This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Monday, August 8, 2011

The 10 most worst weeds in my garden

These aren't just the worst. These are the most worst. Chime in, add your two cents, and let the other dozen readers of this blog know how you would rate them.

1) Oxalis: If I were granted the wish to eliminate for all time one garden weed from my garden, it would be Oxalis.  But if the djinni were to ask, 'which one?' I'm afraid I would be stumped. Both Oxalis stricta and O. dillenii are (apparently) native to North America, and it's hard to tell them apart. Michigan flora tells me that the former tends to have a single stem, whereas the latter is more branchy (my word). Anyway they are both ubiquitous weeds, and their exploding capsules reliably propel seed into every nook and cranny of the garden. These plants have the common name of 'yellow wood-sorrel,' and they can be mixed with salad greens to add a lemony spice.

2) Three-seeded mercury: you've probably never heard those three words in that sequence before. How about Acalypha virginica? Hey, I didn't say this would be easy. I admit that my choice of this spurge-relative may be controversial, but in sheer numbers, it runs a close second to Oxalis; and in volume it is number one in my garden. I used an old botanical reference to key out the identity of this species. I was unable to make out the flower parts; luckily the floral key accommodated the observation "flower parts indistinguishable." To the plant's credit: it's very easy to pull out. Also noted: it's another native.

3) Black medick (Medicago lupulina): with it's clover-like leaves and yellow flowers, this weed is probably familiar to anyone who gardens. You have to grab the stem right at its base to get the roots out. If you're in clay more drastic measures might be required. And the base of the plant always seems to hide behind or amidst the stems of those things you want to keep.

4) Hairy crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis): ignore the garden for a week, and the crabgrass plants will reach 10" across when you return.

5) Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia): presumably it was the wet spring that enabled the thousands of virginia creeper seeds to germinate in my garden. Even without the new seedlings, this vine is hard enough to keep out of the flower beds. This spring also brought an amazing number of oak and hickory seedlings. The oaks were easy to pull up. I'm afraid I'll never be rid of the hickories.

6) Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata): I'm giving this one a prominent place in my top ten list because it is the scariest. I've seen woodlands destroyed by this nuisance. It has a solid foothold in my neighborhood, and the birds are continually defecating its seed into my garden. Bad birds. There's no doubt about its identity when you pull out those reddish roots.

7) What? 10:00 pm already?!! Help me pick the final four!


  1. How about Creeping Charley (Glechoma hederacea? I didn't realize that Black Medick (as my Golden "Weeds" book calls it) was the name of that nasty weed. It is a dreadful weed. Also hate Curly Dock (Rumex) and Plantains and of course, dandelions! In my sandy Chelsea garden, common violets want to take over some of my beds. Didn't have that problem in my Ann Arbor clay soil.

  2. I might add black bent as it is the most common in my area and the worst I must say. It does dig dig on the soil thus uprooting it will destroy the soil. Don't know if you do have this kind of weed.

  3. thank you for the post on weeds... I never knew some of them are weeds and I saw them in my garden but didn't gave much importance!

  4. How do you get rid of three-seeded mercury in a horse pasture?