A Guide to Names of Weeds (With Pictures)

Updated on August 11, 2020
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Eugene is an avid gardener and has been passionate about growing things for over 40 years. He also has a keen interest in DIY.

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Test | Source

This guide helps you identify the 22 most common weeds that you'll encounter in your yard, flower beds or lawn. Some are annuals and others are perennials—many are easy to eradicate, others more difficult to eliminate. Once you've determined it's a weed, it's up to you what you do with it! (My other weed guide, "How to Get Rid of Weeds in 6 Different Ways," suggests tips for dealing with them.)

What Is a Weed?

"Weed" isn't a botanical term like conifer or deciduous or perennial, words that mean something specific. "Weed" a subjective term but generally can be considered as an unwanted plant in the wrong place. Weeds are usually wildflowers or plants with insignificant blooms or ugly foliage, in contrast with the prettier wild flowers or cultivated and showy flowers we grow in our gardens. (It's interesting to note that many cultivated flowers self-seed or propagate themselves in other ways so readily in our flower beds, that they can eventually become a nuisance and earn the title "weed" themselves.)

A weed is an unwanted plant in the wrong place.

List of Common Weeds, With Photos

Here is a guide to the most common garden weeds.

1. Dandelion

  • Latin name: Taraxacum officinale
  • Height: 4 to 6 in (10 to 15 cm)
  • Notes: Probably the most recognizable of garden weeds with its yellow multi-petalled flowers and fluffy seed heads, this perennial has a deep tap root, making it difficult to kill by non-chemical methods because burning foliage leaves the root intact. The deep root can only really be removed by digging out. Dandelion seeds are dispersed by wind.

Dandelion.
Dandelion. | Source
Dandelion seed head. Parachute-like seeds are dispersed by wind.
Dandelion seed head. Parachute-like seeds are dispersed by wind. | Source

2. Common Daisy

  • Latin name: Bellis perennis
  • Height: 1 to 3 in (2.5 to 7.5 cm)
  • Notes: A low hairy perennial with spoon-shaped leaves and white multi-petalled flower heads often tinged with pink tips rising from the basal rosette. A common weed in lawns. Leaves are easy to burn with vinegar.

Common daisy.
Common daisy. | Source

3. Creeping (Slender) Speedwell

  • Latin name: Veronica filiformis
  • Height: 1 to 2 in (2.5 to 5 cm)
  • Notes: Common in lawns. A spreading, low-growing hairy perennial with small, sky blue or mauve flowers and oval leaves.

Creeping (slender) speedwell.
Creeping (slender) speedwell. | Source

4. Clover

  • Latin name: Trifolium repens (white clover) and trifolium pratense (red clover)
  • Height: 1 to 2 in (2.5 to 5 cm)
  • Notes for White Clover: A creeping, almost hairless perennial with stems that root at their leaf junctions. Leaves are trifoliate (three leaflets), similar to but larger than shamrock, with white marks. Flowers are globular.
  • Notes for Red Clover: A low or tall hairy perennial. Leaves trifoliate with white patches and triangular stipules. Clover is beneficial to bees, and it also fixes nitrogen in the soil, which promotes growth of foliage.

White clover.
White clover. | Source
Red clover.
Red clover. | Source

5. Broad-Leaved Dock

  • Latin name: Rumex obtusifolius
  • Height: 20 to 51 in (50 to 130 cm)
  • Notes: Tall perennial with broad leaves up to 10 in (25 cm) long. Flowers appear in whorls on tall stalks, often turning red. Common on bare, disturbed ground. Nettles often appear alongside stinging nettles. Crushing the leaves and applying them to a sting is reputed to relieve certain symptoms.

Broad-leaved dock.
Broad-leaved dock. | Source

6. Groundsel

  • Latin name: Senecio vulgaris
  • Height: 16 inches (45 cm)
  • Notes: A low/short annual, groundsel is a member of the ragwort family, recognizable by its small yellow flowers. Leaves are pinnate lobed.

Groundsel.
Groundsel. | Source

7. Lesser Celandine

  • Latin name: Ficaria verna
  • Height: 1 to 3 in (2.5 to 7.5 cm)
  • Notes: Lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family and is a low to short hairless perennial with shiny, dark green, heart-shaped fleshy leaves. Flowers are yellow with 8 to 12 petals. It normally grows in shaded locations on damp ground.

Lesser celandine.
Lesser celandine. | Source

8. Hairy Bittercress

  • Latin name: Cardamine hirsuta
  • Height: 6 in (15 cm)
  • Notes: This is an annual that is easy to eradicate by pulling. However, it produces a multitude of seeds in pods. As the pods ripen and open, tension in the shell is released, flinging seeds in every direction. It propagates rapidly by this method.

