Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It Isn't Artillery Plant -- Get Out the Big Guns Anyway

When Artillery Plant was identified as a Houseplant, I thought to look farther. It pays to identify even your weeds with botanical names. What I was calling artillery plant because of its habit of throwing seeds when touched is actually Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta.

The seed pod that flies everywhere when touched is called a silque, a long, narrow pod filled with tiny seeds.

Thanks to Virginia Tech for their Weed ID Guide, which is browsible by first letter. If you don't know the name of your weed, you might do what I did and start with A and look until you find a name that sounds promising. Bittercress sounded good because the habit of this plant is similar to the hateful summer weed, Chamberbitter.

I try to recognize these plants and pull before they develop seeds, which happens rapidly in the mild weather we're having now.

Here's the link to a Florida Weed photo site.
Top Ten Nasty Weeds

What are your worst enemies, weedwise?

Secrets of a Seedscatterer


  1. Artillery Plant is a houseplant here, but I am with you on that chickweed. We battle that too.

  2. NeilJean,

    I have chickweed going crazy in the cold frames, hard to get rid of. The others we don't have. Our worst are Japanese Bamboo grass and bindweed.

  3. With a name like artillery plant it had to be interesting. Shooting seeds! wow, mother nature thinks of everything. My worst offender here is bindweed. A vine that grows up and chokes out everything else. It's seeds help its spread but the roots are the biggest issue. Very brittle so they break the minute you look at them and each piece will start a new plant. Not to mention the roots can spread up to 50 feet.

  4. I too have catbriar....and still have it in the same spot! No chickweed here just yet.

    Top would have to be Bermuda Grass, henbit, deadnettle, thistles, dandelions. I will stop here but could go on......and on.

  5. I reposted my repost, lol. I was wrong about this weed being artillery plant, at least not the artillery plant that people grow as a houseplant. We now have ID thanks to VA Tech. Most of the University Extension Services have some kind of weed site. That is really helpful. I skim over the chemicals they suggest and just dig, dig, dig, pull, pull, pull.

    I could go on and on, too Glenda, just on the winter weeds. Henbit will bite the dust soon enough and attracts some beneficials, so I mostly let it go. Chickweed I pull out by the handsful just to give the good plants a chance but I never get it all, so it persists.

  6. Without even thinking twice: the much-hated Bermuda grass is top of my list because it has no redeeming features for wildlife. The gazillion viburnum and hackberry seedlings dropped by birds every year come in second on my troublesome list. At least the viburnums are easier to pull up; the hackberrys are tough as hell. I consider henbit and dandelions food for pollinators when there is little else, so I just try to keep these within a reasonable number. Ditto horse herb.

  7. I wuz tellin' someone just a coupla days ago that they could eat the hairy bittercress.
    Matching actions to words, I reached down and popped a tidbit into my mouth... Tasted green. I expected more of a mustard or radish taste, but it was like eating wheat sprouts.

    Got lotsa chickweed, it's in bloom. Got lotsa henbit, it's setting seed.
    Seeing plenty of Japanese honeysuckle and catbriar.

    Agree with the commenter that hates bermuda grass, terrible stuff, and nut sedge and Florida betony also.

  8. Ours is Paterson's Curse. The name, says it all. And I have had ripped bloody arms to prove it, when clearing the rented 'garden'.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

Google+ Followers