Recently in weeds Category

The Velcro Plant, A Sticky Situation


As I begin to divide and conquer the mowing of my overgrown backyard, I've had ample opportunity to look at the variety of unknown plants that have cropped up all over. Are they friends or foe? Will they be banes of my existence or acceptable groundcover? Should I let them duke it out with some of the other plants I know I don't want there, like Bermuda, just to find a more acceptable alternative to the turf grass I long to have disappear?

Some plants I suspect will soon become officially part of the "Banes of My Existence" list, along with Bermuda and Nutsedge. One is the Velcro Plant. It goes by other names, many equally appropriate for the incredible ability of the plant to stick to everything -- Catchweed Bedstraw, Stickywilly, etc.

velcroa02-28-10.jpgI want to admire this plant, I really do. It's not unattractive, and evolutionally speaking it is a master of distribution, with all those little hooks that allow it to attach to anything and everything that attempts to move past it. It's even managed to become a plant that can outdo the oak sprouts under the oak trees. But it's clear that it's found a new home in my yard that it finds most acceptable. So I'll enjoy my admiration for a few moments, and then go pluck it out wherever I can.

velcrob02-28-10.jpgAnd what do I do about the wild onion that has also found a home it likes -- the edge of the wooded areas in the back? It's actually quite pretty, and we enjoy the onion smell that spreads through the air when we run through it or mow it.

wildonion02-28-10.jpgBut it's spreading rapidly, too. Do I let it? I think occasionally it makes my dogs sick, so perhaps that's reason enough to try to keep it cut down.

henbit02-28-10.jpgHenbit is everywhere. This is a plant I really don't find that attractive.

And these other little tiny flowers, all very adorable, are still ones I admire with caution. I don't know what they are. I just think they're pretty. Probably they are counting on that, and as they get a little bigger and sneak some seeds past me, they know that they'll have an in on spreading through my yard. If anyone knows the actual names for these plants, please let me know.

weedflower02-28-10.jpg weedflowerb02-28-10.jpg ***This next one I think is a Ten-Petal Anemone, Anemone berlandieri, native to the Edwards Plateau. I think it's a keeper, although it's toxic. Everything else in my yard seems to be, too.

weedflowerc02-28-10.jpgI'm not crazy about mowing. It's one reason why I hope to someday fill in my yard with enough "stuff" that I won't have to mow anymore. But obviously I'll be dealing with transitional stages for awhile. I do have to say that I love my electric mower, even though the cord can be a pain. Maybe someday I'll get to progress to a simple old-fashioned reel mower, once the area I have to deal with is smaller.

And it's nice to be back working on the yard and garden. Spring approaches. :)

Love It or Leave It: Horseherb


Ah, Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis), also called Straggler Daisy. There doesn't seem to be much of a gray area on this one. People either truly love this little groundcover or hate it with a passion. I'm of the former variety. I adore this little plant.

horseherba10-02-09.jpgWhy do I love it? If you've ever walked past a field of horseherb, you are presented with an incredibly lush sea of green, with the daintiest of little yellow flowers throughout to catch your eye. I've seen some gorgeous fields, and each time I was mesmerized by the beauty and serenity of the scene. 


Field of horseherb at Hornsby Bend

I almost don't want to walk on it -- it's so pretty in appearance -- but for a non-lawn groundcover, it can withstand some foot traffic. It only needs water in the worst of droughts, and it loves shade and sun.

Horseherb is also native to the southern U.S. on into Central America, and it makes a great alternative to the exotic and water-hogging Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses. I'd love to see it replace Asian jasmine, as well -- now THAT is a plant that will take over a garden bed and yard. Horseherb is considered semi-evergreen, blooming most of the year except in cold winter areas, and if you like you can mow it, or you can let it grow to its typical max height, which is about 8 inches. But as bonus, horseherb also attracts small butterflies, including sulfurs and skippers. And think of all the happy little lizards that will zip underneath the foliage!


It's an eco-friendly solution to having a lawn without having to resort to heavy chemicals or fertilizers or ridiculous amounts of water to sustain it. Lawn irrigation tops the list on where our municipal water goes, and the time for water conservation is now, especially in Texas.

