What are the Most Common Weeds with Purple Flowers?

The small purple flowers in your grass are considered weeds, as they are growing in a place where they are not wanted or not purposefully planted. Purple flower weeds are a diverse group of invasive, often fast-spreading plants that thrive in gardens, yards, lawns, or agricultural lands. These little purple flowers in grass often become nuisances due to their fast growth and potential negative impact on desirable plants, despite their vibrant and often attractive flowers. They impede the growth of native vegetation by outcompeting them for resources like water, nutrients, and sunlight.

While gardeners and farmers want to get rid of most weeds with purple flowers, some are also appreciated for their beauty and are used for ground cover or natural pest control, like Wild Violets or Creeping Charlie/Ground Ivy.

In this article, you will learn what the most common weeds with purple flowers are called, how to identify them, and whether you should keep or get rid of them from your garden or lawn. We will discuss the following plants:

  1. Wild Violets (Viola odorata)
  2. Creeping Charlie/Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
  3. Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis)
  4. Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
  5. Canada Thistle/Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  6. Musk Thistle/Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans)
  7. Common Thistle/Spear Thistle/Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  8. Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
  9. Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)
  10. Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill (Geranium molle)
  11. Selfheal/Healall (Prunella vulgaris)
  12. Wild Violets (Viola odorata)

Table of Contents

1. Wild Violet (Viola odorata)

Wild Violets (Viola odorata)

Wild Violets are a flowering species belonging to the genus Viola. Originally native to Europe and Asia, these hardy plants have made their way into North America and Australia, and they’re commonly known by several names, including wood violet, sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist’s violet, or garden violet.

What Do Wild Violets Look Like?

Wild Violets possess heart-shaped leaves that typically form a basal rosette, meaning all leaves and flowers arise from a central point near ground level.

The most distinct feature of Wild Violets is their flowers. They primarily bloom in purple-blue hues, but certain varieties also produce yellow or white flowers. These flowers are often scented, adding to their charm.

Wild Violets reach a height of 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) and can spread between 8-24 inches (20-61 cm) across when fully mature. The growth in width occurs due to their spreading habit, where the plants send out runners to establish new growth.

What are the benefits of having wild violets in your yard?

Wild Violets offer three main benefits in a garden or lawn:

  1. Culinary Uses: Wild Violets feature edible flowers widely utilized in culinary applications. These flowers are candied for decoration on cakes and cookies or served fresh as garnishes in salads and teas. The plant’s leaves, another edible component, provide a nutrient-rich supplement to salads.
  2. Medicinal Uses: Historical records indicate the medicinal usage of wild violets. These plants contain compounds such as flavonoids and vitamin C, employed in traditional herbal medicine to address respiratory problems, skin disorders, and insomnia(1).
  3. Ecological Benefits: Wild Violets contribute to ecological benefits. Specifically, they function as an early-season food source for pollinators like bees and butterflies. The plants’ dense growth pattern aids in soil erosion control in relevant areas.

2. Creeping Charlie / Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Creeping Charlie / Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground Ivy, is a fast-spreading perennial weed belonging to the Lamiaceae or mint family. Native to Europe and the Middle East, this hardy plant has become a widespread invasive species in North America, earning a place on the list of the most common yard weeds.

What Does Creeping Charlie Look Like?

Creeping Charlie is known for its scalloped, kidney-shaped leaves that grow in pairs opposite each other along the square, trailing stems. The leaves are rich, dark green but can also present purplish hues in cooler temperatures.

The most distinctive feature of Creeping Charlie is its small, funnel-shaped flowers. The blooms are typically lavender or blue-violet, appearing in clusters in the late spring. The plant emits a strong minty aroma when crushed or mowed, a telltale characteristic of this species.

Creeping Charlie exhibits a vigorous growth habit, reaching a height of approximately 2 inches (5 cm), but spreading outwards up to 3 feet (90 cm) or more. It propagates by seeds and the creeping stems, which root at the nodes(2).

