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Plants Called “Weeds,” Are Simply Defined As “Plants Out Of Place.” This Definition May Be Expanded To Include Any Plant That:

  • Presents Difficulty In Cultivating Desirable Plants
  • Has A Potential For Decreasing The Value Of Plant And Animal Products
  • Causes Losses Through Increased Cultivation Or Harvesting Costs
  • Presents A Hazard Of Poisoning People Or Animals
  • Interferes With The Enjoyment Of Outdoor Recreation
  • Destroys The Aesthetic Value Of Turf And Other Ornamental Plantings

Weeds are known by everyone, but are not necessarily recognized. Effective selective weed control efforts depend on the ability to recognize plants, to make an intelligent choice of cultural practices and herbicide use. This webpage aides in recognizing 120 of the more common weeds in the Southern United States. Please note there are more than 300 common names for these same weeds. Priority was assigned on the basis of most common occurrence and difficulty to control. We have attempted also to represent all the southern states with weeds peculiar to the widely varying environments. Nevertheless, there are at least 180 weeds of lesser importance which are not shown, and which present problems over large or local areas.

Common names of weeds conform to the Weed Science Society of America Terminology Committee report. Botanical names conform first to the WSSA Terminology report, or alternatively to Smalls’s “Manual of Southeastern Flora,” or to Gray’s “Manual of Botany.”

Real Green Pest and LawnCarpetweed

Mollugo verticillata
Summer annual. Stems green, smooth. Branches along ground in all directions from swollen nodes, forming flat mats. Smooth, tongue like leaves in spread clusters of five to six at each joint. Flowers small, white Seed is orange-red. Found in cultivated soils.

Real Green Pest and LawnRedroot Pigweed

Amaranthus retroflexus
Summer annual. Stems erect, to six feet tall, rough textured, freely branching. Pull green leaves, long petioles. Small, green flowers in dense spikes in upper leaf axils and stem ends, with three spiny bracts around each flower. Shiny black, tiny seed. Found in cultivated fields, barnyards, fencerows and waste areas.

Smooth pigweed (A. hybridus) is similar but petioles shorter, plant texture not rough, with fewer, less dense flower spikes.

Real Green Pest and LawnSpiny Amaranth

Amaranthus spinosus
Summer Annual. Reddish, nearly smooth, slightly branched in lower proportion. Plant is one to three feet tall. Leaves alternate, dark green. Spines 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, in leaf axils. Small, spiny flowers in dense, finger-like spikes at ends of stems and branches. Shiny black seed. Found in Livestock feeding and holding areas, cultivated fields.

Real Green Pest and LawnPoison-ivy

Rhus radicans
Perennial woody vine or shrub, often climbing by short rootlets on trees or fences. Smooth stems, light brown to grayish. Alternate leaves with three large, broad, shiny leaflets with either smooth or irregular-toothed edges. Smooth, almost round, greenish-white berries about 1/4 inch diameter. Found in open woods, fencerows, old fields and on ditch banks.

Real Green Pest and LawnHemp Dogbane

Apocynum cannabinum
Perennial. Stems erect, one to three feet tall from woody, horizontal rootstocks, with milky sap. Leaves smooth, elliptical, narrow, erect. Flowers small, with five greenish-white petals. Seed pod long and slender, curved. Seed with soft, silky hairs on one end. Found in old fields and wasteland.

Real Green Pest and LawnHoneyvine Milkweed

Ampelamus albidus
Perennial. Smooth, twining vine, without milky juice. Opposite leaves smooth, broad, heart-shaped, pointed, with long petioles. Small, whitish flowers in clusters on stalks from leaf axils. Seed pod brownish-green, smooth and pointed. Seed brown, oval, flattened, with silky white hairs. Found in rich, moist, cultivated fields and fence rows.

Real Green Pest and LawnButterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa
Perennial. Stems usually one to four, clustered from rootstock, one to two feet long. Stems without noticeably milky sap. Leaves broadly oval, rough-hairy, clasping stem. Flowers in clusters or racemes, variable color from light yellow to orange to red. Seed pod a follicle, egg-shaped seed with silky white hairs. Found on dry, open soils.

Real Green Pest and LawnTrumpetcreeper

Campsis radicans
Perennial woody vine. Spreads by seed and roots. Stems smooth, 20 to 40 feet long. Leaves opposite,6 inches long, compound, with 7 to 11 leaflets. Flowers funnel- or trumpet-shaped, large, color orange to scarlet, in short- stemmed clusters. Seed pod four to six inches long, round but flattened on two sides, slightly curved. Found in fence rows and fields.

