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Which "weed" do you dislike the most?

 
gardener
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Kudzu is the biggest problem plant around this side of the state. It is very aggressive, grows fast, & almost impossible to control. It is called "the weed that ate the south" for good reason. It doesn't destroy individual trees, it destroys huge tracts of trees.

About English Ivy ... I know several maple trees that it has been growing on for about fifty years. Big healthy trees.
 
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Kudzu is easily eradicated with goats. The monicker "the weed that ate the south" is SO exaggerated. I've been all over the south and Kudzu is almost always (and only) found along roadsides, which makes it very visible to travelling city-dwellers, who must think the whole countryside is covered with it. In fact, it was planted intentionally along roadsides with steep slopes to stabilize them. These roadside plantings, isolated from grazing and impractical to manage, have mostly thrived, while elsewhere the plant is virtually absent from the landscape. Asian privet covers some 14 times the area that Kudzu does. Meanwhile, the hysteria surrounding kudzu has resulted in the introduction of the kudzu beetle which is a major pest of beans and other legume crops. Worse, they emit a substance that causes allergic reactions in many people, making harvesting beans a tricky task.

Invasive species hysteria may be the biggest pest of all. It creates a bias in many naturalists that tends to focus on negative impacts and overlooks positive ones, especially if the positive ones do not benefit humans directly.  I could cite dozens of examples where attempts to eradicate so-called invasive species have caused far more damage than the species itself. "Invasive species" is little more than a re-branding of the words "weed" or "pest", as they tend to have far bigger economic impacts than ecological ones. In fact, most have net positive ecological impacts.

Puncturevine and spiny amaranth have to be the most annoying weeds on one's hands. Spiny amaranth looks just like regular amaranth until you try to pull it up...ouch! Luckily both are easily managed with a hoe.

Field bindweed, Bermuda grass, and nutsedge are the most difficult weeds - that tend to occur widely - to control organically. Johnson Grass and Bamboo can be harder to control, but they tend to occur in small clumps rather than invade whole fields. The first two will find their way out from under plastic mulch while the latter, with its sharp leaf tips, grows right through it. The first two will also grow through even heavy mulch applications.

Nutsedge can be eradicated with pigs. Sheet mulching works on nutsedge and Bermuda grass. While both methods will kill existing populations of field bindweed, seeds survive in the soil for up to 50 years and new populations will grow over time. This aspect might make field bindweed the worst weed of all, at least for me.

 
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Sonja Draven wrote:Definitely English ivy for me too. It is pretty but so invasive here and damages everything. (As has been said.)

And you have to burn it in the winter because it won't die otherwise and it just spreads.  (I am actually watching some burn as i type this for that reason.)  Pulling it isn't enough. It roots multiple places, breaks off,  etc.
Blackberry and dandelion can be tough but I can and do eat and use them. (I can understand why others don't feel as I do.)



I've found Ivy a bit easier to control than the invasive Blackberries in the PNW. For one, there are no thorns and I don't come away bloody and secondly, it generally pulls out of the ground fairly easy and is usually an every other year chore instead of once a growing season month.

I have two weeds that I really dislike - Blackberry vines and Salmon Berry bushes. Salmonberry sticks will grow when burried 6 feet underground and the roots can grow 3 or 4 feet in a short amount of time and act as a rhizome.
 
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The worst invasive weed I've had to remove was creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense). Although the plant has some edible uses according to Pfaf, https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Cirsium+arvense the plant is covered in sharp spines that have pierced through my calf skin leather gloves many times. I have gotten splinters on my hands from the sharp spines on the leaves. Like quackgrass (Elymus repens), the plant regrows from broken root pieces. If you forget to remove the plant before it blooms, the fluffy seeds spread in the wind.
 
pollinator
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Bindweed! Spreads underground and bursts up everywhere, regrows from the tiniest scrap of root, find the tiniest hole/gap in sheet mulch and escapes.

It does have quite pretty flowers, but you only get to see them once its strangled some other plant you probably wanted more.

