Doveweed

A weed that very closely resembles St. Augustinegrass

Doveweed photo by John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, Bugwood.org.

Doveweed (Murdannia nudifflora) is an aggressive summer annual turfgrass weed. Its long leaves resemble St. Augustinegrass in appearance, so this weed can grow unnoticed for some time. But doveweed doesn't just invade St. Augustinegrass, it also takes hold in Bermuda, hybrid Bermuda, and zoysiagrass.

Not only can doveweed be an annoyance to people who are trying to cultivate turfgrass, for dogs that come in contact with the weed, it can cause serious contact dermatitis.

Characteristics

Doveweed usually prefers wet areas, so parts of your lawn that have poor drainage or are over-watered (which will already be stressed because of these conditions) are prime spots for it to thrive. Seeds germinate in late spring or when soil temperatures reach 65–70°F. With this timing, seedlings emerge just as the effects of any preemergence herbicides used have begun to fade.

Doveweed is mostly spread by seed. Seeds can be dispersed by mowing or by moving water, making this weed well adapted to spreading in your landscape. Once temperatures fall below 70°F seeds are produced and can survive in the soil for several years.

This weed can also spread vegetatively, meaning that your mower can spread pieces of the creeping stems (stolons) around your lawn to produce more weeds.

Once the weeds are established, they grow vigorously. When managing doveweed, use an integrated management approach. As always, a healthy lawn is the best defense. Healthy turfgrass can outcompete weeds. Preemergent herbicides can help; be sure to read the label first and closely follow the directions. For more information on how to deal with doveweed in your landscape, contact your local county Extension office.

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