Weeds are synonymous with annoyance and disruption due to their invasive and aggressive nature. These invaders, especially the toxic ones, can crop up anywhere – they don’t care about the spaces where they sprout.
Most weeds grow by spreading the rhizomes and will continue to grow for as long as possible.
In fact, weeds will destroy all other plants that come in contact with that specific area and demolish the ecosystem. Alabama has many common weeds that proliferate wildly and rapidly. Most of these weeds aren’t native but have already occupied bigger parts of Alabama.
This article will help you identify the common weeds in Alabama so that you can take measures to prevent their growth. So let’s check them out!
Identifying the 4 Common Weeds in Alabama
Fascinatingly, most of the common weeds in Alabama aren’t much threatening and can be tackled by yourself if you act immediately. Some weed species produce fruits and flowers in seasonal times. To find out how to identify the different weeds of Alabama.
|Scientific Name:||Cyperus rotundus|
|Common Names:||Nutgrass, Java grass, Coco-grass, Purple nutsedge/ Purple nutsedge, Khmer kravanh chruk, Red nutsedge.|
Nutsedges are glossy-green, perennial, grass-like weeds or Eurasian sedges exhibiting an upright triangular branching stem with purple seed pods. It’s considered one of the worst weeds invading lawns across the world. New shoots appear from underground tubers in spring when this weedy plant dies in the fall.
Like other sedges, this variety also develops happily in wet areas and loves full sun conditions or warm weather. Nevertheless, nutsedges can still tolerate different environmental conditions and landscapes.
Nutsedges have elongated, slender rhizomes and tubers at the stem base that help spread the plant. They are threatening crops or plants in open fields, sunny and disturbed, dry soil. The rhizomes rob nutrients from the fellow plants in the ground and are harder to eliminate.
Moreover, this weed can leave broken roots if you pull it up, which will develop more roots. Finally, the seeds can remain dormant for many years. So it’s best to eradicate young plants and let the exposed roots dry out in the sun.
Now, how to identify nutsedge?
First of all, note that nutgrass looks like grass, but it’s just grass in the name. Nutsedge is a part of the Cyperaceae family. However, some nutsedge species can grow up to 12 feet or more in height if not tackled.
The ‘nut’ part of the name comes from its tubers. Young nutsedge creates white rhizomes in clusters or chains, depending on the type. Rhizomes can expand up to an inch in diameter but in two different directions. This weedy plant has horizontal, reddish-brown rhizomes. However, some nutsedge varieties also have vertically growing rhizomes.
When the rhizomes develop upward, they create a bulbous structure that gives rise to new shoots and roots. However, in mature nutsedges, the key distinguishing feature is the stems. You can spot them instantly by looking at their triangular stems – three edges and sides.
Moreover, leaves emerge in rows of 3 from the base. They look waxy and shine a little bit in the sunlight. While the leaves are hairless, they are smooth to the touch. You may find leaves tapering at the ends and an apparent middle rib forming a ‘V-shape.’
Flowers appear in clusters of 3 to 8 bumpy spike lets.
Yellow nutsedges crop up in a lawn earlier than the purple variety. A matured yellow nutsedge grows up to a height from 12 to 18 inches. Purple nutsedge bears a relatively smaller height, growing up to a maximum of 6 inches.
2. White Clover
|Scientific Name:||Trifolium repens|
|Common Names:||Honeysuckle clover, White trefoil, Dutch clover, Purple wort, Shamrock, Ladino clover.|
Another very widespread and common weed of gardens, parks, lawns, and grasslands is white clover. This perennial broad-leaf weed flowers during the summer and spreads through creeping branched-stems with the root at the nodes and by seeds. Moreover, they can thrive in a wide variety of soil types and pH ranges.
While white clover can fix its nitrogen, it can sustain in unfertilized landscapes. White clovers have a shallow root system, making them unsuitable in dry soils. They proliferate best in temperatures between 50 to 85 degrees F.
A more practical way to control this weed is by ideally preventing the infestation to a controllable level. Like most other weeds, the best defense against white clovers is proper mowing height, turfgrass fertilization, and weekly irrigation.
How to identify it?
White clovers have creeping stems growing close to the ground and producing roots at the nodes. Stems are usually hairless and can extend up to 30 cm or less in length.
Leaves are also hairless and alternately arranged on long stalks.
However, it consists of three leaflets – oval, egg-shaped, or heart-shaped with finely-toothed margins. You can identify them by their unique paler green V-shaped markings on their upper leaf surface. Leaf tips are notched or rounded.
White clovers have small pea-shaped flowers ranging from pale pink to white. Flowers appear on a short stalk with five reddish or green sepals merged into a small tube. Their unique characteristics include two sides and two lower petals merged, forming a keel.
