These are two common weeds that produce evil, tangling burrs that
are a llama or alpaca's nightmare - especially right before a show!
After the flowers mature on Cocklebur plants, they produce hundreds of
tiny football-shaped burrs, covered with stiff spines that hook together, about
one inch long. The actual burr contains two seeds that can last for many
years. These burrs tightly attach to clothing, shoe laces, and form huge
tangled balls in the fur of animals. Not only do these burrs create
discomfort for the animals, the young plants contain toxins that can make
animals that graze on them sick - they can even cause death. By attaching
to various things, these cocklebur plants hitchhike all over the world.
The Burdock plant is similar and also
easily recognized in early spring by the triangular shaped "elephant ear"
leaves. The flowers can be pink, purple, or white which then develop into
hundreds of burrs. When these burrs dry, they break apart spreading
hundreds of seeds. It's hard to dig an established plant because of the
long taproot. Mowing must be done before the plant has bloomed or mowing
will simply spread the seeds. Burrs can cause real problems for animals,
including eye infections, skin problems, and mouth sores.
For llama and alpaca owners, it's a
priority to remove these weeds from the pastures! The plants can be
removed by pulling by hand, hoeing, or using a weed killer. You'll want to
get these plants early in the summer before the seeds start to form to get rid
of the burrs from your pastures. If you have burrs, make sure you dispose
of them carefully to prevent them from re-seeding. It may take several
sessions of pulling, hoeing, and spraying to remove all the burr plants.
Mowing cockleburr when it's young keeps it from blossoming, forming seeds, and
spreading. Mow frequently and before the seeds form.
The plant has a long taproot which is hard to get completely out.
Some people have had good luck ridding their pastures of this plant by putting
salt at the base of the plant when it first starts growing in the spring.
It can be easily recognized by the large "elephant ear" leaves that grow across
from each other when it's young.
Here is a suggested all natural weed
killer that won't hurt your animals. Be careful where you spray, it's said
to kill everything. Some prefer to brush it on the leaves of the plant
with a brush.
All Natural Weed Killer: Mix together 1 gallon white
vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 2 tablespoons blue Dawn soap.