Weed Identification Guide

This is a guide to some common weeds in the average north London garden. I took the first set of photos August 2010 and have been adding to them on and off ever since. 

I don't know exactly why I like knowing the names of the weeds I find. It doesn't help control them but maybe it makes me feel more in control.

I've put the unknown plants at the bottom of the Plant Identification page - some may well turn out to be weeds/unwelcome plants but with two identification pages it makes sense to only have one unknown section. I've also moved the south coast plants/weeds to their own page.

The following 3 images are all Annual Mercury. Last year I had it all over my front garden, as did my neighbour but after I weeded my garden and her garden well it didn't bloom and set seed so have much less this summer. Annual, easy to pull out.

annual mercury

Aquilegia

I include it to help those that may find it growing from self-seeding. Sometimes they get invasive and are pulled up as weeds. I like them because they bloom early before other plants have started. Annual, can be difficult to pull out - quite strong roots. Various coloured flowers.

aquilegia

Here are some aquilegia in bloom.

aquilegia

To the right of the aquilegia is a stachys byzantina, or lambs ear which self-seeds like mad so you may find it springing up like a weed in your garden.

aquilegia

aquilegia seedling, they have these rosettes of leaves which unfurl as they grow - very attractive

aquilegia seedling

aquilegia with powdery mildew which they seem prone to

aquilegia with mildew

Aster

the plants with the long thin leaves amongst the chinese lanterns, not sure what variety of aster this is, one that self-seeds and looks rather weed-like, will add pics of their flowers when in bloom

aster

aster flowers, they've taken what seems a long time to bloom, it's mid-September

aster

This is Morning Glory. I include it to distinguish it from bindweed which follows. They are very similar. (to the right are the Honesty seed pods)

Bindweed (see also field bindweed), white flowers similar to morning glory. Easy to pull out at ground level but must be untangled from the plant(s) it has twisted around.

bindweed

It can be quite long as it tangles around something, even itself. The flowers were 5.5 to 6 cm long on this one.

bindweed

closer view of the leaves

Bird Seed Weeds

I am now convinced this was some bird seed which got into this pot. It had been at the bottom by some of the drainage holes and I repotted it. I guess that was a mistake.

I have had other bird seed seedlings/plants that look like grass/grain. Impossible to narrow it down and I don't I need to.

I think this is oilseed rape.

here is a close-up of one of the leaves above, the stem has that little leaf which looks like it should be on the larger leaf above it on the stem

looking quite like oilseed rape now

a close-up of one of the plants in the pot above

I will leave it to flower and take pics.

"Black Bindweed" can refer to tuberous Black Bryony or the annual Wild Buckwheat, each listed below. (thanks to Jacqui who explained they were 2 different plants)

Black Bryony/Black Bindweed (Dioscorea communis)

Thank you to Freda and Les who alerted me to this and provided the photos. They have read that the berries and tubers are both poisonous so beware.

black byrony

a close-up of the heart-shaped leaf

black byrony

a close-up of the flowers

black byrony

black byrony

Black Bindweed/Wild Buckwheat (Fallopia convolvulus)

I am sure that this came from bird seed (see above Bird Seed Weeds).

Nov 2015 I had a few self-seeding, as of April 2016 these appear to have died over winter but I will keep and eye on those pots and see if they return and hope to see flowers if they do.

May 2016 and the wild buckwheat is back.

wild buckwheat

I potted it up and it's already produced some buds a few weeks later.

wild buckwheat buds

a close-up of the buds a few days later

wild buckwheat buds

a couple days later and the flowers are in bloom

wild buckwheat flowers

Going back to last year (10-2015), I now know that these seedlings were wild buckwheat.

I pulled up one (slightly larger about 10 cm tall) from this area recently (7-2016).

wild buckwheat seedling

Bluebell

These may be nice in a wood but in my garden they are very annoying. They form large clumps that prevent other plants from growing. They are perennials that grow from bulbs and must be dug out. I try to do that whenever I find them. This photo was taken after this bluebell finished blooming. The stem of spent flowers is on the left.

bluebell

bluebell flowers end of March (following 2 photos)

bluebell flower

bluebell

 

bluebell leaves with ridges

 

 

when you have flowers the bluebells are easy to identify but if they haven't bloomed yet, as those below, the leaves have a ridge down the back unlike hyacinth leaves which are smooth making them easy to identify (thank you to Barbara for this info - some of us really don't want bluebells in the garden)

 

 

 

 

bluebell leaves with ridges

I wasn't sure if these were bluebells or pendulous sedge, or indeed something else. So I thought I would dig them up to be sure.

They are bluebells! with those white bulbs underground.

bluebells

Then I had a horrific thought. What if all these are bluebells as well. I sort've thought they might be hyacinths - but the hyacinths are already in bloom whereas these are all leaves. I decided to "go for it" and dig them up as well (this is my main flower bed in the sun, above is a shady less important part of the garden).

They are also bluebells, with the white bulbous roots.

bluebells

bluebells

Here's a bluebell with a flower coming into bloom

bluebell

This is one that got away! I've been weeding them out like mad but missed this one which has gotten to be 46 cm high.

bluebell

At the bottom of the stem is a new flower emerging.

bluebell

Bluebells do come in different colours, white on the far left, then pink, then shades of purple and blue.

bluebell colours

also see bluebells: native or foreign invaders?

