JACKSON, Wyo. — More ubiquitous than the array of wildflowers found in Teton County are weeds. What are those giant yellow bushes lining the highway? What kind of thistle is growing in the backyard this year? This week, we’re getting into plants that grow where they are not welcome – weeds!
Not all invasive plants are noxious weeds, and not all noxious weeds are necessarily invasive. Native plants can become weeds, given the opportunity. The following are some of the more common non-invasive weeds found in Teton County. Often, these plants will pop up in disturbed soil, like construction sites and roadsides. You will probably recognize some of these plants as they line the sides of the highways and bike paths in the area.
This ubiquitous plant was introduced to North America and is found in all 50 states. It is a member of the pea family, and its vibrant yellow flowers and prolific growth in disturbed sites make it a great resource for pollinators.
Common Mallow is found in recently disturbed areas, gardens, and waste areas. Flowers are either light purple or orange. Its stout root system makes it difficult to control.
A member of the mustard family, this annual often invades newly-planted gardens and crops. Parts of this plant are edible and researchers are looking into whether Field Pennycress would work as a bio-diesel candidate due to its rich seeds. It can easily be confused with the noxious weed, whitetop, to the untrained eye.
Another common introduced plant found in almost every state in the US is Prickly Lettuce. Despite its appearance, this plant is actually considered edible!
Somewhat resembling a large dandelion, Western Salsify is actually a member of the sunflower family. Gophers feed on its roots and birds eat the seeds.
Again, this introduced plan loves to hang out in disturbed areas, poorly maintained fields, and roadsides. Like Field Pennycress, it is a member of the mustard family. When young, the leaves are edible and a good addition to salads, but the plant is not typically grazed on by wildlife.
These plants are native to North America and are common in riparian areas. Hard to spot, they have yellow-green leaves and are covered in fine hairs. The stem has spines that protect the plant and cause an uncomfortable reaction when they come in contact with the skin. They are also believed to have a variety of medicinal properties.