Hairy bittercress.
Hairy bittercress. | Source
Seed pods of hairy bittercress.
Seed pods of hairy bittercress. | Source

9. Red Dead-Nettle (Purple Dead-Nettle)

  • Latin name: Lamium purpureum
  • Height: 2 to 8 in (5 to 20 cm)
  • Notes: A purplish downy, low-growing aromatic annual with toothed, heart-shaped stalked leaves. Flowers are pink to purple.

Red dead-nettle.
Red dead-nettle. | Source

10. Common Self-Heal

  • Latin name: Prunella vulgaris
  • Height: 3 in (7.5 cm)
  • Notes: A low creeping perennial. Leaves are oval and pointed. Flowers are purple. Common in lawns and moist ground, spreading rapidly to cover large patches. A member of the mint family. Historically, the juice of the plant was used to treat cuts, boils, and inflammation.

Self heal.
Self heal. | Source

11. Creeping Buttercup

  • Latin name: Ranunculus repens
  • Height: 4 to 20 in (10 to 50 cm)
  • Notes: A short to medium, slightly hairy creeping perennial. Leaves are palmate. The plant sends out rooting runners as a means of propagation. Common in grassy, damp places and lawns. Difficult to remove because of its dense, fibrous root ball.

Creeping buttercup.
Creeping buttercup. | Source
Creeping buttercup.
Creeping buttercup. | Source

12. Cat's Ear

  • Latin name: Hypochaeris radicata
  • Height: 8 in (20 cm)
  • Notes: A member of the daisy family. The flower is similar to the dandelion but borne on long thin stalks with a basal, fine-haired leaf rosette. Occasionally seen on lawns but more often on dry grassland.

Catsear
Catsear | Source

13. Cleavers (Goosegrass, Stickyweed, Robin-Run-the-Hedge, Sticky-Willy)

  • Latin name: Galium aparine
  • Height: 4 feet (1.2 m)
  • Notes: Leaves and stem are covered with tiny hairs, making the plant appear to be "sticky" and causing it to cling to everything. It clambers along the ground and also climbs over other plants using its hairs for grip. Flowers are tiny and green. Fruits (1/8 in or 3mm) become burrs covered with tiny hairs which aid distribution.

Cleavers, also known as robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, goosegrass etc.
Cleavers, also known as robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, goosegrass etc. | Source

12. Ground Elder (Herb Gerard, Bishop's Weed, Goutweed, English Masterwort)

  • Latin name: Aegopodium podagraria
  • Height: Up to 2 feet (60 cm)
  • Notes: A groundcovering perennial and member of the carrot family that spreads rapidly, covering large areas. Unrelated to elder.

Ground elder.
Ground elder. | Source

13. Oxalis (Creeping Woodsorrel)

  • Latin name: Oxalis corniculata, Oxalis purpurea, etc. (several species)
  • Height: 4 in (10 cm)
  • Notes: A low creeping annual/perennial and member of the wood sorrel family. Stems root at leaf junctions to form new plants. Flowers are yellow or purple. Often seen on bare/cultivated ground.

Oxalis corniculata var. atropurpurea
Oxalis corniculata var. atropurpurea | Source

14. Stinging Nettle

  • Latin name: Urtica dioica
  • Height: 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 m)
  • Notes: A tall perennial with heart-shaped, toothed leaves. Plants can propagate by seed, but they also spread via stolons or rhizomes. Leaves are covered in tiny, hollow stinging hairs which break off and inject formic acid and other chemicals into skin when touched, causing a burning sensation. A plant of wate and disturbed ground.

Stinging nettle.
Stinging nettle. | Source

15. Marestail

  • Latin name: Erigeron canadensis
  • Height: 5 feet (1.5 m)
  • Notes: An annual plant that is native to North and Central America, but can be found in Europe, Asia and Australia. It is also known as horseweed, Canadian fleabane, coltstail, butterweed and Canadian horseweed. A tall weed with hairy stems and slender, toothed leaves that grow in a spiral up the plant. Flowers are produced in dense clusters. Marestail is often resistant to glyphosate.

Marestail.
Marestail. | Source

16. Bindweed

  • Latin name: Convolvulus arvensis
  • Height: Up to 6 feet (2 m) or more depending on support
  • Notes: Bindweed is a clambering (spreads along the ground) perennial with heart-shaped leaves but also a climber. It twines in a spiral around the stems of other plants in order to climb, competing for light and moisture. The dense foliage can smother and stunt the underlying plant. Its twining nature makes it difficult to remove without causing damage to delicate plants. It propagates by seed and rhizome.

