Weed patrol: Beggar-tick

Nightshade berries

Black swallowort seeds

I looked for ragweed. And didn’t find any in the spot that was infested last year. Or anywhere else. Yet.

I looked for nightshade. And found plenty in the usual spots. Those bright red fruits made it easy to spot, but they plop out everywhere when you pull it up.

I didn’t have to look for Black swallow-wort. It looks for you. Little dried pods of seeds already ripe and spraying themselves into the breeze like evil dandelions, hoping to reconquer the swaths I cleared last year and kept clear this year.

Yes! I have indeed made progress in the war on weeds! Now that I look at the sequence, the later a weed goes to seed, the more likely I am to get all of it in time. And some of those troublesome seeds come from Beggar-tick.

Beggartick sticks to ground

Beggar-tick in flower

Beggar-ticks are the weeds that spray those little black barbed seedpods that you comb out of the cat’s fur all autumn. I didn’t find any in the spot that was infested last year, but there are plenty more scattered about.

It’s a tricky plant to hunt down. It somehow manages to remain nondescript no matter how much its appearance changes as it grows. The seedlings look deceptively like tomato seedlings. The young plants are boring little clumps. The mature plants bear dots of yellow flowers, daring you to find them before it’s too late.

Beggar-ticks don’t even draw much interest from insects. I rarely see bees visiting the flowers. More often, I find signs of bugs visiting the leaves: they’re usually skeletonized, making it even more unlovely. But I’ll get you, my not-so-pretties!

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