Garden Weed Identification Guide

This is a guide to some common "weeds" (a lot are self-seeding wildflowers) in the average north London garden. I took the first set of photos August 2010 and have been adding to them on and off ever since. All photos were taken myself unless otherwise noted.

I don't know exactly why I like knowing the names of the weeds I find. It doesn't help control them but maybe it makes me feel more in control.

I've put the unknown plants at the bottom of the Plant Identification page - some may well turn out to be weeds/unwelcome plants but with two identification pages it makes sense to only have one unknown section. I've also moved the south coast plants/weeds to their own page. The following are in alphabetical order. I have also made a separate page with rosettes as so many weeds start as a rosette.

In order to make this information more accessible, I have listed the contents below and am working on adding clickable links to the specific weed. You can still just scroll through and look at the photos (beginning after the list) if you're not sure what you're looking for.

Common Name Latin Name
Alexanders Smyrnium olusatrum
Alfalfa Medicago sativa
Annual Mercury Mercurialis annua
Granny's bonnet /Columbine Aquilegia
Arum Lily/ lords-and-ladies Arum maculatum
Autumn Hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis
Morning Glory Ipomoea
Bindweed Calystegia sepium
Black Bryony/Black Bindweed Dioscorea communis
Black Bindweed/Wild Buckwheat Fallopia convolvulus
Black Horehound Ballota nigra
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bramble Rubus
Bristly Ox-tongue Helminthotheca echioides
Burdock, Lesser or Greater Arctium minus, Arctium lappa
Butterbur Petasites
Campanula ???
Caper Spurge Euphorbia lathyris
Cat’s Ear Hypochaeris radicata
Catnip Nepeta cataria
Celandine, lesser and greater Chelidonium majus, Ficaria verna
Celery-leaved Crowfoot Ranunculus sceleratus
Chickweed Stellaria media
Mouse-ear Chickweed Cerastium fontanum ???
Chicory Cichorium intybus
Yellow Suckling Clover/Lesser Trefoil/Lesser Hop Trefoil Trifolium dubium
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara
Comfrey Symphytum officinale
Common Daisy / Lawn Daisy Bellis perennis
Common Field-Speedwell Veronica persica
Common Knotgrass Polygonum aviculare
Common Orache atriplex patula
Corn Chamomile  Anthemis arvensis
Yellow Fumitory Corydalis Lutea
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
Cut-leaved Geranium Geranium dissectum
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale
Dead-nettle Lamium maculatum, Lamium purpureum
Dock (dockweed) Rumex
Enchanters Nightshade Circaea lutetiana
Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis
Fat hen Chenopodium album
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
Field Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis
Forget-me-not Myosotis
Fox-and-cubs Pilosella aurantiaca
Foxglove Digitalis
Gallant Soldier Galinsoga parviflora Cav.
Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata 
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill/ Dovesfoot Geranium Geranium Molle
Geranium Rotundifolium Geranium Rotundifolium
Gipsywort/Gypsywort Lycopus europaeus
Goosegrass/ Cleavers Galium aparine
Green Alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirens
Couch Grass Elymus repens ???
Green Spleenwort Asplenium viride
Ground Elder Aegopodium podagraria
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris
Hart's Tongue Fern Asplenium scolopendrium
Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta
Hawk's Beard Crepis
Hedge Mustard Sisymbrium officinale
Hemlock Conium maculatum
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Common Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium
Honesty Lunaria
Horsetail Equisetum arvenses
Horseweed Conyza canadensis
Stinking Iris, Stinking Gladwin Iris foetidissima
Ivy Hedera
Ivy-Leaved Speedwell Veronica hederifolia
Ivy-Leaved Toadflax Cymbalaria muralis
Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica
Joe Pye Weed Eutrochium purpureum
Lesser Knapweed Centaurea nigra
London Bur-Marigold Bidens Connata
Liverwort Marchantiophyta
Mallow Malva
Sycamore Maple Acer pseudoplatanus
Milk Thistle see Plant Identification Silybum marianum
Michaelmas Daisy Aster Amellus
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris
Black Nightshade Solanum nigrum
Woody Nightshade/Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara
Nipplewort Lapsana communis
Sorrel Oxalis
Pink Woodsorrel Oxalis debilis
Iron Cross Oxalis tetraphylla 
Ox-eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare
Pale Smartweed/Pale Persicaria Persicaria lapathifolia
Spotted Persicaria Persicaria maculosa
Pellitory-of-the Wall Parietaria judaica
Upright Pellitory  Parietaria officinalis
Pendulous Sedge Carex pendula
Petty Spurge Euphorbia peplus
Pheasant Berry Leycesteria formosa
Pigweed Amaranthus palmeri
Pineapple Weed Matricaria discoidea
Plaintain Plantago
Atlas Poppy Papaver atlanticum
Field Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum
Prickly Sow Thistle Sonchus asper
Ragwort/Tansy Ragwort Senecio Jacobaea
Red Campion Silene dioica
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
Red Valerian see  ID South Coast Centranthus ruber
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Rush, Soft Rush Juncus Effusus
Salad Burnet Sanguisorba minor
Figwort ?? scrophularia grandiflora
Stonecrop Sedum Kamtschaticum
Sheep's Sorrel Rumex acetosella
Shepherd's Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Silver Birch Betula pendula
Small Mallow Malva parviflora
Small Nettle Urtica arens
Smooth sow thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Soapwort Saponaria officinalis
Spiderwort tradescantia
St John's Wort  Hypericum perforatum
Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica
Storks-bill  Erodium cicutarium
Wild/Alpine/Woodland Strawberry Fragaria vesca
Sweet Rocket  Hesperis matronalis
Teasel Dipsacus fullonum
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Three-Cornered Leek Allium triquetrum
Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima
Tutsan Hypericum androsaemum
Valerian Centranthus
Great Mullein Verbascum thapsus
Vetch Vicia
Violet Viola odorata
Viper's Bugloss Echium vulgare
Wall Lettuce Lactuca muralis
Water Figwort Scrophularia umbrosa
White Campion Silene latifolia
White Clover Trifolium repens
White Deadnettle Lamium album
Wild Cabbage Brassica oleracea
Wild lettuce Lactuca virosa
Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea
Willow Salix
Broad-leaved Willowherb Epilobium montanum
Short fruited Willowherb Epilobium obscurum
Rosebay Willowherb Chamaenerion angustifolium
Wood Avens Geum urbanum
Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)

I mistakenly had this as wild parsnip but a friend advised it was Alexanders, unlike many of the umbellifers this has yellow flowers, I saw this along Regents Canal, April 2017. (black horehound on the left)

wild parsnip

wild parsnip

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

Thanks to Michael for identifying this (via FB). I saw this along the Regent's Canal near King's Cross.


close-up of the flowers

alfalfa flowers

The following 3 images are all Annual Mercury. Last year I had it all over my front garden, as did my neighbour but after I weeded my garden and her garden well it didn't bloom and set seed so have much less this summer. Annual, easy to pull out.

annual mercury


I include it to help those that may find it growing from self-seeding. Sometimes they get invasive and are pulled up as weeds. I like them because they bloom early before other plants have started. Annual, can be difficult to pull out - quite strong roots. Various coloured flowers.


Here are some aquilegia in bloom.


To the right of the aquilegia is a stachys byzantina, or lambs ear which self-seeds like mad so you may find it springing up like a weed in your garden.


aquilegia seedling, they have these rosettes of leaves which unfurl as they grow - very attractive

aquilegia seedling

aquilegia with powdery mildew which they seem prone to

aquilegia with mildew

Arum lily / lords-and-ladies / cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum)

I saw these in the walled car park round the corner from me on 2-9-2017 so everything is gone but the berries and a couple of lone leaves. I see lots of petty spurge amongst them and corydalis lutea to the left. I'll have to go back in the spring and take more pics.


Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis)

I saw this yesterday (Sept 2nd) round the corner from me in a walled carpark which is a combination of planting and weeds in a protected environment. (we went there on the Chelsea Fringe weed walk)

autumn hawkbit

the grey wood is a picnic table which this plant had to grow above to get some sun

autumn hawkbit

a pot with those distinctive leaves

autumn hawkbit leaves

some in the ground as well

autumn hawkbit leaves

this example is much smaller, these were only about 12 cm tall, seen August 19th southeast London 

autumn hawkbit

This is Morning Glory. I include it to distinguish it from bindweed which follows. They are very similar. (to the right are the Honesty seed pods)

Bindweed (see also field bindweed), white flowers similar to morning glory. Easy to pull out at ground level but must be untangled from the plant(s) it has twisted around.


