JoAnne Skelly: Let's talk weeds!

Yes, we all love the nice weather. However, with the sun and lovely temperatures come weeds, the plants we all love to hate. For a weed is simply a plant out of place, or better yet, a plant you wish was any place other than your place!

My neighbor Karen and I have the most beautiful color display going right now – dandelions. Yes, a bright happy color and the finches love the seeds, but really, can’t one have too many dandelions? That is of course, unless you are growing them for greens (high in vitamin C) or wine. Karen says “Soon I won’t have any grass left!”

Another precious gift from nature we are seeing in full bloom is redstem filaree or cranesbill. This late winter, low grower is a member of the geranium family with small hot pink flowers followed by seed pods that look like a crane’s bill. It is not really much of a problem except those pods get stuck in socks, pets’ fur, etc.

Another visitor is so tiny and close to the ground that you may miss it until its Velcro-like seeds get stuck all over you or a pet. Bur buttercup’s 5-petaled yellow flowers don’t look like they will be a problem. But, you better pull them out immediately to avoid the clinging seeds and large future crops of these pesky weeds.

Flixweed is prolific right now. At 8 to 24 inches tall topped with tiny yellow flowers, it is very much in evidence and, while an annual and easy to pull, quite annoying. After blooming, its stems will be covered with narrow cylindrical pods, which will provide ample seeds for next year’s generation. A relative of flixweed, tumble mustard, isn’t blooming yet, but its rosettes of leaves are growing like mad. It will get 2 to 5 feet tall, dry up and then blow up against fences or walls everywhere.

Cheatgrass is universal and is already going to seed in many areas. It starts growing in the winter and, depending on moisture availability, it will grow from 4 to 30 inches tall. It has wavy purplish seed heads. This annual grass is one you want to get out before it dries because of its high fire hazard. It burns like gasoline on a fire, fast and furious.

While tedious, all these weeds are easy to dig or pull.

For an excellent picture book on weeds, see Weeds of the West online at

JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email


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