Why do some people want to leave it? Well, in some yards it can be a big nuisance. For those who keep a grass lawn, horseherb is a competitor, and it can be difficult to get rid of. And it can spread into garden beds, though I've found that so far it doesn't bother much with my well-mulched beds. In fact, one of the characteristics of this plant is that it supposedly doesn't do well in areas that have heavy leaves that take a long time to decompose. It spreads by both seeds and runners, which means that if the goal is to remove all of it, you're going to have a challenge. In a wildflower field, I have to imagine that it would be another competitor, but it's going to depend on the goals you have for your yard or area.

But for now I prefer to embrace its desire to spread. What I loathe is the Bermuda Grass and St. Augustine in my yard. I loathe the unnamed weeds that dominate my backyard. I love my buffalograss in the back, but it too is losing to the weeds, and in the drought, the buffalograss was dead most of the time, so I didn't end up loving it as much as I wanted to - I loved it when I could see it.


What would you choose: spotty grass or spreading horseherb? 

Will I regret it? Some gardeners are going to shout out an absolute yes to that question. But I do regret having Bermuda and St. Augustine (not that I planted it; that was the previous owners), so it's not a big deal to switch from frustration with the grasses to frustration with another groundcover, unless I've got all three to deal with at the same time. At least horseherb is native. But I'm going for the complete wildscape, and I have a lot of ground to fill and a lot of grass to get rid of. In those bed areas I want to keep maintained, I'll do my best to keep horseherb in check. And love it everywhere else!

So how about you? Do you prefer to love it or leave it?

The Purpose of (Native) Weeds


This post is dedicated to Tatiana of mycoldprairie, who commented on my last post regarding the purpose of weeds.

Well, there are multiple purposes, actually. I want to first point out that exotic invasive weeds, to me personally, have no other purpose than to rape native lands of nutrients, water, and space and to destroy balanced ecosystems (guess what's in my yard and why I'm grumpy). BUT, speaking of native weeds in particular, they legitimately have a purpose in their habitat, and as many will point out, there's not really any such thing as a weed, anyway, other than being an annoying plant to a gardener.

What was mentioned in class last night was that weeds grow first in poor soil, and over time as they die off and decompose, they make the soil more fertile for other plants to move in and establish. True indeed. But weeds also can be valuable food sources for wildlife, through seeds, nectar, leaves, berries, and whatnot. They can serve as erosion control and as shelter to birds, lizards, and other creatures. Some even have medicinal value or food value to humans! They do have their purpose, even if you'd prefer they not be in your yard. Speaking of which, did I really manage to not get any dandelions this year? I guess they were scared off by the rampant evil nutsedge that has found its way into my yard. It has become the bane of my gardening existence. But it too has a purpose -- apparently Canadian geese and ducks and squirrels and other wildlife like it. Guess I'm not wild enough to join them in such fondness for the WEED.

Oh, and weeds are also there apparently to teach Tatiana patience. She said it, not me!   :D


Need Help with Weed ID


A little ID help needed! These aren't my usual weeds, so I thought I better confirm that they actually are weeds before I pull them. Can anyone help me out?

This one is growing way too close to my damianita. I was pulling other weeds at the time and something seriously irritated my skin -- if I'm correct it was this plant. The other ones were ones I pull all the time, like nutsedge and something with tiny white flowers. I should have taken a picture of that one, too -- it crops up all over my flower beds in the backyard. Next time on that one.  Edit: I believe this is Nettleleaf Noseburn (Tragia urticifolia) -- if it touches your skin, you will feel as though a dozen fire ants stung you, or a big ol' wasp got you. It hurts! It could possibly be Betonyleaf Noseburn as well (Tragia betonicifolia) -- in any case, it's a noseburn!


This next one started out as a two-lobed leaf, and I let it grow until it took some other shape. Now it looks like this. When it was smaller, there were a couple of suggestions about what it was, but it's changed so I'm re-submitting!

Weed2.jpgYou can see a two-lobed leaf in this other one that's appeared nearby.

Weed3.jpgThis one is similar, but the leaves are smaller and the lobes slightly different. So might be a different plant?


Thanks for all your help -- I just don't want to pull a friendly plant. Foes be gone, though!

Meredith O'Reilly happily
gardens for wildlife in
Austin, TX. She enjoys
educating people of all ages
about native flora, fauna,
and healthy environments.

Nature Blog Network


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