Cultural Controls: Limit doveweed growth by maintaining a healthy and dense turfgrass. Water the lawn deeply but infrequently to allow the surface soils to dry in between watering. This will improve turfgrass root depth and slow the spread of the doveweed. For more information on irrigation, please see HGIC 1207, Watering Lawns . Additionally, correct any drainage problems to reduce wet areas within the lawn. Core aerate the lawn to improve internal soil drainage, reduce soil compaction, and aid in root growth. For more information on core aeration, please see HGIC 1200, Aerating Lawns .
Table 1. Examples of Herbicides for Doveweed Management in Residential Turfgrass.
Treat large areas with doveweed with little or no turfgrass with a 3% glyphosate spray. Products containing 41% glyphosate are available with instructions for diluting in a pump-up sprayer. Re-sod after the doveweed is eliminated.
Use 3-way combination herbicides for broadleaf weed control that contain 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop (MCPP) on bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and tall fescue. Apply a follow-up application 30 days later, if needed. Use a reduced herbicide rate on centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, according to label directions. The 3-way herbicides provide fair to good control of doveweed. Do not use atrazine or 3-way herbicides during spring green-up of the four warm-season turfgrasses (bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and St. Augustinegrass).
Pre-emergence Herbicides: Apply the first application of a pre-emergence herbicide during the spring and a repeat application during the early summer to prevent doveweed seed from sprouting. Indaziflam (Specticle G), like many pre-emergence herbicides, stops root formation of both weeds and desirable turfgrasses; therefore, follow the label directions for use. Do not apply Specticle G to a lawn seeded less than 16 months prior to application, nor to a lawn sodded less than 3 months before application. If Specticle G is applied to the lawn, wait at least 6 months before laying new sod in the same area. Note that lower rates of Specticle G are recommended on centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass. See Table 1 below for more information.
Since doveweed seeds germinate when the soil temperatures reach 65 to 70 °F, make the first application of pre-emergence herbicide in mid-April in the Upstate with a repeat application 45 days later. In the Midlands, apply the first application around April 1 with a repeat application 45 days later. In the coastal areas, make the first application in late March with a repeat application 45 days later. Water granular applications into the lawn. However, if the lawn has bare areas over which the turfgrass must spread and become rooted, eliminate the second application for better turfgrass root formation.
After flowering, seeds are produced in small, 3/16-inch diameter green capsules. Doveweed seed can remain viable for several years on the soil before germinating.
Joey Williamson, PhD, HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University.
If the lawn thatch layer is greater than ½ inch, consider dethatching the lawn at the appropriate time. For more information about dethatching, please see HGIC 2360, Controlling Thatch in Lawns .
Doveweed is in the Commelinaceae (dayflower) plant family and is related to the invasive spiderworts ( Tradescantia species), as well as the highly invasive Benghal dayflower ( Commelina benghalensis ).
Chemical Control: Managing doveweed in a lawn may require two to three years of pre-and post-emergence herbicide use.
If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.
Celsius WG provides good control of doveweed on the four warm-season turfgrasses. Do not use Celsius WG on tall fescue lawns. Additionally, Celsius WG is the only product that can be used on warm-season lawns during their spring green-up. If a second application is needed, wait 2 to 4 weeks after the first application.
Mow the lawn at the correct height for the turfgrass species. An excessively low mowing height both stresses the turfgrass and may cause the mower to cut and spread pieces of doveweed stolons that can easily root under moist conditions. Conversely, a lawn mowed at the correct height encourages dense turfgrass growth and partially shades the doveweed. For the recommended turfgrass mowing heights, please see HGIC 1205, Mowing Lawns .
Hand pulling of doveweed is ineffective as a control method because pieces of roots and stolons that remain can re-sprout.
Doveweed ( Murdannia nudiflora ) has become a troublesome weed in home lawns during the last few years. It is a summer annual weed, and its seeds germinate during the late spring when soil temperatures reach 65 to 70 °F. Doveweed leaves are thick, shiny, and up to 4-inches long with parallel veins. Because of its long, grass-like foliage, doveweed is often overlooked in St. Augustinegrass or centipedegrass lawns. Doveweed spreads aggressively within the lawn by thick aboveground, creeping stems, called stolons.
