How to get rid of stickers

merryheart(z7OK)October 17, 2008

Not goat head but the little stick tight type.

Any Ideas appreciated.


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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi G.M.,

A funny thing happened on the way to answering this, bear with me and we'll kill two birds with one stone.

Do you remember awhile back, I think in 2007, that we spent days if not weeks trying to identify a plant (we thought it was a tree or vine) from a photo you posted and at various times we thought it was Tree of Heaven and various other things, but nothing really matched. Well, guess what? This summer, "your tree" came up between my pond and barn, and I let it grow so I could figure out what it was and let you know.

In the beginning, when I first noticed it in May or so, it looked exactly like your photo and I was really excited. I figured if I had it here in the yard, I could compare it to all my native plant books and figure it out. Still, it never matched any tree, shrub or vine I compared it to. In late July it really began to branch out, and thus looked less like a tree and more like a huge perennial of some sort. And, as it changed, I thought to myself that had I seen it only in the more widely-branched mature stage, I probably wouldn't have linked it to the plant in your photo. But, in the early stages, it WAS a dead ringer for the plant in your photo. Still, I couldn't match it to anything in my wildflower books. In late August or September, it bloomed. It had tiny rayless flowers and I remained clueless.

Today, I clicked on this post and saw your question and asked myself, are sticktights those little green or brown things that stick to your pants legs, socks and shoes? Because, you know, I wanted to know if you and I were discussing the same thing???? So, I googled for a photo of sticktights....and there it was! The mature version of my flowering weed (now 9' tall, 6' wide and shading a good portion of the dog run) which is, in fact, in full bloom. And, if it is the mature version of my flowering weed, then it also is the plant of yours that we couldn't identify last year.

And, so, I learned it is Bidens frondosa, aka sticktights, and I now know I need to go outside right away and prune off all the limbs/flowers and get rid of that thing before it goes to seed. I hope I can dig it up roots and all too.

So, if yours came back, it probably is the source for the sticktights. See the attached link.

As for killing it, I'll just be blunt and say ignore all the organic weedkillers because I doubt they are strong enough for this thing. Use a broadleaf weedkiller on it now and, in the spring, put out a pre-emergent weedkiller in the area. I don't like to use chemicals, but sometimes they are the most effective solution.

If, by chance, your sticktights are not the same as in the photo in the link, I think the advice for all of them remains the same. They are the fruit/seed of a broadleaf weed and a broadleaf weedkiller in combination with a good pre-emergent is the solution. It is still warm enough (just barely) for a broadleaf weedkiller to have some effectiveness if you find this plant and it is still flowering and hasn't gone to see yet. Or, just dig it up and be ready to spray any that sprout next spring.

So, for me, at least, two birds killed with one stone. Now I know "what" this thing is that we sought to identify for so long and I also know I need to get rid of it before it sets seeds.

Isn't it odd how your long-ago question and my "let's let it grow and find out what it is" experiment all ended up wrapped up together in this question???

Hope you and your family are doing well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sticktights

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 3:23PM
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lol. i have allowed one sticktight to grow, the ones with the triangle, but then my husband rototilled it to put in lawn. i am sure another will come up. they are so pretty.

of course i allow some wild weeds to grow if i think they are pretty, but i wish i could identify them.

what bugs me is when my dogs get in the wild and get this tiny b-b shaped stickers on them that are yellow. do you know what they are? stick tights are easier to get out of them for some reason.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 8:26AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I think the ones your dogs bring home on their coats are commonly called cockleburs, but also known as common cockerbur, rough cocklebur, clotbur, spiny clotbur, ditchbur, sheepbur, etc. They are from the genus Xanthium and there are dozens of species. One most commonly seen in Oklahom is Xanthium strumarium.

My dogs bring them home in their coats too whenever they have been out in the woods and pastures. Usually they groom each other....pulling the cockleburs out of one another's coats.

