By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What is that tall weed springing up in lawns and garden beds like crazy? If your neighborhood is like mine, it might be American Burnweed, Erechtites hieracifolia – a plant with toothy leaves that sort of look like lettuce or a thistle, but aren’t so prickly. This annual is native to our area but it’s getting to be a pest.

The flowers aren’t really noticeable until they turn into fluffy seedheads that spread easily on the wind, so it’s smart to remove the plants before that happens. Since they plants are so tall, they’re easy to spot—standing two to four or sometimes up to 10 feet high! The stems are fleshy, and the roots tend to yank out of the ground pretty easily. The plant can smell a bit when crushed, so wear gloves if you care.

Penn State Weed Sciences professor, Bill Curran, says there’s no single explanation for the proliferation, except that weeds do seem to escalate this way until they’re seemingly ‘suddenly’ everywhere.

Check out the photo shown above and at this link so you can identify and yank out American Burnweed and help reduce the population explosion in your own garden.