Weed With Lots Of Seeds

Weed With Lots Of Seeds You’ve reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May Almost any plant can be considered a “weed,” even those we cultivate as crops or ornamentals, if they are able to survive and successfully reproduce or spread in the new environment. Volunteer corn growing in soybean fields, aggressive groundcovers and tree seedlings that sprout in the garden are considered weeds because, by definition, a weed is simply a “plant out of place” 10 Worst Garden Weeds and Their Management What makes a garden weed the worst? Four attributes make weeds very difficult to manage. These are 1) deep perennial roots, 2) re-sprouting roots, 3)

Weed With Lots Of Seeds

You’ve reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at http://www.ext.vt.edu/news/.

Crop and Soil Environmental News, April 2004

About Jimsonweed

A. Ozzie Abaye, Extension Specialist, Alternative Crops
Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences Department

Jimsonweed – (Datura stramonium L.)

  • 3 mm long in
  • kidney-shaped, with pitted surface, slightly wrinkled, flatened
  • similar to velvetleaf seed but not as deeply lobed
  • dull dark brown to black

Seed capsule covered with stiff prickles

Leaf shape and arrangement Leaf: Very angular, large, smooth (no hair), thin, wavy, coarsely toothed (jagged lobes) about 3 to 8 inches long, leaf margins resembles those of oak leaves, leaves on long stout petioles

Stolon/rhizome/roots No stolon or rhizome; stem stout, branched and green to purple in color; thick, shallow and extensively branched taproot system

Inflorecence Flowers are large and trumpet or funnel-shaped (tubular), white to pinkish, borne singly on short stalks in the axils of branches, are attractive and fragrant; fruit are a spiny egg-shaped capsule covered with short, sharp spines; when the fruit is ripe the pods burst open splitting into 4 segments and scatter numerous poisonous black, kidney-shaped seeds.

Jimsonweed – (Datura stramonium L., Synonyms:Datura tatula L.)

Other common names: Jamison-weed, jamestown-weed, jamestown lily, thorn-apple, stinkwort, stinkweed, mad-apple, trumpet plant, loco weed, angel’s trumpet, devil’s, fireweed, dewtry, apple of Peru

Warm-season, summer annual

  • Native to Asia
  • Found almost everywhere in the US. except in the North and West; most common in the south.
  • Waste ground and cultivated land, preferring nitrogen-enriched habitats
  • Is a member of the nightshade family which includes potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Is herbaceous, annual plant that grows up to 3-5 feet tall and even taller in rich soil.
  • Reproduce by seed.
  • Dead leafless stem with dry seed remains standing in the field.
  • Primarily a weed of agronomic crops but also found in disturbed areas, along roadsides, old fields, pastures, barnyards, hog lots, waste places, and in gardens.
  • Jimsonweed is a poisonous plant; all parts of the plant are toxic; however, the seeds, fruit, and leaves contain the highest level of alkaloids and are the usual source of poisoning in humans, cattle, goats, horses, poultry, sheep, and swine. Poisoning of humans in recent years has been more frequent than livestock poisoning. Human poisoning results from sucking the nectar from flowers or consuming the seeds. Due to Jimsonweed’s strong unpleasant odor and taste animals avoid grazing it unless other more desirable forage species are not available.
  • Alkaloids are related to those found in magic mushrooms, however, magic mushrooms do not cause death even if consumed in a large quantity.
  • The plant contains tropane alkaloids, which affects the central nervous system, with the major alkaloids being atropine and scopolamine.
  • Symptoms associated with jimsonweed include blurred vision, confusion, agitation, and combative behavior
  • Jimsonweed has been used by Native Americans and others for drug-induced ceremonial and spiritual purposes.
  • Jimsonweed is also called Jamestown weed for two reasons: for the town in Virginia where jimsonweed is believed to have been imported to the US from England; In 1676 a massive poisoning of soldiers (by eating the plant in salads) in Jamestown, VA occurred, giving rise to the common name “Jamestown weed” and “jimsonweed”).
  • The seeds and leaves are deliberately used to induce intoxication.
  • Atropine, a substance in Jimsonweed has been used in treating Parkinson’s disease, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, and bronchial asthma.
  • In 1968, the use of Jimsonweed as a hallucinogenic drug prompted the US government to ban over-the-counter sales of products prepared from it.

