What’s one of the greatest production challenges of farmers? Weeds, also known as the bullies of the plant world. To raise awareness of their nature, we’ve compiled a list of the most intriguing facts about weeds.
Let’s dig in!
Top 10 Facts About Weeds to Remember
- There are three main types of weeds: sedges, grass weeds, and broadleaf weeds.
- Invasive weeds in the US are largely non-native plants introduced from Asia and Europe.
- Over 90% of the federal public land in the West hasn’t been infected by exotic weeds.
- One weed can generate over 10 million seeds.
- Statistics on weeds show 41 species globally have exhibited resistance to glyphosate.
- Horticulture vinegar of 20%–30% acidity is also effective against stubborn weeds.
- Flowering weeds can provide refuge for beneficial insects.
- Field bindweed is one of the toughest garden weeds to eliminate.
- 73% of farmers perceived weeds as the main drawback in common bean production.
- Some weeds are actually edible.
General Facts and Statistics About Weeds
Since about half of US homeowners use their gardens, it’s useful to know as much as possible about weeds. In this section, you’ll find out more about the types of these plants, the damage they can cause, and so on.
1. There are three main types of weeds: sedges, grass weeds, and broadleaf weeds.
(Rush Lawn) (Pennsylvania State University) (Plant-Ark)
Grass weeds have flat or round stems and narrow leaves that look like blades.
Broadleaf weeds are pretty simple to identify because they’re typically obvious, as their name indicates. They include plants like the white clover, dandelion, mallow, and milkweed.
Sedges resemble grasses but can’t be treated as such. What makes them most recognizable are their solid triangular stems. Some of the most common weeds in this category are the spike rush, the nutsedge, and the water chestnut.
2. Weeds have three life cycles: annual, biennial, and perennial.
Annuals go through the entire life cycle within a year, from germination to dying. They’re subdivided into two types—summer and winter annuals.
Winter annuals are semi-dormant or dormant throughout the colder months, after which they flower the next spring. Summer annuals start developing in late spring or early summer and wither and die in colder months.
Biennials’ life span is roughly two years, while perennials live for several years.
3. Invasive weeds in the US are largely non-native plants introduced from Asia and Europe.
(High Country News)
According to weeds info, these pests began to invade the States in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the West, these exotic plants expanded from “just” 4 million acres to a whopping 17 million acres between 1985 and 1995.
Since they’re non-native plants, they don’t have native diseases or insects that control their growth.
4. Over 90% of the 350 million acres of federal public land in the West still hasn’t been infected by exotic weeds.
(High Country News)
For example, in Idaho, skeleton weed (Chondrilla juncea) spread over 4 million acres in 1995. In Northern California, yellow starthistle covered about 1 million acres in 1981, and by 1995, the affected area had grown to 10 million acres.
Stats on Weeds and Pest Control
In the following segment, we’ll introduce several interesting facts about weeds affecting crops and why these plants can be such a nuisance to countless farmers.
5. 73% of farmers perceived weeds as the main drawback in common bean production.
This percentage was derived from a survey that included 169 smallholder farmers and was carried out in bean-growing areas in Tanzania. This was the second biggest drawback right after insect pests, about which 83% of the farmers complained.
The study also mentions that weeds negatively affect bean production because they release allelochemicals, compete for resources, and shelter insect pests.
6. Based on information on weeds, one weed can generate over 10 million seeds.
One of the main reasons weeds are such a huge problem is that they can cause numerous challenges for farmers if they’re not dealt with fast. For example, they can cause crop yield loss, taint food, and even cause crop diseases.
7. The best natural way to fight weeds is weeding with a hoe or by hand.
Weed management doesn’t have to involve harmful chemicals. This is especially important to remember because various herbicides are actually known carcinogens.
According to facts about weeds, the most widely used substance of the kind in the world is glyphosate. Due to its harmfulness, various countries have been investing effort into banning its use.
8. Horticulture vinegar of 20%–30% acidity is also effective against stubborn weeds.
If you want to save some time and skip chemicals, you can try spraying weeds with water with a higher concentration of salt, or with regular household vinegar. But of course, there are certain precautions to bear in mind, even with this method. So, research it well before applying it.
9. Facts about weeds indicate that flowering weeds can also provide refuge for beneficial insects.
Certain flowering weeds can be a good source of pollen and nectar for insects such as honey bees and other insects that play an important role in seed production.
On the flip side, weeds can also be home to predatory insects and parasitic wasps.