It can be quite long as it tangles around something, even itself. The flowers were 5.5 to 6 cm long on this one.


closer view of the leaves

early shoots of bindweed


"Black Bindweed" can refer to tuberous Black Bryony or the annual Wild Buckwheat, each listed below. (thanks to Jacqui who explained they were 2 different plants)

Black Bryony/Black Bindweed (Dioscorea communis)

Thank you to Freda and Les who alerted me to this and provided the photos. They have read that the berries and tubers are both poisonous so beware.

black byrony

a close-up of the heart-shaped leaf

black byrony

a close-up of the flowers

black byrony

black byrony

Black Bindweed/Wild Buckwheat (Fallopia convolvulus)

I am sure that this came from bird seed (see above Bird Seed Weeds).

Nov 2015 I had a few self-seeding, as of April 2016 these appear to have died over winter but I will keep and eye on those pots and see if they return and hope to see flowers if they do.

May 2016 and the wild buckwheat is back.

wild buckwheat

I potted it up and it's already produced some buds a few weeks later.

wild buckwheat buds

a close-up of the buds a few days later

wild buckwheat buds

a couple days later and the flowers are in bloom

wild buckwheat flowers

Going back to last year (10-2015), I now know that these seedlings were wild buckwheat.

I pulled up one (slightly larger about 10 cm tall) from this area recently (7-2016).

wild buckwheat seedling

Black Horehound (Ballota nigra)

I saw this along the canal 17-6-2018, much larger and more flowers than the previous one below.

black horehound

I wanted to clearly show the stem with the whorls.

black horehound

I saw this along the Regents Canal May 2017. It does look similar to deadnettle which I have loads of in my garden but haven't had this.

black horehound

black horehound

I wasn't sure what it was but the pink flowers, on some plants further along the canal, made it identifiable.

black horehound flowers


These may be nice in a wood but in my garden they are very annoying. They form large clumps that prevent other plants from growing. They are perennials that grow from bulbs and must be dug out. I try to do that whenever I find them. This photo was taken after this bluebell finished blooming. The stem of spent flowers is on the left.


bluebell flowers end of March (following 2 photos)

bluebell flower



bluebell leaves with ridges



when you have flowers the bluebells are easy to identify but if they haven't bloomed yet, as those below, the leaves have a ridge down the back unlike hyacinth leaves which are smooth making them easy to identify (thank you to Barbara for this info - some of us really don't want bluebells in the garden)





bluebell leaves with ridges

I wasn't sure if these were bluebells or pendulous sedge, or indeed something else. So I thought I would dig them up to be sure.

They are bluebells! with those white bulbs underground.


Then I had a horrific thought. What if all these are bluebells as well. I sort've thought they might be hyacinths - but the hyacinths are already in bloom whereas these are all leaves. I decided to "go for it" and dig them up as well (this is my main flower bed in the sun, above is a shady less important part of the garden).

They are also bluebells, with the white bulbous roots.



Here's a bluebell with a flower coming into bloom


This is one that got away! I've been weeding them out like mad but missed this one which has gotten to be 46 cm high.


At the bottom of the stem is a new flower emerging.


Bluebells do come in different colours, white on the far left, then pink, then shades of purple and blue.

bluebell colours

also see bluebells: native or foreign invaders?


Perennial with tough spreading roots which must be dug out and even then difficult to get all of it as it spreads so far. There are over 400 types of bramble in the UK (according to one of my wildflower books) so it makes sense I have a couple of types. The second one has finally bloomed and produced berries (it can be so difficult to ignore weeds waiting for them to flower, I've been itching to take the secateurs to them).

this is one type, in my front garden, which I think of as the usual wide-spread type of bramble, blackberry-type berries


here's the flower of the 2nd type in my back garden, leaves on the left in the pic below

bramble flower

here are the berries that go with the flower above

bramble berry

the two types of bramble leaves I've noticed


What I think of as the "usual" bramble has lots of fierce thorns (top stem), the other variety is tame in comparison with quite mild thorns which I can touch quite easily

bramble stems

Bristly Oxtongue (Helminthotheca echioides)

I previously only had this on my Identification - South Coast page but I saw it in southeast London yesterday (19-8-2017). Those bracts below the flowers are a distinctive feature as are the blisters on the leaves. One of the plants had very purple-red stems.

bristly oxtongue

bristly oxtongue

bristly oxtongue

those bumps or blisters on the leaves are a distinctive characteristic of bristly oxtongue

bristly oxtongue

Buddleja. It may appear as a weed as it can self-seed and sprout up anywhere. Often seen on buildings, roofs, etc. and can cause damage, eg growing through a brick wall. Must be dug out or just cut above ground level if the roots have spread.

I'm adding another photo of a buddleja I noticed growing in the wall of a house around the corner from me. I guess the seed blew into one of the damp course holes in this wall (I assume that's what they are). This example shows how these buddleja take root anywhere.


This buddleja suddenly appeared in the pot below..


Buddleja flowers

buddleja flowers

buddleja seedling

This was taken at the beginning of March. I didn't know what it was at that time. By now (end of May) it's looking very buddleja-like (next pic).


I think these are even smaller buddleja seedlings but I will be able to confirm in a few weeks.

buddleja seedlings

yes those above are buddleja

as soon as those curved middle leaves appear, you can confirm its buddleja



This suddenly appeared, fully formed, in this clump next door (August 2014). They aren't keen gardeners but I thought I would have noticed! The flowers are very thistle-like but the leaves are completely different.


this entire clump is burdock, I'm not sure if it's lesser or greater burdock


that clump above has long since been cleared and recently (June 2016) the lawn was mown, shortly after that this small plant appeared

I saw these yesterday (21-4-2017) off a nearby main road. I wonder how tall they'll get if left to grow.



Butterbur (Petasites)


butterbur flowers

butterbur flower

butterbur flower

before the flowers appear, it's difficult to tell what the plant is, the round leaves are similar to wild garlic


This campanula has attractive blue flowers but I guess it might get invasive and be considered a weed. I just pulled a clump out that was smothering my lily of the valley. Here's a clump that's taken hold on my path. I will add another photo when it's in bloom.


campanula flower

campanula flower

Caper Spurge (a type of Euphorbia)

I hadn't seen a caper spurge in my garden for so long at first I didn't realise what it was. I used some home-made compost recently and I suddenly have one appearing. It's younger and fresher than the one above (which was in my first set of weed pics), it got bent so difficult to take a pic in situ so pulled it up.

about 15 cm

caper spurge seedling

propped it up to see it from above

caper spurge seedling

Catnip (Nepetea cataria)??

The seedling to the right of the viola seedlings I originally thought was nepeta cataria and the photo is labelled as such, but at some point I doubted myself and thought maybe it was dead-nettle but now I've gone back to catnip, but I'm still not 100 percent certain. Both nepeta and dead-nettle are in the Lamiaceae family and have similarities. 


2 weeks later and it has flowered, it has square stem and white flowers



Cat's Ear (Hypochaeris radicata)

I saw this recently (30-7-2017) in my sister-in-law's garden in northwest London.

cat's ear

This was my original cat's ear pic from 2011 and I'll be honest, I'm not sure if it's cat's ear. At the time I didn't know as much about weeds, especially all these yellow-flowered ones. Looking at it now, I see branched flower stems which cat's ear doesn't have. It's quite mangled so difficult to say but I think it's nipplewort.


greater celandine

saw this in east London

more of those very distinctive leaves

greater celandine

Lesser Celandine

I've been looking at weeds for some years (at least since 2010) and have only just seen lesser celandine locally (February 2018) in a park across the road. (common field speedwell leaves top right)

lesser celandine

whole lesser celandine plant with flower buds just opening

lesser celandine

and suddenly this year (2018), I'm seeing more lesser celandine

lesser celandine

I saw this lesser celandine with bronze leaves in new planting at Kings Cross so it's a garden plant, not just a weed. It does have very early flowers.

lesser celandine bronze leaves

Celery-leaved Crowfoot / Buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus)

This was briefly in my Unknowns but thanks again to my Illustrated Book of Wildflowers (yes, a book, still a great resource) I was able to identify this. It really confused me that the leaves top and bottom were different shapes but the book confirmed that. I saw this along Regents Canal initially 30-4-2017 but just had to go back 2-5-2017 to get better pics.

celery-leaved crowfoot

the upper leaves are clearer in this pic (excuse my feet at the bottom)

celery-leaved crowfoot

the lower leaves are clearer in this pic

celery-leaved crowfoot

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Annual, easy to pull out.

Chickweed seedlings


I got a few pots from freecycle and wanted to see what would grow, in this case chickweed!


