Help with Weed Identification

August 19, 2016

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Is it a flower or a weed? Do I keep it or pull it? These are common questions I hear from gardeners. Fortunately, there are some tools to help with their identification. 

Start with a visit to the library and check out a few weed ID books to see which ones work best for you. Here are a few of my favorites. The National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America by David Brandenburg includes images and help with weed identification. Cornell University’s Weeds of the Northeast includes a key for identification and excellent images of the weeds from seed through flowering. It also includes many weeds found throughout the US not just the northeast.

Or check out some of the on-line resources. Start with University Weed Identification sites such as those at Michigan State University (, The University of Missouri ( and New Mexico State University (

A bit more information: You may need to let mystery plants grow and flower to be able to identify the plant. Then you can decide whether it stays or goes. Just be sure to pull it before it sets seed if you decide to remove it from the garden. Otherwise you will have hundreds more to manage next year.

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