Cheeke P. R. 1998. Natural Toxicants in Feeds, Forages, and Poisonous Plants. p. 382-383. 2nd. Ed. Interstate Pub. Inc. Danville, Illinois.

Hardin J. W. 1966. Stock-Poisoning Plants of North Carolina. p. 98-99. Bulletin No. 414. Agricultural Experiment Stat. North Carolina State Univ. Raleigh, NC.

Muenscher W. C. 1946. Weeds. p. 406-408. The Macmillan Co. New York, New York.

National Drug Intelligence Center 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001 McLean, VA 22102-3840 http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs/579/#Addresses

Russell A. B., J. W. Hardin, L. Grand, and A. Fraser. 1997. Poisonous Plants of North Carolina; North Carolina State University. Raleigh, NC. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Daturst.htm

South Dakota weeds. 1975. Agric. Ext. Serv. South Dakota State University. Pub. p. 154. South Dakota State Weed Control Commission.

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Uva, R. H., J. C. Neal, and J. M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast. p. 312-313. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York.

Weeds: The Survivors

Purslane is a common and persistent garden weed because a single plant can produce 52,000 seeds and broken off stem pieces will develop roots and continue to grow.

Linda Naeve,
Program Specialist
Iowa State University Extension

On the popular reality television show “Survivor,” contestants are eliminated from the competition by others until only the winner remains. If a group of herbaceous plants were put through a comparative competition, it is very likely that a weed species would win the million dollar prize. The reason is adaptability. The common weeds that invade our landscapes share a similar characteristic – their ability to adapt and thrive in man-influenced habitats.

Almost any plant can be considered a “weed,” even those we cultivate as crops or ornamentals, if they are able to survive and successfully reproduce or spread in the new environment. Volunteer corn growing in soybean fields, aggressive groundcovers and tree seedlings that sprout in the garden are considered weeds because, by definition, a weed is simply a “plant out of place” or an invader.

Some plant species become weedy pests because they possess specific attributes or characteristics that allow them to succeed and thrive in disturbed areas.

Ability to survive in cultivated soil
Many annual weeds, such as crabgrass, purslane, common ragweed, lambsquarter and redroot pigweed, produce an abundance of seeds. According to a former weed specialist from North Dakota, one common purslane plant will produce 52,000 seeds! If only a few seeds produced by that plant grow to maturity and set seed, there would be more than enough to create a serious weed problem in a garden or field for years to come. Because of this, it is important to control annual weeds in gardens and lawns before they flower and set seed.

Another survival mechanism many weeds possess is the survival of its seed. Seeds of many weed species can survive and remain dormant in the soil for several years until conditions are favorable for germination. For example, seeds of common ragweed can survive nearly 40 years in undisturbed soil. Only a portion of the seeds in the soil germinate each year, leaving a reserve for future years.

Some of the worst weeds to control in cultivated areas are those that spread by underground perennial roots or stems, such as Canada thistle and quackgrass. Tilling areas infested with these pests quickly multiplies their numbers because broken root or stem pieces have the potential to become new plants. These plants are best controlled with spot treatments of a non-selective herbicide, such as Roundup®, that kill the entire plant, roots and all.

Competitive ability
Many weed species grow rapidly and shade the less vigorous, cultivated plants. The lack of adequate light causes poor crop growth and production. Some weed species are also greedy when it comes to soil nutrients and water, shorting our cultivated plants of these essential items.

Ability to tolerate unfavorable habitats
Some plants, such as knotweed and plantain, can tolerate compacted soil where turfgrass won’t grow. Seeds of drought and heat tolerant weed species germinate and grow in very adverse places, such as cracks in sidewalks.

Ability to withstand repeated cutting or mowing
Despite frequent mowing, weeds in lawns and pastures are able to survive because they avoid the mower blades with their low stature or sprawling growth habit. Also, some species, such as dandelions and crabgrass, are often able to bloom and set seed between mowings.