Real Green Pest and LawnJapanese Honeysuckle

Lonicera japonica
Perennial twining or trailing woody vine. Leaves oval, smooth margins, short petioles. Young stems green to red, gray and brittle with age. Flowers white or tinged with purple, turning light yellow. Very fragrant. Berries black. Aggressive weed found in fencerows, forestland and old fields.

Real Green Pest and LawnCorn Cockle

Agrostemma githago
Winter annual. Stems erect, slender, rough, hairy, swollen at joints Leaves opposite, joined at base. Flowers large, reddish-purple to purple. Seed pod ribbed, bladder- or urn-like, seed lack and rough. Seed poisonous. Found in grain crops.

Real Green Pest and LawnHeartleaf Drymary

Drymaria cordata
Annual. Stems prostrate, succulent, spreading. Leaves round to kidney-shaped, opposite, bright green. Flowers inconspicuous, With oval seed pod. Found in gardens, roadsides, ditches in warmest regions of Southeast.

Real Green Pest and LawnMouseear Chickweed

Cerastium vuIgatum
Perennial. Hairy, slender, spreading to erect stems. Leaves small, very hairy, opposite, attached directly to stem. Five small, white flower petals notched at tips. Seed pods very small with many tiny, brown seed. Found in lawns, pastures, abandoned fields.

Real Green Pest and LawnAnnual Bursage

Ambrosia acanthicarpa
Grey-green leaves have deep lobes and are covered with short, bristly hairs. Seed is a burr with flattened spines. Upright growth habit to about 30 inches tall. A drought tolerant weed of sandy, disturbed ground.

Real Green Pest and LawnAnnual Ryegrass

Lolium multiflorum
A bunching grass with dark green leaf blades that have ridges on the upper surface and a glossy, hairless underside. Seedhead is a single spike with alternating spikelets. Base is often tinged with red. Can grow up to 3 ft. tall.

Real Green Pest and LawnBroadleaf Plantain

Plantago major
Leaves are broadly oval with distinctive parallel veins. Flower stems are stiffly upright and leafless. Flowers are insignificant. A fiberous-rooted plant that tolerates repeated mowing and trampling.

Real Green Pest and LawnBull Thistle

Cirsium vulgare
Rough, scratchy leaves have deep lobes and sharp, stiff spines. Spines are also on stems. Young plants have a low, rosette of leaves. Classic tufted thistle flowers have a pear-shaped base of sharp spines. Grows 2 to 5 ft. tall, developing a thick taproot in its first year.

Real Green Pest and LawnBurclover

Medicago polymorpha
Leaves have 3 elongated leaflets with serrated edges, similar to clover. Stems can grow to 2 ft but are typically trailing. Flowers are borne in clusters at the stem tips. Seed pods are prickly.

Real Green Pest and LawnCheat Grass

Bromus tectorum
Branched base with stems usually displaying red coloration. Blades are flat, and both leaves and sheaths are covered with soft hairs. Seedheads are open and drooping. Grows rapidly from seed, maturing within 2 months. Grows to 2 ft. tall.

Real Green Pest and LawnCommon Mallow

Malva neglecta
Rounded leaves are slightly wavy with serrated edges and have a long leaf stem. Leaves and stems are covered with short hairs. Growth habit is low and spreading. Thick, short taproot.

Real Green Pest and LawnCorn Speedwell

Veronica arvensis
A low-growing plant with sprawling stems and small, oval to triangular leaves. Both stems and leaves are covered with soft, fine hairs. Flowers have 4 petals and bloom in early spring.

Real Green Pest and LawnDallisgrass

Paspalum dilatatum
Grows in loose clumps with long, hairless, relatively wide leaf blades. Seedhead has 3 to 5 spikes in an alternating pattern. May grow up to 5 ft. tall. Prefers moist or wet soil.

Real Green Pest and LawnDog Fennel

Eupatorium capillifolium
Finely textured foliage has a fern-like appearance and foul odor when crushed. Stems are reddish in color. Mature plants are narrow and columnar, growing to 6 ft tall. Tiny, barely detectible flowers.

Real Green Pest and LawnEvening Primrose

Oenothera biennis
Leaves are long and narrow, resembling willow leaves. Upright habit with one or several dominant stems and a fleshy taproot. Height can reach 6 ft. or more. Flowers are 1 inch across with 4 petals. Seeds can be viable in the soil for 70 years.

