Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

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Weedy Wednesday: White Campion

White campion (Silene alba) is a winter or summer annual, biennial or short-lived perennial that initially forms a basal rossette, subsequently producing a thick, erect , branched, leafy stem with hairy or downy foliage and white inflated (balloon-like) flowers.  White campion is mainly a weed of grains and legume forage crops, and can also be found in other field and vegetable crops, nurseries, waste places, and roadsides.  It is most commonly found in full sun and on rich, well-drained soils.  This weed is found throughout most of North America, particularly in the eastern and north-central United States and southern Canada.

Reproduction of white campion is primarily by seed but cultivation can fragment plants and spread adventitious buds on root and stem segments.  Seedlings emerge in mid to late spring and again in late summer.  Young plants produce rosettes.  Winter annual and biennial plants overwinter as basal rosettes.  Stems are produced and reach maturity in summer.  Flowers are produced from May to fall.

For more information on white campion and ways to control it please check out the following links:

Resource:  Uva, Richard H., Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1997. Print.

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Weedy Wednesday: Wild Mustard

Wild mustard (Brassica kaber) is a winter and sometimes a summer annual.  At least two distinctly different forms exist: one with prickly hairy stems, one with smooth stems.  Otherwise all other characteristics are similar.  Wild mustard is distributed widely throughout the United States and is a common weed of nursery, horticultural, and agronomic crops, in particular are small grains and fall-seeded forage crops.  It can also frequently be found in fields, pastures, waste areas, and disturbed sites.

Reproduction of wild mustard is by seed.  Seeds germinate in late summer, early fall, or spring.  Seeds persist in soil for many years and germinate at a depth of 2 cm in soil.  Each plant can produce approximately 1200 seeds.  Mature plants possess erect flowering stems that branch toward the top with stiff hairs on the lower portions.  Flowers, made up of four yellow petals, are produced from May to August at the ends of the branches in dense clusters that elongate with seed maturation.

Wild mustard can be mistaken for wild radish.  However, wild radish differs in that it has stiffer hairs on the leaves than wild mustard.  In addition, the leaves of wild radish have more and deeper lobes.  The root of the wild radish has a distinctive hot radish flavor when chewed.  Wild radish is commonly found mainly on the coastal plains of the Northeast; wild mustard is found primarily on upland soils.

Other species of mustard that you may come across include:  birdsrape mustard (Brassica rapa), black mustard (Brassica nigra), Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), and white mustard (Brassica hirta).

For information on how to control wild mustard, you can visit Michigan State University’s Weed Science website.

Resource:  Uva, Richard H., Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1997. Print.

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Weedy Wedensday: Chicory


Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is a commonly occurring plant in all types of pastures and rough turfs across North America. This erect, branched, simple perennial weed grows two to four feet in height at maturity and has milky sap. Chicory flowers a distinctive bright blue petal from mid-June through October. It develops from a basal rosette (a circular arrangement of leaves arising from the base of a stem, similar to dandelion), has a deep, fleshy taproot, and reproduces from buds on the root. Chicory is spread primarily by seeds. This plant is not as common as many weeds in horse pastures but occurs in more abundance in pastures that are not mowed.

Chicory is relatively easy to control with several herbicides. Mowing in pastures might reduce flower formation but is generally ineffective in killing the plant. Hoeing or digging the tap root is successful and should be done before the seed heads form. Many people consider chicory to be less “weedy” and want it to grow in pastures, while others desire it to be removed. Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for herbicidal control in your area.

William Witt, PhD, a researcher in the department of plant and soil sciences at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.


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