I'm not overly fond of horseradish either, I have a 'patch' of it that I've been trying to eradicate (or at least shrink down) for 4 years- tiniest bit of root regenerates into a whole new plant! Leaves are good compost-fodder, but I don't seem to be able to make a dent in it.
 
pollinator
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Sci Show just put this out today. Though it might fit in this thread fairly well.



Today Hank talks with Dr. Cara Nelson about invasive plants that use toxic chemicals and rapid reproduction to outcompete native plants, and Jessi brings some adorable invasive birds. Dr. Nelson is a professor of Restoration Ecology at the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana.

 
Ryan M Miller
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I've never encountered this plant, but has anyone here been unfortunate to encounter giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)? I've heard its sap is phototoxic and can cause blindness. It mainly grows around the Great Lakes in the US according to the BONAP atlas. Whenever I find videos of people removing it, they wear clothing that looks like HazMat suits.
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range of Heracleum mantegazzianum in North America according to the online BONAP plant atlas
 
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Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a big problem here. It's an invasive, and a relative of the feared Giant Hogweed. It grows up to 6' tall, and the sap of the plant will cause extreme photosensitivity in skin - if the sap is exposed to UV rays while on your skin, you get more or less immediate blisters. When they leave, you often have a dark spot on your skin in that area for a couple of years, and lifelong photosensitivity in that area. If the sap gets into your eyes, it can cause blindness - this has happened to both children and adults alike - a lot of people will use a string trimmer on them without knowing the danger of the spray that gets generated.

The root is edible apparently, but still has a low concentration of the irritant that is in the sap. For some people, it's fine, others get mouth blisters. I haven't tried it to see which group I fall into.

It will grow anywhere with adequate sun. It's in all the roadside ditches, field boundaries and wherever else around here. It's all over my property, and it means that I need to strictly control the areas my children go in the summer.

The frustrating thing is that the province has declared it a noxious weed, and landowners are technically required to control it on their property or face fines. But the municipalities don't do anything about it on all the roadside ditches and common areas, so the seeds just blow in every year thick and heavy.

We live in a rural area, and if one of my kids was to have their bike go off the road into the ditch, they would be covered in the stuff.

There's few plants I would ever advocate spraying for, but this is one.

 
pollinator
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I would advocate controls, certainly, but I want one that isn't spraying. Ultimately, that action will breed varieties resistant to whatever spray you use that doesn't kill absolutely everything, leaving us back at square one.

Maybe something like a scything, and a burying with woodchips? Like, really deep? Something to cause them to compost in place? Maybe with a cardboard layer underneath the wood chips, as another barrier to light? Or maybe a direct application of an animal manure hot enough to burn the plants and plant remains?

Hell, I would advocate for shredding/chipping waste cardboard into mulch for this purpose over spraying. The worst we will get from shredded newspaper will be some heavy metals from the inks, and some adhesives and binders, all of which will be sequestered and eventually broken down by the action of healthy soil biology.

Lay down some cardboard sheets atop the chopped intruders, shred some cardboard into mulch to supplement any woodchips available, maybe add some coffee grounds and gypsum grit, top it all with a hot liquid animal manure, and then oxygenated compost extract and oyster mushroom slurries, and bam, compost ditches.

Just be sure to time it after any major seasonal rain events.

-CK
 
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Rin Corbin wrote:Puncture vine. It’s where the Romans got the idea for caltrops, it goes through bike tires, and the seeds last up to 6 years in the ground. Mulch with cardboard (not the best, but solid enough) covered with 10+cm of normal mulch seems to keep it from sprouting. I’ve heard rumors of lawn rollers covered with yoga mats, but haven’t tried that yet.


I’m glad to see this advice. I’m having success with wood chips, and just ignoring it. A bad infestation turns to grass after a year or two. It I pick it, it never goes away.
 
pollinator
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PNW - bindweed, for sure.  Re: English ivy, I have to cut it back/down, every year, but now consider it 'harvestsing biomass', as the 'bundles' make effective mulch.  And quack grass, I just sit on my stool, and 'fork' the roots out... just a delaying tactic, but at least it's sitting down work (same for the ivy... I can sit on a burlap sack to clip it.)
 
