you identify them by their name and features. Once you’ve done so, you’ll find eradicating and controlling them easier.

However, other weeds are attractive that instead of getting rid of them, you can relocate them to another place or leave them.

These are 20 common weeds with long narrow leaves and how to control or eradicate them.

1. Purslane

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Image: Flickr/oleksandr_k

The common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is an annual (and also tropical perennial) succulent plant native to North Africa and Southern Europe.

It is thought to contain nutritional value and can be eaten raw or added to food salad.

The plant may grow as tall as 16 inches high and has smooth, reddish prostrate stems. Its leaves are clustered at the stem’s joints and ends, producing yellow flowers.

The best time to get rid of purslane is at its early stage of maturity, and you can do so by hand pulling them. You can also use herbicides, which are effective when the weeds are young.

2. Field bindweed

Bindweed - Convolvulus arvensis
Bindweed – Convolvulus arvensis. Image: Flickr/lentinellus

Scientifically named Convolvulus arvensis, the field bindweed is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows on walls and fences.

The weed plant is native to North America, Europe, and Asia.

The bindweed can grow up to 6.5 feet in length and has pinkish-white flowers that bloom and produce a pleasant fragrance.

The stems are slender, branched, and deciduous, with alternate leaves with pointed lobes at the base.  

The effective way to control or eradicate bindweed is by removing the plant from its root system.

You can also apply herbicides or landscape fabric on top of it to prevent seed production.

3. Pigweed

Pigweed (Amaranth)

Pigweed’s scientific name is Amaranthus, but it is also known as wild spinach, redroot pigweed, and green amaranth.

It is among the annual weeds with long narrow leaves native to North and South America.

The pigweed’s key features include simple green oval leaves and round seedpods that produce many seeds.

Its flowers are purplish-pink with dark pink stripes running down them. They’re common in areas with high sun exposure and are edible –often as an addition to salads.

The best way to eradicate pigweed in your lawn or garden is by pulling out the weed before it flowers.

Then, since it thrives in light for germination, mulch the weeds with 3 to 6 inches of mulch layers.

4. Dandelion

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions, scientifically named Leontodon taraxacum, are perennial plants that grow in temperate regions in areas with well-drained and moist soils.

The plant species varies with native regions such as North America, Europe, and Asia.

Its bright yellow flowers characterize it. It often grows on lawns and appears through cracks in sidewalks and driveways.

Despite being a weed, the plant is used for medicinal purposes and can be added to salads.

The best and most effective method to eradicate dandelions is by digging up the plant from its roots. For this method to be effective, you might need special dandelion removal tools.

NOTE: You can also eliminate dandelion using herbicides, but the weed may keep coming back, especially if you haven’t destroyed its root system.

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5. Common thistle

Common thistle - Cirsium vulgare
Common thistle (Cirsium vulgare). Image: Flickr/HelenGeorge

The common thistle, whose botanical name is Cirsium vulgare, is a perennial plant with long narrow leaves native to Europe.

The weed is commonly found in pastures, meadows, and roadsides and is native to Europe and Asia.

It’s characterized by dark purple flowers blooming in spring and spiny and lance-shaped leaves.

It also has a deep taproot system that anchors it firmly to the soil for support, water, and nutrients.

Digging up thistles isn’t an effective eradication approach since they’re invasive weeds that can regenerate through their roots.

Instead, the most effective ways of controlling common thistle are by hand-pulling, mowing, and using herbicides.

6. Creeping speedwell

Creeping Speedwell - Veronica filiformis
Creeping Speedwell (Veronica filiformis). Photo: flickr/tiggrx

The creeping speedwell, whose botanic name is Veronica filiformis, is a perennial weed with hairy stems.

It’s native to Europe, Asia, northern Turkey, and the Caucasus and was introduced to the United States in the 1920s.

The weed can grow up to 2 to 5 inches high and 20 to 30 inches wide upon maturity.

It produces blue, pinkish-purple, or white flowers and reproduces primarily by seeds. It mostly grows in lawns, gardens, or turf grass areas with moist soils.

Creeping speedwell can be controlled by regular mowing and applying the mecoprop or ioxynil herbicide mixture in spring or autumn.