I let it grow and flower so I could take some clear pics


close-up of those flowers

chickweed flower

those examples of chickweed above look very lush and green but I saw some on the pavement down the road that were much more sparse, they adapted to their harsher conditions


Chickweed, mouse-ear

in the front with buds at the top (flowering rosemary in the background)

I finally decided I had to pull it out even though the flowers hadn't opened as I really want that rosemary to thrive and not make it compete with a weed. I'm happy with the ID of mouse-ear chickweed for this.

mouse-ear chickweed

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Chicory is a flower I love and I have it in my garden, grown from seed but while out walking through the "wild" area of Allen Gardens in Spitalfields (East London) the other day I saw some great examples and realised it's a weed in some circles, definitely a wildflower, so should include it here to help with identification.

chicory Allen Gardens Spitalfields

close-ups of the flower

chicory flower

this shows the arrangement of the buds along the stem

chicory flower and buds

I wanted to show a close-up of the lower leaves

chicory lower leaves

the upper leaves are quite small in comparison

chicory upper leaves


By that I mean Yellow Suckling Clover/Lesser Trefoil/Lesser Hop Trefoil (Trifolium dubium), or so I've just discovered by googling. I thought it was just Clover! It is all over most of the garden next door which I look after. I never noticed it specifically. I mean I knew there was some clover over there but not this much.

yellow suckling clover lesser trefoil

Yellow flowers seem to have taken over the garden next door. I have a lot of creeping buttercup (left, below) at the moment and wanted to compare the flower to that of the clover (right, below) although it's not the clearest pic of the clover. I'll take another but wanted to show what I have in the meantime. I've also dicovered Wall Lettuce and Hedge Mustard recently and of course, there's still the odd smooth sow thistle, nipplewort and coltsfoot, all with yellow flowers.

buttercup clover

I've been told this is Coltsfoot and possibly invasive. I've not seen it before. It suddenly appeared in the garden next door. On the left is the coltsfoot, on the right a hollyhock and on the left and spreading through underneath is pellitory of the wall.

a couple weeks later, the strikingly coloured stems are more pronounced

It's quite similar to hollyhock, as noted above but worth showing ano photo (below, taken June 2014). Coltsfoot leaf is smooth and shiny, hollyhock is quite textured.

coltsfoot and hollyhock

The Coltsfoot is in bloom (March 2014).


The next day the flowers are fully open.


Suddenly the coltsfoot has gone mad - numerous stems and flowers, including dandelion-like  ones ready to blow seeds everywhere so I've put it straight into the garden waste bag, not even taking time for a pic before I did it in case any of those seeds got away.


Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

a purple wildflower I grew from seed


I saw this one with white flowers in Allen Gardens, Spitalfields (East London) the other day.

white comfrey

Common Daisy / Lawn Daisy (Bellis perennis)

bellis perennis

low rosette with buds

bellis perennis rosette

Common Field-Speedwell (Veronica persica)

Apologies fellow gardeners, I had this listed as ground-ivy, a recent addition here, but those buds opened today (11-3-2017) and I was able to take a photo and it's definitely not ground-ivy but common field-speedwell, a weed I had not encountered before (first noticed it Feb 2017). It's similar to deadnettle so maybe I just didn't take note before. BTW I love those purple flowers and will not be removing it.

common field-speedwell

close-up of the flower

common field-speedwell flower

bare lengths of stems between groups of leaves

It happens to be growing in the same pot as some deadnettle (on the right) which I originally mistook it for as I have lots of deadnettle everywhere now (I like the small flowers, esp as the bees love them) but here it's easy to see the deadnettle has differently textured leaves which have rounded lobes. The field-speedwell leaves are smooth and toothed. (in the middle is forget-me-not and larger leaves at the top, green alkanet)

Common Knotgrass

common knotgrass

The specimen above looks so small unlike the large clump I noticed the other day.

common knotgrass

here is a close-up of that

common knotgrass

One of the freecycle pots had common knotgrass which I allowed to grow to see the flowers produced. I didn't realize the "knots" above had the little white flowers but I hadn't taken close-up enough photos. Here are a few I took today:

common knotgrass flower

common knotgrass flower

common knotgrass

a wider view of that common knotgrass

common knotgrass

Common Orache (atriplex patula)

I saw this growing on the pavement outside my house. I won't pull it out until it flowers.

common orache

I saw this common orache along the canal (middle of May 2017). I didn't recognise it at first as I've only previously seen this weed the one time above.

common orache

2 weeks later it started to bloom

common orache

another clump, in a sunnier position further along the canal, had more flowers

common orache

Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis)

definitely a wildflower, not sure how much it's considered a weed, I have it from sowing some wildflower seeds from Ireland a friend gave me

lots of wildflowers have daisy-like flowers - can be confusing, I have ox-eye daisy but I know there are others

corn chamomile

Corydalis Lutea (yellow fumitory), grown as a garden plant but I pull it up as a weed as it self-seeds around my garden, including on walls, and I don't really like it. Easy to pull out.

corydalis lutea

Creeping Buttercup

If left, creeping buttercup soon spreads and gets more and more difficult to pull out. The first one below I tried to pull out with the roots but it just broke off. It was developed enough to have bloomed.

creeping buttercup flower

creeping buttercup

As below you can see these creeping buttercup have multiple stems and they make a very difficult plant to pull out but it's worth trying to get the whole clump.

creeping buttercup

February 2018, I noticed a small creeping buttercup seedling in a pot and tried to pull it out. Very difficult! seeing how long the roots are I can see why. A very tough weed to dig out from the the garden

creeping buttercup roots

Cut-leaved Geranium (Geranium dissectum)

cut-leaved geranium

close-up of the leaves (ignoring that grass stem on the right)

cut-leaved geranium leaves

Dandelion tough roots that must be dug out.


dandelions usually have toothed leaves but not always at the beginning, sometimes they develop later

dandelion without toothed leaves


I'm seeing a few different dead-nettles.

Spotted Dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum)

I think this is spotted dead-nettle


I think this is another spotted dead-nettle. Unfortunately I didn't see any flowers on it and it's disappeared from my garden.


Red / Purple Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

this is in a small park across the road, one of the first weeds/wildflowers in bloom, March 2018

red dead-nettle

close-up red dead-nettle

comparison of spotted (?) on the left and red on the right, luckily I happened to see them near each other at a local park, clearly different types

comparison of dead-nettles spotted and red

Dockweed (or just Dock)

I'm seeing a lot of this this recently whereas before I didn't seem to see too much of it. I think it has to be dug out but I haven't removed many plants. The first pic is a large plant in a neighbour's garden which is probably responsible for the seeds blowing over to our gardens.


This second pic shows a much smaller plant (2 large leaves at the front) and interestingly some other weeds, back, right creeping buttercup, centre right stinging nettle and couch grass at the front and in the middle.


This third image of dockweed (from another neighbour's garden) is of a plant between the other two in size.  The tall plant to the right is a teasel. - correction - reviewing this pic and knowing that later there was lesser budock there, I think that's burdock and not dock at all.


This fourth pic of dockweed shows a close-up of the flowers and how differently shaped are the upper leaves on the plant in contrast with the large lower leaves.


small dock plant/seedling, these leaves (below) are between 3 and 6.5 cm, not very recognisable as a dockweed yet

small dock plant

another type of dock? (I think), still researching what kind

this is in the garden next door but I also just saw it on the pavement a few houses down the road

close-up of the flower on the above plant

Sharp Dock

This is along the Regent's Canal, London NW1.

close-up of the flowers

Enchanters Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)

Perennial, easy to pull out, see below how all the roots have come out when it's pulled up but if you miss one little bit it can grow a new weed.

If you have to have a weed it's great to have one like this where the entire root comes out.

Here are the earliest seedlings of Enchanter's Nightshade.



enchanter's nightshade


enchater's nightshade

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

I saw this in the protected environment of the walled carpark round the corner from me 2-9-2017

evening primrose

a plant still in bud

evening primrose buds

an even earlier plant which I noticed first, then the more developed buds above, then the flowers above that so I realized this is evening primrose, in isolation not sure I would have, well maybe now after I've seen these examples

evening primrose buds

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

I found this first one today (8-9-2013) and I don't think I've ever seen a specimen of fat hen with so many flowers and so tall. I didn't measure it but it must be close to 20 cm tall.

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

yesterday (25-9-2014) I did find an even larger fat hen

fat hen

August 2017 and I have a new tallest fat hen. I saw this in Allen Gardens, Spitalfields (East London)

fat hen allen gardens

close-up of the flowers

fat hen flowers allen gardens

fat hen seedlings

earliest seedlings, first week

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

fat hen after a few weeks

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

and even later

Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

I had so many of these seedlings in a seed tray I thought they were maybe something I'd planted but as they grew they became recognisable. Annual, easy to pull out.

