North Carolina Weeds – 13 Most Common

North Carolina is home to a wide range of different weeds, and many of these are not easy to control. It is important to know the most common weeds in NC and how to manage and prevent them effectively. In this article, I’ve listed 13 of the most common weeds found in North Carolina, along with notes on their appearance, identification, and control measures.

weed control

Table of Contents

North Carolina Weeds

Name of Weed Family
Common lespedeza Fabaceae
Doveweed Commelinaceae
Nutsedge Cyperaceae
Goosegrass Poaceae
Foxtail Poaceae
Crabgrass Poaceae
Purple loosestrife Lythraceae
Canadian thistle Asteraceae
Puncturevine Zygophyllaceae
Bindweed Convolvulaceae
Clover Apiaceae
Creeping Charlie Lamiaceae
Dandelions Asteraceae

Common lespedeza

Common lespedeza is also known as Japanese clover. It can be seen growing low to the ground and thriving in dry, thin, and compact turf. It can be identified by its wiry stems and dark green trifoliate leaves arranged in groups of three with oval, smooth leaflets. You can see pink or purple flowers as the plant matures and the stem gets woody.

Type

Annual

Family

Fabaceae

Control

To prevent lespedeza from taking hold, the lawn should be well fertilised, coupled with following a regular mowing schedule. Pre-emergent herbicides may be effective. Besides, triazine herbicides are known to control this weed species with postemergence applications.

winter annual weed

Doveweed

At first glance, doveweed looks like grass; however, as it grows, you can see short stalks with small purple flowers in clusters. It is an aggressive summer annual turfgrass weed. It produces thick, fleshy leaves attached to a round stem. The stem spreads across the soil surface laterally. Small hairs can be seen on the leaf sheath.

The weed species grow well in overly moist soils due to poor soil drainage or frequent irrigation and rainfall. Homeowners frequently fail to recognize this grass-like weed until significant patches of turfgrass are smothered out.

Type

Annual

Family

Commelinaceae

Control

Doveweed thrives in the late summer, so the best way to prevent it is to get ahead of it with proper turf care, especially in the spring and early summer. Post-emergent herbicides can be used to control the spread of weed species. Care should be taken to ensure that the treatment is appropriate for the turf type.

aggressive weed

Nutsedge

Nutsedge is also known as nutgrass because it looks like grass. However, it can be identified easily by its yellow flowers and sharp-edged, bright green leaves. The weed species grows well in moist soil and spreads quickly throughout gardens and lawns.

Because there are several tubers in every plant, it is not easy to control. When you pull a single tuber, the other dormant tubers get activated and increase the number of plants.

Type

Perennial Grass

Family

Cyperaceae

Control

It is possible to control the spread of nutsedge by regularly maintaining the garden or lawn. Appropriate mowing and watering schedules should be maintained. In addition, a post-emergent herbicide is known to be an effective treatment. The herbicide should be applied when the nutsedge is actively growing.

Nutsedge

Goosegrass

Goosegrass is commonly found in lawns mowed short in compact soil. The weed can be identified by its thick, dark green leaf blades that grow up to 12 inches tall and well-pointed seed heads. The leaves develop into finger-like spikes that contain the seeds. Perhaps, a single weed is capable of producing almost 50,000 seeds.

The root system of goosegrass is well-developed. Hence, it is not easy to dig the plant out of the ground. The weed can be commonly seen in areas that have compacted soil and no vegetation.

Type

Annual Grass

Family

Poaceae

Control

A healthy lawn is essential for preventing goosegrass invasion. As the weed grows well in compacted soil, core aeration can be done every year. To control established goosegrass, post-emergent herbicide application seems to be effective.

Goosegrass weed

Foxtail

Foxtail resembles grass. It can be identified by its broad, bright green leaf blades and stems that bear flower spikes that are 3-10 inches long.

The weed species is not only irritating but dangerous as well. Its rapid growth and enormous seed production allow it to take over gardens and lawns that are not well maintained.

Type

Annual Grass

Family

Poaceae

Control

Maintaining a dense, healthy lawn is key to preventing foxtail infestations. Pre-emergent herbicide is another method to prevent foxtail from taking root. While post-emergent herbicides are available, they can be quite harmful to other native plants in your garden or lawn. However, by seeking the help of professionals, post-emergent herbicides can be successfully applied without harming other plants.

Foxtail

Crabgrass

In North Carolina, crabgrass starts showing up in the summer. The weed stays low to the ground, and it generally spreads out horizontally, just like a crab’s legs. As it grows this way, it is not easy to cut it using a lawn mower.

The weed species can be identified by its finger-like florets and flat, light green leaves that point outward. Crabgrass grows well in hot, dry conditions.

Type

Annual grass

Family

Poaceae

Control

The ideal way to prevent crabgrass from taking hold in your garden or lawn is by using a pre-emergent herbicide application in the spring. Moreover, regularly mowing the lawn is crucial to keep the weeds in check.

creeping roots

Purple loosestrife

Purple loosestrife is an erect plant, growing anywhere between 3 and 10 feet tall. Its stem is square and woody and bears purple flowers in spikes. The weed species tend to form thick stands with dense roots spreading over large areas.

