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Curly dock (also called “curled dock” or “yellow dock”) is more than just distinctive, it’s also useful: curly dock serves as a home remedy to treat stinging nettle burns–though it can be toxic to consume.   You’ll be able to identify curly dock by its greenish blossoms that cluster long thin flower stocks. After the flowers have dried and turned brown, they remain in place, making the plant easy to recognize. The flowers start out a much less distinctive light-greenish or reddish color. Blooming occurs in clusters in the form of multiple, long, skinny flower stalks at the top of the plant.

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A rather innocuous plant, common plantain can simply be mowed whenever you mow the lawn. Its relative, Plantago lanceolata is a similar weed, but with narrow leaves. Now a ubiquitous lawn weed in North America, broadleaf or “common” plantain was brought to the New World by colonists from Europe for its medicinal uses. Common plantain has many medicinal uses. Mashed, it can be used as a poultice for bee stings; the leaves can also be dried and made into a tea to treat diarrhea.  

Wild Madder (Galium mollugo)

It’s not for nothing that this plant is named, “giant ragweed.” It can grow up to 15 feet tall, with thick roots and branches. Like its ragweed cousin (and unlike goldenrod), giant ragweed produces a great deal of pollen which causes serious allergies.  

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Weed species are either broadleaf or grassy type. A few examples of broadleaf weeds are clover, dandelion, and purslane. Some examples of grassy type weeds are nutsedge, pampas grass, and bermuda grass. Weeds can be further divided into annuals, biennials, and perennials.

Biennials such as cheese weed (broadleaf) live for two years.

Perennial weeds live longer than two years. Simple perennials reproduce by seed. Common examples are dandelions, plantains, and chicory. Creeping perennials reproduce by seed, but can also spread by rhizomes, stolons, and underground storage organs such as bulblets. Examples are nutsedge, oxalis, bermuda grass, and kikuyu grass.

Common bermuda grass, yellow nutsedge, and some other perennial weeds are most effectively controlled with a systemic herbicide that is applied before the soil is dug and when weeds are actively growing. Always contact the pest control department for your school district if you think herbicide treatment may be needed.

Annuals complete their life cycle in one year. Summer annuals, such as crabgrass, germinate in the spring and die in the fall with the onset of colder weather. The seeds they produce during the growing season remain in the soil over the winter and germinate the following spring when soil temperatures rise. A single plant may yield more than 10,000 seeds. Many weed seeds remain viable for 20-70 years.