Bramble

Perennial with tough spreading roots which must be dug out and even then difficult to get all of it as it spreads so far. There are over 400 types of bramble in the UK (according to one of my wildflower books) so it makes sense I have a couple of types. The second one has finally bloomed and produced berries (it can be so difficult to ignore weeds waiting for them to flower, I've been itching to take the secateurs to them).

this is one type, in my front garden, which I think of as the usual wide-spread type of bramble, blackberry-type berries

 

here's the flower of the 2nd type in my back garden, leaves on the left in the pic below

bramble flower

here are the berries that go with the flower above

bramble berry

the two types of bramble leaves I've noticed

bramble

What I think of as the "usual" bramble has lots of fierce thorns (top stem), the other variety is tame in comparison with quite mild thorns which I can touch quite easily

bramble stems

Buddleja. It may appear as a weed as it can self-seed and sprout up anywhere. Often seen on buildings, roofs, etc. and can cause damage, eg growing through a brick wall. Must be dug out or just cut above ground level if the roots have spread.

I'm adding another photo of a buddleja I noticed growing in the wall of a house around the corner from me. I guess the seed blew into one of the damp course holes in this wall (I assume that's what they are). This example shows how these buddleja take root anywhere.

buddleja

This buddleja suddenly appeared in the pot below..

buddleja

Buddleja flowers

buddleja flowers

buddleja seedling

This was taken at the beginning of March. I didn't know what it was at that time. By now (end of May) it's looking very buddleja-like (next pic).

buddleja

I think these are even smaller buddleja seedlings but I will be able to confirm in a few weeks.

buddleja seedlings

yes those above are buddleja

as soon as those curved middle leaves appear, you can confirm its buddleja

buddleja

Burdock, Lesser

This suddenly appeared, fully formed, in this clump next door (August 2014). They aren't keen gardeners but I thought I would have noticed! The flowers are very thistle-like but the leaves are completely different.

burdock

this entire clump is burdock, one can clearly see it is not nearly as tall as Greater Burdock

burdock

that clump above has long since been cleared and recently (June 2016) the lawn was mown, shortly after that this small plant appeared

This campanula has attractive blue flowers but I guess it might get invasive and be considered a weed. I just pulled a clump out that was smothering my lily of the valley. Here's a clump that's taken hold on my path. I will add another photo when it's in bloom.

campanula

campanula flower

campanula flower

Caper Spurge (a type of Euphorbia)

Cat's Ear

Centaurea Nigra (Lesser Knapweed)

I planted this as a wildflower but I guess in some circles it's considered a weed. 

centaurea nigra (lesser knapweed)

Centaurea Montana

This is really a plant identification but I wanted to put the two centaureas together so they're both here. This centaurea and the one above really do look quite similar.

centaurea montana

Thanks to Tina who sent me this photo of celandine in her garden as I don't have any in mine. This is one of those "weeds" that some people love but others pull out as a weed.

celandine

Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)

I'm giving the latin name for clarity as it seems to have various common names. It's funny how weeds go in cycles. I don't think I've ever had this weed before and suddenly I have a few (3 in the large pot and 1 in the small pot to the right; nb there's another plant in the middle of the large pot) and next door's garden is covered with it but I'm not sure how long that's been going on. Maybe I got the seeds blowing in from there. 

I've been waiting impatiently for it to flower and confirm its identity, the flowers have 4 petals

charlock

close-up of the flower end of April 2015

charlock flower

looking over the garden wall into next door, they have masses of charlock, taller than the wall, no wonder I have seeds from it blowing into my garden

charlock

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Annual, easy to pull out.

Chickweed seedlings

chickweed

I got a few pots from freecycle and wanted to see what would grow, in this case chickweed!

chickweed

I let it grow and flower so I could take some clear pics

chickweed

close-up of those flowers

chickweed flower

Chickweed, mouse-ear

in the front with buds at the top (flowering rosemary in the background)

I finally decided I had to pull it out even though the flowers hadn't opened as I really want that rosemary to thrive and not make it compete with a weed. I'm happy with the ID of mouse-ear chickweed for this.

mouse-ear chickweed

Cleavers, also known as goose grass. Annual, easy to pull out.

tiny white flowers of the goosegrass, below, buds just visible in the pic above

goosegrass flowers

goosegrass/cleavers seedling

goosegrass/cleavers

Clover

By that I mean Yellow Suckling Clover/Lesser Trefoil/Lesser Hop Trefoil (Trifolium dubium), or so I've just discovered by googling. I thought it was just Clover! It is all over most of the garden next door which I look after. I never noticed it specifically. I mean I knew there was some clover over there but not this much.

yellow suckling clover lesser trefoil

Yellow flowers seem to have taken over the garden next door. I have a lot of creeping buttercup (left, below) at the moment and wanted to compare the flower to that of the clover (right, below) although it's not the clearest pic of the clover. I'll take another but wanted to show what I have in the meantime. I've also dicovered Wall Lettuce and Hedge Mustard recently and of course, there's still the odd smooth sow thistle, nipplewort and coltsfoot, all with yellow flowers.

