Creeping Woodsorrel - Groundcover or Weed?

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

I've got a bunch of this growing in one of my mulch beds. Thinking it was a rampant weed, I pulled a bunch of it and dumped about 3" of mulch over all of it to smother it. It's baaaaaack. Here's a link to what I found about it. Anyone know if it's a good or bad plant? Spreads quickly, looks like clover with small yellow blooms.

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7444.html#MANAGEMENT

Creeping Woodsorrel. Creeping woodsorrel grows in both full sun and shade in areas that receive adequate moisture. It is a perennial plant (lives for several seasons) that grows in a prostrate manner (low and creeping) and forms roots along its stems where nodes contact the soil. The leaves of creeping woodsorrel are composed of three heart-shaped leaflets that are attached to the tip of a long stem (petiole). Leaves can range in color from green to purple. The leaves often close and droop at night or under intense light. If creeping woodsorrel plants are stressed from drought or full sunlight, the leaves sometimes turn reddish and wilt.

Flowers of creeping woodsorrel can be found almost anytime during the year and have five small yellow petals (1/8 to 1/3-inch long) that occur in clusters of one to five at the ends of slender flower stalks. Seed pods are erect, hairy, cylindrical (resembling okra), and 1/3 to 1-inch long. Creeping woodsorrel seed is rough, reddish, and about 1/25-inch in length. There are about 10 to 50 seeds per pod, with more than 5,000 seeds per plant. Plants can produce seed even when kept mowed to 1/4-inch. When seed pods mature, they burst open and forcefully expel the seeds, which may land 10 feet or more from the plant. Because seeds are rough, they adhere to surfaces of machinery or clothing.

Light is required for germination. Optimum seed germination occurs at temperatures between 60 to 80F, though some germination occurs at lower temperatures. Seed can germinate anytime of year, but most plant establishment takes place in fall. It is not known how long seed remains viable in the soil. Germination is inhibited when seeds are exposed to moist, warm conditions (4 hours of moist heat at 97F decreased germination of creeping woodsorrel by 96%, and 8 hours stopped it altogether).

The seedling has has two round cotyledons (seed leaves), and the first true leaves are a replica of the mature, three heart-shaped leaflets. Creeping woodsorrel grows rapidly from a seedling, forming a fleshy taproot and an extensive rootstock that expands outward. Though flowering seems to occur almost all year, spring is a time of heavy flowering and seed formation. Extremely cold or hot temperatures reduce growth, but the plants do not die. If the plant is pulled out, the rootstock often breaks off and remains in the soil, allowing the plant to re-grow.

Go to the URL above for additional photos. IF THE PHOTO DOESN'T SHOW UP HERE, the rest of the URL after .edu is: /PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7444.html#MANAGEMENT

Any replies would be appreciated!



This message was edited Sep 18, 2006 5:43 PM

Thumbnail by azrobin
Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

Here's a photo:

Thumbnail by azrobin
Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Invasive http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks Jean. I knew it was invasive but wondered if it was friend or foe. It classifies it as a flowering plant, herb form, annual or perennial but then states:

This plant is considered invasive by the authoritative sources noted below. This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. Click on an acronym to view each invasive plant list, or click here for a composite list of Invasive Plants of the U.S.

WSWS Whitson, T.D. (Ed.) et al. 1996. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science in cooperation with Cooperative Extension Services, University of Wyoming. Laramie, Wyoming. 630pp.

Anyone in the SW dealing with this, too? It spreads FAST! Small but fast. Looks like cover and sends out runners.

Thumbnail by azrobin
Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

I guess, azrobin, to me invasive=foe. Not just something that I don't want because it's ugly or it keeps growing over my flowers (if I had any). Unfortunately, many of the invasives are very attractive, e.g., the Flowering Mimosa.

When you ask, "Friend or foe?", what is your context? Are you wondering whether in your own yard you can control it?

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

They're mosttly growing around my rose area.

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

It's listed at www.weedalert.com. Sigh.

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

I guess I still don't understand.
You know it's invasive.
You don't like it growing around your rose garden (sounds like).
So why wouldn't you do the world a favor and get rid of it? If this is a friend, what would it take to qualify as a foe?

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

That stuff is mighty hard to pull up in some places. I have it mixed in with some copper sedge grasses( among a lot of other spots). Try as I might I just can't enough of a grip on it to pull it out from the center of the grass clump. Mixed in with roses could be a pretty thorny experience. It has a penchant for tight spots, crevices and mixed in at the bases of plants which makes it nearly impossible to get rid of. It is one of my worst weeds.

Try a regular old slip joint pliers.

Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

What about using those things to pluck the stems and leaves out of strawberries? U shaped with small flat blades that get a real good grip for pulling?

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

What great ideas. Thank you! I'll try both.

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

I've tried pulling LOTS of it but if you don't get out those thin runners, you go back to square one. The best method I fould was to "heavily" mulch over the plant until they can't see daylight. That worked for a few weeks then pop, a few more popped up.

I just wanted to know if anyone welcomed this plant as ground cover or if everyone weeds them. That's all.

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