Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Weeds of Western Kansas - a sampling

DISCLAIMER:  By no means is this a complete list of weeds, nor does this author boast any scientific factuality of name for any weed depicted.  No weeds were harmed in the photographs, although I cannot ensure their safety either.  They are, after all, weeds and weeds are a nuisance and a bother and sometimes they just stink and should be destroyed so that they do not perpetuate their species - that is the rule on the farm.  With that in mind, these are the usual suspects found around the farm.


1.  The fire weed, turns into a tumbleweed eventually and then chases cars and runs into them as it crosses the road to and from depending on the direction of the wind.  Sometimes it gets caught and devoured by the fierce fence. 
Other times it becomes a permanent resident in a wind break.  However, if it is unfortunate enough to try to make its final resting place in my wind break, it can be assured it will be evicted and BURNED in the burn tank at the next purging of the trees.

2.  Devil's Claw - This is apparently a very stinky weed. 
It's roots have some homeopathic properties to them I am told.  It sets on these big seed pods (which I have never seen) and then when it releases the seeds the pods open up and what is left is where we get the name because it looks like a devil's claw.


3.  My foot's personal favorite - the Mexican sandburr or goat-head stickers.  This can lay dormant for years and years, and around here as soon as you dig a new well or move dirt those little pain in the foot stickers will come to life.  They come in on shoes and then it hurts like a son of a gun when you step on them with your bare feet.  Many summers I have spent taking a shovel to these things, piling them up and burning them before they can set on their stickers.  These are found along every country road for miles.  They are transported by the unborn highway gators as they travel down the roads; either picked up or tossed off.  They can grow to be as big in diameter as a small wading pool with pretty little yellow flowers all over them.  Don't be fooled, those are the dangerous parts. 
At the time of this posting, this particular group of Mexican sandburrs still are happily alive at the edge of the drive way. . . . but their time is limited.  As soon as I have a day where I am home and can work on them, I will be dragging out my wading pool and my wagon and picking these plants up and tossing them into the burn tank for the first weed purge of the season. 

This one can't be mowed because it spreads out flat on the ground like a web.  Maybe I should spray it orange and hang it on the house for Halloween!

4.  Amazing to see these used in landscaping in the cities.  I just laugh to think how much people paid to have WEEDS planted in their yards when they are such a nuisance out here on the prairie.  When there is enough moisture during the spring they will sprout tall green spears which bloom succulent white flowers that are all the rage to eat according to the cows and deer.  Otherwise, they are more like a cactus with spindly leaves that are more like needles and if they are older their root balls actually sit on top of the ground.

5.  I hate this stuff.  It is covered on the stems and edges of the leaves in thorny slivers that embed into your hand if you try to pull it without gloves.  It is worse than getting a splinter.  It is prudent to pull these before they get big because their roots seem to rival that of geranium weed roots or dandelion roots, in making their way to China via the most direct root!

6.  The ever changing, most annoying PIG WEED or hybrid pig weed as some farmers are calling it these days.  This thing is becoming resistant to all forms of herbicide and can be found growing in the stubble fields, ditches, gardens, yards, pretty much everywhere. 

This little guy was growing next to the wheat field.  I try to pull them before they get this big in the gardens.  However, it must be known that if you do not get the entire root system or if the plant breaks off at the ground base when you try to pull it, it grows back and shoots up more stems from the base so you get a lovely tree looking pig weed.  If you have read my mowing story from a few days ago try to imagine this weed 4 feet tall - 3 feet wide and 6-8 of these stems, not just one like here. 

7.  Pasture sticker weed - what is it with yellow blooms on the weeds, especially the ones that have stickers associated with them?  This is another one like that.

I call it the pasture sticker weed because it seems to be very prevalent in feed lots and where the cows seem to congregate.  Sometimes it is the only thing growing in those areas and obviously the cows don't eat them.  This is another one you don't want to just reach down and pull with your bare hands or you will be trying to tweeze out invisible slivers that hurt and could fester under your skin.

8.  Fluffy weed.  I really have no idea what this is, whether it blooms or what its purpose is but it grows right along side all the other weeds and can get upwards of 3 feet tall.  The taller the plant, the more fluffly looking the leaves are.

9.  Russian Thistle or Muss Thistle. . . . obviously it blooms.  In the spring when it sets on blooms they are very pretty purple flowers, then as it starts to dry the blooms they start to take on a dandelion look with the seed pods being those spiral fluffs shaped like an umbrella.  The base of the plant where the leaves are is also a bit prickly - almost like a spiney edge to the leaves.  We try to dig these up in the spring in the yard before they get to the flowering stage to cut down on the spread but driving around the county I can assure you that even if we keep our area thistle free, there are plenty of plants out there to keep reseeding themselves for years to come.


I feel like very little needs to be said about this weed.  There is a funny old song written about it.  It is used for medicinal purposed in Colorado and California if properly cultivated.  It grows wild everywhere.  The only good thing about this is apparently IF the cows were to walk into a patch of this weed, it would keep the flies from biting them.  However, I can honestly say that I have never seen a cow standing in the middle of a patch of these weeds - flies or no flies.  It goes by lots of names, none of which I will repeat here!

If you would like to know more about any of the weeds 1-9 highlighted here, just let me know.  I can take some more pictures as some of these stupid things mature and change (like the devil's claw) or show you just how HUGE they get.  But those pictures are per request.

Hope you found this fun and informative.