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Euonymus fortunei - winter creeper vine.
It spreads everywhere, climbs walls and trees with damaging roots, and smothers garden beds.
Repeated pulling will take it out but is disruptive to the soil.
 
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Pig weed.
It makes my face swell when working around it’s blooms.
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Brian Vraken wrote:



Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a big problem here. It's an invasive, and a relative of the feared Giant Hogweed. It grows up to 6' tall, and the sap of the plant will cause extreme photosensitivity in skin - if the sap is exposed to UV rays while on your skin, you get more or less immediate blisters. When they leave, you often have a dark spot on your skin in that area for a couple of years, and lifelong photosensitivity in that area. If the sap gets into your eyes, it can cause blindness - this has happened to both children and adults alike - a lot of people will use a string trimmer on them without knowing the danger of the spray that gets generated.

The root is edible apparently, but still has a low concentration of the irritant that is in the sap. For some people, it's fine, others get mouth blisters. I haven't tried it to see which group I fall into.

It will grow anywhere with adequate sun. It's in all the roadside ditches, field boundaries and wherever else around here. It's all over my property, and it means that I need to strictly control the areas my children go in the summer.

The frustrating thing is that the province has declared it a noxious weed, and landowners are technically required to control it on their property or face fines. But the municipalities don't do anything about it on all the roadside ditches and common areas, so the seeds just blow in every year thick and heavy.

We live in a rural area, and if one of my kids was to have their bike go off the road into the ditch, they would be covered in the stuff.

There's few plants I would ever advocate spraying for, but this is one.



I had a run in with this one as a kid, not fun, it was like I dipped my hands in boiling water and the doc had no idea what it was.
 
Ryan M Miller
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Wayne Mackenzie wrote:Pig weed.
It makes my face swell when working around it’s blooms.



Have you had these same reactions when handling cultivated Amaranth? It sounds like you might be allergic to Amaranth. From what I've read, it sounds like a rare allergy, but at least two other forum members have mentioned it before.

By the way, the human reaction to poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is also actually an allergic reaction. The immune system reacts to the urushiol in the plant triggering urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. Ironically, in spite of the potent allergic affects of urishiol, the same substance is also found in traditional Japanese lacquer urushi used to glaze and color wood.
 
pollinator
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Thistles. I always manage to step on them when barefoot and if you miss pulling one they multiply like rabbits. Without deep mulch it would be an exercise in futillity.
 
Wayne Mackenzie
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Ryan M Miller wrote:
Have you had these same reactions when handling cultivated Amaranth?

By the way, the human reaction to poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is also actually an allergic reaction.


I don’t think I’ve ever handled cultivated types.
I grew up with poison oak and it had the same effect x 100.
At one point, I had so much of it in my bloodstream, my doctor said my life could be in jeopardy.
 
pollinator
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Top three:
Field Bindweed - destructive to crops, and invasive/difficult to eradicate/easy to unintentionally relocate...
Poison Ivy - harmful to humans, annoying (requires suiting up to eradicate/multiple years to be sure)
Bittersweet - invasive, destructive (especially to trees), food for birds is a mixed blessing/vector for dropping seeds below "scaffolds" for the vines (trees, fences)

Runners up:
Japanese Knotweed - invasive, extremely difficult to eradicate, overtakes everything else in area.
Cleavers - mildly harmful to humans, out competes crops.
Thorny things! - Multiflora Rose, Himalayan Blackberry...
 
pioneer
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If it were not for the invasive do I could focus my limited time and money on having a permaculture paridise ! So much effort to just not drown in it.  I tell people that sleeping beauties castle was covered in Himalayan blackberries that is what impaled the princes.  If you left my house for 5 Years it would be like that, you wouldn't be able to see the house it would be covered by a trio of invasive vines and thorns.