buttercup clover

I've been told this is Coltsfoot and possibly invasive. I've not seen it before. It suddenly appeared in the garden next door. I think I'll leave it until it flowers, presumably next spring, and see what happens and what the flowers look like. On the left is the coltsfoot, on the right a hollyhock and on the left and spreading through underneath is pellitory of the wall.

a couple weeks later, the strikingly coloured stems are more pronounced

It's quite similar to hollyhock, as noted above but worth showing ano photo (below, taken June 2014). Coltsfoot leaf is smooth and shiny, hollyhock is quite textured.

coltsfoot and hollyhock

The Coltsfoot is in bloom (March 2014).

coltsfoot

The next day the flowers are fully open.

coltsfoot

Suddenly the coltsfoot has gone mad - numerous stems and flowers, including dandelion-like  ones ready to blow seeds everywhere so I've put it straight into the garden waste bag, not even taking time for a pic before I did it in case any of those seeds got away.

coltsfoot

Common Knotgrass

common knotgrass

The specimen above looks so small unlike the large clump I noticed the other day.

common knotgrass

here is a close-up of that

common knotgrass

Common Orache (atriplex patula)

I saw this growing on the pavement outside my house. I won't pull it out until it flowers.

common orache

Corydalis Lutea, grown as a garden plant but I pull it up as a weed as it self-seeds around my garden, including on walls, and I don't really like it. Easy to pull out.

corydalis lutea

Couch Grass. Spreads but can be pulled out at the base.

This is the couch grass flower

couch grass flower

while pulling up this grass which had spread to one of my pots I noticed how red the bases of the clumps were, I never noticed that before, I'm wondering now if it is all couch grass or just a variation or detail I never noticed, will try to find out; although it's annoying I'm always happy it's relatively easy to pull out

couch grass

also couch grass or another grass? this looks quite different from the clumps above but maybe they would turn into that given time?

grass weed

close-up of one of the spreading roots above

spreading grass weed

Creeping Buttercup

If left, creeping buttercup soon spreads and gets more and more difficult to pull out. The first one below I tried to pull out with the roots but it just broke off. It was developed enough to have bloomed.

creeping buttercup flower

creeping buttercup

As below you can see these creeping buttercup have multiple stems and they make a very difficult plant to pull out but it's worth trying to get the whole clump.

creeping buttercup

Dandelion tough roots that must be dug out.

dandelion

dandelions usually have toothed leaves but not always at the beginning, sometimes they develop later

dandelion without toothed leaves

Deadnettle, see Lamium

Dockweed (or just Dock)

I'm seeing a lot of this this recently whereas before I didn't seem to see too much of it. I think it has to be dug out but I haven't removed many plants. The first pic is a large plant in a neighbour's garden which is probably responsible for the seeds blowing over to our gardens.

dockweed

This second pic shows a much smaller plant (2 large leaves at the front) and interestingly some other weeds, back, right creeping buttercup, centre right stinging nettle and couch grass at the front and in the middle.

dockweed

This third image of dockweed (from another neighbour's garden) is of a plant between the other two in size.  The tall plant to the right is a teasel.

dockweed

This fourth pic of dockweed shows a close-up of the flowers and how differently shaped are the upper leaves on the plant in contrast with the large lower leaves.

dockweed

small dock plant/seedling, these leaves (below) are between 3 and 6.5 cm, not very recognisable as a dockweed yet

small dock plant

another type of dock? (I think), still researching what kind

this is in the garden next door but I also just saw it on the pavement a few houses down the road

close-up of the flower on the above plant

The following 3 photos are Enchanters Nightshade. Perennial, easy to pull out, see below how all the roots have come out when it's pulled up but if you miss one little bit it can grow a new weed.

 

If you have to have a weed it's great to have one like this where the entire root comes out.

Here are the earliest seedlings of Enchanter's Nightshade.

1.

2.

enchanter's nightshade

3.

enchater's nightshade

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

I found this first one today (8-9-2013) and I don't think I've ever seen a specimen of fat hen with so many flowers and so tall. I didn't measure it but it must be close to 20 cm tall.

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

yesterday (25-9-2014) I did find an even larger fat hen

fat hen

fat hen seedlings

earliest seedlings, first week

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

fat hen after a few weeks

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

and even later

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

I had so many of these seedlings in a seed tray I thought they were maybe something I'd planted but as they grew they became recognisable. Annual, easy to pull out.

Feverfew, a herb but it can sprout up like a weed. Easy to pull out.

Feverfew flower

feverfew flower

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

I hope this photograph shows it clearly enough for identification, the leaves at the bottom are amongst a teasel.

field scabiout

Forget-Me-Not, blooms very early in the spring, I guess this is next year's crop. I let them grow until they get invasive and compete with other plants then I pull them out. Easy to pull out.