What are the benefits of having Creeping Charlie in your yard?

Creeping Charlie offer three main benefits in a garden or lawn:

  1. Erosion Control: Due to its sprawling nature, Creeping Charlie can be beneficial in preventing soil erosion on steep banks or areas of the garden prone to runoff.
  2. Wildlife Value: Creeping Charlie produces nectar-rich flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, promoting biodiversity in your yard.
  3. Culinary and Medicinal Uses: Historically, Creeping Charlie has been used in the kitchen and medicine cabinet. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used for conditions like bronchitis, sinusitis, and gastrointestinal issues. Its leaves have a strong minty flavor and can be used in teas or as a flavoring in soups and stews.

3. Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis)

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis)

Forget-me-nots are delicate flowering plants from the genus Myosotis, with the name derived from the Greek for “mouse’s ear,” a reference to their small, soft, oval leaves(3). Predominantly native to Europe and parts of Asia, these charming wildflowers have since spread across many regions of the world.

What Does Forget-Me-Not Look Like?

Forget-Me-Nots are most recognizable for their abundant, tiny flowers that bloom in captivating shades of blue with yellow or white centers. The blossoms typically form clusters, presenting a spectacular floral display in the spring and early summer.

The plants generally grow to a height of around 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) and spread out horizontally, with their thin, hairy stems growing in a somewhat sprawling manner. Their leaves are alternate and oblong, with a slightly hairy surface.

What are the benefits of having Forget-Me-Nots in your yard?

Having Forget-Me-Not in your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: The charming blue flowers of Forget-Me-Nots can add a splash of color to gardens, particularly in the spring. They work well as ground cover, border plants, or in rock gardens due to their short and sprawling growth habit.
  2. Pollinator Attraction: The small, nectar-rich flowers of Forget-Me-Nots attract various pollinators, including bees and butterflies. This makes them a great choice for gardeners looking to boost the biodiversity in their yard.
  3. Historical and Symbolic Significance: Forget-Me-Nots have a rich history and are often associated with remembrance and enduring love in various cultures. They can bring not just natural beauty, but also sentimental value to your garden.

4. Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Black Nightshade, scientifically known as Solanum nigrum, is a plant species belonging to the Solanaceae family, also known as the nightshade or potato family. It is native to Eurasia but has since been introduced to the Americas, Australia, and South Africa.

What Does Black Nightshade Look Like?

Black Nightshade plants are annuals or short-lived perennials that typically grow up to 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) tall. They have simple, ovate leaves and white to purplish, star-shaped flowers that develop into round, black berries when mature.

The plant’s stems are generally semi-woody at the base, and its leaves, while mostly entire, may have few to several coarse teeth.

What are the benefits of having Black Nightshade in your yard?

Having Black Nightshade on your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Wildlife Attraction: Black Nightshade produces small, black berries that are a source of food for birds and other wildlife. By planting this species in your yard, you can help support local fauna.
  2. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, various parts of the Black Nightshade plant have been used in herbal medicine. It has been employed in the treatment of skin conditions, fever, pain, and other ailments.
  3. Ornamental Value: Despite being considered a weed in many regions, Black Nightshade has a certain ornamental appeal. Its delicate white or purple flowers and glossy black berries can add visual interest to a wild garden area or border.

It’s crucial to note that while the ripe berries of Black Nightshade are generally considered safe to eat, the unripe berries, leaves, and stems contain toxic compounds and should be avoided(4)! The plant’s safety for consumption can vary depending on the specific variety and growing conditions.

black nightshade's poisonous berries
Black Nightshade’s poisonous berries. Source: Wikipedia

5. Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canada Thistle, lso known as Creeping Thistle, the Cirsium arvense is a species of thistle in the Asteraceae family. Native to Europe and Western Asia, this plant has become a widespread species in North America, Australia, and other parts of the world.

What Does Canada Thistle Look Like?