Otherwise I try to pull them out, but if I can't, I comb them out with the Furminator brush. The only 'bad' thing about getting out the Furminator is that all the dogs (and cats!) love, love, love, love, love having their hair brushed with that thing. When they see another animal being brushed with the Furminator they literally come and line up to wait for their turn. LOL

Last week, when we traipsed through pasture and woods looking for the neighbor's cow, my pants legs and shoe laces had the triangle-shaped sticktights on them when i got home, but none of the cockleburs.

I 'allow' wild weeds to grow too....tons and tons of them, because with 14.5 acres, you can't really keep much of anything 'under control'. LOL I figure that God made every plant for a purpose, so I leave almost everything unless it is something so invasive that it is taking over an area and crowding out the native grasses and forbs. In that case (and ragweed is a good example) I just try to keep the plants cut back so seedheads do not get a chance to mature.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 9:31AM
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i looked up cocklebur. that isn't them. these are smaller than a b-b and are smooth all the way around but are like velcro. no barbs. they are yellow.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 7:32AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't know that I've ever seen those exact ones, but I get something similar that are tan, but they are barbed.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 3:58PM
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Hello everyone. How is everyone? I have been away from the garden web a long time. Been too busy this year to even think much about my yard. That being said......

I was getting a good chuckle as I read all the posts. You guys are just the greatest on earth and I appreciate you so much!!!


Dawn the stickers are not on MY property at all....they are miles and miles away out east of town on my niece's place.She has them in a ditch out by the road. She has been going NUTS over them all summer so as I was speaking on the phone with her last week I just posted the question.
Her stickers are not the tiny seed like stick tights but the larger grass burr type. But not goat heads. And they do not make huge plants just small plants which grow profusely along the ground.

I told her just what you are saying she should do....use pre-emergent and weed killers until they are gone.

Now as to my mystery has never produced any kind of "stickers" and when it blooms the blooms are a grape-like cluster of white blooms which hang from one grapes.

That photo of stickers you posted Dawn, do look like some wild plants which tend to come up in our dirt pile out behind my DH's barn. But they are easily pulled up so don't pose much of a problem as long we don't allow any of the trash which comes up there to spread.

After looking at the photo and knowing my mystery plant so well after all these years I am sorry to say but my mystery is not solved yet.....ugh.....hahaha. But I don't really is funny to have a weird plant with no identity and it just gets cut down to the ground each fall. He is still with us for now...but soon he will be gone again. I will miss it if one day it gives up and doesn't come back in the has been with us for so long. haha

Thanks for all the good I said you guys are just wonderful and I so appreciate you.

Anyone plan to garden in this cool spell we are about to get? NOT ME! haha


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 9:30AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I can't believe my mystery plant isn't your mystery plant because they look alike while young. Old Mother Nature has many ways to keep us both amused and baffled, doesn't she?

G.M., are her plants broad-leaved or grassy? Our goathead stickers are on grassy plants and I'm not sure I've seen sprawling plants like hers, unless they are stinging nettle type plants that stay low because they're continually mowed?

Now I'll have to keep the grape-like clusters of white flowers in my head and watch for something like that.

The only gardening I'll do today will be to pick what might be the last of the peppers and the last of the tomatoes. I already picked all the pumpkins and squash over the weekend. Oh, and I'll scoot all my potted brugmansias and daturas up under the patio cover close to the east wall of the barn before nightfall.

The wicked wind is stirring up grassfires here in Love's Valley and along Scenic 77, so it may be a long day.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 12:29PM
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Dawn sorry the new idea didn't fit for my "mystery" He is just a little hardy guy who fights to live in spite of getting cut to the ground every year. I guess he deserves to live...he really doesn't bother anything as long as we don't let him get too big.

My niece's stickers.....I have not actually seen them. We were there over the weekend but I never went to see what she is talking

I know she mows all the time so they cannot possibly be very tall. They are just the small round stickers which don't really hurt much but are annoying and will stick to almost everything. The ground is poor along their road due to recent road work and them leaving bad soil along the edges.

More than likely they are low growing and spreading in habit..I will have to ask her but my bet is that they are more broadleaved. I have no idea what they are called. We always called the really bad ones goat heads and they had long spines which could really bury deep and they grew on a grass like stem. Her stickers are not that kind.

