Have you ever walked through a grassy area and felt those annoying prickly sensations on your feet or clothes? Chances are, you encountered grass stickers. Also known as sticker weeds, these plants can cause discomfort and frustration for anyone spending time outdoors.
The most common types of grass stickers are Burweeds, lawn burs, burr stickers, yellow vine stickers, caltrop, bur clover, cocklebur, Stickseed, and Burdock.
Can you identify these weeds? Read on and learn their characteristics and effective methods to control and eliminate them from your lawn or garden.
- 1 Burweed (Soliva sessilis)
- 2 Lawn Burs (Cenchrus species)
- 3 Burr Stickers (Xanthium species)
- 4 Yellow Vine Stickers (Bidens species)
- 5 Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris)
- 6 Bur Clover (Medicago polymorpha)
- 7 Cockleburr
- 8 Stickseed (Hackelia virginiana)
- 9 Burdock (Arctium spp.)
- 10 How To Control Grass Stickers
- 11 Wrapping Up
Burweed (Soliva sessilis)
Burweed is a prevalent species of grass sticker that warrants attention. This plant has tiny seeds resembling burrs with sharp spines. These spines facilitate easy attachment to surfaces such as clothing, pet fur, and skin.
Burweed exhibits remarkable adaptability to warm climates and has the potential to rapidly propagate throughout your lawn if adequate measures are not taken to manage its growth.
Lawn Burs (Cenchrus species)
Lawn burs (sandburs) are grass stickers that generate seed heads characterized by their round shape and spiky texture. These stickers can potentially cause discomfort and pain if inadvertently stepped on.
Lawn burs generally thrive in sandy or well-drained soil conditions, making them exceptionally resilient and challenging to eradicate.
In cases where lawn burs have already taken root, manual removal is often necessary. Carefully pull them out by hand or using specialized tools designed for weed removal.
Burr Stickers (Xanthium species)
These notorious plants possess seed heads covered in hooked spines. These spines serve as a mechanism for attachment, allowing burr stickers to cling onto anything that comes into contact with them, be it your clothing, shoes, or even your pet’s fur.
Burr stickers are resilient and can thrive in diverse environments. They can rapidly establish themselves in various habitats, including lawns, gardens, and natural areas. Their seeds disperse widely, increasing the chances of colonization and proliferation.
The tenacity of burr stickers necessitates effective management strategies. Regular inspection and prompt removal of mature seed heads are crucial to prevent further dissemination.
When dealing with burr stickers, wearing protective gloves and clothing is advisable to avoid direct contact with the spines.
Yellow Vine Stickers (Bidens species)
Yellow vine stickers are annual plants characterized by their bright yellow flowers and unique seed structure. They belong to the Asteraceae family, which includes sunflowers and daisies.
The name “vine stickers” refers to their ability to attach themselves to passing animals and objects, including fur, clothing, and other surfaces.
The key feature of yellow vine stickers is their seed structure. The seeds are flat and elongated with tiny barbs or hooks on the surface. These barbs enable the seeds to cling easily to various surfaces, facilitating dispersal.
When animals or objects come into contact with the plants, the seeds attach themselves and can be carried over long distances before eventually falling off.
Yellow vine stickers can produce many seeds in a single growing season. This characteristic, combined with their effective dispersal mechanism, allows them to colonize new areas and spread rapidly.
Controlling yellow vine stickers can be challenging due to their prolific seed production and dispersal. Effective management strategies may include manual removal of the plants before they produce seeds, mowing or cutting them down to prevent seed formation, or applying herbicides to control their growth.
Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris)
Caltrop is often called puncture vine due to its distinctive spiky fruits. These fruits are composed of hard, sharp thorns or spines that can cause puncture wounds when stepped on or come into contact with skin.
The name “caltrop” is derived from a historic military weapon with a similar shape, designed to puncture the hooves of horses and disable them.
This low-growing plant thrives in dry and sandy environments. It is commonly found in regions with warm climates, including parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.
The plant has a spreading growth habit and can rapidly colonize open areas such as lawns, fields, and recreational spaces.
The spiky fruits of caltrop contain several hard, sharp spines that can easily penetrate skin, tires, and animal paws. When stepped on, the spines can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, they can lead to infections if not properly treated.
Due to its ability to spread rapidly and its potential to cause injury, caltrop is often considered an unwanted weed in lawns. Its sharp spines can make it difficult to walk or play in affected areas.
Controlling caltrop involves regular mowing or cutting of the plants to prevent seed production and limit their spread.
Bur Clover (Medicago polymorpha)
Bur clover is among the most annoying types of grass stickers. This species of annual flowering plant belongs to the legume family Fabaceae. “Bur clover” refers to the small bur-like structures that develop on its seed pods.
This low-growing plant reaches heights of around 6 to 16 inches (15 to 40 cm). It has trifoliate leaves, meaning each leaf is divided into three leaflets.