Here are some forget-me-nots later in the season after they have bloomed. A weed or welcome flower, your choice.

forget-me-nots

Foxglove

I grow these from seed but there are always some that sprout up unexpectedly from self-seeding as this one did. They are a wonderful flower but not if they sprout up in the wrong place.

foxglove flower

This foxglove self-seeded in my neighbours' brick wall. I love foxgloves but this one is in the wrong, potentially damaging, position.

foxglove

Gallant Soldier (Galinsoga parviflora Cav.)

gallant soldier weed

a close-up of the above plant

Geranium: Shiny Geranium or Dovefoot Geranium

At first I thought this was creeping buttercup but then saw it identified as a type of hardy geranium, two were mentioned, shiny or dovefoot. I'm not sure which this is so I'm going to see what happens, how the flower turns out, etc.

creeping buttercup

plant a month later

geranium weed

Goosegrass see Cleavers

I love Green Alkanet with its beautiful blue flowers in bloom very early in the spring, although some may consider it a weed. It looks similar to foxglove. An easy way to tell the difference is to feel the leaves. The alkanet has stinging rough hairs whereas the foxglove is very smooth and soft.

green alkanet seedlings: on the right in the black plastic pot on the left and on the left in the terracotta pot at the bottom of the pic, compare with the textured leaves of the foxgloves: to the right in bottom terracotta pot and in the  very small pot bottom right

also in the pots below top right: dandelion along with viola and verbena bonariensis, bottom left pot: forget-me-not in the middle with that distinctive strong line down the middle of the leaf making it identifiable

green alkanet seedlings

close-up of the green alkanet seedlings from above, they have that distinctive folded 3rd leaf (and a tiny, tiny oxalis with the long thin root, in the small plastic pot bottom right above)

green alkanet seedlings

green alkanet without its distinctive blue flowers

green alkanet

Grass, see Couch Grass

Ground Elder. Perennial, must be dug out, including every piece of root which will grow if left. I did have it over half the garden but I don't seem to have any now after digging it out and repeating whenever I see any which is what Bob Flowerdew recommends. Eventually it weakens the plant. It took a few years but it worked.

ground elder "seedling"

I thought I had completely eradicated ground elder but found a couple little sprouts.

ground elder

ground elder

This last pic here shows the ground elder with the roots after I dug it up. I got most of it but some definitely broke off. I'm sure it will come back but I must keep digging it up whenever I see it.

ground elder

Groundsel

Annual easy to pull out.

Hogweed and Hairy Bittercress, below, also see next 2 entries.

hogweed

The following is hairy bittercress. At first it's quite low-growing, a small clump on the ground (see hogweed pic above) but then the flower stems shoot up as below. Annual, easy to pull out.

hairy bittercress

The seedling is quite flat on the ground and then suddenly a stem shoots up from the centre.
hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress
hairy bittercress seedlings, before the central stem has shot up
hairy bittercress
and here is the tiniest, tiniest beginning of the hairy bittercress (about 1.2 cm wide)
hairy bittercress

with the cat just to put it into perspective (it's the seedling on the bottom right)

hairy bittercress
This is one of the oldest hairy bittercress I've seen. I've just discovered it in a pot end of March 2015. It seems to have survived the winter, which was mild and turned into an established plant - that won't last long!

hairy bittercress

Hedge Mustard

I'm surprised I've never seen this in the garden before today (June 13th). I'm seeing this everywhere now.
hedge mustard

It's appeared both in the garden and out.
hedge mustard
close-up of the hedge mustard flower
hedge mustard
The following 3 photos show Herb Robert. Some people grow it as a garden plant. Personally I can't bear it and pull it out wherever I find it. Annual, easy to pull out.
herb robert
 
herb robert
And here is herb robert in bloom. Some people like it as a flower. I pull it up as a weed wherever I find it.
herb robert in flower
Herb Robert seedling, the seed leaves precede the very distinctive leaves
herb robert seedling
The following are hogweed. I collected the seed as a wildflower but not sure it's good for a small garden so disposed of it (very small hairy bittercress in the ground to the left of the pots).
hogweed
This Honesty (Lunaria, larger heart-shaped leaves) is another plant that self-seeds. I let it grow because I like it but some may pull it out. It blooms early with the aquilegia and alkanet before other plants. The dried seedheads can be seen to the right of the morning glory above. Easy to pull out.
honesty lunaria
I saw this lunaria today (18-1-2014) and thought it would be worth capturing the texture of the leaves and now that I've put the photo here I see how different the texture looks from the one above. Bottom centre here is green alkanet. The one on the right underneath is teasel. Of course at the top is ivy.
honesty lunaria

I don't know what makes leaves red like this, will try to find out more.
red-leaved honesty lunaria

honesty (lunaria) flower
honesty lunaria flower

honesty seed pods, initially green they will turn brown and papery, these "coins" give the plant its other name, the money plant
honesty lunaria seed pods
very small honesty (lunaria) seedlings
honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

a small honesty plant with those distinctive center leaves

honesty lunaria small plant
another, more developed, honesty plant
honesty lunaria small plant

Horsetail (Equisetum arvenses)

Thanks to Phil for this pic of horsetail. He has found it to be impossible to eradicate. Apparently no flowers are produced but I don't know much about this weed as, thankfully, I do not have it in my garden.
horsetail
Horseweed (Conyza canadensis)

tall annual weed with small white flowers
horseweed

Horseweed seedlings, looking very different from the adult plant
horseweed seedling

horseweed seedling

horseweed seedlings

horseweed
not all horseweed start with the rosette of leaves, I think it depends when they start growing

this one has been growing the last few weeks in this pot and never had that rosette of notched leaves, about 40 cm tall
horseweed
there are some buds at the top
horseweed

horseweed

Iris foetidissima

This is another self-seeder and it can make rather large clumps. It's useful in shady areas where it's difficult to get things to grow but it can also get invasive and weed-like. Difficult to pull out.
iris foetidissima