Don’t let weeds become the last “Survivor” in your lawn and garden. The best way to compete with weeds is to prevent them from becoming established. This can be accomplished by learning more about the life cycle of common weeds and using the most effective control strategy for each species. In gardens and landscapes, weeds can be controlled by mulching, frequent cultivation or hand weeding. Prevent weeds from invading your lawn by maintaining a thick, healthy turf so that there are few bare spots where weeds can germinate and grow. If herbicides are used, the appropriate product should be applied when the weed is most vulnerable to that product and there is minimal risk to non-target plants and the environment.

Contacts :
Linda Naeve, Horticulture, (515) 294-8946, [email protected]
Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033, [email protected]

One print quality photo is available for this week’s column: 8505purslane.jpg

10 Worst Garden Weeds and Their Management

What makes a garden weed the worst? Four attributes make weeds very difficult to manage. These are 1) deep perennial roots, 2) re-sprouting roots, 3) lots of fast-to-germinate seeds, and 4) fast robust growth. Then you have the added bonus of weed nasties that are toxic and prickly. These are the weeds that take a productive garden bed and turn it into an impossible mess fast. If you have any of these in your garden, weekly weeding will be a necessity until they’re eradicated.

Noxious garden weeds vary based on where you live nationally, so those covered are ubiquitous across the whole of the US, though some are more regionally problematic.

See also  Premature Weed Seeds

Field Bindweed

If you have a field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) infestation, you are in trouble. This fast-growing vine is one of the most aggressive, difficult perennial weeds to remove, and its little white morning-glory-like flowers produce lots of seeds. The main problem is with its white-rooted runners that spread deep and wide, making it very difficult to dig out. Leave just a piece, and it will resprout. These roots then become mixed up with shrub and perennial roots and are hard to reach. Moreover, weed killers won’t touch it. Managing the weed in a three-step process is the only way to get rid of it.

  1. Methodically dig out the white underground runners. Gently loosen the soil around each with a trowel, following them until the growing points are reached and the roots are fully removed. If you keep even a small piece in the ground, it will regrow.
  2. If the runners are intertwined with perennial roots, dig up the perennials, and remove the bindweed roots in full. (Before replanting, amend the soil with Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost for faster re-establishment.)
  3. To keep underground roots from returning in really infested areas, cover the area with mulch cloth and mulch it over. After a season, all parts should be smothered, and you can pull up the mulch cloth and resume gardening as usual.


Burdock (Arctium spp.) is a huge, pesky weed of landscape and garden that has the added annoyance of developing giant burrs that attach to pet fur and are hard to get out. If you let a burdock plant go, it will develop a giant clump of huge leaves supported by a giant taproot that reaches deep into the ground. The flower heads look like little thistles and develop into large barbed burrs. The only way to remove a mature plant is with a long, sharp spade. Be sure to dig the root out in full.

Burdock seed heads are huge burrs that attach to pet fur and are difficult to remove.

Ground Ivy

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) aggressive member of the mint family is a low grower with creeping stems that form a weedy mat over your garden in no time. It also thrives in lawns, so you will need to rely on a broadleaf herbicide for the lawn if you want to truly get rid of it. (Corn gluten is an organic broadleaf herbicide option.)

Thankfully, this weed is very easy to pull, but it seeds in fast, and if you leave even the tiniest piece in the ground it will root and regrow. The best way to manage it is to remove it from garden beds first thing every spring and then apply a good layer of mulch. If some little pieces try to break through, pull them out quickly.

Canada Thistle

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) is another of the most notoriously difficult garden weeds. The painfully prickly plants produce copious puffy seeds that get caught in the wind and spread everywhere. Once they become established, a single plant will create a dense colony connected by deep, rooting rhizomes that are impossible to dig out entirely. If you leave just one piece, it will form a whole new plant. Plus, it is resistant to herbicides.

Canada thistle in seed.

