Question of the Week: May 30, 2019

“What is this weed? It’s taken over my yard. How can I get rid of it?”

Beggar’s lice looks like a tiny sister of harmless Queen Anne’s lace wildflower.

Those of us who hate this weed most (and there are many of us!) call it “beggar’s lice” because of its ability to hang onto almost any clothing surface or pet fur. It is terrible. TERRIBLE!

That common name, however, is shared with several other plants that clasp onto things for seed dispersal, so if you want to look this dreadful thing up, use its scientific name of Torilis arvensis. Be prepared to see it called “hedge parsley” or “wild carrot” when you get there.

By any name, it’s a plant you don’t want to encourage. And the rains of 2019 have done exactly that. It’s growing almost everywhere in big parts of the state.

Beggar’s lice growing abundantly along Collin County roadside.

Everywhere that Lynn and I have driven in our part of North Central Texas we’ve seen it in field and ditches, in yards and lots. Folks have been posting photos of wildflowers to my Facebook page, and there it is photo-bombing in the background. It’s just everywhere.

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Within days its seeds are going to start to mature and that’s when your pets’ agony will begin. So will your own. Get the mower, the trimmer, the hoe, the bulldozer out. Whatever it takes. It’s probably too late to apply a broadleafed weedkiller spray to kill it because the seeds could probably go ahead and mature.

Take a look at the bases of the plants. Learn to recognize the leaves. Next year, if you see them emerging as seedlings toward the end of the winter, spray them with 2,4-D at that point.

I hope this message helps. Your pets and your pants will thank me.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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