This weed is troublesome to so many homeowners. It is worthy of being brought to your attention every year at this time.
Lawn burweed (Soliva pterosperma) is more commonly called sticker weed due to the cluster of tiny seeds with spines that stick into tender flesh of bare feet, knees, hands, or whatever parts of the body that may come in contact with them at maturity.
Lawn burweed is best described as a low-growing, freely branched winter annual having leaves that are twice divided into narrow segments or lobes similar to the appearance of tiny carrot leaves. The real identifier is the small rosette button fruit clusters that form down in the leaf axils once the plant reaches a reproductive stage. At maturity, usually late spring and into summer, is when we endure the pain from the dried sharp spines (daggers). Southern sandbur (Cenchrus echinatus), a summer annual grassy weed with seedheads having sharp spines or burs, should not be confused with lawn burweed as growth habit and control measures differ.
If you did not apply a pre-emergent herbicide earlier this past fall to control winter annual weeds and you had lawn burweed in your lawn last summer, then you most likely have them again now and will have to endure their painful spines for another summer unless you take action soon to control them.
Once the fruiting clusters have formed and produced the tiny seeds and spines, killing the plants will eliminate the weeds, but the tiny spines and seed will remain to inflict pain for another summer.
Extension publications Weed Control Guidelines for Mississippi and Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn provide lists of several good post-emergent herbicide choices that will control this weed along with most other winter annual weed species, but timing is critical.
Published January 23, 2012
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org