Iris foetidissima flower
iris foetidissima flower

Iris foetidissima seed pods
iris foetidissima seed pods
iris foetidissima seed pods splitting open to reveal those bright orange seeds

iris foetidissima seed pods

Ivy (as a weed)

Ivy can root anywhere. If you try to cut ivy down but don't remove all the branches, they will root into a wall, brickwork, anywhere. Don't think if you cut connection to the roots, you have killed it, you haven't! I found this ivy had rooted into a bag of crushed shells I had for mulching.
ivy

Ivy-Leaved Speedwell

tiny flowers, matt and hairy whereas the ivy-leaved toadflax below is smooth and shiny
ivy-leaved speedwell
Ivy-Leaved Toadflax

This was taken beginning of April, when the flowers appeared. Smooth and shiny in contrast to the ivy-leaved speedwell above which is hairy.
ivy-leaved toadflax
the reddish buds before the flowers appear, below
toadflax

Knotgrass, see Common Knotgrass

Lamium (deadnettle)
lamium

Thank you to Gary who alerted me to lamium. I then coincidentally saw this in my back garden. There do seem to be lots of varieties of lamium so I must look out for the flowers when they appear to confirm which type I have here which looks like a different one from that above.
lamium

the self-seeder to the right of the viola seedlings is a deadnettle
deadnettle

2 weeks later and it has flowered
deadnettle

deadnettle

Lesser Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

I bought this as a "wildflower" at the garden centre (they were on sale so couldn't resist) but some may have this self-seeding in their garden.
lesser knapweed

Liverwort (Marchantiophyta)

This is a moss-like weed that has appeared in some seed trays.
liverwort

Mallow

I read somewhere recently about this being a weed but I sowed it myself as a wildflower from seed.  I took this pic on June 11th and it's not in bloom yet. (a comparison with wood avens is below in the wood avens entry)
mallow
beginning of July and I see my first mallow flower

 mallow flower
Here is a more established plant (with lots of flowers).
mallow

This is a maple seedling. For some reason I have masses of them this spring (2012). I wasn't sure what they were, as I never noticed them before, until I found this one with the seedpod (whirligig) still attached.
maple seedling

here's another whirligig with the seedling just emerging
maple seedling

Here's a larger one.
maple seedling

This is it after I've pulled it out of the ground which gets more difficult as they get larger. I just about managed this one as the ground was wet.
maple seedling

Milk Thistle (see Plant Identification page)

Mugwort

Thank you to reader Digeroo who has identified this as mugwort There were two of these so I left one and pulled out one. I'd like to take another pic of it when it blooms.
mugwort
another one sprang up on the other side of the garden next door, the bright blue flowers are green alkanet
mugwort

mugwort flower, I don't know if this is fully in bloom or if each of the small "buds" are going to open, I sure want to catch any seeds before they're let loose so I will keep an eye on these
mugwort flower

Nightshade, Woody also known as Bittersweet

Thank you to Suzanne who originally identified Woody Nightshade. I've taken a better pic of one I saw round the corner.

woody nightshade

its distinctive purple and yellow flowers (that green plant wrapping around it is something else, think maybe honeysuckle)

woody nightshade flowers

I previously wrote this "This nightshade has white flowers rather than purple. I saw it growing along Regents Canal nearby. Note the green (and black) berries on this plant."  It has completely different leaves so I don't know why I thought it was woody nightshade. I'm not sure now, maybe it's another nightshade, will research it.

nightshade

Nipplewort, early July I see lots in flower (see example below), annual, easy to pull up
nipplewort
Here's a nipplewort seedling mid-April. In my efforts to show the earliest seedlings I wanted to show this. If we can identify these very early seedlings we can weed them out before they get established, but most importantly before they set seed.
nipplewort seedling
nipplewort seedling as a rosette of leaves, I think, like horseweed, nipplewort starts with a rosette of leaves depending on when it starts growing

nipplewort seedling

fully grown nipplewort

nipplewort
close-up of the nipplewort flower

nipplewort flower

nipplewort
 

At first I thought this might be Wall Lettuce, esp as I couldn't see the bottom of the plant (the flowers are very similar). I had to pull it up, to both identify it and take a photo showing it all. It became clear it's Nipplewort, with those distinctive notched leaves at the bottom. I don't usually let Nipplewort grow and see it this tall but this one got away.