Feverfew, a herb but it can sprout up like a weed. Easy to pull out.

Feverfew flower

feverfew flower

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

I did just have this on my South Coast and Downs page but I saw it near to me in London so I'm adding today's (13-6-2018) photo here. I suspect this is from a mix of wildflower seeds.

field bindweed

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

I hope this photograph shows it clearly enough for identification, the leaves at the bottom are amongst a teasel. I planted wildflower seeds for this so not sure how wide-spread in London.

field scabiout

Forget-Me-Not, blooms very early in the spring, I guess this is next year's crop. I let them grow until they get invasive and compete with other plants then I pull them out. Easy to pull out.

Here are some forget-me-nots later in the season after they have bloomed. A weed or welcome flower, your choice.


Fox-and-Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca)

I bought this at the garden centre as a wildflower but some may find it invasive in their garden.


these are new plants the next year that self-seeded from my originals



I grow these from seed but there are always some that sprout up unexpectedly from self-seeding as this one did. They are a wonderful flower but not if they sprout up in the wrong place.

foxglove flower

This foxglove self-seeded in my neighbours' brick wall. I love foxgloves but this one is in the wrong, potentially damaging, position.


Gallant Soldier (Galinsoga parviflora Cav.)

Saw this on the pavement nearby.

gallant soldier weed

a close-up of the above plant

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

A reader asked me about this and suddenly I saw a lot of plants locally (end of April 2017), especially along the Regent's Canal. I've never seen it in my garden.

garlic mustard

close-up of the flower

garlic mustard

the spiky bits are the seed capsules left after the flowers are finished

garlic mustard

Reading about it, the first year the garlic mustard starts as a rosette of leaves and then grows taller and blooms in the second year. I went back to the canal and noticed a number of these small plants nearby, not that rosette-like but I still think these are the new first year garlic mustard plants.

garlic mustard first year

Geranium Molle

I saw this off  Hampstead Rd, near the railway lines out of Euston. It's in flower so quite identifiable unlike the one below which I saw in the garden next door

geranium weed

I gave up waiting for this to flower, I don't know why, the one I found above is quite pleasant, but I think this is also geranium molle.

creeping buttercup

that plant a month later

geranium weed

Geranium Rotundifolium

I think this is geranium rotundifolium but I only saw it yesterday (14-10-2017) for the first time and I never heard of it before but the flowers do not match the other geranium wildflowers I know. It's also in bloom in October when some resources suggest an earlier finish to flowering but it seems with global warming the usual "rules" are out the window.

geranium rotundifolium

geranium rotundifolium

Gipsywort/Gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus)

July 2017 It has been so hot and dry and the canal quite barren. It's finally rained and this gipsywort has sprung up and bloomed.





this was along the canal a few months before, in April, I was hoping to see if it had flowered but it was long gone after the weeks of drought, it wasn't right by the water like the one above, I presume it is gipsywort although it's so different from the fresh bright green example above


Goosegrass/ Cleavers (Galium aparine)

very early goosegrass seedling

at first I didn't recognise it but as it grew and I touched it and found that dry stickiness, it became clear it's goosegrass

goosegrass seedling

early pic of goosegrass (taken before I realised not to pull the weeds up before I take a pic)

tiny white flowers of the goosegrass, below, buds just visible in the pic above

goosegrass flowers

goosegrass/cleavers seedling


I love Green Alkanet with its beautiful blue flowers in bloom very early in the spring, good for bees when little else is in bloom. Don't worry if it covers the garden (as it does mine in early spring), it dies back before other plants get going. The leaves do have a similarity to foxglove but the alkanet has slightly stinging rough hairs whereas the foxglove is very smooth and soft.

green alkanet

green alkanet seedlings: on the right in the black plastic pot on the left and on the left in the terracotta pot at the bottom of the pic, compare with the textured leaves of the foxgloves: to the right in bottom terracotta pot and in the  very small pot bottom right

also in the pots below top right: dandelion along with viola and verbena bonariensis, bottom left pot: forget-me-not in the middle with that distinctive strong line down the middle of the leaf making it identifiable

green alkanet seedlings

close-up of the green alkanet seedlings from above, they have that distinctive folded 3rd leaf (and a tiny, tiny oxalis with the long thin root, in the small plastic pot bottom right above)

green alkanet seedlings

green alkanet without its distinctive blue flowers

green alkanet

Grass different types

Couch Grass. Spreads but can be pulled out at the base.

This is the couch grass flower

couch grass flower

while pulling up this grass which had spread to one of my pots I noticed how red the bases of the clumps were, I never noticed that before, I'm wondering now if it is all couch grass or just a variation or detail I never noticed, will try to find out; although it's annoying I'm always happy it's relatively easy to pull out

couch grass

also couch grass or another grass? this looks quite different from the clumps above but maybe they would turn into that given time?

grass weed

close-up of one of the spreading roots above

spreading grass weed

another type of grass

sweet pea

and a week later

sweet pea

some sort of grass weed, goosegrass? (not to be confused with cleavers), crabgrass?  will research further

grass weed

Green Spleenwort (Asplenium viride)

thanks to Mike (FB) for his help identifying this

green spleenwort

green spleenwort

Ground Elder. Perennial, must be dug out, including every piece of root which will grow if left. I did have it over half the garden but I don't seem to have any now after digging it out and repeating whenever I see any which is what Bob Flowerdew recommends. Eventually it weakens the plant. It took a few years but it worked.

The photo above is from 2011, one of my earlier weed photos. I had worked hard to remove all the ground elder so was surprised to see a fully formed plant with a spray of flowers beginning of June 2018.

ground elder

ground elder

It grew quite tall to reach the sun.

ground elder

I thought I had completely eradicated ground elder but found a couple little sprouts.

ground elder

ground elder

This last pic here shows the ground elder with the roots after I dug it up. I got most of it but some definitely broke off. I'm sure it will come back but I must keep digging it up whenever I see it.

ground elder


Annual easy to pull out.

another example


early groundsel seedling

I saw this a few weeks ago and mistook it for horseweed but today (a few weeks later) it was a lot more identifiable. (I did take a pic but it's not as clear as the one above.)


this has me completely confused, it looks similar to groundsel but the leaves are a different shape, ragwort? Oxford ragwort?

and just to confuse things further, a groundsel has self-seeded itself next to this (pulled it out and laid it next to this for comparison) and it is definitely different leaves at the top but similar leaves at the bottom, definitely thinking senecio weeds  (groundsel, ragwort, Oxford ragwort, not sure if there are others)


Hart's Tongue Fern

this is one of those plants, does it go on the weed page or plant page? this and the dryopteris fern act very weed-like, this self-seeding in a wall by the Regent's Canal near King's Cross, so I think they can be acknowledged as weeds

Hart's Tongue fern

Hogweed and Hairy Bittercress, below, also see next 2 entries.


The following is hairy bittercress. At first it's quite low-growing, a small clump on the ground (see hogweed pic above) but then the flower stems shoot up as below. Annual, easy to pull out.

hairy bittercress

The seedling is quite flat on the ground and then suddenly a stem shoots up from the centre.

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress seedlings, before the central stem has shot up

hairy bittercress

and here is the tiniest, tiniest beginning of the hairy bittercress (about 1.2 cm wide)

hairy bittercress

with the cat just to put it into perspective (it's the seedling on the bottom right)

hairy bittercress
This is one of the oldest hairy bittercress I've seen. I've just discovered it in a pot end of March 2015. It seems to have survived the winter, which was mild and turned into an established plant - that won't last long!

hairy bittercress


Having another look at this and the examples I've seen on Hayling Island, and I think it's Hawk's-beard, either beaked or smooth, not absolutely certain so far. In flower May to July,  long bare stems rising above base rosette of toothed leaves, multiple branching flower stems from the top part of the stems.

