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Garden Weeds with Red Stems and Green Leaves

Most plants have green stems and leaves because of chlorophyll, a green pigment that enables them to make food. 

However, due to genetics, some plants have green leaves and red stems, which vary in shades, such as dark red, purple, reddish, or tinge-red.

The color comes from the pigment called anthocyanin, which makes the plants distinct and attractive in a garden. 

Here is a list of the ten weeds with red stems you can identify in your garden and how to eliminate them.

1. Pigweed – Amaranthus

Pigweed - Amaranthus
Pigweed – Amaranthus. Image: Flickr/Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The pigweed is among the annual weeds with red stems, with about 75 species in the genus. Ten of these genera are native to North America, while 65 others are native to the rest of the continents.

They are characterized by their oval or elliptical-shaped green leaves and height of 3 to 8 feet tall. Its flowers vary in shades of red, and the plant grows in hot and sunny climates.

The best way to get rid of this plant is by mowing the roadsides where they grow several times to reduce seed production. 

You can also practice harvest weed seed control which is effective for terminating weed seeds from growing.

2. Common Pokeweed – Phytolacca Americana

Common Pokeweed - Phytolacca Americana
Common Pokeweed – Phytolacca Americana. Image: Flickr/Jackie & Dennis

Pokeweed, or American pokeweed, is a poisonous perennial plant with red stems and green leaves native to Midwest, Eastern, and South North America. Its origins are also traced in parts of Europe and Asia.

They are characterized by their simple green leaves and a height of 4 to 10 feet. The plant has green or white flowers and red, purplish, or green stems.

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The best way to eliminate the pokeweed is by pulling them by the roots or using a shovel. If the plants are tall or pulling and digging are ineffective, eliminate them using a weed killer or herbicide.

3. Castor Bean – Ricinus communis

Castor Bean - Ricinus communis
The castor bean plant – Ricinus communis.Image: Flickr/Czesiek K.

Castor beans, or castor oil, are perennial weeds with red stems and green leaves native to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, East Africa, and India. 

The plant grows in tropical frost-free regions with well-drained and moist soil.

They are characterized by their long and glossy green leaves and height of 12 meters. The castor bean plant’s flowers don’t have any petals, but it grows in hot and humid climates.

The best way to get rid of the castor bean plant is by cutting down the stems and leaving them to rot because they are a safety hazard. 

You can also eliminate them using a weed killer or herbicide.

4. Lady’s Mantle – Alchemilla

Lady's Mantle - Alchemilla
Lady’s Mantle – Alchemilla.Image: Flickr/Lesley~B

The lady’s mantle is a herbaceous perennial weed plant made of 700 species, most native to Europe and Asia. 

Few other species are native to the mountainsides of Africa and North America.

The low-growing plant can be characterized by its semi-round and scalloped-shaped green leaves and a height of about 12 inches. 

Its flowers are small and don’t have any petals, and it is known to grow in cool summer regions with moist soil.

One way to get rid of these plants is by pulling them from the ground or digging them out using a shovel. 

Alternatively, you can spray a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate for effective weed termination.

5. Himalayan Balsam – Impatiens glandulifera

Himalayan Balsam - Impatiens glandulifera
Himalayan Balsam – Impatiens glandulifera.Image: Flickr/Ian Morton

The Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant that, as the name suggests, is native to the Himalayas. 

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It is common ornamental jewelweed in households across Europe and North America because of its colorful flowers.

The large weed plant grows to 1 or 2 meters tall with red stems and long, lanceolate leaves. Its hooded flowers are pink and mostly grow in damp places like wetlands and riverbanks.

To get rid of this plant, pull or cut it off before it flowers or produces seeds and leave them to dry in the sun for a few days. 

You can also use herbicides only if pulling or cutting them is ineffective.

6. Japanese Wineberry – Rubus phoenicolasius

Japanese Wineberry - Rubus phoenicolasius
Japanese Wineberry – Rubus phoenicolasius.Image: Flickr/janter2

As the name suggests, Japanese wineberry is a perennial plant with red stalk and green leaves native to Asian regions such as Japan, China, and Korea. 

It’s popular for its raspberry production of the Asian species and was later introduced in North America and Europe as an ornamental plant.

As one of the most common weeds with red stems, the plant can be described with its orange or red fruits and height up to 3 meters. Its flowers are purplish red or pink, with a bristle calyx that blooms in late spring.

An effective way to remove this plant is by hand pulling it, especially if it’s spread in a small area. 

You can try chemical control using systematic herbicides like glyphosate or triclopyr if it proves ineffective.

7. Elephant Bush – Portulacaria afra

Elephant Bush - Portulacaria afra
Elephant Bush – Portulacaria afra. Image: Flickr/Catherine Senko

The elephant bush is a perennial succulent weed plant native to South Africa. It’s majorly grown as an ornamental houseplant, food source, and medicinal plant.

It is popular for its red-pigmented succulent stems and short round leaves. The elephant bush is a short-wooded shrub plant that can grow to a height of between 2.5 to 4.5 meters in sunny regions.

If they’ve infested your garden, you can get rid of them by pruning them regularly and leaving them to dry in the sun. 

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You can also pull them from the roots to prevent regrowth in your garden.

8. Mountain Pepper – Tasmannia lanceolata

Mountain Pepper - Tasmannia lanceolata
Mountain Pepper – Tasmannia lanceolata. Image: Flickr/Brian G

The mountain peppers are shrubs or small red-stemmed plants native to the woodlands and rainforests of southeastern Australia. 

The plant is known for its aromatic leaves, spice, and bushfood condiment.

It can be identified by its 2 to 10 meters height and red stems with narrow green leaves. 

The mountain pepper’s flowers have cream or white petals and are grown as ornamental plants in most households.

You can eliminate this plant by pulling it with your hands, shovel, or fork shovel. Alternatively, you can spray them using herbicides to exterminate them effectively.

9. Red-Stemmed Filaree – Erodium cicutarium

Red-Stemmed Filaree - Erodium cicutarium
Red-Stemmed Filaree – Erodium cicutarium. Image: Flickr/beautyinature4me

The red-stemmed filaree, or the common stork’s-bill, is an annual and biennial weed plant native to Macaronesia, Eurasia, and the northern parts of Africa. 

It grows in warm climates and was introduced in North America in the 18th century.

It’s characterized by its red sticky and hairy, odorless stems. Its pink flowers bear dark spots on the bases, and its leaves are pinnate.

You can remove this plant from your garden by hand pulling them before they mature and produce flowers. 

You can also apply minimal herbicides on the lawn or garden while they are seedlings.

10. Common Purslane – Portulaca oleracea

Common Purslane - Portulaca oleracea
Common Purslane – Portulaca oleracea. Image: Flickr/Muslima2006

The common purslane, or little hogweed, is an annual succulent plant with red stems native to Northern Africa and Southern Europe. 

Throughout its growth, it has spread to the Middle East, Southern Asia, and Australia.

The short succulent plant is characterized by its height of 16 inches and smooth reddish stems. 

Its fruits are mostly seeded capsules, and its flowers appear any time of the year, depending on the rainfall.

Since it spreads fast, the best way to get rid of it is through soil solarization, which covers the lawn or garden soil with a clear plastic sheet for 4 or 6 weeks. 

This is especially effective when removing weeds from a large area.

You can also control the spread of the common purslane through mulches that are 3 inches thick.