Canada Thistle is characterized by its tall, erect stems that can reach heights of 1-4 feet (30-120 cm). The stems are winged, with spiny, alternating leaves, and are topped with clusters of small, lavender to pink flowers. These flowers are tubular and bristly, typical of plants in the thistle group.

The plant features an extensive root system, which allows it to spread aggressively, often forming dense colonies. The roots can extend horizontally up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) and vertically up to 20 feet (6 meters).

What are the Benefits of Having Canada Thistle in Your Yard?

Having Canada Thisle in your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Wildlife Benefits: Canada Thistle’s flowers are a nectar source for a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Its seeds also provide food for some bird species, promoting biodiversity in your yard.
  2. Soil Improvement: The deep root system of Canada Thistle can help in soil stabilization and improvement. It can draw nutrients from deep within the soil, potentially benefiting surrounding plants when its leaves decay and return these nutrients to the soil surface.
  3. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, parts of the Canada Thistle plant have been used in herbal remedies to help with digestive issues and inflammation. However, it’s important to consult a health professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.

6. Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans)

Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans)

Musk Thistle, also known as Nodding Thistle, is a biennial flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is native to regions of Europe and Asia but has become naturalized in North America and other parts of the world.

What Does Musk Thistle Look Like?

The Musk Thistle is known for its striking, large, purple flowers that ‘nod’ or hang to one side, hence the name Nodding Thistle. The flower heads are typically 1.5 to 3 inches (3.8 to 7.6 cm) in diameter and bloom from late spring to early summer.

The plant features large, deeply lobed, spiny leaves that form a rosette in the first year, before sending up a tall flowering stem in the second year. The plant can grow up to 7 feet (2 meters) in height.

What are the Benefits of Having Musk Thistle in Your Yard?

Having Musk Thisle in your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Ornamental Appeal: With their large, vibrant purple flowers and architectural form, Musk Thistles can make a dramatic addition to a wildflower meadow or naturalistic garden design.
  2. Pollinator Attraction: Musk Thistles produce a high amount of nectar, attracting a wide variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. This makes them an excellent choice for those looking to enhance their garden’s biodiversity.
  3. Wildlife Value: The seeds of Musk Thistles are a food source for goldfinches and other seed-eating birds. Planting this species in your garden can contribute to supporting local wildlife populations.

7. Common Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

Common Thistle, also known as Spear Thistle or Bull Thistle, is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. It’s native to regions of Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, but has spread to North America and other regions, where it’s often considered a weed.

What Does Common Thistle Look Like?

Common Thistle is a tall, biennial plant that can reach heights of 1 to 5 feet (30-150 cm). The plant forms a rosette of spiny, lobed leaves in its first year. In the second year, it sends up a tall, branched stem with smaller, more pointed leaves, topped by a cluster of purple, thistle-like flowers.

The plant’s stem and leaves are covered in sharp spines, which provide the plant with its common names of Spear Thistle and Bull Thistle.

What are the Benefits of Having Common Thistle in Your Yard?

Having Common Thistle on your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Wildlife Value: The flowers of the Common Thistle are a source of nectar for a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Many bird species, such as goldfinches, also consume its seeds, enhancing the biodiversity in your yard.
  2. Soil Improvement: Like many deep-rooted plants, Common Thistle can improve soil by bringing up nutrients from deep within the soil.
  3. Medicinal Uses: Parts of the Common Thistle have been used traditionally in herbal medicine, often for digestive ailments and skin conditions. However, it’s crucial to consult with a health professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.

8. Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Purple Dead Nettle is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint family. It’s native to Europe and Asia but has become naturalized in North America and other parts of the world.

What Does Purple Dead Nettle Look Like?

Purple Dead Nettle is an annual plant that typically grows up to 10 inches (25 cm) in height. It’s characterized by its square stems, triangular to heart-shaped leaves, and small, purple-pink flowers that bloom in whorls around the stem.

