Weed be gone

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

There is a new weed in my yard. Actually, I noticed it the year before last, but it is really getting under my skin this year.  And I do not like it. Do not like it one bit. I’m talking about Hairy Bittercress. Where in the world did this come from? It wasn’t here 4 years ago and now, thanks to its extensive seed explosion propagating behavior – it is really on the move.

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is in the Brassicaceae family and related to the mustards/cabbages. Actually, if it wasn’t such a pest, this diminutive plant might look pretty cute in a spring fairy garden. The seeds germinate in the fall and are winter annuals (green during winter). That growth habit gives them a jump start on growing in the spring and blasting out their tiny seeds before you can get a grip on the situation.

If I were a betting woman, I would guess that the seeds originally made their way into my yard via nursery/garden center potting mix debris. The first plants populated a path that leads to my compost bin. I’ve read that they are edible but I’m not going to give them the pleasure of gracing my table. I’m more than happy to spend a few minutes pulling those little rosettes out before they get a chance to bloom. As with the noxious garlic mustard, a cousin to the bittercress, do not dispose of any plants you pull in your compost bin. The temps will not be hot enough to kill the seeds. And mowing them down won’t help. They are quite short and you will only be mowing the bloom stalks which will spite you and allow the seeds to mature and spread the love.

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6 thoughts on “Weed be gone

  1. Our backyard neighbors allow the garlic mustard to grow with abandon into our yard. I’m forever pulling them out while they’re still small and the ground is still moist. In recent years, I’ve sprayed straight brush killer on them (in my neighbor’s yard) to prevent their relentless spread, and they laugh at my efforts. I’ve also covered plants with cut-up strips of swimming pool solar blankets in an attempt to broil them. No luck. Each plant can produce about 8,000 seeds which can remain viable for over 5 years. Eradication is futile. And now you tell me to watch out for hairy bittercress? You’re a cruel woman, Vicki.

  2. I hate them too! I pull them all winter long. In a winter like this, it’s a full time job. They haven’t been here long but man have they taken over.

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