Flowers of convolus arvensis or common bindweed.
Flowers of convolus arvensis or common bindweed.

17. Broadleaf Plantain (Greater Plantain, White Man's Foot)

  • Latin name: Plantago major
  • Height: 6 in (15 cm)
  • Notes: Low hairy or downy perennial. Flowers are greenish-yellow in long, thin spikes. Plantago major is a medicinal plant and the leaves have been used for centuries for the treatment of wounds and other skin conditions to aid healing and prevent infection. It is wind-propagated and grows on disturbed ground, on lawns and in pathways. It withstands trampling and was one of the plants brought to North America by colonists, known by Native Americans as "White Man's Footprint."

Broadleaf plantain.
Broadleaf plantain. | Source

18. Spurge

  • Latin name: A large genus of plants including Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge, milkweed, cancer weed)
  • Height: 2 to 12 in (5 to 30 cm)
  • Notes: An annual plant that is easy to pull by hand. The milky white, poisonous sap can cause skin irritation and should be washed from skin with soap and water.

Milkweed or petty spurge.
Milkweed or petty spurge. | Source

19. Herb Robert

  • Latin name: Geranium robertianum
  • Height: Up to 1 foot (30 cm)
  • Notes: 5-petaled flowers in shades of pink. Weak and shallow roots make it easy to pull by hand. Foliage is covered with short hairs which makes it feel sticky.

Herb Robert.
Herb Robert. | Source

20. Rosebay Willowherb (Fireweed)

  • Latin name: Chamaenerion angustifolium
  • Height: Up to 8 feet (2.5 m)
  • Notes: Fireweed grows on disturbed ground such as the sites of forest fires. It spreads by seeds carried by wind and also uses underground horizontal root extensions called rhizomes.

Rosebay willowherb.
Rosebay willowherb. | Source

21. Herb Bennet (St. Benedict's Herb, Colewort)

  • Latin name: Geum urbanum
  • Height: 1 foot (30 cm)
  • Notes: A perennial weed with yellow flowers. When it matures, the ovary becomes a burr, or spiky seed head, with hooks. This aids the dispersal of seeds as they catch in the fur of passing animals.

Herb Bennet(colewort, St. Benedicts herb).
Herb Bennet(colewort, St. Benedicts herb). | Source

22. Common Horsetail

  • Latin name: Equisetum arvense
  • Height: 4 to 36 in (10 to 90 cm)
  • Notes: A herbaceous perennial in temperate regions and as far north as the Arctic. The stems above ground sprout from an underground network of rhizomes. These rhizomes fork and produce tubers, which store food and energy and allow growth in the absence of sunlight. Because of the deep tubers and extensive rhizome system, cutting and burning is ineffective, as the rhizomes simply send up new shoots to the surface. Herbicide treatment stunts growth, but sprouting does reoccur. Common horsetail is found in a wide variety of habitats, including damp open woodland, arable land, along roadsides and near the edge of streams. Most of the coal we burn today was once horsetail.

Common horsetail.
Common horsetail. | Source

Types of Weed Roots

Weeds like other plants have different types of roots:

  • Fibrous roots are thin, hairlike structures. Usually annual weeds with fibrous roots are easy enough to pull up.
  • Tap roots are like carrots. Several weeds—including dandelions, dock and thistles—have these. They make pulling difficult and often, part of the tap root breaks off and a portion is left underground to grow again.
  • Creeping roots are rhizomes or stolons and spread horizontally underground. Weeds that have these roots are difficult to remove because pulling leaves fragments behind. Weeds that have these roots include couch grass, speedwell and rosebay willowherb.
  • Bulbil roots are like small bulbs. Lesser celandine and bluebells have bulbil roots. Hoeing topgrowth sometimes helps to starve the bulbils.

How to Kill Weeds in Lawns and Yards

Many weeds can be killed naturally either by hoeing, mulching, covering or burning with a gas or kerosene blowtorch. You can also use vinegar to burn the foliage on annual weeds and young seedlings. Weed control fabric is another option to stop them rooting down through stone paths.

For more details, see my guide: How to Get Rid of Weeds, Naturally or With Chemicals.

