Plant identification

Asked July 27, 2019, 8:41 PM EDT

Would you be able to identify the three attached plants? All three are growing in my yard in Portland and I am trying to determine if I should help them grow or remove them. Here are a couple of observations: Plant 1: this one grows aggressively in one area. I think maybe it spreads by rhizomes? Plant 2: this is a very flat plant that spreads aggressively from a central stem with roots. Plant 3: I know this was planted intentionally, I just don't know what it is. Thanks in advance for your time!

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for using Ask an Expert for help with identifying the plants in your yard.

Plant 1 is most likely the lawn violet (Viola papilionacea) also called the blue violet or wild violet. As you observed, it does spread by rhizomes and can be difficult to eradicate. Some gardeners will allow it to spread in shady areas where other plants struggle, just to have some cover.

If you wish to remove it, persistent pulling or covering the area with cardboard and mulch will wear it down. Common lawn weed killers (clover or dandelion killers) will also work, in some areas. These products will damage any broadleaf plants, such as shrubs, perennials, or flowers. Remember to read and follow all directions and cautions.

Plant 2, is most likely common purslane (Portulaca oleraceae). This plant is considered a weed, by some. There are ornamental varieties with brightly-colored flowers and others with medicinal uses. How you view it may depend on where it is growing.

Plant 3 is one of the Arctostaphylos varieties, probably kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). This is a popular groundcover shrub, with pinkish flowers in spring.

Good luck with your garden and have a great season,