The weed is known to reduce biodiversity by crowding out the native vegetation of a place. Well, there are millions of seeds in a single plant, which are typically dispersed by water, wind, and wildlife.

Type

Perennial

Family

Lythraceae

Control

Cutting, digging, and hand-pulling are often recommended to treat minimal purple loosestrife infestations. Spot treatment can also be done using approved herbicides. Glyphosate herbicides are often considered effective in killing this weed species.

perennial weed

Canadian thistle

Canadian thistle forms colonies through its extensive horizontal and vertical root system. It can perhaps cover acres of land! The weed has erect, branching stems, and it grows up to 5 feet tall. The leaves are curled, wavy, and oblong, with woolly hairs.

The flowers are purple-pink in colour and appear in clusters. The weed is most commonly seen in fields and forests, as well as along river banks and roadsides. Due to its windblown seeds, the Canadian thistle spreads easily and once established, it’s not easy to get rid of it.

Type

Perennial

Family

Asteraceae

Control

While it’s difficult to control this weed, it’s possible to bring down its population with herbicide treatments containing clopyralid, glyphosate, or aminopyralid. The herbicide application should be done before the flowering period.

invasive species

Puncturevine

Puncturevine is a low-spreading forb that is native to the Mediterranean. Its leaves are long, hairy, and divided into 8-18 leaflets. The flowers are five-petaled and yellow in colour. Its fruits are initially green, but turn brown over time. There are several seeds in each segment of the fruit.

 

The weed species can be seen along roadsides, in fields, pastures, and other disturbed areas. Puncturevine is toxic to grazing animals, including sheep.

Type

Annual

Family

Zygophyllaceae

Control

Most of the time, hand removal or hoeing is the best method to control puncturevine. Regularly monitoring the area and eliminating the weed in the late spring and early summer is believed to greatly minimize its impact the following year.

Puncturevine

Bindweed

Bindweed is sometimes confused with morning glory, mainly because of its lilac-coloured, trumpet-shaped flowers. The weed is a climbing vine that quickly gets out of control. It wraps itself around anything it can get a hold of. Bindweed can completely cover the other plants, choke them and deprive them of sunlight. The weed species thrives in dry soils.

Type

Perennial

Family

Convolvulaceae

Control

By watering the gardens and flower beds properly, it is possible to keep bindweed from establishing itself. If a larger area is affected by bindweed infestation, first irrigate the area so that the weed grows well; then, treat the entire area with glyphosate before planting. After that, use a pre-emergent herbicide or mulch, which helps control the regrowth of the weed from previously treated weeds.

garden beds Bindweed

Clover

Clover is a weed that shows up in late spring. A low-growing weed, it has white flowers and creeping stems. Its leaves are small and round and have a clove-like odour when crushed.

The weed species easily ruin the uniformity of a lawn. Being a drought-tolerant plant, it takes over stressed lawns. Clover spreads easily in acidic soils, compacted soils, and soils with low nitrogen levels. It is also known for its rapid germination capabilities.

Type

Perennial Broadleaf

Family

Apiaceae

Control

It is possible to prevent clover from taking root and spreading in a lawn by maintaining it properly. To control clover invasion, apply an appropriate pre-emergent herbicide in the autumn. A post-emergent herbicide application is recommended to control established weeds.

indigenous weed species

Creeping Charlie

The weed species is a herbaceous perennial that propagates by seed or by creeping stolons growing across the ground surface. Its creeping stems are long and root at nodes. Creeping Charlie is also called ground ivy and once established, it’s not easy to eradicate it. Creeping Charlie forms mats, which tend to erode the topsoil and deprive the root system of moisture and nutrients. The weed thrives in moist shade. It spreads through seeds, roots, and sometimes even stems.

Type

Perennial

Family

Lamiaceae

Control

The creeping Charlie invasion can be controlled effectively using a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide. If you want to control the weed without causing any harm to the turfgrass, use products containing triclopyr, dicamba, and 2,4-D. For the best results, the treatment should be performed when the plant is actively growing, that is, from April to June.

turf grasses

Dandelions

Dandelions are well-known, opportunist broadleaf weeds that crowd out grass and other native plants. The weed is easily recognised by its leafless stems, bright yellow flowers, and distinct puffball seed bearers. Their deep root systems are capable of damaging the soil and the surrounding plants.

 

Controlling dandelions is difficult due to their far-flung seeds that are capable of sprouting hundreds of new plants. The weed species thrive in acidic soils.

Type

Perennial broadleaf

Family

Asteraceae

Control

While hand-pulling is effective to remove dandelions, it’s important to pull out the entire plant. As these weeds germinate quickly, pre-emergent herbicides may not be effective. Post-emergent applications are recommended to reduce their spread, but proper application is advised.

Dandelions
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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