 

 

 

 

Orache, see Common Orache

Oxalis

Spreads so can be difficult to get all the parts but if traced can be easily pulled out.
oxalis
I usually pull the oxalis up whenever I see it but one plant bloomed before I noticed it and then I realised I didn't have a pic here of the flower so I've taken one. I just noticed the yellow buds on the plant above.
oxalis flower

This Oxalis (below) which I pulled up the other day (Sept 2014) shows 1. how long the roots are which did made it difficult to pull up 2. how runners extend the plant 3. a tiny bud in the middle at the top.
oxalis

this shows how oxalis puts out runners which helps it spread so much, it loves the cultivated soil in my pots but that also makes it easy to pull out
oxalis

thank you to Tom for alerting me to oxalis growing from little bulbs left in the soil under the surface

oxalis bulb

oxalis bulb
Oxalis debilis, pink woodsorrel

I thought this was just a pink oxalis weed but I see it may not be considered a weed and is generally called woodsorrel.

wood sorrel
Ox-eye Daisy
another plant I sowed from seed as a wildflower but it can get invasive
ox-eye daisy

ox-eye daisy
This is my first year of these self-seeding. They do look quite prolific.
ox-eye daisy seedling

Pale Smartweed, Pale Persicaria

This was growing in a crack on the front path next door. By pulling really hard I managed to get it up and even including the root, as shown below.
pale persicaria

I can't remember how easy or difficult this one was to pull up. Much more developed than the one above.
pale persicaria
Pellitory-of-the Wall Large clumps which must be pulled out at ground level which can be difficult.
pellitory-of-the-wall
Pendulous Sedge

Small plants, surprisingly easy to pull out - until they turn into larger clumps that must be dug up. Most of the time they are just upright leaves but in the summer (?) they have catkins (not sure what else you call these). NB they look exactly like some of the nutsedge images I've seen. Unless they have the catkins or the flowers I don't know how you tell them apart.
pendulous sedge


pendulous sedge

when the sedge is small like the example on the left below it's easy to pull out but when it gets as large as the clump on the right below it needs to be dug out which I did on this clump
pendulous sedge
Petty Spurge
Annual, easy to pull out.
petty spurge

pheasant berry (Leycesteria formosa) has been suggested, I'll have to go with that as the first pic was taken a year ago (July 2014) and the second I took recently (July 2015) and it still has no flowers or the resulting berries and I'm tired of it taking up room on my patio so disposing of it
pheasant berry

pheasant berry


Pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri)

mid-August

on the pavement near my house I noticed these weeds, at the end of each branch there is a spray of buds, small pellitory of the wall to the right
pigweed
some smaller plants without the "flower"s on the end of a branch
pigweed
to the left looks like horseweed, to the right chickweed
pigweed
an update on the pigweed end of August
pigweed

pigweed
a close-up of the "flowers" middle of September
pigweed

pigweed

pigweed
commonly called Plantain but the official name is Plantago, cannot be pulled out, must be dug up
plantain
Just saw this specimen today (8-9-2013) which has such well-developed flower spikes, unlike the usual scraggly specimens such as the one above.
plantain
Below was one of my unknown weeds/plants but as it's grown I see it's a plantain (Plantago), same as the above.
plantain
these are much easier to pull up if identified early, those vertically-veined leaves are distinctive, as are those flowers, shoots just visible on the right of the left plant and on the left of the right plant
plantain

Poppy

3 different types I know of

field poppy (papaver rhoeas) this is the most common one I have self-seeding in my garden

papaver rhoeas

close-up of the leaves

papaver rhoeas leaves

opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

I don't see these that often
poppy

and here is a poppy in flower

poppy

there is also the oriental poppy (papaver orientale) but I have not seen that self-seeding

Prickly Sow Thistle
not to be confused with smooth sow thistle (see below), the leaves may be the same shape (ie lobed) only prickly or more oval-shaped like this one
prickly sow thistle
In the pic below I wanted to show how the leaves curl around the stem.
prickly sow thistle

this one self-seeded between the cracks
prickly sow thistle
and this prickly sow thistle self-seeded on the left in the pot below right (next to a teasel), also pot on the left has foxglove at the bottom and teasel at the top

and that prickly sow thistle seedling from above, leaf is about 5 cm long
prickly sow thistle seedling
I first noticed this prickly sow thistle in the pot with the hosta Sept 2014.

prickly sow thistle

The following spring (April 2015) it seems to have replaced the old leaves with this beautiful rosette of leaves. I still wanted to see it develop and bloom but also wanted the hosta so I pulled up and prickly sow thistle and put it in its own pot. It had a very large taproot, visible below.
prickly sow thistle

Beginning of June 2015 and one of the flowers has developed into a seedhead, like a dandelion, time to dispose of this before any of those seeds with "fluffy bits" (pappus) float away! 
prickly sow thistle

a tiny tiny prickly sow thistle, to the right, below, with the yellow flower, mid-July
prickly sow thistle
only about 10 cm tall, after I pulled it out
prickly sow thistle

this fresh green shoot is not the usual prickly sow thistle - although distinctive (prickly along the leaves) and identifiable if you examine it

prickly sow thistle

Ragwort (Senecio Jacobaea)
ragwort

Red Valerian see the Identification - South Coast page

Ribwort Plantain

(there's another weed there growing under it towards the bottom, slightly to the right, think it's a horseweed)
ribwort plantain

scrophularia grandiflora

(with thanks to the RHS forum for ID help), I don't know if this is considered a weed, think I saw it described as a such on a web site but can't find that now, I don't like it and it self-seeded so to me it's a weed!
scrophularia grandiflora
and from above
scrophularia grandiflora
a few weeks later, yellow flowers on the verge of opening up
scrophularia grandiflora
flowers just opening up
scrophularia grandiflora

scrophularia grandiflora

Sheep's Sorrel
I think I've finally found a match for this. It's difficult to say for sure as it's hard to find a really clear pic but this is a very close match from what I can see.
sheep's sorrel

sheep's sorrel


Smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)

Annual, easy to pull out - roots much smaller than, for example, a dandelion which has thick and deep roots. I'm afraid there are loads of pics of this but it is such a widespread weed and so common, it's worth looking at variations. As other weeds, such as prickly sow thistle and horseweed, may or may not have a well-developed rosette before the main stem shoots up, depending on when they start growing. Smooth sow thistle can have varying amounts of red from none at all to completely red.