You can also manually remove the weeds to control their spread.

7. Groundsel

Groundsel - Senecio vulgaris
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Common groundsel, botanically called Senecio vulgaris, is an annual flowering weed native to Europe, parts of North Africa, and northern Asia. It has then been distributed to various habitats worldwide.

The long, thin-leaf plant features pinnately lobed leaves about 3 inches long and covered with soft fine hairs.

Its stems are hollow from the top to its base, producing yellow flowers. Furthermore, it has a shallow taproot and spreads itself by reseeding.

The recommended method of controlling the weed plant is by hand pulling and tilling.

You can also use herbicides, but they may affect crops such as forage legumes, mint, carrots, and other non-grass crops.

8. Cleavers

Cleavers - Galium aparine
Cleavers (Galium aparine). Image: Flickr/AndreasRockstein

Cleavers’ botanical name is Galium aparine, an annual weed plant native to European countries.

They are easily identified by their slender sprawling stems that grow up to one meter in length.

They also have slender green leaves and little green-white flowers that develop green or purple fruits.

You can eradicate it by hand pulling it, as they are easy to uproot and remove. However, you should remove it once it rears its head to minimize regeneration.

9. Marestail

Marestail - Erigeron Canadensis
Marestail (Erigeron Canadensis). Photo: Flickr/tencza

Also known as horseweed, marestail’s scientific name is Erigeron Canadensis. It’s an annual plant native to North America and has spread throughout Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Its key features include a height of about 1.5 meters with hairy stems. Its leaves are slender and unstalked with coarsely toothed margins.

Its flowers have a distinguishable white or purple ring and yellow florets.

Since they are resistant to herbicides, it’s recommended that one uses herbicides such as burndown herbicides in fall or early spring before they mature.

10. Green foxtail

Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis)
Green Foxtail (Setaria viridis). Photo: Flickr/Changer4ever

Its scientific name is Setaria viridis, an annual and ubiquitous grass weed native to Eurasia. It later grew on lawns, crop fields, gardens, and landscapes in the United States.

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The green foxtail grows up to three inches high, and its leaves are half an inch wide. Its seed head is whip-like with small dark green brittles and looks like a foxtail. It also has fibrous roots.

It’s advised not to use herbicides to eradicate green foxtail as it may cause more damage than good. Instead, you can hand-pull it from your garden or yard.

11. Ribwort plantain

Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Photo: Flickr/yunck-bd

Ribwort plantain, known scientifically as Plantago lanceolata, is a perennial weed native to Eurasia. It was later distributed to North America, Australia, and other countries with suitable habitats.

It can be identified by its ribbed lance-shaped leaves and soft hairy stems. Its flower stalk is deeply furrowed, and its head gradually turns brown and seeds.

The main way to prevent these weeds is by keeping your soil healthy and aerated. If present, the best weed treatment is by pulling them out, including the roots, before they have a chance to spread their seeds.

12. Couch grass

Couch Grass - Elymus repens
Couch Grass (Elymus repens)

Its botanical name is Elymus repens, a perennial outdoor plant with long leaves. The grass is native to Europe, Asia, northwest Africa, and the Arctic biome.

Its characterized by its underground stems with creeping shoots. Unfortunately, it also has a deep network of roots that spread quickly and choke valuable plants.

Small infestations can be cleared out by hand-pulling them during springtime.

It’s commonly referred to as an invasive weed, and its control measures include digging them to the roots and covering the area with mulch to prevent regrowth.

NOTE: Make sure you use an appropriate weeding tool for the best results.

13. Chickweed

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed (Stellaria media). Photo: Flickr/Clémentine

Chickweed, scientifically called Stellaria media, is an annual winter weed that grows in cool regions.

The plant species is native to Eurasia and has been naturalized worldwide. It grows in moist soils or temperatures between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its characteristics include lush green mates with small, white star-shaped flowers. The leaves are green, oval, and hairless, while its stems are terete and hairless.

It’s very difficult to control chickweed because of its invasive capabilities. Therefore, the best method is hand-pulling or cultivating it at its early stages of maturity.

It would be best to mulch the cultivated area with organic mulch wood chips to prevent the seeds from germinating.

