Bur buttercup

Bur buttercup flowering mass

All our winter moisture has been great for producing a crop of that most obnoxious plant, the bur buttercup. If this miniature, prickly plant was worth money, my yard would be a gold mine. Once again, I have neglected to begin spraying for it in time, so the edge of my driveway will soon sport tiny seeds armed with stiff spikes. I will kneel next to my RV for some maintenance and wince with pain when a bur buttercup lances my knee.

In case you have not had the “pleasure” to meet this diabolical plant, let me tell you about it. This plant is a winter annual that starts each year from seed and pops up as soon as the snow melts off. The first evidence of its existence is a plant so small you have to get down close to the ground to see its fern-like leaves. They are also described as finger-like segments, or bird’s feet, and covered with fine hairs. The plant never grows much over two-inches in height.

The five-petaled flowers may look like pretty buttercups, but they develop into brown, pineapple-shaped seeds ½-3/4” long and armed with stiff spikes.

The bur buttercup came from Europe and now infests roadsides, pastures, vacant lots and my yard. It is highly toxic and has killed sheep that ate it.

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It can be controlled by spraying with something containing 2,4-D but must be sprayed before flowers appear. That one is my undoing every year. I do not think about it until I notice the tiny, yellow flowers and then it is too late to do much about it. I still spray it but the burs develop before the spray kills the plant. I could hoe, pull, dig it or burn it but seldom does it grow thick enough to do that. I would need to hoe my entire driveway to get it all.

As I spray it, I mutter things like “die, bur buttercup, die” but I probably should not go into that much detail here.

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