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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension

While were waiting, whats that weed?

Posted by Russel Higgins - Weeds

This is when it gets hard, the calendar tells us the corn should be in the ground and we should be planting soybean IF field conditions allow us to do so. While not at the panic level yet, this is often a time of heightened blood pressure for farmers (or researchers) who still have acres and plots to plant. We are begrudgingly holding off planting for another day at the NIARC after attempting some exploratory tillage. In an effort to stop other northern Illinois farmers from checking the suitability of their fields on an hourly basis, lets occupy your minds with other things by testing your weed expertise. Recent rains that restricted tillage or chemical applications has allowed the weed pictured above to flower and add a flash of yellow to some fields in northern Illinois. The weed is in the Aster family and prefers moist conditions and can tolerate temporary flooding. In my travels I am noticing it near wet or recently flooded areas of no till or un-tilled fields.
Give up? It's Butterweed! This plant is often considered a southern Illinois weed (and a native wildflower) but I have found it present in Grundy, Kendall and LaSalle Counties and suspect that it can be found in other northern counties as well. For those who are honing their weed identification skills, this native biennial or winter annual plant is 1-3' tall and unbranched, except for short flowering stems in some of the upper axils of the leaves along the central stem. The hollow central stem is light green or reddish green, with conspicuous veins along its length. The alternate leaves are up to 10" long and 2½" across, with deep pinnate lobes. These lobes have coarsely serrate or dentate margins. Sometimes the lobes of a leaf are broader toward the tip than at the base. Both the basal leaves and leaves along the stem have a ragged appearance. The central stem and small side stems terminate in rather tight clusters of compound flowers. A compound flower consists of 5-15 yellow ray florets, surrounding numerous golden yellow disk florets. Each compound flower is about ½" across, and a cluster of such flowers is about 1-5" across. The blooming period is from mid-spring to early summer, and lasts about 2 months. By late summer, Butterweed dies down and becomes inconspicuous. The root system is shallow and fibrous. Also, there is a conspicuous floral scent that resembles the fragrance of buttercups. So if you come across this weed in your field    Stop and smell the......Buttercups!
Information from Illinois Wildflowers website

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