14. Crabgrass

Crabgrass - Digitaria sanguinalis
Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)

Scientifically known as Digitaria sanguinalis, crabgrass is an annual weed that thrives in moist soil, making it difficult to control once it has germinated.

The weed is native to Europe and Eurasia, having later been introduced in the United States in 1849 as a forage crop.

Its key features include smooth stems with circular grooves. Its leaves are long and narrow and yellowish-green to lime green.

Crabgrass is easy to identify; once done, they are hand-pulled or mowed to eradicate them when young.

You can also use crabgrass removal tools or a crabgrass preventer such as Tenacity.

Ensure you don’t overwater your garden to prevent crabgrass’s uncontrolled growth and spread.

15. Shepherd’s purse

Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Image: Flickr/treearound

Shepherd’s purse, whose scientific name is Capsella bursa-pastoris, is a low but quick-growing plant that’s invasive and difficult to eliminate.

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It’s an annual flowering weed plant native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor.

It grows three to 1.64 feet long and produces triangular or heart-shaped seedpods with seeds that remain productive in the ground for several years.

It also has pointed leaves that grasp the long stem and its small and white flowers.

The best method to control shepherd’s purse is by regularly pulling the weeds and mowing the lawn for the best results.

Next, mulch the remaining weed 3 inches deep or use herbicide before it flowers.

16. Sandbur

Sandbur weed

Sandbur, botanically called Cenchrus, is an annual and perennial weed plant native to North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.

It can be identified by its 40 inches height and widely spread and shallow roots. The leaf blades are twisted and have a fringed ligule at the leaf’s base.

The recommended way of managing sandburs is by regularly mowing your lawn and maintaining your lawn.

You can also pull it or fertilize your lawn or garden in the fall to crowd out any sandbur seedlings in spring.

17. Canada thistle

Canada Thistle - Cirsium arvense
Canada thistle

Canada thistle, whose scientific name is Cirsium arvense, is a weed plant that spreads by seed. It’s native to parts of Europe and was introduced in America in the 16th century.

Its common characteristics include purple spiky flowers, long skinny leaves that form arrow-like shapes, and hairy prickly stems. Its seeds are similar to dandelion seed heads but more significant.

One way of minimizing infestation of Canada thistle is by mowing it into the soil before planting. You can also snip off the weed at its base using garden scissors.

It’s, however, not a good idea to uproot the weed as it can regrow with the tiniest portion of root in the soil.

18. Smartweed

Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)
Smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia). Photo:

Smartweed, botanically referred to as Persicaria lapathifolia, is an annual herb native to parts of Europe.

It can be identified by its red erect stems, a height of 6 feet when fully grown, and dark pink flowers. The green leaves are alternate and hairy, while its blades have a dark-colored mark in the middle.

Maintaining a healthy and well-kept lawn or garden can prevent the weed from growing.

If there’s a small infestation, you can pull them out or use organic herbicides but avoid spraying on your plants.

19. Nutsedge

nutsedge weed
Nutsedge. Image: Twitter/onias_mlambo

The nutsedge weed, whose scientific name is Cyperus rotundus, is an annual and perennial weed that quickly spreads by rhizomes and seeds.

They thrive in moist and dry soils and are native to Africa, southern Asia, and southern and central Europe.

It easily resembles a blade of grass with its dark green V-shaped stem. The weeds grow to a diameter of up to six inches or more and release tiny greenish-yellow triangular seeds when they mature.

Nutsedge is spread through its rhizomatous roots and seeds, making it difficult to eradicate.

That’s why it’s important to eliminate them as soon as you identify them using the herbicide glyphosate.

20. Horsetail


Horsetail weed, scientifically called Equisetum arvense, is a perennial weed that grows in wet or moist soil.

It’s a tall plant with long thin leaves and native to the Arctic regions and the Northern Hemisphere.

The weed has thin, green branches, long leaves, and erect and succulent stems. Furthermore, it’s a poisonous weed to animals, especially if consumed in huge amounts.

Common control methods such as pulling, tilling, herbicides, and smothering are ineffective in eradicating horsetail weed.

The best way to eradicate the weed is by changing the soil conditions, such as drainage, pH, and soil fertility.