I noticed this mid-July locally (Camden Gardens, north London) after previously only seeing it on the southcoast and putting it on my southcoast identification page

March 2017, I notice some small plants in the same spot and think they are the new season's growth. I don't know if they are new seedlings or growing from the existing plants. Will keep a watch on how they develop. -update - they did grow and bloom but before I could take a photo they were vandalised, maybe because someone noticed me taking photos and taking an interest in them? That's a discouraging aspect of life in London.

a close-up of the leaves show the prickly edge

Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)

I'm surprised I've never seen this in the garden before today (June 13th 2014). I'm seeing this everywhere now. I pulled it up and put it on my front doorstep to take a pic. I think hedge mustard must go in phases. 2014 was a year for hedge mustard and I'm finding 2017 is as well.

hedge mustard

It's appeared both in the garden and out, the pavement outside my house.

hedge mustard

close-up of the hedge mustard flower

hedge mustard

I saw a lot of hedge mustard yesterday (21-4-2017) off a main road and wanted to show some more details of it.

before the longer stem with the flowers appear

hedge mustard

hedge mustard

close-up of the hedge mustard flowers and buds

hedge mustard flower

full-size example

hedge mustard

seeing all that hedge mustard the other day made me re-consider the plant on the left which I had originally (mistakenly) called smooth sow thistle but I realise it is hedge mustard (prickly sow thistle on the right)

smooth and prickly sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

close-up of those textured leaves

smooth sow thistle

and another view of that close-up

smooth sow thistle


this is in a park round the corner, very tall weed with white flowers, we saw a few different examples on the Chelsea Fringe Weed Walk

close-up of the leaves

Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)

The following 3 photos show Herb Robert. Some people grow it as a garden plant. Personally I can't bear it, especially the smell, and pull it out wherever I find it. Annual, easy to pull out.

herb robert
herb robert

And here is herb robert in bloom. Some people like it as a flower. I pull it up as a weed wherever I find it.

herb robert in flower

Herb Robert seedling, the seed leaves precede the very distinctive leaves

herb robert seedling

herb robert seedling

also oxalis and teasel in this pot

herb robert seedling

The following are hogweed. I collected the seed as a wildflower but not sure it's good for a small garden so disposed of it (very small hairy bittercress in the ground to the left of the pots).


This Honesty (Lunaria), larger heart-shaped leaves) is another plant that self-seeds. I let it grow because I like it but some may pull it out. It blooms early with the aquilegia and alkanet before other plants. The dried seedheads can be seen to the right of the morning glory above. Easy to pull out.

honesty lunaria

I saw this lunaria today (18-1-2014) and thought it would be worth capturing the texture of the leaves and now that I've put the photo here I see how different the texture looks from the one above. Bottom centre here is green alkanet. The one on the right underneath is teasel. Of course, at the top is ivy.

honesty lunaria

I don't know what makes leaves red like this, will try to find out more.

red-leaved honesty lunaria

honesty (lunaria) flower

honesty lunaria flower

honesty seed pods, initially green they will turn brown and papery, these "coins" give the plant its other name, the money plant

honesty lunaria seed pods

very small honesty (lunaria) seedlings

honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

honesty lunaria seedling

a small honesty plant with those distinctive center leaves

honesty lunaria small plant

another, more developed, honesty plant

honesty lunaria small plant

Horsetail (Equisetum arvenses)

Thanks to Phil for this pic of horsetail. He has found it to be impossible to eradicate. Apparently no flowers are produced but I don't know much about this weed as, thankfully, I do not have it in my garden.


Horseweed (Conyza canadensis)

tall annual weed with small white flowers


Horseweed seedlings

horseweed seedling

horseweed seedlings


not all horseweed start with the rosette of leaves, I think it depends when they start growing

this one has been growing the last few weeks in this pot and never had that rosette of notched leaves, about 40 cm tall


there are some buds at the top



Iris foetidissima

This is another self-seeder and it can make rather large clumps. It's useful in shady areas where it's difficult to get things to grow but it can also get invasive and weed-like. Difficult to pull out.

iris foetidissima

Iris foetidissima flower

iris foetidissima flower

Iris foetidissima seed pods

iris foetidissima seed pods

iris foetidissima seed pods splitting open to reveal those bright orange seeds

iris foetidissima seed pods

Ivy (as a weed)

Ivy can root anywhere. If you try to cut ivy down but don't remove all the branches, they will root into a wall, brickwork, anywhere. Don't think if you cut connection to the roots, you have killed it, you haven't! I found this ivy had rooted into a bag of crushed shells I had for mulching.


Ivy-Leaved Speedwell

tiny flowers, matt and hairy whereas the ivy-leaved toadflax below is smooth and shiny

ivy-leaved speedwell

Ivy-Leaved Toadflax

This was taken beginning of April, when the flowers appeared. Smooth and shiny in contrast to the ivy-leaved speedwell above which is hairy.

ivy-leaved toadflax

the reddish buds before the flowers appear, below


Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

Unlike other small suspected examples I've seen, this Japanese Knotweed is tall. It has a speckled stem with nodes and shield-shaped alternate leaves. 

japanese knotweed

close-up of the stem

japanese knotweed stem close-up

another shoot near the tall plant above, I will go back and measure the leaves

japanese knotweed

The first example I noticed as a small shrub along the railings of the London Zoo car park and thought it looked familiar. I don't know why it's a sprawling shrub rather than tall stems.

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed node

I did wonder why such an isolated shrub? so a couple days later I went back and looked further and found 2 more along the railings but still no huge patch of it as you hear horror stories of.

japanese knotweed

this is a wider view of the environment, the first example of the Japanese knotweed is at the base of the lamp post on the far side

the Japanese knotweed is on the right below along the railways, quite far from any gardens across the road

the third example I've seen, small shoot in a front garden round the corner

japanese knotweed

Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

I saw this at Spitalfields Farm (East London) this week (August 2017). Thanks to Debbie, via FB, who has helped me with a better ID of this.

spiraea japonica

close-up of the flowers, vetch in the background

spiraea japonica flower close-up

Knotgrass, see Common Knotgrass

Lesser Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

I bought this as a "wildflower" at the garden centre (they were on sale so couldn't resist) but some may have this self-seeding in their garden.

lesser knapweed

close-up of a knapweed flower

lesser knapweed flower

London Bur-Marigold (Bidens Connata)

This has been in my Weed Gallery (a few picturesque weed photos) for years as an unknown but I recently came across an ID. I saw this growing in the Regent's Canal near me in Camden Town, northwest London, appropriate as it spread along the Grand Union Canal network, of which the Regent's Canal is part.

London Bur-Marigold

Liverwort (Marchantiophyta)

This is a moss-like weed that has appeared in some seed trays.


from that one small "sprout", the liverwort has spread quite a lot in my pots but it doesn't seem to cause much of a problem, recently I've noticed these upright growths



I read somewhere recently about this being a weed but I sowed it myself as a wildflower from seed.  I took this pic on June 11th and it's not in bloom yet. (a comparison with wood avens is below in the wood avens entry)


beginning of July and I see my first mallow flower

 mallow flower

Here is a more established plant (with lots of flowers).


This is a maple seedling. For some reason I have masses of them this spring (2012). I wasn't sure what they were, as I never noticed them before, until I found this one with the seedpod (whirligig) still attached.

maple seedling

here's another whirligig with the seedling just emerging

maple seedling

Here's a larger one.

maple seedling

This is it after I've pulled it out of the ground which gets more difficult as they get larger. I just about managed this one as the ground was wet.

maple seedling

Milk Thistle (see Plant Identification page)

Michaelmas Daisy (Aster Amellus)

August 2017, this year the flowers are earlier because of the hot weather we've had

michaelmas daisy

michaelmas daisy

the michaelmas daisies are the plants with the long thin leaves amongst the chinese lanterns


mid-September 2014



Thank you to reader Digeroo who has identified this as mugwort There were two of these so I left one and pulled out one. I'd like to take another pic of it when it blooms.


another one sprang up on the other side of the garden next door, the bright blue flowers are green alkanet


mugwort flower, I don't know if this is fully in bloom or if each of the small "buds" are going to open, I sure want to catch any seeds before they're let loose so I will keep an eye on these

mugwort flower

Nightshade, Black

white flowers and green and black (bottom left) berries, I saw this along the Regent's Canal


I saw this in Bloomsbury this week (15-8-2016), very distinctive leaf shape as above

black nightshade

Nightshade, Woody also known as Bittersweet

Thank you to Suzanne who originally identified Woody Nightshade. I've taken a better pic of one I saw round the corner.

woody nightshade

its distinctive purple and yellow flowers (that green plant wrapping around it is something else, think maybe honeysuckle)

woody nightshade flowers

Nipplewort, early July I see lots in flower (see example below), annual, easy to pull up


Here's a nipplewort seedling mid-April. In my efforts to show the earliest seedlings I wanted to show this. If we can identify these very early seedlings we can weed them out before they get established, but most importantly before they set seed.

nipplewort seedling

nipplewort seedling as a rosette of leaves, I think, like horseweed, nipplewort starts with a rosette of leaves depending on when it starts growing

nipplewort seedling

this nipplewort seedling started off as a rosette flat on the ground (end of January/beginning of February 2017) and just started to grow upwards before I took this pic (on Feb 18th)

nipplewort seedling

fully grown nipplewort


close-up of the nipplewort flower

nipplewort flower


At first I thought this might be Wall Lettuce, esp as I couldn't see the bottom of the plant (the flowers are very similar). I had to pull it up, to both identify it and take a photo showing it all. It became clear it's Nipplewort, with those distinctive notched leaves at the bottom. I don't usually let Nipplewort grow and see it this tall but this one got away.