1. starting with seedlings

the larger plant on the left has 4 leaves, the smaller plant on the right has 3 leaves and is the youngest sow thistle seedling I have

smooth sow thistle seedling

a bit larger, same 4 basic leaves so far

smooth sow thistle seedling

smooth sow thistle

2. some plants have a more well developed rosette than others

smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle


smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

3. full-size flowering plants have extremely variable heights, adapting to their conditions

smooth sow thistle

as a very successful weed smooth sow thistle copes (and flowers) in whatever environment it finds

smooth sow thistle

Stinging Nettles

Do beware of these. I have a very painful reaction to this which lasts 12 hours. I don't recall reacting so badly in the past but I've become more sensitive to it so now I wear gloves to weed it and am more careful to avoid touching it. Perennial with tough roots which must be dug out.
stinging nettle
another stinging nettle
stinging nettle
stinging nettle with flowers
stinging nettle flowers


Wild/Alpine/Woodland Strawberry
this spreads like mad, I find the fruits small and often not that nice
strawberry

Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

a wild flower or a "weed", this one has self-seeded on my brick wall, I like this flower but not in this place
hesperis matronalis

another plant a bit closer that might be easier to see

sweet rocket hesperis matronalis

This is a Teasel which can be a weed but I grew these as wildflowers for bees and birds. It's a biennial so I planted these last summer. First pic is flowers in bloom, next is after the seed heads have dried out and the third is a teasel plant the first year. Tough plant that must be dug out if not wanted.
teasel flower

dried seedheads

dried teasel seedheads
Teasel, first year
teasel first year
Teasel seedling

as soon as that distinctive texture on the leaves is visible its identifiable as a teasel seedling, below on leaves of 4 and 5 cms, at this point its easy to pull them up if you don't want the teasels in that place, I let a few grow but not to the point where they take over, which they easily do
teasel seedlings

below the seedling from the bottom of the pic above
teasel seedling

on the right when the seedlings have grown and have more leaves, on the left the texture of the leaves is just starting to show
teasel seedling

Thistles

strong and tough and difficult to remove, I like them as a wildflower but worry about them becoming invasive

spear thistle

spear thistle


spear thistle

creeping thistle, in bloom end of June
creeping thistle flowers

flowers on a spear thistle in July, I love those flowers but this garden (a neighbour's) is close to being a solid block of thistles, although I do see a huge dock with brownish wilted flowers on the left, it's easy to see how weeds get out of control
spear thistle flowers

close-up of a spear thistle before it blooms (end of June)
spear thistle flower buds

thistle seedlings, not sure which variety but if I let some seedlings grow to see variety I need to keep them potted up so they don't get out of control
thistle seedling
thistle leaves
a comparison of thistle leaves, on the left creeping thistle, on the right spear thistle
thistle leaves comparison

I saw this rosette of a thistle yesterday (10-1-2016), think it's a spear thistle but will go back (it's along the Regents Canal) and see how it develops
thistle rosette


Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

this is the sort of thing you see springing up anywhere and everywhere, like buddleja
tree of heaven

I cut off the branch above and it's grown back, surrounded by jasmine (taken from my neighbour's garden)

tree of heaven

tree of heaven leaves
tree of heaven leaves

Valerian (Centhranthus)

Valerian comes in red, pink and white varieties. I saw this white one recently (June 2016) at a local park in a fenced off wildflower area. I saw red valerian on Hayling Island on the south coast so it's on the Identification - South Coast page and reader Diane recently sent me a pic of her pink valerian so I'm finally pulling all this info together.

white valerian

close-up of one of the flowers

white valerian flower

Verbascum thapsus (great mullein)

this is a biennial, here is the young plant, year one
verbascum thapsus
Verbascum flower, year two

This is one of those "weeds" that has self-seeded in the garden.
verbascum thapsis flower

at first these look similar to foxglove but then their furriness and those distinctive leaves in the center make it clear these are verbascum thapsus
verbascum thapsis seedlings

I'm a big advocate of identifying seedlings as early as possible. These are a good example. At first they could be foxgloves or hollyhocks or something else but as soon as those furry inner leaves come out (bottom right, far left), then it's definitely verbascum thapsis and if you have enough of those (or in my case too many!), you can thin them out.
verbascum thapsis seedlings

Violet (Viola odorata)

These spring up lots of places, usually without the flowers which at least provide some interest. I'll try to note how long they last. April 2014 front garden. Most of the year this looks like a weed but it does flower with "violet" flowers. The thing these self-seeders that turn into weeds seem to have in common is their ability to root anywhere.
violet