So the Himalayan blackberries are in a love hate class of their own

Top 3

- Scotch broom:  The gift that keeps on giving, seeds live on in the soil for 20 years.  It is so flammable that you can pull it fresh in the spring and use it as a fire starter.  It will form impenetrable thickets 6 feet tall.  The native deer do not feed on it so neither will the goats

-  English ivy has been covered

-  Vinca Major.  You pull it and put it into a pile to dry in the sun it looks dead, but next winter you have a new patch

Runners up

- Gopher purge.  Washing with soap does not remove all the sap mucroscopic amounts on your skin will then end up in your eyes and send you to emergency.  And is reseeded and it loves it here.  And it does nothing to discourage gophers

- Cleavers.  I thought this was cute when it showed up 2 years ago.  It pulls easily and chickens eat it.  But it reseeded like crazy and when you pull some is left behind, it climbs apple trees, I no longer have grass in that area.  But it does not kill Vinca.

Maybe you think this isn't bad but we are talking a 2 1/2 acre site with pretty much all of it covered by scotch broom and the trio of vines ! Yes I fight the good fight, then you fracture your pelvis and the vinca is getting to the hazelnuts and the blackberries are so thick on the fruit trees you can't get in.  After years of elimination work.   The song says rust never sleeps, it should be blackberry never sleeps

Yea thistles love it here, but thistle eradication is easy.  You get 1/4 acre of thistles and you just go in with a weed wackier and take it down before it seeds then do it again in a few weeks to take the ones who come back dwarfed down to the dirt.  Dig up stragglers all over the garden
You can clear this up much easier.  It doesn't like deep shade either, unlike vinca and ivy
 
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Dock, and buttercup. The buttercup grows in and through everything. It gets pretty massive here, and the roots break when you try to pull it out... Smothering with cardboard and mulch works until it finds a tiny hole to burst through!
The dock seeds seem to be EVERYWHERE -- it's popping up in every patch of disturbed dirt. While I prefer it to the many clumps of grass, sedge, and rushes that grow in the yard, it pollutes all my garden soil, and picking out 400 tiny seedlings is no easy job.

Aside from these - there is a bad case of mistletoe introduced in the forests here, and it takes over the trees, making them all gnarly, and eventually strangling them; often taking down 100+ year old trees. This is definitely the weed I hate the most!
 
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Purple trillium,  it smells like wet dog and attracts flesh eating flies.  
 
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Bindweed and thistle are locked in heated battle for which one I dislike the most. Bindweed is better at killing off the things I want to grow, but at least it isn't painful like thistle.
 
Ryan M Miller
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So that's the white-flower morning glory that keeps popping up in my neighbors' yards. I've had to remove bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) from landscaping before. The plant seems to be far more aggressive than even periwinkle vines (Vinca minor).
 
Jolene Jakesy
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Ryan M Miller wrote:So that's the white-flower morning glory that keeps popping up in my neighbors' yards. I've had to remove bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) from landscaping before. The plant seems to be far more aggressive than even periwinkle vines (Vinca minor).



Yup that made me look up the things I also thought were morning glories are bindweed.. going to go do some weeding
 
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Su Ba wrote:Hands down it is Bermuda grass. It aggressively spreads underground. Impossible to completely dig out except for repeated removal over years of effort. It's the only weed I haven't been able to conquer on my farm. I've chopped it, dug it out, smothered it for a year, flamed it, and used several organic weedkillers. Outside of ruining my garden soil, I can't easily control it. I have had to resort to digging down 8 inches to remove the stolon of every shoot I see coming up. That's quite an impossible task when you're growing on 4 acres of old pasture area. It may possibly take the rest of my life to clear my growing beds.


I second that!
 
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Bermuda grass had been a hassle to control in the vegetable garden and flower beds because it grows/runs so quickly to the point of needing daily attention to keep it under control. I've had luck with smothering it under a few inches of wood chips, then making a mound of chips about 18 inches high X 12 inches wide around the perimeter of the garden/beds (but eventually it starts climbing over the mound).