Orache, see Common Orache


Spreads so can be difficult to get all the parts but if traced can be easily pulled out.


I usually pull the oxalis up whenever I see it but one plant bloomed before I noticed it and then I realised I didn't have a pic here of the flower so I've taken one. I just noticed the yellow buds on the plant above.

oxalis flower

This Oxalis (below) which I pulled up the other day (Sept 2014) shows 1. how long the roots are which did made it difficult to pull up 2. how runners extend the plant 3. a tiny bud in the middle at the top.


this shows how oxalis puts out runners which helps it spread so much, it loves the cultivated soil in my pots but that also makes it easy to pull out


thank you to Tom for alerting me to oxalis growing from little bulbs left in the soil under the surface

oxalis bulb

oxalis bulb

Oxalis debilis, pink woodsorrel

I thought this was just a pink oxalis weed but I see it may not be considered a weed and is generally called woodsorrel.

wood sorrel

Oxalis tetraphylla

Also called Iron Cross. We all have personal preferences on weeds, wildflowers and garden plants, this may be considered a garden plant but I would pull it up as a weed if I had it in my garden. I saw this round the corner in someone else's. (tiny herb robert seedling at the top and small rosette of (wild?) rocket at the bottom)

oxalis tetraphylla

Ox-eye Daisy
another plant I sowed from seed as a wildflower but it can get invasive

ox-eye daisy

ox-eye daisy

This is my first year of these self-seeding. They do look quite prolific.

ox-eye daisy seedling

some smaller seedlings from another year (2017)

quite close to a sea holly seedling (also don't know the seedling top right)

they've appeared in other places, left ox-eye daisy, right anemone? 6-7-2017, see below for a few weeks later

a few weeks later one of the seedlings

ox-eye daisy seedling

that example above with the anemone? 23-8-2017

ox-eye daisy small plant

Pale Smartweed, Pale Persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolia)

This was growing in a crack on the front path next door. By pulling really hard I managed to get it up and even including the root, as shown below.

pale persicaria

I can't remember how easy or difficult this one was to pull up. Much more developed than the one above.

pale persicaria

Spotted Persicaria (Persicaria maculosa)

I saw this persicaria down by the canal, July 2017. I think it is different from the ones above but not sure as they are such poor specimens and photos (pic directly above was one of the first weed pics I took and doesn't show the top of the leaves and if they have marks like below. I hope I know better now). I found it in my weed book as Persicaria persicaria but wiki tells me that is not allowed in the latest international agreement on naming plants which I guess the book predates).


Pellitory I've only recently realised there are two, pellitory-of-the-wall which I see quite a lot and upright pellitory which I've only seen from pots I got from freecycle.

Pellitory-of-the Wall (Parietaria judaica)

Large clumps which must be pulled out at ground level. (this is one of the first weed pics I took, must take another esp showing the buds/flowers)


Upright Pellitory (Parietaria officinalis)

This was in a pot I got from freecycle. I did not realize at the time what it was. I knew it was similar to pellitory of the wall (named pic "pellitory-type weed") but only recently came across upright pellitory.

upright pellitory

this was a pic of the sprout in the middle (cotoneaster lacteus) but it shows the upright pellitory to the left

upright pellitory

it was in another of the freecycle pots

upright pellitory

Pendulous Sedge

Small plants, surprisingly easy to pull out - until they turn into larger clumps that must be dug up. Most of the time they are just upright leaves but in the summer (?) they have catkins (not sure what else you call these). NB they look exactly like some of the nutsedge images I've seen. Unless they have the catkins or the flowers I don't know how you tell them apart.

pendulous sedge

pendulous sedge

when the sedge is small like the example on the left below it's easy to pull out but when it gets as large as the clump on the right below it needs to be dug out which I did on this clump

pendulous sedge

Petty Spurge

Annual, easy to pull out.

petty spurge

Pheasant Berry (Leycesteria formosa) has been suggested, I'll have to go with that as the first pic was taken a year ago (July 2014) and the second I took recently (July 2015) and it still has no flowers or the resulting berries and I'm tired of it taking up room on my patio so disposing of it
pheasant berry

pheasant berry

March 2017 this has appeared in my wall. I guess it came from the same place as the first one. I did dispose of that one above and it hadn't flowered so there must be a pheasant berry growing somewhere nearby but I haven't noticed one.

pheasant berry

Pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri)


on the pavement near my house I noticed these weeds, at the end of each branch there is a spray of buds, small pellitory of the wall to the right


some smaller plants without the "flower"s on the end of a branch


to the left looks like horseweed, to the right chickweed


an update on the pigweed end of August



a close-up of the "flowers" middle of September




Pineapple Weed (Matricaria discoidea)

I saw this yesterday (16-5-2017) outside Sainsbury's on Camden Rd. Easy to recognise from pics I've seen but I'd never seen it in person before.

pineapple weed

close-up of the flowers

pineapple weed flowers

Commonly called Plantain but the official name is Plantago, cannot be pulled out, must be dug up


Just saw this specimen today (8-9-2013) which has such well-developed flower spikes, unlike the usual scraggly specimens such as the one above.


Below was one of my unknown weeds/plants but as it's grown I see it's a plantain (Plantago), same as the above.


these are much easier to pull up if identified early, those vertically-veined leaves are distinctive, as are those flowers, shoots just visible on the right of the left plant and on the left of the right plant



different types, apologies as until recently I had field and atlas mixed up

field poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

I've had the odd one of these from seeds I planted. The seeds did not do well.

photo coming soon

Atlas Poppy (Papaver atlanticum)

this is the most common one I have self-seeding in my garden

papaver rhoeas

close-up of the leaves

papaver rhoeas leaves

opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

I don't see these that often


and here is a poppy in flower


there is also the oriental poppy (papaver orientale) but I have not seen that self-seeding

Prickly Sow Thistle
not to be confused with smooth sow thistle (see below), the leaves may be the same shape (ie lobed) only prickly or more oval-shaped like this one

prickly sow thistle

In the pic below I wanted to show how the leaves curl around the stem.

prickly sow thistle

this one self-seeded between the cracks

prickly sow thistle

and this prickly sow thistle self-seeded on the left in the pot below right (next to a teasel), also pot on the left has foxglove at the bottom and teasel at the top

and that prickly sow thistle seedling from above, leaf is about 5 cm long

prickly sow thistle seedling

I first noticed this prickly sow thistle in the pot with the hosta Sept 2014.

prickly sow thistle

The following spring (April 2015) it seems to have replaced the old leaves with this beautiful rosette of leaves. I still wanted to see it develop and bloom but also wanted the hosta so I pulled up and prickly sow thistle and put it in its own pot. It had a very large taproot, visible below.

prickly sow thistle

Beginning of June 2015 and one of the flowers has developed into a seedhead, like a dandelion, time to dispose of this before any of those seeds with "fluffy bits" (pappus) float away! 

prickly sow thistle

a tiny tiny prickly sow thistle, to the right, below, with the yellow flower, mid-July

prickly sow thistle

only about 10 cm tall, after I pulled it out

prickly sow thistle

this fresh green shoot is not the usual prickly sow thistle - although distinctive (prickly along the leaves) and identifiable if you examine it

prickly sow thistle

a prickly sow thistle I noticed around the corner April 2017

prickly sow thistle

Ragwort/Tansy Ragwort (Senecio Jacobaea)

initial rosette, this is on the patio of the garden next door at the back, the one I help look after

this example I saw in my sister-in-law's garden in northwest London shows the basal rosette similar to the one above


this is in the front garden next door (on the other side, ie not the one I look after) and I'm thinking it's Oxford ragwort as it's more sprawling and less upright than above and the examples on the bee page and South Coast page


Red Campion (Silene dioica)

red campion

red and white campion

red and white campion

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

even though these flowers are pink, I think this is "red clover"

pink red clover

Red Valerian see the Identification - South Coast page

Ribwort Plantain

(there's another weed there growing under it towards the bottom, slightly to the right, think it's a horseweed)

ribwort plantain

Rush, Soft Rush (Juncus Effusus)

oenothera on the left

I noticed a restaurant on the High St has a couple of rush plants outside it. Sadly, plants like this attract rubbish and cigarette butts but there is something that makes a business owner want to add some greenery to its frontage.