Another plant after the flowers have finished, May 2013 back garden.
violet

Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare)

I guess this is considered a weed in some circles, personally I love it and planted seeds a few years ago. I don't know if this self-seeded from a seed blowing in or grew from a dormant seed in the soil. (plaintain to the right in the pic below, the soil is rock-hard so that will be difficult to dig up)
viper's bugloss
close-up of the flowers

viper's bugloss flowers

Wall Lettuce wall lettuce

This is so much like smooth sow thistle but the flower is definitely  different although the lower leaves are quite similar. It's quite tall. This one was 85 cm tall - thus the difficutly of taking and posting the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This photo below was taken when the wall lettuce was in situ in the flower bed. I had to pull it out to show the entire plant.
wall lettuce
I had previously taken this photo of the small plant in this spot. I thought it might have been nightshde but know I can see it was wall lettuce.
wall lettuce

Wall Weeds

I've noticed recently how some weeds are so adept at seeding in a wall, which helps them be so annoying. Below are pellitory-of-the wall (back) and corydalis lutea (front), both of which I picture elsewhere. Also sprouting in walls recently are buddleja, foxglove and sweet rocket, also pictured elsewhere.
wall weeds

Wild Cabbage

Thanks to Caroline who helped me identify this as Wild Cabbage. This was seen along Regents Canal.
wild cabbage

wild cabbage


Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) see Identification - South Coast

Willow

most of these seedlings are willows that have self-seeded, they have a distinctive red tint (that tall one on the left is snapdragon)
willow seedling
a month later, end of July
willow seedlings
another seedling 7-2015
willow seedling
in a pot across the road
willow seedling


Willowherb generally 2 types in our gardens:

broad-leaved willowherb shiny bright-green leaves of classic shape, spreads via roots which emerge as rosettes on the surface of the soil, difficult to pull up if part of a spreading root system

short-fruited willowherb thinner leaves, easy to pull up

In the countryside, there is also Rosebay Willowherb. I've never knowingly seen it flowering in a London garden but I have seen them in flower outside urban areas. Having said that, I think it's growing next door but so far not large enough to flower.

Short-fruited willowherb, the fluffy bits at the top, just starting to show below, contain the seeds.
short-fruited willowherb

although the willowherb flowers are usually pink, I found this one that's purple the other day
willowherb purple flower

short-fruited willowherb seedlings
short-fruited willowherb seedlings


Broad-leaved willowherb, by the time I noticed this it's grown multiple stems
broad-leaved willowherb

broadleaved willowherb

rosettes of broad-leaved willowherb growing from the spreading roots

I noticed some broad-leaved willowherb plants in the back garden and when I pulled them up saw two different sprouts on the roots, red leaved (top below) and green (below in the pic below) and then close-ups of each in the following pics.

willowherb sprouts

willowherb sprouts

willowherb sprouts
I think this is broad-leaved but I'm not even sure. At this stage it looks as if it could be either.

broad-leaved willowherb


Rosebay Willowherb

seedling, left below
rosebay willowherb seedling
That (on the left above, taken beginning of March) has turned into this, middle of June.
rosebay willowherb seedlings
3 months later the above has grown a little taller but otherwise little change.
rosebay willowherb small plants
following year, to the right, other plants are nigella
rosebay willowherb
a few weeks later
rosebay willowherb small plant
and here's another pic, I wanted to make sure that red stem showed up clearly (the nigella has a red stem as well)
rosebay willowherb
Rosebay Willowherb has a very distinctive veining on the leaves, they don't extend to the edge of the leaf:
rosebay willowherb leaf

underside of the above
rosebay willowherb leaf underside

compare with a short-fruited or broadleaved willowherb leaf:

willowherb leaves
medium-sized plant, second year, discarded after I established what it was
rosebay willowherb

I saw these, full-sized rosebay willowherb plants at the side of the road in West Sussex
rosebay willowherb flowers

rosebay willowherb


This is Wood Avens also called Herb Bennett (Geum Urbanum). I wasn't sure if it was a weed or a plant but apparently it has an RHS AGM (for those that like it, personally I hate it). I think it has a yellow flower. I haven't let one bloom for a while. I'll leave one and take a pic of the flower. Easy to pull out at the base. Taken in April, before it flowered:
wood avens

I noticed today (mid-June) that the wood avens were in bloom The following 3 photos show the wood avens flowers.
wood avens flower


wood avens

wood avens

One thing I've recently realised about wood avens is that the young, first leaves at the bottom of the plant are differently shaped from the older leaves at the top. I guess I thought all the leaves on a plant were one shape. Realising this helps in identifying weeds. I didn't realise that the plant below and the plant above are both wood avens but obviously the leaves are completely different.
wood avens
A young wood avens some weeks later.
wood avens

Some weeks later, differently shaped leaves at the top of the plant.
wood avens

After the Wood Avens have flowered there are prickly burrs with the seeds.
wood avens burrs
I wasn't sure if the plant on the right was wood avens or mallow, then saw I have them both near each other so thought a comparison might be useful, mallow on the left, wood avens on the right
comparison of mallow and wood avens


Please see the end of the Plant Identification page for my unknown plants/weeds.