Weed Identification

Weeds are problematic in our landscapes due to the fact they are aesthetically unpleasing and compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients, and sunlight. This is a quick guide to help identify and control many of the most common weeds found throughout the state. While this is not a complete guide that covers all weeds, it addresses the major weeds that cause problems in South Carolina landscapes.

Types of Weeds

Most weeds fall into one of two categories either annual or perennial. Annual weeds complete their life cycle in one season. At the end of the growing season, annual weeds produce seeds to ensure future weed populations. Because most annual weeds start from seed, pre-emergent herbicides are usually the best means of controlling them by inhibiting their germination.

There are both cool-season and warm-season annual weeds. Cool-season weeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures fall below 55 degrees F (Fall) and complete their life cycle in the springtime when warmer weather begins. Warm-season annual weeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures rise above 55 degrees F (Spring) and complete their life cycle when cool weather begins.

Perennial weeds once established in the landscape will survive for many growing seasons. These types of weeds can reproduce through several different means including seed and underground structures. The most effective way to deal with perennial weeds is through the use of post-emergent herbicides.

The two other categories that weeds fall under are broadleaf and grassy. Broadleaf weeds come in many shapes and sizes with various patterns to their leaves. Just as the name implies, broadleaf weeds are generally more wide than long. Grassy weeds tend to be narrower and longer, similar to the grass in your lawn. It is important for you to make the distinction between these two classifications, in order to select the proper herbicide for their control. As a general rule, most grassy weed herbicides will not control broadleaf weeds and vice versa.

Grassy Weeds & Sedges

Yellow Nutsedge

Cyperus esculentus


Panicum repens

Thin Paspalum (Bull Grass)

Paspalum setaceum


Ornithogalum umbellatum

Broadleaf Signalgrass

Brachiaria platyphylla

Alexandergrass (Creeping Signalgrass)

Brachiaria plantaginea

Annual Bluegrass

Poa annua

Annual Sedge

Cyperus compressus


Paspalum notatum

Broadleaf Panicum

Panicum adspersum

Bull Paspalum

Paspalum setaceum


Axonopus affinis

Crabgrass, Large

Digitaria sanguinalis


Paspalum dilatatum


Murdannia nudiflora

Globe Sedge

Cyperus globulosus

Crabgrass, Smooth

Digitaria ischaemum


Eleusine indica

Little Barley

Hordeum pusillum

Purple Nutsedge

Cyperus rotundus


Sporobolus indicus

Southern Sandbur (Sandspur)

Cenchrus echinatus

Annual Bluegrass

Annual Bluegrass

Poa annua



Brachiaria plantaginea

Foxtail barley (dummy)

Hordeum jubatum

Broadleaf Weeds


Capsella bursa-pastoris

Shiny Cudweed

Gnaphalium spicatum

Spiny Sowthistle

Sonchus asper

Spotted Spurge

Chamaesyce maculata


Coronopus didymus


Viola spp.

Virginia Buttonweed

Diodia virginiana

Virginia Pepperweed

Lepidium virginicum

White Clover

Trifolium repens

Wild Garlic

Allium vineale

Wild Onion

Allium canadense

Purple Deadnettle

Lamium purpureum


Alchemilla arvensis


Artemisia vulgaris

Lawn Burweed (Spurweed)

Soliva pterosperma


Scleranthus annuus

Indian Mockstrawberry

Duchesnea indica


Conyza canadensis


Solanum carolinense

Common Vetch

Vicia sativa

Curly Dock

Rumex crispus

Common Venuslookingglass

Triodani perfoliata

Common Lespedeza

Lespedeza striata

Common Chickweed

Stellaria media


Phyllanthus urinaria


Mollugo verticillata

Carolina Geranium

Geranium carolinianum

Buckhorn Plantain

Plantago lanceolata

Black Medic

Medicago lupulina


Taraxacum officinale


Lamium amplexicaule

Hairy Bittercress

Cardamine hirsuta

Ground Ivy

Glechoma hederacea

Florida Pusley

Richardia scabra

Florida Betony

Stachys floridana


Eclipta prostrata

Dollarweed (Pennywort)

Hydrocotyle spp.


Eupatorium capillifolium


Dichondra carolinensis

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