Is this a weed?

serobinsAugust 14, 2013

Hello. I'm a complete newbie with a question. I moved to a new house in NW Ohio in early July. The previous owner was a master gardener, but the house had been empty for three years. I know only a little about gardening, just enough to pull the obvious weeds. I don't want to pull any flowers, though. I figure that any flower that can survive untended for three years is just the kind of flower a beginner like me needs. :)

I've been able to research some plants on my own and figure out what they are. This one, though, has me stumped. Is it a weed?

-It's growing in a big patch in full sun, mixed in with some bee balm.
-The soil is heavy clay.
-The plants are about 4 feet tall, growing in individual spikes.
-I can't find any flowers or buds. Either this flowered before we moved in in July, or I'm missing something. (Without flowers, I've had no luck at all finding what it is online.)
-It grows in individual spikes that are about 4 feet tall.
-Leaves are alternate and toothed, long and slender.
-The stem is green, ribbed, and has a few sparse hairs.
-Broken bits of the plant smell kind of like pepper and sassafras, I guess.
-The roots are shallow and it's easy to pull up. I sacrificed one to get this picture
-The top of the plant is a feathery bunch of fuzzy green leaves. (Sepals? I'm new at this....)

Here are the pictures. Thank you for the help!

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serobins

Leaves.....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:59PM
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serobins

roots....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:00PM
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lisanti07028(z6NJ)

My guess is Mare's Tail. If you post a picture of it growing, I could be positive, but I'm pretty sure. And yes, it's a weed, and it hasn't flowered yet, so get them all up before they do.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:16PM
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serobins

Thank you for the help! I looked it up, and I do think it might be mare's tail/horseweed. I'm kind of glad it's a weed, because I don't like the look of it, and I've been itching to tear it out. My aunt, though, said she thought it might be a flower, so I stopped myself.

Here's a photo of it, in all it's glory.....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:42PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

As was said, pull it now, before it blooms & seeds.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:06PM
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serobins

Done! The ones in the middle of the patch were a beast to pull out. Turns out there was a burning bush and a sedum in there, under all the weeds. Glad I looked. Thank you so much again for all the help for a total novice.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:25PM
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lisanti07028(z6NJ)

Now that you know what they look like, you can yank them out early next year - much easier when they are 6 inches or so.
Glad to help!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

All of the soil I have seen in NW Ohio, except for a short distance inland from Lake Erie, is clay. that is what you have and all it lacks is organic matter.
A "weed" is a plant you do not want growing where you do not want it growing. Mares Tail, or horseweed, is an annual, sometimes a biennial, that grows from seed in any disturbed soil. The plants do not seem to send the seeds out very far, but are molt likely spread around by birds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mares Tail

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:13AM
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