The leaflets are oval and have toothed edges. The flowers of bur clover are small and yellow, clustered together in dense, round inflorescences.
A notable feature of bur clover is its seedpods. These seedpods have tiny hooked hairs or spines, which give them a bur-like appearance. The spines attach to the fur or feathers of passing animals or human clothing, aiding seed dispersal.
When the bur clover seedpods stick to a suitable substrate, they break apart, releasing the seeds and allowing them to germinate and establish new plants.
Bur clover is commonly found in disturbed areas such as lawns, gardens, agricultural fields, and roadsides.
It grows in a variety of soil types and climates. In some regions, bur clover is intentionally sown as a cover crop or forage crop for livestock, as it can fix nitrogen from the air and improve soil fertility.
However, bur clover can become weedy and compete with desirable plant species in certain situations. In agricultural settings, it may interfere with crop growth.
Cockleburr is a common name for plants belonging to the genus Xanthium. These annual weeds are characterized by their spiny seed heads. The burrs have small hooks or spines that easily attach to clothing, animal fur, or hair.
Cockleburrs have broad, lobed leaves and produce small, inconspicuous greenish flowers. After flowering, they form seed heads that consist of multiple burrs.
Each burr contains two seeds enclosed in a prickly outer covering. These burrs stick to passing animals or clothing, transporting the seeds to new locations.
When the burrs come into contact with fabric, fur, or hair, they can be difficult to remove due to the hooks or spines on their surface. This stickiness can cause irritation and discomfort.
Cockleburrs are nuisance plants as they can infest crops, gardens, and natural areas, competing with desirable plants for resources.
There are different cockleburrs species, the most common being Xanthium strumarium. While some animals may consume cockleburrs, the plants can be toxic to livestock.
Efforts to control cockleburrs typically involve mechanical methods, such as pulling or mowing and herbicide application.
Preventing the spread of cockleburrs involves being mindful of their presence and taking precautions to avoid contact with the burrs, especially in areas where they are prevalent.
Stickseed (Hackelia virginiana)
Stickseed is a plant species that belongs to the borage family. This herbaceous perennial plant can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) tall.
The plant gets its name from the small seeds it produces, which have tiny stickers or burrs attached to them. These stickers latch onto fur, feathers, or clothing, allowing the seeds to disperse and spread to new locations.
Stickseed produces small blue or purple flowers that are nestled among its hairy leaves. The flowers typically form horizontal, elongating clusters and have five petals.
While Stickseed may have some ecological benefits, the stickers it produces can be irritating to human skin.
Burdock (Arctium spp.)
Burdock is a plant species that belongs to the Asteraceae family. These types of grass stickers have large, broad leaves and produce small purple or pink flower clusters. However, it is the burrs that are most notable and can cause annoyance.
The burrs of the Burdock plant consist of small, hooked bracts that easily attach to fur, clothing, or hair. These bracts have a prickly texture, making them difficult to remove once they become tangled.
The burrs serve as a mechanism for seed dispersal, as they can cling to animals or passersby and get carried to new locations. This enables the plant to spread its seeds effectively.
While the burrs can be a nuisance, Burdock has also been valued for its medicinal and culinary uses. Burdock’s roots, leaves, and seeds have been traditionally used in herbal medicine for various purposes.
How To Control Grass Stickers
Below are some steps you can take to control grass stickers:
An effective way to control grass stickers is by manually removing them. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and use a weed puller or garden trowel to carefully dig out the entire plant, including the root system. Be thorough to prevent regrowth.
Regularly mow your lawn or grassy areas to keep the grass stickers from reaching maturity and producing seeds. Set your mower at the appropriate height to avoid cutting the grass too short, as taller grass can shade out and suppress weed growth.
You can use selective herbicides to control grass stickers without harming desirable plants. Look for herbicides specifically labeled for sticker weed control. Follow the instructions on the product carefully, including proper application rates and timing.
For proactive control, apply pre-emergent herbicides in early spring or fall before the grass stickers germinate. These herbicides create a barrier that prevents grass stickers seeds from sprouting.
Proper Lawn Care
Maintain a healthy lawn by following good cultural practices. This includes regular watering, proper fertilization, and overseeding to promote a dense turf that can naturally outcompete weeds like grass stickers.
Regularly inspect your yard or garden for any emerging grass stickers and promptly remove them by hand before they have a chance to spread.
Prevent Seed Spread
Be cautious when dealing with grass stickers to prevent accidental seed dispersal. Carefully bag and dispose of removed plants and clean any tools or equipment used in the process.
Dealing with grass stickers can be a frustrating experience, but with the right knowledge and management techniques, you can regain control over your lawn or garden. Understanding the different types of grass stickers and implementing effective control methods will help you maintain a sticker-free environment.