Most Common Broadleaf Weeds in Louisiana

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Louisiana's lush landscapes, humid climate, and fertile soils offer a haven for both desired plants and, unfortunately, unwelcome invaders known as broadleaf weeds. These persistent and nuisance invaders can disrupt the beauty and health of lawns, gardens, and agricultural fields. This article will explore the world of broadleaf weeds in Louisiana, their common types, challenges, and, most importantly, effective strategies for managing and controlling them.

Broadleaf weeds may be a persistent challenge in Louisiana's unique climate, but you can regain control over your outdoor spaces with proper management techniques. By understanding the types of broadleaf weeds in the region, identifying them, and employing control and preventative methods, you can achieve a lush, vibrant landscape that thrives despite these pesky invaders. A proactive approach is key to maintaining the beauty and health of your lawn in the face of broadleaf weed challenges.

Broadleaf weeds are characterized by their wide, flat leaves and distinct growth habits that differentiate them from the grasses around them. In Louisiana, several common varieties of broadleaf weeds can cause trouble for property owners.


bright chickweed

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a common weed in Louisiana. It is a cool-season annual plant germinating in the fall and produces flowers in the spring. Chickweed is found in various habitats, including lawns, gardens, fields, and roadsides. Considered a prolific seed producer, it can quickly spread and produce up to 100,000 seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for several years. Chickweed is not considered a harmful weed, but it can be unsightly and crowd out other plants. It can also be a nuisance in lawns, making mowing difficult. Small infestations can be managed with hand-pulling.

Identifying features:

  • Flowers: Chickweed flowers are about 0.5 inches in diameter and have five petals. The petals are deeply cleft, giving the flower a star-like appearance.
  • Leaves: Chickweed leaves are oval-shaped and arranged oppositely on the stem. They are soft and hairy to the touch.
  • Stem: There is a single line of hairs running down the stem of chickweed. This distinguishing feature helps to differentiate chickweed from other similar-looking plants.
  • Growth: Chickweed grows in a low-growing mat, spreading over the ground.


up close dollarweed

Dollarweed (Hydrocotyle spp), or pennywort, is a perennial weed common throughout Louisiana. It is typically found growing in lawn areas with moist or wet soil. Dollarweed is difficult to control because it spreads through seeds and rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems that can produce new plants, which make this plant difficult to control with methods such as hand-pulling. Herbicides are the most effective and most recommended method to eradicate these problematic weeds. Mulching is considered the best way to prevent dollarweed from germinating in the first place.

Identifying features of dollarweed include:

  • Leaves: Round, bright-green, and fleshy leaves that are about 1-2 inches in diameter and have a scalloped edge.
  • Stem: The stem of the dollarweed is located in the center of the leaf.
  • Rhizomes: Underground stems that can produce new plants.
  • Flowers: Small, white flowers bloom in the summer.

Spotted Spurge

Spotted spurge, also known as prostrate spurge, milk purslane, or spotted sandmat, is a fast-growing annual plant in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). Native to North America, and is now found in many parts of the world, including Louisiana. Spotted spurge is common in lawns, gardens, and other disturbed areas, thriving in a humid environment. Known as prolific seed producers, spotted spurge seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years. Spotted spurge is not considered harmful, but it can be unsightly and crowd out other plants. It’s also known for being difficult to mow, making large infestations especially problematic. Herbicides are the most effective method of getting rid of these weeds.

Here are some identifying factors of Spotted Spurge:

  • Growth: Spotted spurge is a low-growing plant that spreads by runners, forming a dense mat that can crowd out other plants.
  • Leaves: The leaves of spotted spurge are oval-shaped and about 1/2 inch long. They are often marked with a reddish spot in the center.
  • Flowers: The flowers are tiny, pink fading to white, and are produced in clusters.
  • Sap: When the leaves or stems of spotted spurge are broken, they ooze a milky sap. This sap can be irritating to the skin.


canada thistle in field

Thistles are commonly found worldwide and are one of the most recognizable weeds that thrive in Louisiana. Various types of thistles can be found growing anywhere from roadsides, garden beds, cracks in the side, and even found in swamps. These resilient weeds spread quickly, and their seeds remain in the soil for years. Small infestations can be managed with hand-pulling, but large infestations can only be managed by the correct combination of herbicides.

Here are some of the thistles found all over Louisiana:

  • Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare): This large, spiny thistle can grow up to 6 feet tall. It has purple flowers found in fields, pastures, and along roadsides.
  • Nodding thistle (Carduus nutans): This smaller thistle grows up to 3 feet tall. It has white flowers and is found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides.
  • Swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum): This is a thistle that grows in wet areas, such as swamps and marshes. It has yellow flowers and is found in the southern part of Louisiana.
  • Chadron (Cirsium horridulum): This is a thistle that is found in the northern part of Louisiana. It has reddish-purple flowers and is known for its sharp spines.

Asiatic Hawksbeard

Asiatic Hawksbeard

Asiatic hawksbeard (Youngia japonica) is a common weed in Louisiana. It is an annual plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. It has yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It is native to Asia but has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including Louisiana. It is a prolific seed producer and can quickly spread. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years. Herbicides are the most recommended method of eradicating these nuisance weeds.

Asiatic hawksbeards are fairly easy to identify, thanks to these unique features:

  • Height: Asiatic hawksbeard can grow up to 3 feet tall.
  • Leaves: The leaves of Asiatic hawksbeard are alternate and lanceolate. They are about 2-4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide.
  • Flowers: The flowers of Asiatic hawksbeard are yellow and daisy-like. They are about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Seeds: The seeds of Asiatic hawksbeard are small and black. They are produced in achenes.