Most homeowners are well acquainted with large undesirable flowering weeds, including dandelion, speedwell, bugleweed, buttercup, and violets, which can ruin the appearance of an otherwise desirable lawn. But what about the other, smaller flowering weeds? Not as many can readily identify those, even though they often far outnumber their larger counterparts, and can be just as hard to eliminate. The links below lead to brief articles with photographs that will help the reader identify the particular weedy flowers discussed.
Early Spring Appearances
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is one of the early-blooming flowers in a lawn. Although it is nice to see a hint of red and purple at the end of a bleak winter, one would rather not find it in his lawn. A lawnmower is of little purpose in ridding the lawn of “the purple flower” called henbit, or any of the other flowering weeds listed below.
Another quick starter “out of the gate” is Hairy Bittercress-also called Pennsylvania Bittercress and a host of other names (Cardamine hirsuta). It produces an abundance of little white flowers that form all those annoying seedpods, which shoot seeds everywhere whenever something brushes against them.
Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) is yet another ugly spring entrant in the race to ruin your lawn. Somewhat similar in appearance to henbit, deadnettle is a bit larger, growing on stalks. It visually stands out more, making it look as if the homeowner doesn’t take proper care of his or her lawn.
Not as quick to appear, there are other pesky bloomers which ‘uglify’ any lawn. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is one of these. Ground Ivy was once used as an ingredient in homebrew beer. However, it and its blue flowers is a terrible nuisance. Its runners spread everywhere at lightning speed, making it one of the worst of nuisances to the lawn enthusiast.
Wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta), sometimes called sourgrass or oxalis, looks a bit like clover, and has tiny yellow flowers. Its sour taste comes from the presence of oxalic acid, which is toxic to humans in anything but tiny doses. It doesn’t constitute as much of a problem to lawns as ground ivy or some of the other flowering weeds, but remains an undesirable, just the same.
Carolina geranium (Geranium carolinianum) a small and ugly weedy flower is nevertheless reminiscent of the much-to-be-desired wild geranium or its cultivated counterpart the “ordinary” red geranium, sometimes planted in Grecian urns. This weed is somewhat larger than the others featured in this article, but as with the others, Carolina geranium escapes the lawnmower. Other measures are needed if success is to be achieved in attaining a thick, healthy, weed-free lawn.
References and Resources:
Co-op Extension, North Carolina State University – Gardening Tips: Controlling Flowering Weeds in the Lawn
Purdue University – Weed Identification and Control