Have the soil tested and follow soil test recommendations for rates of fertilizers and lime. These recommendations are specific for each turfgrass species. Please see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing , for sampling procedures.
Doveweed thrives in overly moist soils because of poor soil drainage or frequent rainfall and irrigation. In these wet areas, homeowners may not realize this grass-like weed is present until large patches of turfgrass have been smothered out. In summer, doveweed produces small, 3-petaled, lavender flowers that, when in bloom, become more noticeable in the lawn.
Plants in the Reserve tend to occur in large, distinctive patches with individual clumps of one or a few plants well separated from one another.
Doveweed is a small, neat greenish-gray plant that forms small mats or mounds; ours are usually less than a few inches high and two feet wide. The plant has a deep taproot, and it is regularly branched outward from a basal point. The leaves are rounded triangular to oval, with three prominent veins; they are reported to three inches (8 cm) long. All parts of the plant are covered with dense pale hairs. Most hairs are star shaped with many arms of similar length, others are similar but with a long, bristly hair emerging from the center. Minute glandular hairs beneath star shaped hairs give the plant a distinctive, not unpleasant odor. The hairs can irritate the skin.
Stonebridge Mesa | June 2019.
Doveweed or turkey mullein ( Croton setiger ) is a low growing, native annual that thrives in dry, disturbed, open places, such as on Stonebridge Mesa. Even from a distance it can be recognized by the low, tidy mounds of pale green foliage, themselves evenly spaced out into large patches and fields.
The small flowers lack petals and are inconspicuous. The seeds are an important food source for small mammals and birds (including, as the common names suggests, doves and turkeys).
The fruit is a dried capsule that splits into two valves from the tip. The outer wall of the capsule consists of two structures and appears two-layered. There is usually a single seed, about 1/8 inch (3-4 mm) long; it is a smooth ellipsoid, somewhat triangular in cross section and variously mottled or striped in tans, browns or grays, or occasionally solid.
dove weed, turkey mullein.
Male and female structures occur on separate flowers on the same plant (they are monoecious). Both sexes are inconspicuous. Male flowers are 1/8 to 1/4 (0.4 cm) across, in small groups at the ends of branches. They lack petals. The calyx is green and cup-shaped, usually with five lobes. There are 6-10 stamens exserted beyond the calyx with cream colored anthers and pollen. The female flowers occur in groups of one to a few in the axils beneath the male flowers. Female flowers lack both sepals and petals. There is one pistil with a plump, oblong, one-chambered ovary and one usually thread-like style, often curved or coiled. The main flowering period is May – October. 7.
Species from the genus Croton should not be confused with the colorful, tropical houseplant with the common name croton ( Codiaeum variegatum ).
Stellate hairs; longer central bristle is 0.1 inches | Stonebridge Mesa | Sept. 2019.
Other Common Names:
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Wooly croton or dove weed is a native, warm season annual forb that grows 3-5’ tall. This croton is common on sandy soils, pastures, old fields, and prairies in South, Central, and East Texas. Wooly croton is not grazed livestock, but is a favorite food source of doves, quail, and wild turkeys.
Wooly Croton is a native, warm-season annual that produces copious amounts of seeds that are a favorite food source of dove, quail, turkey, and other seed-eating birds. The plant has little to no value to livestock or deer. Wooly Croton can be planted in the fall, so that seed can overwinter to help break seed dormancy, or it can be planted in late spring or early summer for fall dove plots. Once established on a planting site, Wooly Croton will volunteer after the planting year with soil disturbance such as disking or as a result of hoof action by livestock, especially on sandy soils.
Wooly croton is an excellent plant for dove and quail food plots, and as an addition to diverse native plant seed mixes for restoration plantings to benefit wildlife. Croton should be planted in late spring or early summer for fall maturity. Wooly croton frequently reseeds itself annually with soil disturbance on sites where was planted to.