Identifying weeds

offlead(zone 7/8)March 29, 2010

I failed to seed with winter rye last fall, and then we had an incredibly wet winter here in north Texas. As a result, the dogs pretty much ran off EVERYTHING in the back acre down to bare dirt, and now that spring is here, it's pretty clear that I've got no summer grass coming up in the back. Just weeds.

I'm aware that getting grass back into the area is my best long-term solution. But in the meantime, three things that used to just be a problem along the back of the property line have taken over the better part of an acre. This is too much to go pulling by hand, and too much to hit with roundup or something like that. I don't know what these things are, but I do know that one of them produces, later in the year, extremely hard, sharp thorns. Since these plants have taken over the entire area, if we get to the thorn stage, I won't be able to let the dogs out there at all for many months. So, the goal is to ID them if I can, and figure out the best way to get rid of them asap, before I have an acre of solid thorns.

The plants in question are D, E, and F. I suspect that E or F is responsible for the thorns.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

For ID, I suggest you take a sample, or email images, to your County's Extension Service office. Or take to a large independent garden center or farm store.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:28AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

None of what you have pictured looks like it would produce thorns, unless it was F, and I wouldn't think so, but I don't recognize it--though it looks somewhat familiar and non-thorny. There must be something else. It looks, however, like you have a very nice variety of wild (and escaped) flowers.

Can you find any of the thorns from a prior year laying around in an infested area? It would be helpful to see a picture of them.

The likely weed that first comes to mind is puncture vine, pictured at the attached address. It has yellow flowers, however, and grows flat on the ground.

It is unlikely whatever you have is a grass, and using glyphosate to control them will kill everything including any grass, setting you up for a new weed invasion next year. A broadleaf herbicide will likely take care of them, one containing 2,4-D or dicamba should do the trick without hurting any grass that is present. It will, however, take out the other broadleaved flowers you have there if you just do a general spray. Another option to consider is to graze it off before any thorns are produced. Any goats or sheep in the area you could "borrow" and turn loose for a while this spring?

Here is a link that might be useful: Puncture vine

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:04AM
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I agree that your plants do not look like they would have thorns. However D probably has seeds similar to marigolds. The seeds are pointed and could be confused as a thorn by a non gardener.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 3:26AM
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offlead(zone 7/8)

Thanks folks! Last year's thorns were collected pretty completely by the dog's none to be found this spring. They DO look like puncture vine thorns, and I thought they were puncture vine, but I'll be damned if I can find any puncture vine in the lawn, any time of the year.

The good news is that if none of these weeds which has taken over this spring is producing the offending thorns, I feel no real need to poison the acre. I'll just seed with a summer grass, hope for enough rain to get it to germinate, hope some more that we can establish enough grass to push out whatever produces the thorns later in the summer, and enjoy all the new flowers.

(The flowers are all brand new, never seen before, and in my yard only, not my neighbors' yards. Best I can figure is that they got seeded this winter by visiting birds. We had a couple of strange "mega flocks" come through this winter, composed of smaller flocks of more than one type of bird. There were grackles, robins, and other birds I did not know, but there might be 3 to 6 different types of birds in the big giant flocks. All of the flowers are roughly surrounding a couple of small groups of trees in the back acre. Since my neighbors don't have trees in the middle of their yards, they weren't getting the birds roosting and depositing seeds, I assume. The still unidentified B is actually kind of pretty, and I'm contemplating moving to one of the beds. The primrose flowers are beautiful, and its too bad the foliage on them is so hideous looking.)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:16AM
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There is a type of grass comonly called sandburs which have some seeds similar to puncture vine. The ones we have in this area looks like a big leafed crabgrass. However the seed stalk will develop spiny burs as the season progresses. I have seen several different grasses with similar seed's. I don't know the techical terms for the various grasses but some lie close to the ground while others send graceful arching seed heads. You might look for a grass about the time the dogs start collecting the burs.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:32PM
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offlead(zone 7/8)

maifleur, I think you've given the the answer. Thanks!!!!! Now I know what to keep an eye open for. Reading that this stuff prefers sandy soils also explains why we've had problems just along the very back edge of the property. That's the sandiest part of the property...everything else is pretty dense soil.

Found more new stuff today as well. It's certainly going to be an interesting year in the yard.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:52AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Get yourself a couple of books. Wildflowers of Texas, Grasses of Texas, and Weeds of Texas (or the Southwest). These aren't the exact names, but every state/region has them and you will find them invaluable. I often find concentrations of these books at federal visitor's centers at national parks, monuments, etc.

Sandbur is an excellent possiblity. If it turns out that sandbur is your problem, you can use a grass herbicide to remove it as soon as you identify the burs forming so your dog won't pick them up (you will kill them before they get large enough to harden and become stickery), and it will preserve your wildflowers to help prevent other weed infestations.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 3:40AM
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