Weed ID Apps

I've only covered a tiny proportion of common weeds are there's likely hundreds more that that vary depending on your location in the world. For more info, try a weed app, specific to your country. Typical weed ID apps are:

  • Weed ID by BASF, covering broad-leaved weeds and grasses in the UK
  • ID Weeds specifically covering weeds in the Midwestern US
  • PictureThis plant identifier, also covering "non-weeds"

Glossary of Botanical Terms

  • Annual: A plant whose growth cycle only lasts one season. It germinates, flowers, produces seed and dies within the space of a year.
  • Biennial: A plant that germinates and partially grows the first year and then matures and seeds the second year, completing its life cycle.
  • Perennial: A plant that lasts more than two years. Trees and shrubs are perennials, as are some wild and cultivated flowering plants. Many weeds, such as daisies and dandelions, are perennial.
  • Stolon: Horizontal stem that grows out from a plant at the soil surface or just below ground level. The tips of stolons develop adventitious roots at the tips and new shoots and leaves, eventually creating new plants. In addition to producing seeds, stolons are another strategy that plants use to propagate. Stolons are sometimes called runners.
  • Rhizome: Similar to stolons, but rhizomes are horizontal root extensions that extend outwards from a plant under the surface.
  • Flower: The reproductive part of a plant.
  • Ovary: The plant equivalent of a womb. Fertilized ova develop in the ovary and become embryonic seeds. The swollen ovary is called a fruit.
  • Basal Rosette: Leaves forming a circle at the base of the stem of a plant, usually roughly the same size.
  • Stipule: An appendage at the base of a leaf stalk where it meets the stem.
  • Pinnate: Multiple leaflets appearing off a central leaf stalk.
  • Petiole: The stalk that joins a leaf to the stem of a plant.

To learn how to start plants from seeds, read Gardening for Beginners: 10 Easy Steps to Sowing Seeds.

Leaf Classification

Leaf shapes.
Leaf shapes. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Eugene Brennan

Comments

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    • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

      Eugene Brennan 

      4 weeks ago from Ireland

      Hi Catalina,

      If the weeds have tap roots, pulling normally just tears off the top growth and they grow again. Weeds with a fibrous root can normally be pulled up a lot easier.

      I'm only familiar with the weeds in the UK/Ireland. There are also several apps for weed ID in different countries. The BASF Weed ID app covers 140 weeds in the UK. For the US, two examples are ID Weeds and Pl@ntNet.

      Unfortunately there is no way of sending us photos, however if you are on Twitter, you can tweet me at @EugenesDIYDen.

    • profile image

      Catalina Gonzalez 

      4 weeks ago

      I have 2 particular weeds that are not pictured. It there a ways to send them to you? also, does pulling them out promote growth?

    • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

      Eugene Brennan 

      2 months ago from Ireland

      There are a huge number of weeds and the ones above are some of the most common. Some weeds are also specific to countries/continents. The best thing is probably to post a photo on the various plant identification Facebook groups and they're sure to know!

    • profile image

      O'Neill-East 

      2 months ago

      I have a creeping weed with white roots it has a very pungent smell, we pull up the leaves and some root , it is like ground elder it has a long root system, it just keeps growing. Any idea what is and how to get rid of it.

    • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

      Eugene Brennan 

      2 months ago from Ireland

      Hi Sarah, sounds like catsear or flatweed if it resembles a dandelion.

    • profile image

      Jean Bunner 

      2 months ago

      Red edged leaf, with a upside v, small pink flowers.

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      2 months ago

      Hi I have new lawn seed put down it’s growing slowly but I have now a meadow of yellow fliers the talk is all spiked and the leaf at bottom is flat like dock leaf. Any ideas?

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      2 months ago

      I work for a charity and we have weeds growing on our church bell tower. We would like to identify them so we can find out the best way to kill them, as it is costly to keep doing this. Can i have an email where i can send photos too and get some advise please ?

    • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

      Eugene Brennan 

      2 months ago from Ireland

      Hi Irena,

      There are several plant identification apps you could try. E.g. PlantSnap, PlantNet, LeafSnap and PictureThis.

    • profile image

      Irena 

      2 months ago

      I can't find the name of this weed. Looks like clover or oxalis, but I don't think it's clover - it has spiky small pods that will catch on dogs, pants and so on.

    • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

      Eugene Brennan 

      3 months ago from Ireland

      I'm not sure Patty. Several plants that turned up in a search include common yellow oxalis, burr marigold, buffalo burr.

      Have a look at this site

      https://www2.palomar.edu/users/warmstrong/plmay98....

    • profile image

      Patty Dickensheets 

      3 months ago

      What type is this weed that is round fuzzy burr - i have picture. Unable to attach it in this message. I not sticker at all. It soft round fuzzy ball that stick on dog fur! Some kind of weed burr??? How to kill it??

    • profile image

      Esther 

      8 months ago

      Nice work

    working

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