This seed dispersal strategy is known as ballochory. Jewelweed and cranesbill also employ this as a strategy to spread seeds.
Speaking of flowers, hairy bittercress produces a small cluster of tiny flowers each with 4 white petals. Narrow seed pods stand tall above the flowers. When dried or disturbed, the seed pods “explode” sending seeds in all directions.
While temperatures remain cold, and even an occasional snow flake takes flight, there is weed that is giving it is all this spring. That weed is hairy bittercress. While it has been lurking in gardens all winter long, it is flowering its little heart out and setting seeds right now in northwest Ohio.
This weed sends out leaves in a basal rosette from seeds that germinated last year. Like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), its tender greens are edible. You might be fooled by the common name—the plant is typically not bitter, but rather peppery in taste. Its flowers can be tough to chew, but the tender leaves are said to be a source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene and antioxidants.
Photo Credit: Amy Stone
Photo Credit: Amy Stone
Removing plants prior to them setting seed is highly recommended. In northwest Ohio you will have to move pretty quickly as it doesn’t take much time for the seeds to develop. The use of a pre-emergent herbicide can help reduce future populations. Hairy bittercress can be a nuisance in the landscape, turf, greenhouse and nurseries.
Vast expanses of yellow, daisy-like butterweed flowers may draw the misplaced ire of allergy sufferers. However, if you’re suffering sneezing fits, the answer, my friend, isn’t blowin’ in the wind. The sticky, large pollen grains are too heavy to be moved by anything other than insects. Butterweed is actually considered to be an important early spring source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.
The flowers are borne at the ends of thick, erect, deeply ridged green stems that are sometimes streaked in reddish-purple. Seedheads look like miniature dandelion puff-balls which is no accident; dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) also belong to the aster family.
One person’s weed is another person’s wildflower . — Susan Witting Albert
Butterweed is a winter annual meaning that seeds germinate in late summer to early fall. Members of this sneaky group of weeds grow throughout the winter and flower in the spring. Winter annuals aren’t much of a problem for farmers who plow in the spring because entire plants are plowed under. However, butterweed growing in hay fields is a different matter.
Yellow-flowering Garden Yellowrocket (Barbarea vulgaris) is a non-native invasive biennial weed that is also on the rise at this time of the year and may be found mixed with butterweed. Yellowrocket belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae), so it is a prolific seed producer.
Albert’s quote captures perfectly the dichotomous nature of native Butterweed (Packera glabella; syn. Senecio glabellus). On one hand, a sea of yellow flowers carpeting farm fields flanking Ohio’s interstates in the spring provides welcome relief from highway monotony. On the other hand, upright 2 – 3′ tall plants bolting seemingly out of nowhere in Ohio landscapes presents a weed management challenge.
Pigweed wins the title of most “problematic” annual weed. It has evolved traits that makes it a tough competitor, especially in broadleaf crops like soybeans and cotton.
As an annual, crabgrass dies at the end of each growing season, usually at the first frost in the fall, and it must produce new seeds every year.
Fortunately, annual chickweed is easier to control as long as you pull the weed when the plant is small and before it flowers. The challenge can be locating it during the short period between germination and flower production, so be sure to monitor closely and completely remove the weed so it doesn’t reroot.
8. Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)
Quackgrass is a creeping, persistent perennial grass that reproduces by seeds. Its long, jointed, straw-colored rhizomes form a heavy mat in soil, from which new shoots may also appear.
Bindweed is NOT the same as the ornamental annual morning-glory (in the genus Ipomea) which has a larger (2-inch wide) and more showy flower that can be white to blue or purple; it also has a thicker stem that is sometimes hairy and heart-shaped leaves that are 1 ½ inches wide and 2 inches or more long. The two species are easy to distinguish from each other.
Then, it will send up shoots every 8 to 12 inches. The plants will grow 2 to 4 feet tall. You may spots its purple flowers are produced in July and August.
Using an organic mulch such as wood chips, at least two inches deep, will reduce the amount of weed seeds germinating by limiting light and serving as a physical barrier. Synthetic mulches such as landscape fabrics may also be used. In landscaped areas, they should be covered with an additional layer of mulch (rock or bark). Vegetable gardens also can utilize black plastic, both as mulch into which seeds or transplants are placed and also between rows.