You will see nearly ten tiny stamens and an ovary with a stigma and style. However, clovers start blooming flowers mostly in the early summer and spring. Each fruit encloses three to four kidney-shaped, yellow, or brown seeds. The seeds require moist, cool conditions for germination during the early summer, fall or spring.
Interestingly, white clover can also sustain in low-mowing landscapes but won’t tolerate extremely dry areas. This plant can compete easily against any broad-leaf weeds with its dense creeping ability.
3. Field Bindweed
|Scientific Name:||Convolvulus arvensis|
|Common Names:||Small bindweed, Morning glory, Field morning-glory, Devil’s guts, European bindweed, Creeping jenny, Small-flowered morning glory, Perennial morning glory.|
This perennial plant has twining and creeping stems, growing along the ground and over other plants. Field bindweed can penetrate deep into the soil with its extensive rhizome in its root system. Eventually, they are difficult to control. As a result, field bindweed is problematic in several horticultural and agricultural fields, ornamental landscapes, and turf in Alabama.
Field bindweed grows along the soil surface and comes in contact with other structures or plants. Therefore, it grows over whatever comes in the way.
How to identify field bindweed?
Field bindweed reproduces by rhizomes and seeds. Germination of seeds takes place during the early summer and spring and can remain active for over 50 years in the soil. Rhizomes produce shoots during the early spring and spread by cultivation, movement of topsoil, and equipment.
You will find dark green, smooth and large cotyledons with smooth edges and whitish veins. Moreover, they are kidney to square-shaped and have long petioles. Bindweed even germinates from rhizomes (root fragments).
Field bindweed has bell-shaped young leaves with petioles. They have smooth to slightly hairy stems, about 2-7 feet long. When leaves mature, they become arrowhead shaped. The lobes point away from the petiole at the plant’s base.
They are characterized by extensive rhizomes in the root system that can reach up to 30 feet in height. Note that even the tiniest root fragments can re-grow happily. Flowering starts between June and September, and one to two flowers appear at the leaf axil.
The flower stalks are short; you will see two small, leafy bracts at each flower base. Petals are pink or white and funnel-shaped at the base, appearing like a trumpet. On the other hand, bindweed produces rounded to oval capsules enclosing four seeds.
Each seed measures 3 to 4 mm in length and is either dull gray, black, or brown. And one side is flattened, and the other side is rounded. The root system is another key distinguishing feature, as they have shallow and deep vertical and lateral roots.
Frequent cultivation can control this weed’s root reserves and destroy the soil seed bank. However, the root nitrogen and carbohydrate reserves are minimal at the blooming stage. So tilling at this stage can be the most effective way to suppress this weedy plant.
4. Spotted Spurge
|Scientific Name:||Euphorbia prostrata|
|Common Names:||Spotted sandmat, Spotted euphorbia, Milk-purslane and Prostrate spurge.|
This low-growing annual broadleaf can be quickly identified through its dense mat structure. Spotted spurge is a common invader of agricultural lands, gardens, and other disturbed landscapes.
Moreover, they can pop up in nearly any open space, including open woods, waste ground, roadsides, thin lawns, and poorly compacted soil. As a result, spotted spurge can overgrow and deplete desirable crops or plants.
This plant creates a dense mat of foliage emitting from a central taproot, and a single spurge can extend up to 3 feet. The ideal condition stimulating seed germination is warm soil having temperatures above 75 degrees F. However, seeds can even germinate at cool temperatures in the presence of moisture. While seeds require light to sprout, the ones within over half an inch deep in the ground are less likely to sprout.
How to identify it?
Leaves are slightly hairy, ovate, and dark green and appear in opposite pairs on hairy, maroon stems. You will see a red spot in the middle of the upper leaf surface, but it’s not always found. This is because stems don’t root at the nodes. However, breaking the stem will emit a milky sap that is a skin irritant and toxic to sheep.
Flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, clustered in the leaf axils, and don’t have petals. Each flower consists of only pistils or stamens. Spotted spurge bears small fruits with a tripartite seed capsule that holds one seed in every locule. Moreover, each tiny brown seed has hairs and wrinkles or longitudinal ridges.
Seeds can stick to surfaces when wet. As a result, this plant produces seeds prolifically. They start to bloom flowers and seeds within a month after sprouting. And each plant produces thousands of seeds that either germinate immediately or stay dormant for many years in the soil.
The best bet to control this weed growth is by preventing their germination. You can accomplish so by removing the plant as soon as they emerge or by mulching. However, if the weed has already germinated in your lawn, hoeing or hand-pulling before they can produce seeds will be the most effective.
Eradicating many weed species can take several years and continued lawn treatments. And after the successful eradication of these invaders, you must continue with scheduled lawn care plans and treatments to prevent them from intruding on your property again.
Remember that your ultimate aim as a gardener is achieving and accomplishing a lush and healthy lawn. So look out for any of the above weeds invading your garden in Alabama and eliminate them immediately.