The one above did flower (will find a pic). I continue to have rush seedlings appearing but now I know what they are. At first glance it looks like grass but is thicker than grass. About 2 cm tall at this point.

rush seedling

that seedling above is tiny, below it's in situ in the pot on the left, to the right of the lupin seedling

rush seedling in situ

Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)

thanks for Francine (on FB) for ID'ing this; I hope to see it in bloom next Spring/Summer

salad burnet sanguisorba minor

salad burnet sanguisorba minor

scrophularia grandiflora

(with thanks to the RHS forum for ID help), I don't know if this is considered a weed, think I saw it described as a such on a web site but can't find that now, I don't like it and it self-seeded so to me it's a weed!

scrophularia grandiflora

and from above

scrophularia grandiflora

a few weeks later, yellow flowers on the verge of opening up

scrophularia grandiflora

flowers just opening up

scrophularia grandiflora

scrophularia grandiflora

Sedum Kamtschaticum

I don't know if this is ever considered a weed but in that location? it sure looks like one. Seen 14-9-2017, Spitalfields, East London

sedum kamtschaticum

close-up of the flowers

sedum kamtschaticum

close-up of the buds

sedum kamtschaticum

Sheep's Sorrel

I think I've finally found a match for this. It's difficult to say for sure as it's hard to find a really clear pic but this is a very close match from what I can see.

sheep's sorrel

sheep's sorrel

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

I've seen this in a nearby park and yesterday (21-4-2017) off Hampstead Rd (major road from Camden Town down to the Euston Rd at Warren St). I haven't seen it in my garden but suddenly I seem to be seeing a lot of it in the local area (and Seoul).

sheperds purse

close-up of those distinctive seed pods

shepherds purse

close-up of the 4-petalled flower in the centre, above it towards the right is a chickweed flower (more petals)

shepherds purse flower

the seed pods developing within the flowers

shepherd's purse

this is the initial rosette of a shepherd's purse plant

shepherds purse initial rosette

this plant (or plants) shows both the mature plant and that initial rosette

shepherds purse

Silver Birch

this is a tree seedling but in this location in a crack in the pavement round the corner from me, it's a weed (thanks to Mike (on FB) who helped with ID'ing this)

silver birch

close-up of the leaves

silver birch

coincidentally I also had this appear in a pot which I think is also silver birch

silver birch seedling

Small Mallow (Malva parviflora)

I saw this along the Regents Canal near King's Cross (northwest London) in June 2018.

small mallow

close-up of the small mallow flower

small mallow flower close-up

Small Nettle (Urtica arens)

see also Stinging Nettles

small nettle urtica arens


small nettle urtica arens

the buds are on small horizontal stems, these 2 pics are not great, I'm going to try to take another (in focus this time!)

small nettle buds

small nettle urtica arens buds

Smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)

Annual, easy to pull out - roots much smaller than, for example, a dandelion which has thick and deep roots. I'm afraid there are loads of pics of this but it is such a widespread weed and so common, it's worth looking at variations. As other weeds, such as prickly sow thistle and horseweed, may or may not have a well-developed rosette before the main stem shoots up, depending on when they start growing. Smooth sow thistle can have varying amounts of red from none at all to completely red.

1. starting with seedlings

the larger plant on the left has 4 leaves, the smaller plant on the right has 3 leaves and is the youngest sow thistle seedling I have

smooth sow thistle seedling

a bit larger, same 4 basic leaves so far

smooth sow thistle seedling

smooth sow thistle

2. some plants have a more well developed rosette than others

smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

3. full-size flowering plants have extremely variable heights, adapting to their conditions

smooth sow thistle

as a very successful weed smooth sow thistle copes (and flowers) in whatever environment it finds (on a wall next door)

smooth sow thistle

an enormous smooth sow thistle with smooth shiny bright green leaves, March 2017, just down the road in Camden Gardens

smooth sow thistle

Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)

this is in the garden nextdoor which now is only maintained by me and I like the pink flowers appearing in July so I've left it but it does spread a lot (by underground tubers I think my wildflower book said)


close-up of the soapwort flowers


Spiderwort (tradescantia)

the purple flowers look nice but it can be incredibly invasive

spiderwort tradescantia

common St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

I saw this 12-9-2017. Thanks to Michael (on FB) who helped with identification.

common st john's wort hypericum perforatum

close-up of a flower

common St John's Wort hypericum perforatum

Stinging Nettles

Do beware of these. I have a very painful reaction to this which lasts 12 hours. I don't recall reacting so badly in the past but I've become more sensitive to it so now I wear gloves to weed it and am more careful to avoid touching it. Perennial with tough roots which must be dug out. see also Small Nettle

stinging nettle

another stinging nettle

stinging nettle

stinging nettle with flowers

stinging nettle flowers

Storks-bill (Erodium cicutarium)

I saw this yesterday (21-4-2017) for the first time off Hampstead Rd (major road from Camden Town down to the Euston Rd at Warren St) so not sure how common a garden weed it is. I haven't seen it in my garden.


those long seed pods look like a stork's bill


Wild/Alpine/Woodland Strawberry
this spreads like mad, I find the fruits small and often not that nice


Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

a wild flower or a "weed", this one has self-seeded on my brick wall, I like this flower but not in this place

hesperis matronalis

another plant a bit closer that might be easier to see

sweet rocket hesperis matronalis

I saw this one in white in a nearby park, in their wildflower area

sweet rocket

sweet rocket white
This is a Teasel which can be a weed but I grew these as wildflowers for bees and birds. It's a biennial so I planted these last summer. First pic is flowers in bloom, next is after the seed heads have dried out and the third is a teasel plant the first year. Tough plant that must be dug out if not wanted.

teasel flower

dried seedheads

dried teasel seedheads

Teasel, first year

teasel first year

Teasel seedling

as soon as that distinctive texture on the leaves is visible its identifiable as a teasel seedling, below on leaves of 4 and 5 cms, at this point its easy to pull them up if you don't want the teasels in that place, I let a few grow but not to the point where they take over, which they easily do

teasel seedlings

below the seedling from the bottom of the pic above

teasel seedling

on the right when the seedlings have grown and have more leaves, on the left the texture of the leaves is just starting to show

teasel seedling


strong and tough and difficult to remove, I like them as a wildflower but worry about them becoming invasive

spear thistle

spear thistle

spear thistle

creeping thistle, in bloom end of June

creeping thistle flowers

flowers on a spear thistle in July, I love those flowers but this garden (a neighbour's) is close to being a solid block of thistles, although I do see a huge dock with brownish wilted flowers on the left, it's easy to see how weeds get out of control

spear thistle flowers

close-up of a spear thistle before it blooms (end of June)

spear thistle flower buds

thistle seedlings, not sure which variety but if I let some seedlings grow to see variety I need to keep them potted up so they don't get out of control

thistle seedling

thistle leaves
a comparison of thistle leaves, on the left creeping thistle, on the right spear thistle

thistle leaves comparison

I saw this rosette of a thistle yesterday (10-1-2016), think it's a spear thistle but will go back (it's along the Regents Canal) and see how it develops

thistle rosette

Three-Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum)

This is in bloom in the bitter cold of February (2018).

allium triquetrum three-cornered leek

allium triquetrum three-cornered leek

the flower stems have a trianguluar shape

allium triquetrum three-cornered leek

lots of buds

allium triquetrum three-cornered leek

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

this is the sort of thing you see springing up anywhere and everywhere, like buddleja

tree of heaven

I cut off the branch above and it's grown back, surrounded by jasmine (photo taken from my neighbour's garden)

tree of heaven

tree of heaven leaves

tree of heaven leaves

I saw some yesterday that were quite red. I guess their environment affects the colour.

tree of heaven

Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)

In some places this is considered a weed/invasive plant, not sure about North London (11-9-2017).

tutsan hypericum androsaemum

tutsan hypericum androsaemum

tutsan hypericum androsaemum

tutsan hypericum androsaemum

Valerian (Centhranthus)

Valerian comes in red, pink and white varieties. I saw this white one recently (June 2016) at a local park in a fenced off wildflower area. I saw red valerian on Hayling Island on the south coast so it's on the Identification - South Coast page and reader Diane recently sent me a pic of her pink valerian so I'm finally pulling all this info together.

white valerian

close-up of one of the flowers

white valerian flower

Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

this is a biennial, here is the young plant, year one

verbascum thapsus

Verbascum flower, year two

This is one of those "weeds" that has self-seeded in the garden.

verbascum thapsis flower

at first these look similar to foxglove but then their furriness and those distinctive leaves in the center make it clear these are verbascum thapsus

verbascum thapsis seedlings

I'm a big advocate of identifying seedlings as early as possible. These are a good example. At first they could be foxgloves or hollyhocks or something else but as soon as those furry inner leaves come out (bottom right, far left), then it's definitely verbascum thapsis and if you have enough of those (or in my case too many!), you can thin them out.

verbascum thapsis seedlings

It's been a couple years since I've seen any verbascum thapsis seedlings but this week I noticed this one growing out of a wall by the pavement nearby.

verbascum thapsis

Vetch (Vicia)

I love these purple flowers. I grew it as a green manure next door although I don't know which specific variety. I saw this one at Spitalfields Farm (East London) the other day. Two brown teasel heads at the bottom.


