Several lawn weeds produce seeds attached to fuzzy parachutes. In fact, according to the Wayne's Word site maintained by Palomar College, these parachutes are a major reason why these plants become invasive and annoying enough to earn the designation of weeds. Parachute seeds travel so well on the wind that some have even crossed mountain ranges. In your lawn, their ability to scatter in large numbers means that one weed can quickly become 100.
The fuzzy seeds that afflict your lawn most often come from a special type of flower called a composite flower. A single composite flower -- a family which includes familiar turf weeds like the dandelion -- actually consists of hundreds of tiny flowers supported by a single receptacle. As naturalist Jim Conrad of Backyard Nature explains, rather than a single plant making only a few seeds, each tiny flower produces its own seed, explaining the reproductive success of some lawn weeds. Often, fuzzy parachutes form to carry the seed away from the parent plant.
According to the University of Missouri Extension, dandelions are one of the most common and problematic weeds of turf grass. Other fuzzy-seeded lawn weeds -- such as catsear and salsify -- closely resemble dandelions and exhibit similar invasive potential. Many species of thistles produce fuzzy seeds and can establish by the hundreds in your lawn and garden.
Before you can begin treating a weed problem in your lawn, you should correctly identify the weed, according to the University of Missouri Extension. Treatments often work best for only a particular weed, and treating a weed you can't identify could mean that you are wasting time and money and possibly using harmful chemicals that won't solve the problem. Your local extension office can help with identifying lawn weeds.
Chemical herbicides exist for controlling weeds like thistle and dandelion but, according to Ed Billingsley of the University of Illinois Extension, controlling weeds in your yard needn't come to chemical warfare. You can remove the weeds by pulling or digging them up, taking care to remove as much of the taproot as possible. Raising the height of your mower to let grass grow longer makes it better able to compete with the weeds. Whatever you do, don't let the weeds produce those fuzzy seeds, which can turn an isolated problem into a lawn overrun with fuzzy weeds.
Some weeds, such as certain species of thistle, are so invasive and destructive that they are deemed noxious by state and federal governments. Law often requires homeowners to control outbreaks of these weeds when they occur, according to the University of Missouri Extension.
- Palomar College -- Wayne's Word: Wind Dispersal of Seeds
- University of Illinois Extension: Dandelion Control
- University of Missouri Extension: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board: Common Catsear
- University of Missouri Extension: Thistles and Thistle-Like Plants of Missouri
- Backyard Nature: Composite Flowers
- The Identification of Weeds in Indiana
- Kill Crab Grass Before Overseeding
- Small-Leaf Lawn Weeds
- Kill Sedge Grass
- Identify Small Weeds With Tiny Blue Flowers in Lawns
- Herbicides for Crabgrass
- Removing Crabgrass From a Zoysia Lawn
- Kill Creeping Charlie Without Weed Killer
- The Best Grass Seed for Full Sun
- Propagate Lupine
- Identify Lawn Weed With Small Purple Flowers
- Common Lawn Weeds in Texas