To remove Canada thistle, the best method is smothering plants with weed cloth and mulch until they are gone. This one will also creep into the grass, so try to keep lawn specimens under control with broadleaf herbicide. You also don’t want to let this one go to seed anywhere near your yard or garden.


The pattern with these perennial weeds is that most have underground stems and roots that spread and resprout if one piece is left in the ground, and they all produce tons of seed that gets quickly spread hither and yon. Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) does this, too. This tall, tough grass requires a spade to remove, and gardeners must follow the trailing stems to capture all underground parts. The tip of each root is sharp, so beware.

Thankfully, most of its underground runners stay close to the soil surface, so they are easier to remove. You also want to get rid of specimens before they bloom and set seed in summer.


Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is another massively aggressive spreader. And, sadly, this plant was brought to the states as a medicinal herb and flavorant for ale. It has since spread across the eastern United States and the whole of Canada.

The plant has a strong, resinous smell and spreads by the most aggressive lateral underground runners ever. Like Johnsongrass, these mostly remain near the soil surface, but they are so numerous that one has to dig extensively to remove the whole underground plant. I suggest a sharp spade and trowel and lots of elbow grease. Manage it as you would field bindweed.


There isn’t a gardener that has not had the “pleasure” of weeding out nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus). This aggressive sedge establishes itself in the garden via copious seeds and fine, spreading roots that develop small, brown nutlet tubers. Leave just one of these tubers in the ground, and they will sprout into a whole new plant. (One side note is that the nutlets can be harvested and eaten.)

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This sedge is not herbicide resistant, but its tubers are resistant. For this reason, dig out the plants rather than just pulling or spraying them. In the process, be sure to get all of the tubers. Then mulch the area over and diligently pull any small sedge sprouts as you see them.

Poison Ivy

Safety and knowledge are needed when removing this toxic, much-feared weed. First, it is important to realize that you can get a poison ivy rash from any “dead” portion of the plant, from stem to root, and dry plant pieces will remain toxic for years. This is because its toxic oil (urushiol) is very chemically stable and remains potent for ages. That’s why you need more than a bottle of herbicide to remove it. Careful removal by hand is surprisingly the safest method, but you have to prepare well and do it carefully.

There are several things you will need to remove poison ivy without putting yourself in danger. Body Coverings: long thick pants, a long thick shirt that covers your wrists and body, long rubber gloves, and closed-hole shoes (rubber gardening boots are perfect). Tools: a sharp spade or trowel, pruners or loppers, and hole-free plastic bags large enough to contain all plant parts.

All plant parts must be removed. For smaller plants, fully dig them up and cover them with a plastic bag. Grab them with bag and enclose them without touching them. For large vines, cut the base with pruners or loppers, and remove as much of the upper part of the vine as you can. Do not pull it for fear it may fall on you. Once again, cover and grab the plant pieces with a plastic bag to reduce contact. Then dig out the roots with a spade and bag the pieces, too. T=Secure and trash all of the bags when finished.

Cleaning Up After Poison Ivy

During the removal process, watch everything that may have come in contact with the plant (tools, clothing, gloves, trashcan lid handle, door handles, etc.) You will need to clean everything properly.

Clean up: Toss the gloves and wash all possibly contaminated tools and surfaces with a coarse cloth and soap. Degreasing spray can be very effective. Remove all contaminated clothes and washcloths and wash them in a hot water cycle with the maximum amount of a strong detergent. (If you are really worried, you can prewash them in a bucket of hot water and detergent.) Lastly, wash and shower up completely using strong soap, a textured washcloth, and lots of friction. (Friction and good, strong soap should remove all the oil from your skin. If you are really sensitive, wash twice.) Technu soap is made to remove poison ivy oil and is a good choice. [Read here for further information from the USDA about rash prevention.]

Two more essential poison ivy warnings: Poison ivy will contaminate compost, so never add it to your pile. And, if burned the toxic oils of poison ivy become airborne, causing an extra dangerous rash on the skin and in the lungs.

Mowing and chemical sprays can cut poison ivy back, but they will not remove it, or its dangers. Take the time to carefully remove your plants, and your yard will be poison ivy free in no time.

About Jessie Keith

Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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