Violet (Viola odorata)

These spring up lots of places, usually without the flowers which at least provide some interest. I'll try to note how long they last. April 2014 front garden. Most of the year this looks like a weed but it does flower with "violet" flowers. The thing these self-seeders that turn into weeds seem to have in common is their ability to root anywhere.


Another plant after the flowers have finished, May 2013 back garden.


Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare)

I guess this is considered a weed in some circles, personally I love it and planted seeds a few years ago. I don't know if this self-seeded from a seed blowing in or grew from a dormant seed in the soil. (plaintain to the right in the pic below, the soil is rock-hard so that will be difficult to dig up)

viper's bugloss

close-up of the flowers

viper's bugloss flowers

April 2017

When I first grew viper's bugloss from seed I did not have much success - think I got 1 plant - and did not take photos of the seedlings/small plants so when these seedlings appeared - or at least when I noticed them enough to take a pic (Oct 2016) I didn't recognise them but now, being impatient to find out what they are, looking around the web I think they are viper's bugloss (also foxglove, viola, snapdragon in that small pot) which I did sow seed for the previous few years but never seemed to get any germination.

a reader suggested fox and cubs so I compared the two, fox and cubs to the left and above of the pot, similar in having rosette of hairy leaves

fox and cubs

Wall Lettuce wall lettuce

This is so much like smooth sow thistle but the flower is definitely  different although the lower leaves are quite similar. It's quite tall. This one was 85 cm tall - thus the difficutly of taking and posting the photo.














This photo below was taken when the wall lettuce was in situ in the flower bed. I had to pull it out to show the entire plant.

wall lettuce

I had previously taken this photo of the small plant in this spot. I thought it might have been nightshde but know I can see it was wall lettuce.

wall lettuce

I previously had this as a smooth sow thistle but I'm now thinking it's wall lettuce, although as I didn't let it develop any further I can't say for sure.

smooth sow thistle

Here's another plant I initially thought was smooth sow thistle round the corner (pellitory of the wall to the left) but I now think is wall lettuce, see close-up of the buds next pic.

smooth sow thistle

the buds are looking more wall lettuce, I will see how they develop

wall lettuce buds

the stems with the buds have grown, 10 days later

wall lettuce buds

2 weeks later those buds have opened

wall lettuce flowers

Wall Weeds

I've noticed recently how some weeds are so adept at seeding in a wall, which helps them be so annoying. Below are pellitory-of-the wall (back) and corydalis lutea (front), both of which I picture elsewhere. Also sprouting in walls recently are buddleja, foxglove, verbascum thapsis and sweet rocket, also pictured elsewhere.

wall weeds

Water Figwort (Scrophularia umbrosa)

It says (on wiki) the environment for water figwort must be wet or moist but this environment is definitely dry, a north London front garden. June 2018 fully grown and starting to flower.

water figwort

beginning of June buds are opening

water figwort

water figwort

water figwort

end of May, buds have appeared

water figwort

water figwort

I first noticed this back in November 2017. I could see the leaves were not something I recognised and distinctive with the small leaves below the large leaves on the stem. (strawberries in the background)

water figwort

White Campion (Silene latifolia)

I saw this along Regents Canal yesterday (16-5-2017). I guess other times I've walked there it wasn't in bloom.

white campion

white campion before it blooms, the flowers make it identifiable, without them nearby I'd never know what this was

white campion

White Clover (Trifolium repens)

I saw this along the Regent's Canal near me. It's such a common plant I never really thought about it before but it was so extensive and exuberant I thought I should take a photo and realized I didn't have it in on weed page so here it is finally, June 2018. Also red clover and yellow Yellow Suckling Clover/Lesser Trefoil/Lesser Hop Trefoil

white clover

White Deadnettle

I saw this in the park across the road (Camden Gardens)

white deadnettle

a close-up of some of the unopened buds

white deadnettle buds

Wild Cabbage

Thanks to Caroline who helped me identify this as Wild Cabbage. This was seen along Regents Canal.

wild cabbage

wild cabbage

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) see Identification - South Coast

Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea)

I saw this in east London on 17-6-2018.

wild mignonette

closest view I could get, it's behind railings along the railway lines

wild mignonette reseda lutea


most of these seedlings are willows that have self-seeded, they have a distinctive red tint (that tall one on the left is snapdragon)

willow seedling

a month later, end of July

willow seedlings

another seedling 7-2015

willow seedling

in a pot across the road

willow seedling

Willowherb generally 2 types in our gardens:

broad-leaved willowherb shiny bright-green leaves of classic shape, spreads via roots which emerge as rosettes on the surface of the soil, difficult to pull up if part of a spreading root system

short-fruited willowherb thinner leaves, easy to pull up

In the countryside, there is also Rosebay Willowherb. I've never knowingly seen it flowering in a London garden but I have seen them in flower outside urban areas. Having said that, I think it's growing next door but so far not large enough to flower. - update - pretty sure I've seen it flowering nearby last year (2016) but will check and take a pic this year (2017)

Short-fruited willowherb, the fluffy bits at the top, just starting to show below, contain the seeds.

short-fruited willowherb

although the willowherb flowers are usually pink, I found this one that's purple the other day

willowherb purple flower

short-fruited willowherb seedlings

short-fruited willowherb seedlings

tiny early short-fruited willow herb seedling which appeared end of Feb/ beginning of March

short-fruited willow herb seedling

Broad-leaved willowherb, by the time I noticed this it's grown multiple stems

broad-leaved willowherb

broadleaved willowherb

rosettes of broad-leaved willowherb growing from the spreading roots

I noticed some broad-leaved willowherb plants in the back garden and when I pulled them up saw two different sprouts on the roots, red leaved (top below) and green (below in the pic below) and then close-ups of each in the following pics.

willowherb sprouts

willowherb sprouts

willowherb sprouts

I think this is broad-leaved but I'm not even sure. At this stage it looks as if it could be either.

broad-leaved willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb

seedling, left below

rosebay willowherb seedling

That (on the left above, taken beginning of March) has turned into this, middle of June.

rosebay willowherb seedlings

3 months later the above has grown a little taller but otherwise little change.

rosebay willowherb small plants

following year, to the right, other plants are nigella

rosebay willowherb

a few weeks later

rosebay willowherb small plant

and here's another pic, I wanted to make sure that red stem showed up clearly (the nigella has a red stem as well)

rosebay willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb has a very distinctive veining on the leaves, they don't extend to the edge of the leaf:

rosebay willowherb leaf

underside of the above

rosebay willowherb leaf underside

compare with a short-fruited or broadleaved willowherb leaf:

willowherb leaves

medium-sized plant, second year, discarded after I established what it was

rosebay willowherb

I saw these, full-sized rosebay willowherb plants at the side of the road in West Sussex

rosebay willowherb flowers

rosebay willowherb

This is Wood Avens also called Herb Bennett (Geum Urbanum). I wasn't sure if it was a weed or a plant but apparently it has an RHS AGM (for those that like it, personally I hate it). I think it has a yellow flower. I haven't let one bloom for a while. I'll leave one and take a pic of the flower. Easy to pull out at the base. Taken in April, before it flowered:

wood avens

I noticed today (mid-June) that the wood avens were in bloom The following 3 photos show the wood avens flowers.

wood avens flower

wood avens

wood avens

One thing I've recently realised about wood avens is that the young, first leaves at the bottom of the plant are differently shaped from the older leaves at the top. I guess I thought all the leaves on a plant were one shape. Realising this helps in identifying weeds. I didn't realise that the plant below and the plant above are both wood avens but obviously the leaves are completely different.

wood avens

A young wood avens some weeks later.

wood avens

Some weeks later, differently shaped leaves at the top of the plant.

wood avens

After the Wood Avens have flowered there are prickly burrs with the seeds.

wood avens burrs

I wasn't sure if the plant on the right was wood avens or mallow, then saw I have them both near each other so thought a comparison might be useful, mallow on the left, wood avens on the right

comparison of mallow and wood avens

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

I don't know why I hadn't seen this before in London until this week. I did see it on Hayling Island (see Identification - South Coast). This was in Allen Gardens, Spitalfields (East London).

yarrow allen gardens spitalfields

yarrow allen gardens

this one was quite pink

pink yarrow allen gardens

Please see the end of the Plant Identification page for my unknown plants/weeds.