Evil plants you have known

I was inspired by the post about wild violets. I like my violets and encourage them to grow in my wilderness areas. Alas, my violets are shy and retiring, hesitant to make themselves known. They're not thugs.

I do have thug plants.

So what is a weed or a thug plant? I use the classic definition for a weed: a plant growing where it's not wanted. Oak trees in the house gutters is a prime example.

You can also recognize weeds because nothing you *want* will grow with the enthusiasm of a weed. I'm pretty blasé about most plants: ragweed has oil-rich seeds birds need in the winter. I'm lax about weeding too. But there are some plants...

What are your evil plants, the ones you pull on sight, the ones you'd pay good money for a plant-specific herbicide?

I'd include:

Bindweed. Awful and unkillable.

Canadian Thistle. Not Canadian and not a thistle but aggressive. At least it can be killed with faithful, systematic weeding which lasts until the wind blows and new seeds arrive.

English Ivy. A smothering blanket.

Poison Ivy. I know birds like the berries but it's a real problem in our area.

Porcelain berry. Birdies love it and I don't, as it attempts to smother everything it touches. Every damn seed sprouts, each one surrounded by its glob of fertilizer.

Trumpet Vine. Gorgeous, feeds hummingbirds, and swiftly spreads into an aggressive, smothering blanket.

Virginia Creeper. Another smothering blanket.

Wild grape. See above.

Ditto on the Virginia creeper. It is a beast that we fight all summer long in the community garden I use. Unfortunately we can't kill it at the root since it comes in from the yard next door to the garden.

I am currently trying to kill out all the Canadian thistle that is in the yard of the house that the husband and I are renovating. The former owners were unable to get out to do yard work (health problems) and by the time I was able to get to it, it had spread into a sizable patch. Between diligent digging to uproot the beast and a smothering cardboard layer, we have most of it. However some plants have escaped my vigilance and I notice I am going to have to ask the neighbor on the other side of the yard if I can enter his yard and remove the plants that have invaded there.

Bindweed is just a given, and once the wanted plants are big enough, I am not as good at weeding it out. I have found that just snipping the growing top off with sizzlers or garden nippers is a good way to deal with the beast and not disturb the roots of the little seedlings you are trying to grow.

As I said before, quack grass is my bete noir in the garden and the only way I have found to really get on top of it is to sift the garden bed through a metaphorical tea strainer and pull every root. If you leave even a little piece behind, a new plant will grow. I have seen the runners of this evil grass grow right though potatoes and other root vegetables, so this is one where I make every effort to pull it up thoroughly and stay on top of it.

Most of those other thugs you mentioned are not ones I have to wrestle with, thankfully.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I am certain that the first four on my list will have their defenders based upon their potential edibility.
Violets for reasons previously discussed.
Henbit [Lamium amplexicaule] which can grow and produce seed throughout the year in my locale.
Purslane. I mostly have the ground hugging type which is too much effort to bother eating.
Lambs quarter.
Quickweed [Galinsoga quadriradiata], a.k.a., Shaggy solder, Peruvian daisy. Quickweed is aptly named as it can go thru many reproductive cycles in a single season here. It's only redeeming virtue I have found is that it is easy to pull up.
Johnson grass [Sorghum halepense]. Native to Africa and Asia. Introduced in Alabama around 1840 by a man by the name of [you guessed it] Johnson. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but in a just universe Mr Johnson would burn in Hell in perpetuity. Like some of the other thugs that have been mentioned it forms rhizomes.

Chamberbitter (Phyllanthus urinaria)
A.K.A.: Niruri, ‘breakstone’; A.K.A., Little Mimosa
Point of Origin: Tropical South America
Where found: Prefers warm soil. Emerges in summer-like conditions. Hides under and among every known food plant and even infiltrates other weed patches with impunity.
Criminal Habits: Sun & Soil nutrient Thief. Concealed Carry. Tucks dozens of seedpods under each of many mimosa-like leaflets. Each tiny pod contains HUNDREDS of true seeds. Armed and exuberant.
Other Criminal Activity: Bête verte of smooth lawn fanciers who attack it with glyphosate and other noxious chems, thus creating gang warfare conditions harmful to the Organic Peace.
Proper Function: When not engaged in sucking up nutrients from every hole and corner, covers bare, disturbed soil on highway-cut hillsides, protects against erosion. When under supervision, is harvested for a medicinal preparation that dilates the urethra, allowing kidney stones to pass more easily.
How to Arrest: POUNCE! Constant, routine weeding patrols, by many hands. Learn to recognize the immature thuglet and pull up by the roots. Heavily mulch garden paths with newspaper and woodchips to deprive of opportunity to emerge. Pray for heavy, prolonged frosts and snow. NB: DO NOT ADD TO COMPOST PILE. Uprooted plants can replicate with abandon and great glee even in the dark. Thrives overwinter in warm compost.
Other dangerous chems used against Chamberbitter: repeated applications of herbicides that contain 2,4-D (Weed-B-Gon, Weed Stop, Wipe-Out, etc) sprayed on the young. Pre-emergence herbicides that contain atrazine (Purge) and isoxaben applied in early May.

I second the bindweed. It just keeps coming.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Sweet autumn clematis would eat up my more ornamental garden in a single year if I did not keep at it. In the annually planted areas that get leaf mulch and sometimes turned soil and sometimes shallow cultivation to clear new seedlings the clematis does not get out of control. It sure is beautiful and sure smells good, though.

That's all I have energy to mention right now.