The plant gets its name from the purplish hue that the leaves often take on, especially those toward the top of the plant. Despite its name, it’s not a true nettle and does not sting.

What are the Benefits of Having Purple Deadnettle in Your Yard?

Having Purple Dead Nettle on your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Early Blooming: Purple Deadnettle is one of the earliest plants to flower in the spring, providing an early nectar source for bees and other pollinators.
  2. Ground Cover: Due to its low-growing habit and dense growth, Purple Dead Nettle can act as a living mulch, helping to suppress weeds and protect the soil from erosion.
  3. Edible and Medicinal Uses: The leaves of Purple Dead Nettle are edible and can be used in salads or as a cooked green. The plant is also known in traditional herbal medicine and is used to help with allergies, inflammation, and wound healing.

9. Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Henbit is a flowering plant in the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. While originally native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, this species has become naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America and Australia.

What Does Henbit Look Like?

Henbit is a low-growing, annual plant that typically reaches heights of 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm). It features square, hollow stems and rounded, lobed leaves often clasped around the stem, giving the plant its species name, ‘amplexicaule’, which means ‘clasping’.

The flowers of Henbit are small, tubular, and typically pink to purple. They bloom in whorls around the stem in the early spring.

What are the Benefits of Having Henbit in Your Yard?

Having Henbit on your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Early Bloomer: Similar to the Purple Dead Nettle, Henbit is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. It provides an early source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators, supporting backyard biodiversity.
  2. Edible Plant: Henbit leaves, stems, and flowers are edible. They can be consumed raw in salads or cooked as a green, providing a source of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Soil Improvement: Henbit can serve as a cover crop in the garden. It helps protect the soil from erosion and, when turned into the soil at the end of the season, it contributes organic matter, improving soil fertility and structure.

10. Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill (Geranium molle)

Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill (Geranium molle)

Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill, scientifically known as Geranium molle, is a species of flowering plant in the Geraniaceae family. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia and North Africa but has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America and Australia.

What Does Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill Look Like?

Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill is a low-growing, annual, or biennial species that usually grows to 4-12 inches (10-30 cm). It features softly hairy stems and leaves, which are deeply divided into 5 to 7 lobes, giving them a somewhat feathered appearance.

Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill is known for its pink to purple flowers with five petals each. These flowers, which bloom from spring to fall, are followed by fruit that resembles a crane’s bill, hence the plant’s common name.

What are the Benefits of Having Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill in Your Yard?

Having Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill on your lawn can come with the following benefits:

  1. Long Blooming Period: With a blooming period from spring to fall, Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill provides a prolonged source of nectar and pollen for pollinators.
  2. Ground Cover: The low-growing habit of Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill can make it an effective ground cover, helping to suppress weeds and protect the soil from erosion.
  3. Ornamental Interest: With its pretty pink flowers and feathery leaves, Dove’s-Foot Crane’s-Bill can add ornamental interest to various garden settings, including borders, rock gardens, or wildflower meadows.

11. Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)

Selfheal, also known as Healall or Prunella vulgaris, is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. It’s a widespread plant, native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and found in many other parts of the world.

What Does Selfheal Look Like?

Selfheal is a low-growing plant that usually reaches a height of 4-12 inches (10-30 cm). Its square stems are characteristic of the mint family, and its leaves are lance-shaped and arranged oppositely along the stem.

Selfheal is most recognizable by its flowers, which are small, tubular, and usually a vibrant purple color. These flowers bloom in a dense, cylindrical cluster, or spike, at the top of the stem from late spring through fall.

What are the Benefits of Having Selfheal in Your Yard?

What are the Benefits of Having Selfheal in Your Yard?

