Herb bennet has been adopted by herbalists as a treatment for everything from dog bites to liver disease, though more modern uses of this weed include:
Herb bennet weed has many medicinal uses including ointment and medicinal tea (Image: GETTY)
Bittercress can grow in cold weather conditions and can be eaten as a water-cress alternative – though it has a much more mild flavour.
While killing bittercress can seem like a losing battle, its uses outside of the garden make this weed ideal for foraging rather than killing.
Some of the most common winter weeds found in the UK include:
Chickweed can appear in both cultivated and bare ground though it thrives in rich soil and is, therefore, a good indicator of soil fertility, says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
The white flowers tend to appear during Spring so winter is an ideal time to forage bittercress to avoid adding flowerheads to your leafy-green recipes.
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Its modern uses as a topical ointment make for a naturally soothing ingredient for irritated and inflamed skin.
Many of the weeds we deal with in our lawns and landscapes are not native to North America and originated in Europe or Asia. To farmers, weeds cause more loss and add more costs than dealing with insects, diseases, rodents, birds, deer and other grazers. In fact the number one complaint from customers of lawn care companies involve weeds growing in their lawn.
Weeds are amazing plants. In some cases, they are beneficial as they will quickly cover bare ground to keep it from eroding away.
Controlling weeds is a major concern mainly because of the trait that makes a weed a weed; its ability to out compete with other plants and grow in conditions where most other plants cannot tolerate.
A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.
– Sara Stein
According to the Weed Science Society of America, more than 200 weeds have developed resistance to common weed control products. They also stated that more than 240 weed species are reported to be “allelopathic” and produce chemicals from their roots that inhibit the growth of nearby plants.
The seeds that they spread can germinate if brought to the surface within a couple of years. There are even cases where seeds were found in archaeological excavations that were 100’s of years old and still germinating when planted.
As I was walking my dog during the morning of New Year’s Day, I spotted a dandelion seed head poking through the snow. I found it interesting that this dandelion actually produced a flower in December, but it’s most likely due to some unseasonably warm weather. I think it shows just how opportunistic a weed can be when the weather is suitable for flower production.
Remember that a healthy, dense lawn is the best method for preventing winter weeds. Proper mowing height, appropriate watering and professional fertilization are the best defenses against these weeds. Having your lawn treated during the fall can prevent all of these winter annual weeds from showing up in the first place in warm season lawns. In Fescue lawns we focus on the broadleaf winter annuals with our first two applications of the year.
Time of year: Poa Annua is a cool-season grass weed that starts germinating in late summer or fall as soil temperatures fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It continues to germinate throughout winter, allowing several flushes of germination at any one site throughout the season.
What it is: A broadleaf weed that normally acts as a perennial in the north; however, here, it has the ability to act as a winter annual weed due to our climate conditions
While warm-season lawns are dormant in the winter, many weeds are just starting to become active. These weeds are known as winter weeds. They can be annual, biennial or perennial in regards to life cycles, and be very difficult to control. Annual winter weeds germinate in the fall and winter and grow actively in the spring. After they flower in spring, they die and disappear before the summer. But only to return in fall or winter when new seeds germinate.
What it is: Hairy bittercress is an annual winter weed. The plant springs from a basal rosette and bears 3-9″ stems with leaves that are alternate and slightly scalloped. Tiny white flowers develop at the ends of the stems and then turn into long seed pods.
Damage: Poa annua grass is typically a problem in the lawn because it dies back in hot weather, which can make unsightly brown spots in the lawn during the height of summer. It also thrives during cool weather, when most lawn grasses are dying back, which means that it invades the lawn at these susceptible times.
What it is: Henbit is a sparsely hairy winter annual with greenish to purplish, tender, square stems. It is often found under trees and shrubs where grass has a hard time growing.
Prevention/Treatment: A good defense against future henbit problems is to grow a thick lawn so weeds do not have any room to grow. It’s important to find and control the henbit before it flowers. This will prevent the plants from producing and releasing seeds. If you wait until after it flowers, you may be dealing with it for several years to come.
Prevention/Treatment: Growing a thick, healthy lawn is the first line of defense against these mint cousins, since the grass will easily outcompete the weeds for nutrients and growing space. One or two deadnettle weeds popping up in the lawn can easily be plucked by hand and disposed of as soon as they appear, but a larger population requires a more complicated solution.