Plant Identification

Asked May 18, 2013, 11:01 PM EDT

I have two plant species in an area that I overseeded this year with red clover and orchard grass for hay harvest. I just want to make a positive identification to decide whether I need to take any action for toxicity. They will be cut and baled with hay if I don't take action. The first might have started on its own or been in a forb seed mixture I planted a few years ago. The leaves are covered with very fine hairs, and the plants form small colonies. My best guess was a comfrey or lamb's ears (Stachys olympica). The second is, I believe, giant goldenrod, but I've found references online that say it is toxic to cattle and some that say it has no toxicity. Most are 6 to12 feet high at this point. Thank you in advance for your help!

De Witt County Illinois

1 Response

Yes, you definitely have goldenrod. I believe that the other is milkweed, but it might be hemp dogbane. They look very similar at that stage. Milkweed is often included in forb mixtures. Goldenrod is not toxic but has a very coarse and woody stem that is nor readily eaten and really is unpalatable in hay. Milkweed is very toxic and definitely needs to be controlled. The best option for control in your field is 2,4-D. You will see some stunting of the clover, but it will recover. Be sure to include a nonionic surfactant when you spray, as the milkweed repels water very well.