Real Green Pest and LawnFleabane

Erigeron annuus
Dusky green, narrowly oval leaves and daisy-like flowers are typical of the aster family. Narrow, upright growth habit. 3 to 5 ft. tall. Prefers dry, open areas.

Real Green Pest and LawnFlorida Pusley

Richardia scabra
A low-growing, multi-branched plant with small oval leaves and tiny, star-like flowers. Both leaves and stems are hairy.

Real Green Pest and LawnHoneyvine Milkweed

Cynanchum laeve
A vining plant in the milkweed family. Smooth, heart-shaped leaves with white veining. Grows up to 15 ft. long, wrapping its stems around adjacent vegetation and fences. Prefers sun and dry soil, but also grows in moist, fertile soils.

Real Green Pest and LawnLondon Rocket

Sisymbrium irio
A weed in the mustard family with elongated, triangular leaves that are larger in size at the base of the plant. Clusters of tiny flowers top long, lax stems. Grows 2 to 3 ft. tall.

Real Green Pest and LawnMustard

Brassica
Leaves are blue-green, hairless and somewhat waxy. The upper leaves clasp the main stem. Flowers are at the end of stems in clusters of 4-petaled florets. Grows to 2 to 3 ft.tall.

Real Green Pest and LawnPrickly Lettuce

Lactuca serriola
When young, plants have a rosette of long, narrow leaves, similar to dandelions but with pricky edges. Mature plants can grow to 6 ft. Small yellow flowers resemble dandelions. Deep tap root has milky sap. Prefers soils that are irrigated and high in nutrients.

Real Green Pest and LawnProstrate Spurge

Euphorbia supina
A low, spreading plant with pink, succulent stems that radiate from a single taproot. The hairy stems have a milky sap. Leaves are oval with toothed edges and are arranged oppositely along the stem. Leaves sometimes display a dark red blotch.

Real Green Pest and LawnTansymustard

Descurainia pinnata
An weed in the broccoli family with finely dissected leaves and an upright, branching habit. Flower clusters are at the ends of stems. Grows about 2 ft. tall. One of the earliest weeds to bloom.

Real Green Pest and LawnVelvetleaf

Abutilon theophrasti
Tall, upright plants with heart-shaped, velvety leaves that are covered with hairs. Flowers have 5 petals and are displayed at the base of the leaves. The seed is spiny with many sections. Grows up to 5 ft. tall.

Real Green Pest and LawnYellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

chufa
Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus), also known as chufa (chufa is a non-weedy variety that is used for wildlife food plots and is not a cold hardy weed like yellow nutsedge), nutgrass, or watergrass, is a troublesome, difficult-to-control perennial weed found throughout the United States. It is important to understand that yellow nutsedge is not a grass or a broadleaf weed, but a sedge; which is crucial when determining effective control strategies. It establishes by rhizomes, which form tubers (called nutlets) that are capable of surviving in the soil for periods of up to ten years. These nutlets, as well as viable seed, sprout and establish from May until the end of July. The ability of nutlets to survive long periods in the soil and the mature plant to withstand frequent, low mowing practices, make yellow nutsedge a difficult-to-control weed in turf.

Real Green Pest and LawnIdentification: Yellow nutsedge is most noticeable in the summer during periods of high temperatures and drought because its leaves grow more rapidly than the surrounding turf. Yellow nutsedge can be identified by solid, triangular-shaped stems which are be easily determined by rolling the stem back and forth between fingertips. Yellow nutsedge leaves have a prominent mid-rib and are arranged in threes which also help to distinguish it from grasses. Leaves are a light green to yellowish in color, have a shiny/waxy appearance, and have a long leaf-tip tapered to a sharp point. While many grasses have hairs on the leaf blades, such as crabgrass or bermudagrass, yellow nutsedge leaves and stems are completely smooth, which accentuates the shininess of the leaves. Though it seldom forms in areas of mowed turf, yellow nutsedge produces golden to brown colored seedheads (short spikelets) from July to September. It is often mistaken for purple nutsedge; however, purple nutsedge has dark green leaves that quickly taper to a blunter tip, and produces reddish brown to purple seedheads (spikelets). Additionally, purple nutsedge develops tubers along the entire length of rhizomes where yellow nutsedge only produces tubers at rhizome tips.