Weeds of Texas Turf
Casey Reynolds, PhD and Matt Elmore, PhD
Not seeing what you are looking for? Use this document when preparing samples or photographing weeds for identification purposes.
Weeds, like all plants, are classified based on morphological characteristics of their vegetative and reproductive structures. A basic understanding of the types of weeds commonly found in turf is very helpful in identification and herbicide selection.
Weeds are often grouped by morphological characteristics into the categories: broadleaf weeds, grassy weeds, and sedges (Table 1).
|Table 1. General Characteristics of Weed Species When Grouped as Broadleaf weeds, Grassy Weeds, or Sedges.|
|Broadleaf Weeds||Grasses and Grass-like Weeds||Sedges|
|Stem||Usually solid, variable in shape||Hollow, round or flattened||Solid, usually triangular|
|Leaf Shape||Variable||Simple, entire||Simple, entire|
|Leaf Arrangement||Variable||Alternate, 2-ranked||Alternate, 3-ranked|
|Inflorescence||Highly variable, often colored and showy||Spike, Raceme, or Panicle.||Head-like with flattened spikelets|
|Secondary Growth||None, Tubers, Bulbs, Rhizomes, Stolons, etc.||None, Rhizomes, and/or Stolons||None, Rhizomes, and/or Tubers|
|Family Classification||Many||Poaceae, Iridaceae, Commelinaceae, Liliaceae, others||Cyperaceae|
|Examples||Henbit, Chickweed, Prostrate Spurge, Slender aster, etc.||Crabgrass, Dallisgrass, Annual bluegrass, Smutgrass, etc.||Purple nutsedge, Yellow nutsedge, Green Kyllinga, etc.|
Identifying weeds based on these features is helpful because herbicides are often particularly effective on one or more of these groups. However, it is important to be able to identify specific weeds within a group (down to the genus and species level), because many herbicides only control certain species. This is also important because there are several species of weeds with vegetative characteristics (leaves, stems, sheaths, etc.) that appear to be grasses, but when left un-mowed their floral characteristics reveal that they are actually quite different. These species are sometimes referred to as “grass-like” weeds and for the purposes of organization they are classified in the image gallery below as Grassy Weeds.
Grasses and Grass-like Weeds