Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is a matted, herbaceous, winter annual broadleaf plant. It thrives under cool, wet conditions and is a prolific spring weed. It rarely tolerates the hot, dry conditions of late spring or early summer. Other common names for chickweed are starweed, bindweed, winterweed, satin flower and tongue grass.
Although chickweed is commonly referred to as a weed, it does have a place in folk medicine as a remedy for asthma, constipation, cough, fever and various other ailments. The seed of chickweed is a source of food for birds.
Common chickweed develops prostrate, tender, freely branching stems that root at nodes; opposite, smooth, oval leaves; shallow, fibrous and very frail roots; flowers are solitary or in small clusters at ends of stems. Plants form a thick mat of succulent or tender vegetation in the early spring that is not eradicated by close mowing.
The stems creep along the ground and can root at the nodes. Common chickweed is effectively controlled by timely applications of pre-emergent herbicides made in early fall before the emergence of chickweed.
Post-emergent control of chickweed in early spring can be achieved with products containing dicamba, dichlorprop and triclopyr. The latter product is only labeled for use on cool season turfgrasses such as tall fescue, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
Carolina geranium is often confused with ground ivy, but the leaves are deeply dissected into five to seven lobes, each of which is again lobed and bluntly toothed on the margins.
The plant produces a deep taproot. Flowers have five pink to lavender petals. Seeds have a conspicuous cranesbill beak about a half-inch long.
Hand pulling is easy and effective. Maintain a dense, healthy lawn that crowds out weeds naturally and reduces the chances for invasion. Apply mulch to ornamental beds.
There are many thistles that plague our area. I've tried to identify the one in my bed, and I think I have Canada thistle. Unlike other thistles, the male and female flowers appear on separate plants in the Canada thistle. (Male and female parts may appear together, but only one sex is fertile.)
Honeybees are the main pollinators of Canada thistle. Individual plants produce an average of 1,500 seeds, but there must be both male and female plants in the vicinity for successful pollination. About 90 percent of the seeds will germinate within one year, but other seeds can remain viable for about 20 years. Seeds can be blown a half-mile in the wind.
The seedlings require full sun for normal development. Growth is reduced if full sunlight is not available, and the seedlings die when shade reduces light intensity to 20 percent.
Canada thistle has a deep and wide-spreading root system. Hand-pulling or cutting Canada thistle can stimulate the plants to send up more sprouts from the roots; however, repetitive treatments might starve underground stems. Cultivating chops the roots into little pieces that sprout new thistles; cultivating is only successful if it is repeated every 10 to 15 days through the growing season for up to two years.
This aromatic perennial with a branching rootstock is native along highways and ditches. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and pH. It is able to survive in both cool, dry, and in warm, wet conditions, but not in shaded and grazed sites.
Other names for mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris L.) are chrysanthemum weed, common Artemisia, felon weed, French tobacco, mugweed, wild chrysanthemum and wild wormwood.
Mugwort can grow up to 4 feet tall and forms dense stands that smother other vegetation. In the vegetative state, it has the appearance of a garden chrysanthemum, hence some of the common names. Mugwort is widely used in herbal medicine including use as a diuretic and the treatment of a variety of gynecological problems.
Mugwort seeds have remained viable in cultivated soil for at least five years. Seed recovered during house demolitions and dated at 30 or more years is reported to have germinated. The weed is commonly dispersed by floodwater.
Mugwort spreads slowly by short rhizomes. It can propagate from small rhizome fragments. The rhizomes may be spread or transported by cultivation equipment and among the roots of transplanted herbaceous plants infested with the weed. Rhizome fragments can also be transported in topsoil.
Control is by hoeing and hand pulling.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.