Unknown Short Weed

« Back to Name that Plant

Date Photo Taken: Nov 5, 2010
Location: Parkwood Park, Decatur, GA
Posted By: Kerimbaev


This plant grows 1-3 feet tall. Squared-off, green stem that is smooth & almost woody. Stem is many-branched with more stems branching off from leaf axils. Leaves are opposite & simple, thin, and very minutely hairy, oval shaped, entire margins, and less than 3.5 inches long w/ leafstalk. I have not seen flowers, but right now they are in fruit: spikes that are 5 inches long or less. Each spike contains 45-50 tiny fruits that stick easily to your pants/socks when you walk by them. See pics. Fruits are long, brown, with little bristles that make them stick to you; very tiny. I’ve seen this weedy-looking plant in two parks & trying to figure out what it is before possibly removing it.


  1. Bobby Unregistered says:

    Are the leaves slightly serrated?

    November 11th, 2010 at 11:12 am
  2. Kerimbaev Unregistered says:


    I guess they are very slightly serrated. But it’s very hard to notice that. Unless I silhouette the leaves against my bright computer screen, I can’t see serrations. The leaves are very flexible, thin, limp, and soft. I just can’t find this plant in my book (Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians). I was thinking maybe a Rumex sp. but I really wanted someone to tell me what this is! Thanks!

    November 11th, 2010 at 8:00 pm
  3. Bobby Unregistered says:

    Because of the square stems I am thinking it is likely in the Verbenaceae or Lamiaceae family.
    I have been scouting daily for this weed since seeing it here. I’ve had no luck finding it in the field, roadsides or online sources. I am sure other drivers wish I could find it!
    I can find resemblances in the seedhead but not the leaf. Check these out

    November 12th, 2010 at 2:38 pm
  4. Bobby Unregistered says:

    I’ve scouted all week for this plant and had no luck. I believe because of the square stem it would be in the Lamiaceae or Verbenaceae family. I’ve found the porterweed seed head to be very similar to your photo but the leaf is entirely different from your description.
    Help Walter!

    November 13th, 2010 at 9:46 am
  5. Kerimbaev Unregistered says:

    Bobby (and Walter!),

    I agree with you, those 2 links you shared do look somewhat similar, but not exactly. The lopseed looks especially hopeful, but the fruits are not opposite from each other — they’re placed alternately on the seed head. And the “gist” of the plant is just different. I also checked http://www.discoverlife.org — the founder of that site was my undergraduate advisor at UGA!

    Ok, since this is a hard one, I’m going to retake some much better photos/scans of leaves, stem, and seed heads. Won’t have any trouble finding this plant again — it’s all over the place and I can tell you where:

    Google Parkwood Park, Decatur, GA
    Google Deepdene Park, Atlanta, GA (will pop up on Google as Olmstead Park)

    Don’t know where you are, but if you’re near Atlanta, you’ll find it there.

    Look for brand new post of mine with new pics soon.

    Thanks for your sleuthing,

    November 13th, 2010 at 9:09 pm
  6. Kerimbaev Unregistered says:

    I just posted 3 new pics of this weed on Nov 14 on a post called “Unknown Short Weed continued.” I think they’re better pics that show more of the plant. Hope someone recognizes it. Thanks for looking.

    November 16th, 2010 at 3:18 am
  7. Kerimbaev Unregistered says:

    This plant has been identified by Blake Watkins of Trees Atlanta as a Japanese Chaff Flower (Achyranthes japonica). It is a relatively new exotic plant being tracked in the Eastern U.S. It’s perennial, grows well in forested bottomlands, ditches, fencerows, and upland forests, and can even outcompete stiltgrass. This info is from http://bcnwp.org.

    Here is a link to a short species alert developed by River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area: http://www.rtcwma.org/Japanesechafffloweralert.pdf

    More photos are available at:

    Needless to say, we will be getting rid of it in our Park!

    Rebecca Kerimbaev

    January 21st, 2011 at 5:21 pm
  8. Bobby Unregistered says:


    January 23rd, 2011 at 5:04 pm
  9. Kerimbaev Unregistered says:

    sorry, my incorrect link above should read:

    January 24th, 2011 at 11:17 am

Leave a Reply