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Creeping Beggarweed in the Landscape (Desmodium incanum)


Introduction: Creeping beggarweed is a prostrate, ascending perennial weed that actively grows in the spring and summer (Wagner et al 1999). Located in pastures, residential and commercial landscapes, and in open undisturbed areas (Green et al., 2008). Creeping beggarweed is difficult to control in turf.

Description: Creeping beggarweed is a broadleaf perennial weed that develop from seeds, stolon or from a broken portion of its large taproot. Each petiole has three hairy leaflets that are alternate (Acevedo-Rodríguez 2005), round at the base and taper at the point. The plant blooms in the summer and its flower resembles the flower of a pea. The flower is pink to purple in color and is very conspicuous. Reproduction is mostly by seeds and dispersion occurs due to the sticky hairy hitchhiking seedpod (Mori and Brown 1998).

Preemergence Control: Creeping beggarweed has a large taproot and can be propagated from vegetative parts of the plant which makes preemergence ineffective.

Postemergence Control: Postemergence herbicide products that contain sulfentrazone (Dismiss), thiocarbazone-methyl (Celsius), dimethylamine salts (Trimec) are recommended to control creeping beggarweed in most warm season grasses. These herbicides are only given as examples and do exhaust the list of herbicides that are recommended for creeping beggarweed control. Triclopyr will provide good beggarweed control in Bahia and Zoysia turfgrasses but will injure St Augustinegrass. Before applying any herbicide, always read the label to ensure both the turf and the target weeds are listed on the label.

Control in Ornamentals: Products containing glyphosate such as Roundup and Farmwork provide good control of emerged creeping beggarweed.

Produced 3/2019 by: Grantly Ricketts, UF/IFAS/Osceola County Extension, Commercial Horticulture Agent.

9 Comments on “Creeping Beggarweed in the Landscape (Desmodium incanum)

  1. I have a St. Augustine lawn, which has been invaded by this weed. How do I get rid of it without using herbicides. If I could find the main taproot, I could dig it and/or use a torch to kill it. This is one of the toughest weeds I have ever seen. Thank you.

    • I’ve been fighting this in central FL by hand weeding. Best technique I found is follow the plant to the root, grasp the little knob at the soil (finger and thumb) and just firmly enough not to break it, pull, rocking sideways until it loosens and comes out. Almost always the whole root will come out. It’s harder the dryer the soil. This IS really time consuming and I can’t say I’m winning but working against me is the fact that I leave for six months in the summer so I clear it in the off season. My lawn service doesn’t seem to touch it. And after talking to their lead technician, he says there are LOTS of chemicals they are not allowed to use (EPA) that homeowners can use. I’m researching. Still figuring out what to try.

  2. I have “beggar weeds” in my yard but not this one. I call them stick tights. The main one that is such a problem with my dog is the ones with two legs that grab you and the rest is just a slim stick or rod that’s hard to get out of hair. Don’t know the name. I try to get someone to pull up the plant when the flowers or one without dropping the “seeds”, but it’s hard to get anyone to work in the yard since I can’t do it anymore.

    • Sounds like Spanish needle – usually 5 white petals, yellow center, gets tall. Pulling works if you get the roots and prevent seeding.

  3. You are awesome Grantly.
    Thanks, for this valuable information.
    I’m going to try Dismiss to get rid of this monster weed.