Crab grass is a pain, just because it seeds so freely and grows quickly. Thankfully, it comes up easily and makes good mulch if pulled before it goes to seed. Most of my new beds this year were covered in crab grass when started, but mulching with cardboard covered with wood chips took care of it.

Wild morning glory tends to be destructive, for an annual. It grows so fast and drops seeds everywhere (which immediately germinate and start climbing). This year it almost swallowed my commercial greenhouse and tried to strangle multiple plants. It pulls up easily, but is hard to untangle from other plants without damaging them, and will drop seeds everywhere and when you pull it. It's toxic to livestock/poultry, so I usually just pile it up in the pasture since mulching with it resulted in the seeds popping up in my okra patch.

Typically I'm pretty tolerant of most "weeds." I don't really start to hate something until it gets so aggressive that it's costing me a lot of valuable time just trying to keep it from destroying/killing something else on the farm.
 
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I've got a few.

Purple Nutsedge - Comes up constantly in the veggie patch. Easily confused with the desirable Chufa. Pulling does nothing because of the little nuts. I live in the suburbs, so I can't bring in a pig to eradicate it. Forking the ground between plantings helps a lot, but any missed nuts will come back.

Guinea Grass - Covers most of the available land on my property (the back slope). Good forage, but no animals to feed it to. Cut it down, it'll sprout back from the rhizome. Labor-intensive to deal with (especially for pesticide-free folks like me). It'll cut you up while you chop it with a machete (unless you wear long sleeves). Gotta rip out the heavy rhizome clumps, and if a thick cane stays behind, it'll sprout from that. Chop'n'drop in-situ covers up the rhizomes, making them hard to see and reach. Spreads by seed too, recolonizing cleared patches.

Velvet Bean - Grows anywhere a seed falls, and covers everything, even trees. Highly irritating hairs cover the beans, shedding in the wind, quite the pain during wintertime. The hairs alone make it the worst weed to deal with, even if it's simpler to eradicate in its podless state.

Any one of these on their own is bad enough, but combined? (Especially grass with vines) It makes for an impenetrable tangle that's difficult to attack from any angle. Local farmers pride themselves on taking care of these things without much issue... Just good ol' hard work. I'm relatively inexperienced, slow and inefficient, so these are a pain to deal with.
 
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Other than cultured lawn grasses, what's a weed? :)

(I've always felt the earth knows where things should go best.  That if something persists in growing in a spot, there is a reason nature keeps putting it there.  Horsetail, as an example, is a cleaner and medicinal with highly bioavailable silica content that grows nearly everywhere around the world.  Maybe that's how much it is needed, yeah?  And so it may be with other persistent plants.  Earth is stubbornly auto-self-correcting and humans seldom permanently win competitions with nature.)

Maybe if the qualities of a persistent plant are looked at, a suitable replacement could keep both humans and earth happy?
 
gardener
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Great thread!!

So I have three that top my list.  The first two are pretty obvious:  ragweed and poison ivy.  I am very allergic to both.  The upside to these is that I have better medical control over my own allergic reaction to both plants.

The most difficult weed for me though is Johnson Grass.  The stuff is incredibly resilient!  It grows by rhizomes and by seed, so it spreads easily.  I am pretty sure that it is a C4 plant as it grows very fast, thrives in drought.  And I really mean it THRIVES during drought periods.  Every other grass will turn yellow and then brown, but Johnson Grass is green and lush.  Mowing slows it down, but I have no idea how to get rid of the stuff.

My neighbor sprays the stuff copiously with roundup (I know, not nice here), and while this does kill the existing stand, the stuff grows back vigorously from roots and in a few weeks it looks as healthy as ever!

From what I have heard, the stuff is native to the Middle East.  Local legend says that someone bought something from Syria and that object was placed in a box and cushioned with Johnson Grass.  So the legend goes, the recipient innocuously threw the grass and probably seeds out and the stuff began to spread.  Again, legend says this started in the Cache river basin not far from me and has been spreading ever since.

If anyone knows a good control for Johnson Grass, I would love to hear about it.

Eric
 
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