Ragweed (Ilex paraguariensis) is one of the most common weeds in many parts of the world. It grows up to 1 meter high and wide with a thick stem. It spreads rapidly over grassland areas where it forms dense mats that block sunlight from reaching other plants and animals. It takes several years before ragweed matures into large patches which are then trampled underfoot by cattle or sheep grazing nearby.
The seeds of ragweed germinate readily when exposed to light. They produce small white flowers that are followed by long stems and leaves. The plant produces its seed pods at maturity, but they do not remain viable for very long because the seeds quickly dry out and fall off during windy weather conditions. Once the pod falls off, there is no way to control it again; therefore, it must be removed immediately if you want to prevent further spread of the weed.
Control of ragweed plants requires the use of chemicals. There are two main types: herbicides and insecticides. Herbicides are applied directly onto the plant and insects such as moths, beetles, flies, ants and spiders feed upon them. Insecticidal sprays contain chemicals that kill insects on contact with them.
what is ragweed
The first time I was aware of the presence of ragweed in my yard was last year when I started sneezing my head off every time I mowed the lawn. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that this might be the reason for my sudden allergy to the outdoors, but after an examination of the plants growing around me it all became a little more obvious…
What is ragweed?
Ragweed is a common plant that grows wild in most parts of the United States. The flowering plant is known to produce allergens that can lead to hay fever, eye irritation, and asthma during late summer and early fall when the ragweed plants are in bloom. Studies show that more than 30 species of plants are part of the ragweed family.
How does it spread?
The weed is known to spread rapidly and populate new areas due to its prolific seed production. The plant often produces hundreds of seeds that can remain viable in the soil for many years. The weed is a common contaminant in many crops such as corn and soybeans and hay, which makes it easy for the ragweed to contaminate farm fields and even end up in food products.
What are the symptoms?
Most people are allergic to the plant’s pollen, which is mainly spread by the wind. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to ragweed include:
How is it treated?
There is no cure for allergies to plants. All you can do is avoid the allergen. In some cases, taking medications such as antihistamines and decongestants can help with the symptoms. Getting immunotherapy, which is allergy shots, can also help reduce your symptoms.
How can I prevent the spread of ragweed?
Ragweeds are hardy plants that are difficult to control. The best way to manage the weed is to prevent it from spreading in the first place. You can do this by avoiding the purchase of hay and grains that may have ragweed contamination and by keeping your property free of ragweeds. If you do find ragweed growing on your property, it is important to get rid of them right away.
The ragweed plant is easily recognized by its umbrella-shaped flower heads. The weed goes through several changes in growth and appearance throughout the season. By being familiar with the following key characteristics of the plant during each growth stage, you can be better prepared to control it.
Ragweed plants begin to flower in late summer or early fall and produce seeds by late fall. They can grow up to 7 feet in height. The leaves are dark green in color and oval-shaped with a pointed tip.
As the ragweed plants age, they begin to show yellow or white stripes on their leaves and form flower heads that can be up to 4 inches in diameter. Female flowers are emitted first and then are followed by the male flowers.
During this period, the stems of the plant become red or purple. Buds are clearly visible and enclosed by a leafy bud case.
The buds begin to turn brown, and seeds are visible within the case.
The cases eventually split open and drop to the ground, spreading the seeds to new locations.
What is being done about ragweed?
There are no real measures to control ragweed growth. The best way to control is to prevent it from spreading in the first place.
How can I get rid of the plant in my yard?
To get rid of ragweed in your yard, you will need to collect the seeds before they fall to the ground. The easiest way to do this is by placing a tarp or rug over the plants when the buds are beginning to turn color and just before they open. Then, just get rid of the tarp after a few days.
The ragweed can then be thrown away or burned.
How can I prevent ragweed from growing in my yard?
The best way to prevent the spread of ragweed is to make sure you do not bring contaminated hay, grains, or other seeds onto your property. If you purchase a used piece of equipment that has had previous contact with ragweed, it is important that you ensure all the seeds have been properly cleaned out before bringing it onto your property.
If you have a ragweed problem in your yard, make sure you watch for and get rid of the plants as soon as they begin to flower.
How can I keep my pet from eating ragweed?
The best way to keep your pet from eating ragweed is to keep them indoors during the ragweed season. However, if they do eat some of the ragweed, make sure you clean their face and paws after they play outside. You can also apply a substance like mustard oil or dishwashing detergent around the areas where they like to play. This makes the plants less palatable and acts as a poison.
Do not apply a herbicide to control ragweed. Herbicides can be poisonous and can also cause damage to other plants or grasses in the area.
How do I protect myself from the effects of ragweed?
If you are allergic to ragweed, it is important that you stay indoors during the season it is present (usually August and September). When you go outside, make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or use an inhaler if necessary. Also, keeping your lawn well-maintained and eliminating large growths of the weed will also keep down the allergen count in the air.
Most importantly, do not use a weed-killer without checking to see if it will have an effect on other plants or the grass in your area. This is the most common mistake made by people trying to get rid of ragweed.
Sources & references used in this article:
Pollen release in the common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) by DE Bianchi, DJ Schwemmin… – Botanical …, 1959 – journals.uchicago.edu
Common ragweed: a threat to environmental health in Europe by M Smith, L Cecchi, CA Skjøth, G Karrer… – Environment …, 2013 – Elsevier
Biology of Tarachidia candefacta, a Nearctic Noctuid Introduced into the USSR for Ragweed Control by FE Gilstrap, RD Goeden – Annals of the Entomological Society of …, 1974 – academic.oup.com
Giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L.) control in corn by N Soltani, C Shropshire… – Canadian Journal of Plant …, 2011 – NRC Research Press
Glyphosate resistance in common ragweed ( A mbrosia artemisiifolia L.) from Mississippi, USA by VK Nandula, P Tehranchian, JA Bond… – Weed Biology and …, 2017 – Wiley Online Library