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The Bitter Truth About Bitter Cress

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(credit: Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Each year certain weeds seem to proliferate and so far this year, ‘bitter cress,’ is running rampant.

Since it can germinate in cool weather, bitter cress gets a head start. You can spot it by its green clumps topped by teensy white flowers. When the flowers go to seed, you’ll understand its nicknames of ‘snapweed’ and ‘shotweed,’ as it flings seeds on a hair trigger; brush by and it fires weed seeds at you and across your lawn and garden. This irritating behavior restarts the cycle so the seeds can keep germinating and generating weeds every six weeks for months to come!

On the upside, you can eat bitter cress, that is if you’re sure your yard is free of toxic chemicals and herbicides – it’s a spicy little salad green and can be enjoyed in sandwiches. But even if you love it like lettuce, you can’t eat enough to keep up.

So, control bitter cress by pulling its clumps BEFORE it goes to seed. Then spread the organic pre-emergent weed controller ‘corn gluten meal’ to help reduce the reseeding rate of this year’s robust crop of bitter cress.

Learn more about bitter cress here: OregonState.edu/dept/nursery-weeds

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