Shot weed?

Asked April 1, 2020, 12:35 PM EDT

We have what I've been told are something called shot weeds ALL over our gardens and now lawn every spring. They eventually "disappear" but are so irritating because we cannot see where our little perennials are popping up or not because they are covered! My husband thinks they come from the mulch? Any suggestions or thoughts?

Baltimore County Maryland

3 Responses

Hello. It sounds like you might be dealing with hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). It is an annual weed that thrives in the cool spring weather. Eventually the plants die down when the weather gets warm, but they are notorious for their effective seed dispersal prior then! It tends to show up in bare spots or where lawn is mowed too short. Here is our webpage about this plant and how to manage it in a lawn,

In addition, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a good article that goes into further detail about hairy bittercress,

If this does not look like what you have, feel free to send us photos of the plant in questions and we can identify it for you.


Good morning,
Yes, that is it! Oh my goodness, this stuff is crazy. Literally covering some of my plants! It's hard to pull up without knowing what may be coming up underneath. Like every year, I have to wait until it magically disappears.
Thank you for your response. Enjoy this beautiful sunshine today!

You are welcome.
You'll see suggestions for dealing with the weed in the links above.
One of the easiest is to keep an eye out in late fall to early winter and pull or scrape the plant off it's roots when they are still small. Their young growth is attractive and many mistakenly think that it might be one of their desirable plants. Getting them out before they bloom and set seed is helpful.