Weed Guide

This guide initially displays all weeds in the Los Alamos area classified in NM as noxious regardless of shape. Use the selectors below to include nonclassified weeds or select a specific set, either by shape or name.

The term weed is commonly used to denote a plant that is growing in an area where it is not valued. It is officially defined by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as being any plant that poses a threat to agriculture and/or a natural ecosystem. A noxious weed is one that is particularly troublesome and can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops, livestock, or natural resources.

In general, plants that are within their native range live in balance with their environment and are not typically considered to be weeds. Issues can occur, however, if a plant is introduced, either directly or indirectly, to a new ecosystem. These, now non-native plants, may be able to thrive in their new environment. If so, these naturalized plants can fall into one or two categories long term: (1) plants that are valued for their flowers and fruit and (2) plants that are rapidly considered to be weeds. The plants in the latter category are those that are generally regarded as noxious weeds.

While some species shown here are included in the PEEC Flower and Tree Guides, this guide concentrates on some of the nastier introduced species that you might see in your yard or on local trails. In addition, this guide includes some native plants that meet the general definition of weed.

Weed References

A Plan For the Control of Invasive Species on Los Alamos County Open Space — Craig Martin [PDF]
Los Alamos Master Garden Weed List
NMSU Weed Information
SEINet: Southwest Biodiversity
Some Common Lawn and Garden Weeds of Los Alamos, NM — Dorothy Hoard and Teralene Foxx [PDF]
Troublesome Weeds of NM
USDA: Introduced, Invasive, and Noxious Plants
Weed Alert
Weeds of the Los Alamos Area — Teralene Foxx [PDF]

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck


Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

For more information about local nature, please visit our Nature Blog or subscribe to PEEC This Week.

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Showing 1 of 51 weeds.
Yellow Salsify

Photo: Chick Keller

Yellow Salsify

Photo: Chick Keller

Yellow Salsify

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Yellow Salsify, Western Salsify, Oyster Plant, Goatsbeard

TRDU (Tragopogon dubius)

Family: Asteraceae (Daisies)
Size: 12 - 24 in (30 - 61 cm)
Growth: forb/herb; annual, biennial

Status: non-native; nonclassified
Native Range: Eurasia and northern Africa
NM Noxious Weed Class: not classified

Habitat: disturbed soil in foothills, montane, openings, woodlands, and fields

Control Notes: hand-pull or dig up small areas; mowing ineffective; some herbicides effective in high density areas

Yellow Salsify was commonly used as a food plant during the Middle Ages which led to it being spread throughout the world. It was for this reason that it was brought to North America around the turn of the 20 century. It is currently considered to be an invasive weed in many areas, though it has little impact economically. In many ways it is like a dandelion but much larger.

Tragopogon dubius has such long, thin leaves that, prior to flowering, it is often mistaken for a grass. However, these leaves are more rubbery than true grasses. In addition, they have some hair and a milky juice. In addition, the plant has a thick, fleshy taproot. Its composite flowers are yellow with each flowerhead on a single stem. The name “salsify” means “following the sun” and the flowers of this plant open in the morning pointing towards the sun and closing by afternoon. The term “goatsbeard” comes from the appearance of the seed heads with feathery hairs attached to all of the seeds.

The tap root of the Yellow Salsify is edible, tasting faintly like an oyster. In addition, the greens can be eaten in soups or salads. However, it use as a food source has declines over time.

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