  1. Prolonged Bloom Period: Selfheal has a long blooming period, from late spring to fall, providing a consistent source of nectar for various pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
  2. Ground Cover: Selfheal grows low to the ground and spreads readily, making it an effective ground cover. It can help to suppress weeds and protect the soil from erosion.
  3. Medicinal Uses: As its common names suggest, Selfheal has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It’s been used for a wide variety of ailments, from minor wounds and burns to sore throats and fevers. However, as with any plant used for medicinal purposes, it’s important to consult a health professional before use.
  4. Edible Plant: Selfheal’s leaves and young shoots are edible(6). They can be used in salads or as a potherb. The plant is rich in vitamins and minerals and has a slightly bitter flavor.

Should you get rid of weeds with purple flowers in your yard or garden?

There is no clear consensus among gardening and lawn care experts on whether to keep or get rid of purple flower weeds in general. While they are often categorized as weeds due to their ability to spread rapidly and compete with other plants, they provide numerous benefits, like offering food for pollinators, improving soil health, providing ground cover, and serving as a source of food or medicine for humans (7).

However, just like all weed types, the above-listed 11 plants have six major drawbacks:

  1. Invasive Growth: Many weeds, like Creeping Charlie, Thistles, and Henbit, have a rapid growth rate and can spread quickly, often through both seeds and root systems. This trait can allow them to outcompete and displace other plants.
  2. Difficulty in Control or Eradication: Due to their extensive root systems or underground stems (rhizomes), these weeds, including Canada Thistle and Wild Violets, can be hard to remove completely. They often regrow from leftover root fragments. Some species, like Creeping Charlie, also resist common broadleaf herbicides.
  3. Potential Allergens: Certain people may be allergic to some of these plants, like Wild Violets, potentially resulting in skin irritation or respiratory issues.
  4. Interference with your Entire Lawn Aesthetics: Many people prefer a neat, uniform lawn or garden. These weeds can interfere with the desired aesthetic, especially in manicured lawns or carefully planned landscapes.
  5. Potential Toxicity: Some of these weeds, like Black Nightshade, can be toxic if ingested, especially their unripe berries. This can pose a risk to children, pets, or livestock who might consume them.
  6. Crowding Out Desired Species: By growing fast and densely, these weeds can crowd out other species, reducing biodiversity. They can be particularly harmful to sensitive ecosystems or in areas where they are non-native and have been introduced.

Are purple flower weeds edible?

Yes, many purple flower weeds are edible when properly identified and prepared, like Wild Violets, Creeping Charlie , Purple Dead Nettle, Henbit or Selfheal.

However, always be sure to correctly identify any wild plant before consuming it, and eat it only in moderation initially to ensure you do not have any adverse reactions. Also note, that this article is not medical advice, so don’t eat any flowers or plants where you are unsure about their safety!

Are purple flower weeds poisonous to humans, babies, or dogs?

Yes, multiple purple flower weeds are harmful or toxic to humans and pets. Here are three examples:

  1. Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum): This plant can be harmful if ingested, especially the unripe berries, which contain solanine, a toxic compound. It can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, breathing difficulty, and in severe cases, death.
  2. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea): While humans can eat it in small quantities, it can cause gastrointestinal distress in large amounts. It is also toxic to some animals, including horses, causing symptoms like loss of coordination and labored breathing.
  3. Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.): While not typically toxic, their spiny leaves and stems can cause mechanical injury if pets or small children ingest them.

It’s important to note that individual reactions can vary, and what may be harmless to one person or animal may cause another reaction. Additionally, infants and small pets are more likely to have severe reactions due to their smaller body size.

How to get rid of weeds with purple flowers on your lawn?

Getting rid of weeds, including those with purple flowers, generally involves a combination of physical removal, preventative measures, and the use of herbicides. Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Manual Removal: Pull weeds by hand or use a garden tool. Remove roots to prevent regrowth.
  2. Mulching: Use mulch to suppress weed growth by blocking sunlight.
  3. Plant Competition: Plant your desired plants densely to crowd out weeds.
  4. Lawn Care: Keep grass healthy and mow regularly to prevent weed seeds from spreading.
  5. Herbicides: Use as a last resort and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Professional Help: If infestations are large or tough, consider hiring a professional.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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