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NC State Extension

Weed ID

The first step in any pest management program is to identify the pest. Weed management decisions are predicated on an understanding of the weed, its life cycle and mode(s) of reproduction and spread. Below are several weed identification guides recommended for North Carolina.

Weed Identification Guides recommended for NC

Weeds of Southern Turfgrass — contains descriptions and photos of most common weeds of turfgrass and landscape plantings in the region. As the title implies, many weeds of other cropping systems will are in this manual. This manual is available from several sources including University of Georgia, Clemson University, University of Florida and Auburn University.

Weeds of the South — a full color book published by the Southern Weed Science Society.

Weeds of the Northeast – a full color guide to weed identification with emphasis on weeds common to the Northeastern US, upper mid-western states and southeastern Canada, but contains many weeds common to western NC. This manual contains images and descriptions of multiple growth stages, contrasting information about similar and related species, and a key to weed identification.

Weeds of Container Nurseries in the United States by Drs. Joe Neal and Jeff Derr,  is published by the NC Nursery and Landscape Association and includes information about the identification, biology and control of each species. The publication is currently out of print but a pdf version is available. Additionally,  an on-line multi-character key for the identification of common weeds of container nurseries is available at NCSU.

On-Line Weed Identification

Several on-line resources contain compilations of weed photos. Those sites can be quite useful if you already know the name of the weed (or suspect you know the name).

The Virginia Tech Weed Identification on-line key is one resource that can help you identify an unknown weed. This is a multi-character key that allows you to select traits or characteristics of your specimen then narrows the list of possible species. Every such key has its own particular “quirks” so its best to practice with a few weeds you know before trying to identify an unknown species.