10. Field bindweed is one of the toughest garden weeds to eliminate.
Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a rapidly growing vine known for its aggressive nature. This perennial weed is problematic because it’s incredibly challenging to dig out. If you leave even a single bit, it will grow back.
Other problematic garden weeds include burdock, poison ivy, ground ivy, Canada thistle, mugwort, Johnsongrass, and so on.
Interesting Facts About Weeds
Finally, we’ve compiled some fascinating stats and facts about weeds you may or may not already be familiar with.
11. Some of the most common garden weeds are the dandelion, the common daisy, and the clover.
Possibly the most recognizable weed is the dandelion, a yellow perennial garden weed known for its deep taproot. Due to this characteristic, it’s very difficult to remove this weed with methods that don’t include chemicals.
12. Burdock is one of the most common lawn weeds and looks like rhubarb.
Burdock (Arctium spp.) is one of the most frequently spotted lawn weeds in the continental States. It’s easy to notice, thanks to its fuzzy pink-purple flowers and hairy leaves.
In fact, the leaves are the main reason why this weed may remind you of rhubarb.
13. According to facts about glyphosate resistant weeds, today, 41 weed species across the planet are immune to this substance.
(DuPont Pioneer Agronomy Sciences)
Since 1976 (when glyphosate was first used in the US), weeds resistant to this herbicide have been detected in 38 states. Moreover, data from 2018 shows that worldwide, 41 weed species had exhibited glyphosate resistance up until that year, 18 of which were in North America.
14. More fun facts about weeds: some weeds are actually edible.
This may come as a surprise to some, but despite generally being so notorious among farmers and gardeners, there are weeds that can be consumed. Here we include different parts of plants like the dandelion, chickweed, plantain, garlic mustard, and even violets.
15. Weeds statistics in the US show that exotic weeds are spreading at around 4,600 acres daily on West federal lands.
(High Country News)
At present, there are hundreds of exotic weed types in the West. The most troublesome ones include the yellow starthistle, the scotch thistle, the spotted knapweed, and the leafy spurge.
For example, in Montana, there were only a few spotted knapweed plants in 1920. In 1995, however, it covered an area of over 5 million acres.
Overall, weeds germinate, develop, and reproduce faster than most valuable plants, making them opportunistic and undesirable. So, if you’re a farmer or a gardener-to-be, do your research and arm yourself with as much helpful information about weeds as possible. This is one of the best ways to learn how to handle them successfully and safely.
Why are weeds bad?
In a nutshell, weeds are a nuisance because they compete with desirable and healthy plants for nutrients in the soil. As a result, the desirable plants will become weaker and more vulnerable to pest infestations, drought, and diseases.
What are 3 characteristics of weeds?
The three most notable characteristics of weeds are:
- They grow quickly.
- They’re able to produce astonishingly large numbers of seeds, which are usually small.
- They can develop and survive on various types of terrain.
(Penn State Extension)
Where do weeds grow?
Weeds can grow practically anywhere. For instance, you can find them in moist spaces, thin or bare turf areas, and even cracks in driveways, sidewalks, and roads.
Do weeds have a purpose?
Yes, they do. Their primary role is to prevent the erosion of soil brought on by severe rains until the return of hardier shrubbery or tree life. At the same time, weeds that grow along shorelines and riverbanks prevent tree life from slipping into the water.
Moreover, some weeds shelter beneficial insects such as pollinators.
(The Jamestown Sun)
Is it OK to let weeds grow?
As mentioned, some weeds attract beneficial insects to gardens. Also, weeds can decrease the erosion of topsoil on properties. So, perhaps it’s not a bad idea to leave a few weeds in your stunning green backyard.
(Gardening Know How)
What are good weeds?
One of the most beneficial weeds is the dandelion. Namely, it can attract pollinators and ladybugs searching for nectar. Moreover, this useful weed has edible flowers, roots, and leaves known for their medicinal benefits.
According to facts about weeds, other weeds you would want in your garden or yard are the white clover (it’s a nitrogen fixer and nutrient accumulator), lamb’s quarters (highly nutritious), chickweed (possesses medicinal characteristics), etc.
(Tenth Acre Farm)
- DuPont Pioneer Agronomy Sciences
- Fairway Green
- Family Handyman
- Gardening Know How
- Growing Produce
- High Country News
- Lawn Care Academy
- Modern Farmer
- Nature’s Path
- Penn State Extension
- Pennsylvania State University
- Rush Lawn
- Tenth Acre Farm
- The Jamestown Sun
- UMass Amherst