What is this horrible thing?


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It first appeared in my lawn, in small clumps, about five years ago. I quickly realized, by the locations, that the seeds had been in a couple of bags of cheap no-name-brand "topsoil" I had purchased at Lowe's. Lesson learned, of course, but I have been unsuccessful in getting rid of it -- first by organic means (preferred) and even by more toxic means. It seems to germinate in the late autumn, and forms only the clover-ish rosettes you see at the bottom of the plant. This is where I made my SECOND mistake -- saying to myself "well, whatever it is, it'll winter-kill." It didn't. I ignored it the first year and said "keeping the lawn mowed properly will keep it from going to seed." Nope. It had already gone to seed, and that November all my garden beds were full of it. This gave me a chance to observe the way it actually grows. The stalks appear in late February -- before ANYTHING else shows up, even the daffodils. Then the flowers appear in early March, and seem to turn to the vertical seed-pods you see here, in literally just a few days. It's lightning-fast. What you see here are two examples that I picked today. They come out of the ground fairly easily -- the roots are not very tenacious, and that's the only good thing. What's even WORSE than all of this, though, is as follows. The seed pods are still green today, as you see, but the seeds inside are fully-formed. You can pick them and dispose of them now (if you have two full days, and knee pads) but it has to be RIGHT now. Because in another two or three days, the pods will start to lose their color. As soon as that happens, you needn't even bother. Because when you try to pull one up, no matter how carefully you do it, the pods will literally LEAP off of the plant and fly off in all directions. In a radius of more than a foot, sometimes. This weed is, basically, the "perfect invader." It germinates at a time when you can't really do much about it -- then it hits its growth spurt at a time when you can't really do much about it either -- and then you have a terribly-short window in which you can try to control it before it sends seeds everywhere in all directions. What IS this horrible thing, and does anyone have any suggestions?

mystery weed april 2022.jpg
 
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Cardamine hirsuta or Hairy bittercress

Thanks for the quick response. :)

So -- that means it really SHOULD succumb to any broadleaf weed-control -- organic or otherwise -- right? But so far it hasn't. Since it shows up so late in the season and starts making seeds so EARLY in the season, maybe it's just too cold out for the remedies to be successful?
 

NigelJ

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Yes hairy bitter cress, very successful weed. You have a life long companion. In vegetable and fruit beds hoe weekly. Elsewhere all you can do is pull it up when you see it. Although putting the area down to grass and mowing should deal with it in a year or two.
Gardeners have selected it over the years to grow, flower and seed year round in most of the UK, also selected for rapid growth and maturation.
A good example of Darwinian evolution, survival of the fittest.
it is edible.
 
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Eat them :)
"The leaves are edible raw and other tender parts of the plant can be cooked"


"Is hairy bittercress edible? What you may not realize as you're hoeing or pulling weeds, is that although it may look like just another stubborn invader, hairy bittercress actually has a pungent, peppery flavor and many uses in the kitchen. The entire plant is edible, including the blooms"
 
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Thanks for the quick response, everyone. :)

So -- that means it really SHOULD succumb to any broadleaf weed-control -- organic or otherwise -- right? But so far it hasn't. Since it shows up so late in the season and starts making seeds so EARLY in the season, maybe it's just too cold out for the remedies to be successful?
 
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NigelJ

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So -- that means it really SHOULD succumb to any broadleaf weed-control -- organic or otherwise -- right? But so far it hasn't. Since it shows up so late in the season and starts making seeds so EARLY in the season, maybe it's just too cold out for the remedies to be successful?
It reproduces so quickly that it has evolved resistance to some pesticides, you also have seeds in the soil and miss one plant and you get a lot more.
A lot of gardeners in the UK have brought it home from garden centres; the old fashioned approach of hoeing bare ground once a week is as effective as anything else.
 

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