Weeds, Not Wildflowers: Part 2

Have you seen these weeds? These aggressive invaders are blooming along roadsides, in forest preserves, and in your own backyard. They are not native wildflowers and can smother our desirable species. Don’t let them get a toehold on your property. We can help! Share this so we can spread the word about invasive species.

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Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard is widespread throughout the Midwest. Reaching about two to three feet high when it flowers, it has clusters of tiny four-petaled white flowers. Garlic Mustard is biennial. The first year it forms a rosette of ruffled green leaves. The second year it flowers, sets seed, and dies. Being in the mustard family, Garlic Mustard produces thousands of seeds that disperse easily.


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Yellow Rocket, Barbarea vulgaris

Another member of the mustard family, Yellow Rocket has upright clusters of bright yellow four-petaled flowers above a rosette of dark green rounded leaves. It is also a biennial and flowers the second year. Reaching about a foot high when flowering, it sets hundreds if not thousands of seeds.




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Dame’s rocket, Hesperis matronalis

Dame’s rocket is most often confused with wild or garden phlox. However, dame’s rocket has alternate leaves and its flowers have four petals instead of five. It will flower in shades of lavender and purple in spring. Reaching about three feet high, it is also a member of the mustard family. It spreads by seed and by roots.



Wild Chervil, Anthriscus sylvestris

Mostly found in Kane County, Wild Chervil is spreading rapidly. At between three and five feet high, its flat white flowers are reminiscent of Queen Anne’s lace, but bloom earlier and are not as tightly clustered. The ferny foliage reflects its heritage in the carrot family. It’s commonly found in roadsides, ditches, and forest edges.


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Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria

A member of the buttercup family, this short bright yellow flowering perennial spreads by roots rather than by seed. Rosettes of shiny green leaves are commonly found in moist edges of forests. It can be confused with the native marsh marigold, but Lesser Celandine has narrower petals and green sepals.

If you’re dealing with any of these invaders – contact us to set up a weed management plan.

Weeds, Not Wildflowers

Invasives are everywhere! Here is a selection of common species that should be controlled in a natural area.

Image result for common ragweedCommon and Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia and A. trifida)

Common Ragweed is a short annual at around three feet with ferny foliage and a greenish yellow flower spike. Each plant produces 3,500 seeds per year. Giant Ragweed can range from three feet up to 10 feet tall! Its large mid-green leaves are lobed in patterns of three or five. Firm flower spikes are yellowish green and form at the top of the plant for maximum wind dispersal. Each plant can produce up to 10,000 seeds. Ragweed is the bane of allergy sufferers in late summer and early fall with its copious pollen release.


Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Chicory is that cornflower blue flower you see flourishing along roadsides, fields and can invade prairies. It is about a foot tall and has clusters of blue blossoms with squared off petals. It forms a rosette of hairy leaves and a deep tap root. Chicory tends to appear here and there, then in a couple of years can blanket an area. Biennial to perennial, it is native to Africa, Asia and Europe. Each plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds.


Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

A biennial, Queen Anne’s Lace is often regarded as a beloved wildflower of roadsides and disturbed areas with its flat white delicate flowers and carrot-like foliage. In fact, it is native to Europe and Asia and can dominate prairies to the detriment of native wildflowers. Queen Anne’s Lace can produce up to 40,000 seeds per plant that can live up to two years in the soil, making it a persistent threat.


Common Reed Grass (Phragmites australis)

Common Reed Grass turns rich wetland habitats into monocultures that can change marsh hydrology and become fire hazards. It can reach up to 15 feet high with alternating green leaves along a hollow stem. It is blooming now with reddish flower plumes. It primarily spreads by roots and a single stolon can grow 10 feet in a year. Roots have been found up to 43 feet away from the main plant. Common Reed Grass also produces thousands of seeds per year. It requires aggressive treatment to eradicate.


Cattails (Typha x glauca, T. latifolia, and T. angustifolia)

Cattails rapidly fill in wetlands, basins, swales and ditches. The brown sausage-like flowers are blooming now above thin leaf blades. Spreading by thick colonies of starchy roots, they can be tough to eradicate. Because they can form large stands quickly, Cattails choke out native wetland species and can create monocultures not beneficial to birds and insects.


Are these weeds on your property? Contact us about developing a weed management plan today!

Featured Project: Graceland Cemetery

Chicago, IL — Today, an historic cemetery is breathing new life within its grounds. The trustees of Graceland Cemetery in Chicago wanted to recreate a piece of the tallgrass prairie that once covered much of the region. Native plants and landscapes were an inspiration to O.C. Simonds whose innovative designs made the cemetery into a peaceful, pastoral place.

On an approximately two acre site, Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. was contracted to create a pre-settlement prairie. After removing the turf grass, and a summer season prescribed burn, the area was ready to install our custom Low Profile Prairie seed mix. Using hand seeding, we covered the area thoroughly and raked it in for good soil contact.

The first year the annual flowers and cover crop flushed into bloom, quickly creating the feel of a prairie. We then did supplemental seed installation and selected plug planting. Now in its second year, the prairie is lush and inviting. The prairie has become a highlight for the tens of thousands of CTA riders who view from the tracks above.

“I want to say that the prairie planting Pizzo did at Graceland Cemetery in 2014 looks stunning, almost overwhelming, considering it was seeded a little more than a year ago.  Everybody who is involved with the project is blown away by how quickly it looked so good.  This includes, I’m sure, if I could only hear them, tens of thousands of riders per day on the CTA Red and Purple Lines, who look down into the cemetery on their way to and from the loop.

You have done well by us, and we love working with Pizzo.”

–Ted Wolff, Landscape Architect