Winter Scouting for Burweed (Soliva pterosperma)

Winter is the time to scout for lawn burweed (Soliva pterosperma), a broadleaf weed producing seed clusters in mid to late spring that delivers a rather irritating jab to bare feet.  The tiny spines on the seeds are actually quite fragile and tend to break off in your skin during the removal process, leaving an itchy reminder of their presence.  My children who love to run barefoot in the backyard can testify to the annual “de-spurring” event each spring.

December through February is the best time to manage this cool season annual because plants are juvenile and haven’t developed the seed burs. In addition, warm season turf species are dormant and have a better tolerance to certain herbicides. While control is possible in spring, spurs have already formed and will persist after treatment.  If the spurs are not a concern, the weeds will take care of themselves by May as the hot weather sets in and concludes the annual life cycle of this bandit.  A dense canopy of dormant or actively growing turf can deter weed establishment.

For broadleaf herbicide recommendations, reference the UGA Pest Management Handbook for your specific turf. Perform scouting several weeks after the application to determine if follow-up applications are necessary.

Other resources on this topic:

Willie Chance. (2015, May 5). Lawn burweed: What is this weed with sharp spurs in lawns? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Greg Huber
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