Plant Identification: Weeds


Weeds are plants that are out of place in an environment. When weeds appear, they must be dealt with quickly to prevent their spread and the release of new weed seeds. Identification of the weed is necessary since control among different weeds may vary. Weed identification is hard but a step required for proper control.

Time to Identify

Identification is best done when the seedling of the weed emerges from the soil. Early identification provides the information necessary to control the weed before it becomes resistant to herbicide or cultural control, says the University of Michigan. This is often difficult because so many weeds look alike.


A weed key is often necessary for proper weed identification. Weed keys are available through almost all university extension services. The weed identification key will include pictures and descriptions of common weed characteristics that appear in your area. Most will include the correct control method for the specific weed variety.

Grass Weeds

Identify the plant using the broadest common trait. Grassy weeds are common throughout the United States. They are identified by their long, narrow, alternate leaves, says the University of Minnesota Extension. The juncture of the leaf blade will have a sheath, and the leaf itself will have a projection at the base called a ligule. As the grass emerges from the ground, the leaf will either be folded into a v-shape or flat. Grass stems are round or flat.

Broadleaf Weeds

Broadleaf weeds are another major weed variety. The seedlings of broadleaf weeds have wider leaves. The seed will either stay below the soil with the stem protruding from the dirt, while others will expose the seed, which surrounds the first set of true leaves. Leaves are either alternating or opposite each other along the stem.


Control is determined according to the identification of the weed. Application of an herbicide is often necessary when the weeds are spread throughout the landscape or garden. Hand pulling is successful as long as the weed is pulled early and the roots are completely removed. Use herbicides according to the label instructions.

Keywords: Weed identification, Weed control, Weed types

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.