A weed is a type of plant that can grow in any environment or habitat. It is an invasive plant that requires some action to stop and minimize its growth and multiplication. A weed can be a native or a non-native plant. It can be easily described as a plant in the wrong place. It can grow in human-controlled settings such as gardens, farm fields, lawns, and parks.A weed usually grows by producing a large number of seeds which help in their spread and multiplication and growth at an exponential rate. Weed seeds spread in the environment through air, waterways, human activities, machinery, birds, and animals.
Why is weed a problem?
Weeds can seriously limit the growth of the desired plant by taking up much of the nutrients available for the desired plant to grow. The original and desired plant will have a stunted growth and this will result in a serious decrease in production and a loss to the farmer.
Types of weeds
Till date biologists have discovered many types of weeds. All of these types are harmful in their own ways depending upon the environment. Based on the growing characteristics of weeds there are three types of weeds:
- Annual Type: This weed germinates and spread through seed and has a lifespan of one year. They can be of winter type or summer type. Examples include Chickweed and Lambsquarters.
- Biennial type: This type of weed completes its life cycle in two years. Examples of these types include bull thistle and garlic mustard.
- Perennial Types: Such weeds return every year and produce long tap roots in addition to seeds. Dandelions, plantain, and purple loosestrife are the most difficult to control.
Some other examples of weeds based on their characteristics and how they impact the plant are given below:
- Bull Thistle: This emerges usually at the roadsides and if it grows in your garden or farm then it can harm the plants.
- Bittersweet Nightshade: It looks like mini tomatoes and can grow very fast in moist soils and shady spots.
- Wild Carrot: It is also known as the Queen Anne`s lace. This takes up to two years to grow. If these seeds invade the garden or farm it can harm the entire area.
- Purslane: Purslane can grow in less water. If this grows in your garden or farm you need to dig up and pull out the roots completely, because if a trace of this weed is left in your area, it can regrow.
- Foxtail Grass: It can grow up to six inches long. It is an annual plant and can grow from the seeds dropped at the end of the previous growing season.
- Velvetleaf: This weed can grow up to five feet if left unattended. The leaves have a velvety touch as indicated by the name of the weed.
- Ladysthumb: This weed is also known as smartweed. This plant has a fast growth and it can form colonies covering large areas. It can also re-sprout from root pieces left in the soil.
- Lambs Quarters: This is one of the most common weed and it is seen in most yards at some point in The shape of the leaves is triangular to oval and has a white coating over them.
- Yellow Woodsorrel: This type of weed grows in gravel areas, mulched beds and vegetable gardens. The seed pods burst to throw the seeds in very large areas which favor the growth if the weed.
- Crabgrass: Crabgrass is the most common weeds that sprout in the lawn area. It can hamper the growth of grass by reducing the nutrients it takes
- Orange Hawkweed: It forms hairy stems with orange or yellow flowers. One plant can grow up to dangerous height in none year and compete for nutrients, sunlight, and space.
- Ragweed: Common ragweed is the main cause of hay fever during the summer season. It produces pollen which causes the fever.
- Spotted Knapweed: A perennial weed which reproduces by seed spread through water, wind and animals and its outlook is grayish with purple flowers.
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Impact of Weed
Weeds are one of the major threats to our environment. Uncontrolled growth of weeds leads to the destruction of native habitat, threatening native plants and choking the natural systems of rivers and forests. They are a danger to our ecosystem.
- Economy: Weeds reduce the production of agriculture and fruit and vegetable farming, thus hitting the economy very badly. It is impossible to calculate the exact amount because it is very difficult that how much output has been reduced by the impact of weeds.
- Environment: Weeds are a direct threat to the environment of the area where they grow. Weed invasions can alter the natural biodiversity and have impacts on the ecosystem.
- Agricultural: When weeds grow on agricultural land, they compete for sunlight, nutrients, water and space, thus reducing them for the actual plant. This resulting in the poor growth of crops and those crops which manage to grow result in poor yield. Some weeds release harmful chemicals which can limit the crop development. Some weeds are so dangerous that thy can impact the seeds of the fruit and vegetables. For example, wild mustard seed cannot readily be removed from canola and can flavor the resulting canola oil if crushed with the crop seed. Stinkweed in feed for dairy cattle produces off-flavors in milk.
- Humans: Weeds also have impacts on human health. Many common weeds such as Parthenium Weed, Ragweed, Rye Grass and Privet cause asthma and other respiratory problems, especially in children. Some weeds can also cause skin irritation and some are poisonous. Some water weeds such as Water Hyacinth and Cabomba can affect the quality of our drinking water if infestations are not managed within water supply dams.