These are just the little round spiney ones which are sort of soft. She cleans her mower tires when she mows there to keep from spreading them. And has spent many hours digging them out this summer. Poor thing. She has tried burning them but that did not work....haha. They were likely too green.

With cooler weather perhaps she will get it off her mind until spring. (I hope so! hahaha) But I told her to put pre-emergent herbicide on them. Hope she will do that.

I have also heard of people dragging an old blanket or something over them to collect the seeds so they don't spread.

Well I see they are saying we could get frost tonight and tomorrow night. So I will have to move my patio plants closer to house or bring them in. And pick tomatoes and peppers. I am NOT ready for is too early!

Too bad we didn't get rain yesterday..perhaps it would have helped the fire situation.

Well I best get busy.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 12:37PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


OK, from your description, I know exactly the ones you're talking about! I mean, I know the little stickers themselves but not the plant. I'll let you know if I figure out what plant produces those little grassburs. Sand grassburs? Oh, I know I ought to know what they are. I only have goathead stickers along the shoulder of our more-or-less paved road. It was a dirt road when we bought the land, then a pretty good gravel lane by the time we moved into the house a couple of years later, then black-topped a year or two after that....but the blacktop cracks and gets potholes easily, so it really isn't much better than it was back when it was a dirt road.

I like the idea of dragging a blanket over the stickers to "capture" them. That sounds like a pretty efficient method.

It was cold and frosty here (31 degrees this morning) but the frost wasn't on the plants long enough to harm them. Yippee! I do expect more serious freeze/frost issues tonight and tomorrow night....and then again around the middle of next week. I guess the warm season is about to end, unless we get lucky and have a few weeks of "Indian Summer".

The two fires yesterday were paged out at almost the same exact time, and then the cold front arrived with a quarter-inch of rain, and there were no more grassfires as far as I know. We were, of course, grateful for the rain, but we need lots and lots more as we are about 10" below our average annual rainfall so far. I assume y'all need the rain too.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 1:20PM
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i looked up sand grass burrs and they have thorns on them. these are smooth all around. we have them in the lot next door and so i have been waiting until the freeze so i can walk through there without getting ticks or chiggers. i will have to try to find them.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 7:03AM
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well, i went out in the field after the freeze to see if i could reach a persimmon tree. i came back with stick tights over every inch of my jeans, shirt, and boots. they were even piled on top of each other. what a fun day. i learned that throwing them in the dryer helped get most out. still picked for hours. didn't get any of those round stickers i was talking about.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 6:08AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


The important question is could you reach the persimmon tree? LOL

My most accessible persimmon trees are on the banks of one of the ponds, so they're pretty easy to get to as long as you watch for snakes. On the east bank of the pond, we have male trees that do not produce fruit, but do (obviously) produce pollen for the female trees. On the west bank of the pond, we have female trees that produce fruit. All these trees were here when we bought the place, and I've often wondered why the trees segregated themselves on separate sides of the pond.

Our tallest persimmon tree is about 40' tall and is in an overgrown wooded area that is hard to get to--and since it is so tall, you have to wait for the fruit to fall, which won't happen until late Nov. or early Dec.

There are tons of native persimmons in the fields here and they are covered in fruit, which the coyotes are devouring at an alarming rate.

I love the fall color of the persimmons.

I've been getting a lot of sticktights on me too, but not as many as I get in wetter years.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 8:30AM
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I reached the persimmon tree, but unlike what I was told, the fruit did not drop after our first frost. And so all I was able to take home were thousands of sticktights. i should have had a photo taken of me.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 7:23PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Mine don't usually drop until after Thanksgiving at the earliest, no matter when the first frost occurs. Since you are further north, yours might drop sooner.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 8:31PM
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well, it really isn't my tree. it is in some acreage that I used to be able to get to, but they didn't mow this year. I won't be able to go there anymore as we won't pay to have it mowed either. and it is a fire hazzard. can't see getting more sticktights. if we only had a brush hog.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 7:23AM
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