University of Maryland Extension

Mulberry Weed

Mulberry Weed or Hairy Crabweed
Fatoua villosa

mulberry weed
Photo: Christine McComas, University of Maryland Extension

Life cycle:
Summer annual

Appearance and growth habit:
Leaves are triangular in shape, alternate along the stem, yellow-green in color, with prominent veins and toothed margins; prominent hairs on the stems and leaves; flowers on young plants are tan in color. Stems secrete a milky sap when cut and the plant has an oily odor. Mulberry weed can grow to 4 feet tall. It looks similar to a mulberry tree seedling when it is less than five inches tall. This is a non-native plant that originated from East Asia.

mulberry weed seedling
Photo: Mark Czarnota, University of Georgia,  

Mulberry weed produces pea-sized seed clusters that have the ability to discharge seeds up to four feet from the plant. It produces large numbers of seed, so good control from germination on is important. Seeds can remain viable in the soil or under mulch for several years. Seeds germinate in a wide range of temperatures, from 60-90F. Light is required for seed germination.

mulberry weed
Photo: Mark Czarnota, University of Georgia,  

Conditions that favor growth:
Moist, shaded areas

How to manage mulberry weed:
Remove weeds from potted nursery plants prior to planting in the landscape. Hand pull or dig out young plants. Hand removal must start early, as mulberry weed can produce seed on plants less than three inches in height. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier.

Mowing is not an effective means of control. Mowed plants can set seeds.

You can smother mulberry weed with black plastic, a weed barrier, or layers of newspapers covered with mulch. Mulch can help suppress seed germination. However, if nearby plants spread seeds, they can germinate on mulch surfaces.

A systemic, non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate can be used to spot-treat mulberry weed. Avoid contact with desirable landscape plants.


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