Common Weeds in Florida Lawns

blog cover image for "Common Weeds in Florida Lawns: Field Guide". It visually represents the diversity of common weeds found in Florida lawns, set against a backdrop that captures the essence of the region.

Common Weeds in Florida Lawns

Florida’s unique climate provides an ideal environment for a diverse array of weeds to flourish in lawns. These weeds not only affect the aesthetics of your turf but also provide fascinating insights into their biology. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the biology of some of the most common weeds found in Florida lawns, helping you understand them on a deeper level.

Trailing Daisy

Sphagneticola trilobata, commonly known as the Bay Biscayne creeping-oxeyeSingapore daisycreeping-oxeye, and wedelia, is a plant in the Heliantheae tribe of the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. It is native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, but now grows throughout the Neotropics. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental groundcover.

Spanish needle

Bidens alba, which belongs to the family Asteraceae, is most commonly known as shepherd’s needles, beggarticks, or butterfly needles. Bidens means two- toothed, describing the two projections found at the top of the seeds, and alba refers to the white ray florets. This plant is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, and Africa, situated in gardens, roadsides, farm fields and disturbed sites.

Largeflower Pusley

Largeflower Pusley, belonging to the Richardia genus, is known for its notably larger flowers compared to those on Florida or Brazilian Pusley. The blossoms of Largeflower Pusley can be distinctly pink or lilac, adding a vibrant splash of color. These larger, eye-catching flowers make this species stand out in various settings where they bloom.

Common Fanpetals

Sida ulmifolia, a frequent lawn weed in Florida, is widely prevalent across the state, particularly in open, disturbed areas. If not trimmed, this semi-woody plant can reach heights of several feet. It is a perennial that grows throughout the year, prefers dry soil, and is non-toxic.

Beggarweed

Creeping Beggarweed (Desmodium incanum), common in Central Florida, has larger leaves than Threeflowered Beggarweed (Desmodium triflorum) and is challenging to control due to its deep taproot and rooting stems. It spreads quickly via seeds, stems, and cuttings, with seed capsules that easily stick to clothing and pet fur.

Nutsedge

Sedges, often mistakenly called “nut-grass,” are invasive plants that pose a significant problem in Florida and globally. Notable species include the native yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and the widespread purple nutsedge, whose origin is unknown. These plants aggressively compete for resources in landscapes, leading to their classification as weeds, despite offering little economic value.

Purslane

Portulaca oleracea, known as Common Purslane, is a succulent and a summer annual that forms low-lying mats. It features thick, fleshy leaves that are slightly spoon or wedge-shaped, broadening at the tip and narrowing at the base, allowing it to store water efficiently. Common Purslane, widespread across the United States.

Gripeweed

Phyllanthus spp., also called chamber bitter or gripeweed,  is a herb species in the family Phyllanthaceae known for its potential medicinal uses. It has a distinctive name but is valued in traditional herbal medicine for addressing digestive issues and providing liver support. Found in various environments, this herb contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins.

Understanding the biology of these common Florida lawn weeds can help you develop more effective strategies for their control and management. By gaining insights into their life cycles, reproductive mechanisms, and growth habits, you can make informed decisions on how best to maintain a healthy and weed-free lawn. Whether you’re a biology enthusiast or simply interested in maintaining a beautiful lawn, knowing the science behind these weeds can be both educational and practical.

References


© 2023 Amanda Zirzow. All Rights Reserved. Photos taken in November 2023, Fort Myers, FL. Images may be shared non-commercially with appropriate credit. No derivative works are permitted.

Anderson, Evan, Pawel Petelewicz, and Chris Marble. 2021. “Biology and Management of Pusley (Richardia L.) in Turfgrass and Landscape Planting Beds: ENH1346/EP610, 9/2021”. EDIS 2021 (5). https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-ep610-2021.